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We Only Spent $2,359 on our Honeymoon

Last September, we got married and waited until the winter to go off on our honeymoon. After much consideration, we decided to escape the snow in Mexico. All through our trip, we have kept a tab and tracked our expenses to share with you guys. To make it easier for everyone, prices have been roughly converted CAD to USD at 1.3, CAD to MXN at 15, and USD to MXN at 20.

Most people say travelling is expensive and will easily spend thousands of dollars on weekend trips and holidays but this is mostly pushed by advertising and travel agencies. Think about it, Booking.com who is owned by Priceline and also runs KAYAK, made over $8 billion dollars in revenues last year. Then, Expedia, who also owns Hotels.com, Hotwire, trivago, Travelocity, and Orbitz, made over $6 billion in revenues. Those two behemoths make their money on all-inclusive packages, luxury hotels, and flights. It is not at their advantage to promote cheap hotels and DIY travel itineraries. By sharing our trip itinerary and travel budget, we hope you can find your own way to travel for less than advertised.

To begin, we really wanted to book the flights for this trip with credit card rewards and essentially fly for free! Unfortunately, we waited too long before booking and, since it was right at the Christmas break, there were no more rewards flights available. We still found some fairly cheap flights on Flighthub for $700CAD (540USD) each. The only slight inconvenience when booking a peak-season flight just 3 months before your departure is that it will not be a direct flight unless you are ready to pay a hefty premium. In our case, we got cheap flights and used them to our advantage.

We ended up booking a flight from Montreal to Mexico, with a stop in Dallas, TX, on the way there. For our return flight, we had a correspondence in Miami, FL. Instead of making this miserable and staying in airports for hours, we chose flights with at least 24h layovers to enjoy the stops.

 

First stop: Dallas, TX

Our first layover in Dallas was a blast! We got there in the morning and had all day to enjoy the city. When we arrived at the airport, we took the DART train out to the city for only $4USD each. Taking a taxis would have been roughly $50USD and $25USD for a Uber. The DART is super accessible, reasonably clean, and took us right downtown Dallas. We were surprised to see that no other tourist were taking the train and it does not seem like a popular option for commuters either.

In Dallas, the hotels downtown are nice but also, they are very expensive. We stayed at the Sheraton and our reservation would have cost $250USD. Fortunately, we booked with our SPG points and paid a grand total of zero dollars for the night! Just by signing up you also can get points to book 4 or 5 nights at luxury hotels like St. Regis®, Marriott®, Westin®, and many more. We started booking all our expensive stays through points to maximize our vacation dollars and you can do the same!

how to get free hotel nights

Day 1 – Dallas, TX
Hotel – Sheraton Free!
Breakfast – McDonalds 12USD
Lunch – Sliders 12USD
Dinner – Burgers 25USD
Drinks 15USD
Aquatium 45USD
Snacks 6USD
DART Train 8USD
Total 123USD (160CAD)

 

After dropping off our luggage in our suite (we even got upgraded to a huge 940 square feet suite for free just for being preferred guests 🙂 ) we went on a stroll around town.

 

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When visiting cities, we enjoy looking at the architecture and design of buildings and we like to hit up the local food scene to discover their specialties. We walked around the city and stopped at a food truck to try some Sothern sandwiches. Afterward, we visited the Dallas Aquarium, which is more of a zoo than an aquarium, but it was still fun. It has birds, monkeys, bugs, and a lot of fishes. It was a bit pricey in Canadian terms ($30CAD each) and did not offer much to see in comparison to other zoos.

 

 

That night, we enjoyed an amazing hamburger at Chop House Burger with some Texas sweet tea then went out for drinks in a sports bar along the Main Street.

Dallas has a great night scene and we really enjoyed our layover. After a whole day there, we woke up at 6 a.m. and jumped on a plane to Mexico.

 

Second stop: Mexico

Mexico City under its layer of smog.

Day 2 – Mexico City
Airbnb 45CAD (675MXN)
Breakfast – Cereals  0MXN
Subway System 10MXN
Lunch – Tacos 62MXN
Snacks 20MXN
Icecream 19MXN
Groceries 200MXN
Dinner – Tacos 99MXN
Total 1,085MXN (54USD) (72CAD)

 

In Mexico City, we booked an Airbnb apartment for 45CAD (34USD) and stayed there 2 night. At that price, we got a centrally-located, clean, 1-bedroom apartment in an old complex. The room and kitchen were nicely renovated but the bathroom was a bit old.

We spent our days exploring the capital, visiting museums, and again; sight-seeing architecture. We ate authentic Mexican dishes at local restaurants and enjoyed the Mexican hospitality. Like in most of our trips, we stopped by the grocery store to buy snacks, breakfast, and lunches for our expeditions. The local groceries are really cheap and we enjoy taking a break from restaurants once in a while.

 

 

On our second day, we went to the Teotihuacan pyramids. This ancient Mesoamerican city is located only 40 kilometers (25 mi) northeast of  Mexico City and we took a direct bus to there for only 92MXN (5USD) (6CAD) each. We enjoyed these architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas. It was a great single-day activity but there is barely any shaded areas and bathrooms are only at the entrance so it can be pretty demanding in the beaming sun.

 

Day 3 – Mexico City and Pyramids
Airbnb 45CAD (675MXN)
Breakfast at Home  0MXN
Subway System 10MXN
Bus to the Pyramids 184MXN
Access to Pyramids 130MXN
Subway System 10MXN
Snacks 80MXN
Water 11MXN
Subway System 10MXN
Groceries 75MXN
Lunch – Handmade Wraps  0MXN
Bathroom 5MXN
Dinner – Enchiladas 100MXN
Total 1,290MXN (64USD) (86CAD)

 

Day 4 – Mexico City to Oaxaca
Hotel 66CAD (990MXN)
Breakfast 260MXN
Subway System 10MXN
Bus to Oaxaca 1200MXN
Lunch – Handmade Sandwiches  0MXN
Corn Snack 12MXN
Skipped Supper  0MXN
Water 10MXN
Gum 8MXN
Total 2,490MXN (124USD) (166CAD)

 

We then hopped on a bus to the city of Oaxaca. The direct bus was 600MXN (30USD) (40CAD) per person with ADO and took roughly 5 hours. Besides this first class bus, second class buses operated by AU (440 MXN) and SUR (350 MXN) can also get you to Oaxaca but AU stops in Tehuacan so it is a slightly longer route. SUR operates via Huajuapan de Leon, a much longer route, and use the free highways instead of tolls so it was well worth paying double to get there faster.

 

The city of Oaxaca was a nice transition from the mega-city of Mexico (population of 300,000 vs 20 million) with much less smog and traffic. We stayed in a nice hotel on the outskirt of downtown. It was super clean, had a big large pool, and the staff was friendly.

On the night of our arrival, we walked roughly 15 minutes to reach the main square and enjoyed a nice chili corn for only 12MXN (60¢) and enjoyed the festivities that were going on in the square. There were some musicians, some vendors and lots of food. Walking through the streets, we saw some crazy doughnut stands, chili corn stands with lines around the corner, and pizza places with no one to be seen.

 

Day 5 – Oaxaca
Hotel 66CAD (990MXN)
Churros Snack 10MXN
Breakfast 60MXN
Groceries 210MXN
Skipped Lunch  0MXN
Dinner – Pizza 90MXN
Total 1,360MXN (68USD) (90CAD)

 

The next morning, we wanted to leave early to the beach but missed the bus by 15 minutes. We were then forced to wait 2 hours until the next one so we visited a local market and enjoyed hot chocolate with a proper breakfast. It was interesting to see the market and be part of the cacophony.

 

Breakfast at the market

 

Day 6 – Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido
Airbnb 36CAD (540MXN)
Bus to Puerto Escondido 420MXN
Breakfast 70MXN
Skipped Lunch  0MXN
Cough Medicine 32MXN
Dinner – Gross Fish 350MXN
Water 17MXN
Total 1,420MXN (71USD) (94CAD)

 

After Oaxaca, we finally hopped on the bus to Puerto Escondido. This time, it was not in a first class super bus but rather, in a minivan. This long 6+ hour ride was along windy roads, daring the edge of cliffs, and speeding around corners in the jungle. After almost getting sick, we finally arrived in Puerto Escondido where we stayed another 3 nights.

 

Day 7 – Puerto Escondido
Airbnb 36CAD (540MXN)
Breakfast 145MXN
Water 17MXN
Lunch – Handmade Wraps  0MXN
Groceries 80MXN
Supper – Cooked at Home  0MXN
Total 780MXN (39USD) (52CAD)
Day 8 – Puerto Escondido
Airbnb 36CAD (540MXN)
Breakfast 100MXN
Groceries 150MXN
Lunch – Handmade Sandwiches  0MXN
Supper – Cooked at Home  0MXN
Total 790MXN (40USD) (53CAD)

 

In Puerto Escondido, we enjoyed the beach but the general feel of the city was a bit off. It was great to watch the surfers go and we played in the huge waves but the city itself did not have much to offer. It was loud, dirty, unmaintained, and most of the restaurants we tried were of very poor quality.

As foodies, we expect to find fresh, delightful, meals in any city we visit. However, we failed to find good restaurants in Puerto Escondido. The ones we saw were mostly tourist-trap, out-of-the-freezer meals at exorbitant prices (by Mexican standards).

We did find one good breakfast place called El Cafecito but there was always a long line to get in. After being served frozen fish and bad squid on our first night and looking in vain for a decent place, we decided to simply cook at home since we had a kitchen in the Airbnb.

 

All through Mexico, we shopped for groceries at Chedraui (pronounced Che-Dra-Wee) which is like the Mexican Walmart. They sell TVs, washing machines, clothes, groceries, and anything you could need. Shopping for our own groceries was about 3 times cheaper than eating out, except when there is strong restaurant competition such as in Mexico City. We also brought home a bottle of rum and bourbon for about half the price as the airport duty-free stores.

 

 

In the picture above; a tall beer, 2L of lemonade, yogurts, cheese, meat, chips, water, spinach, bread, and apples. We bought this perfect lunch for only 150MXN or 7.50USD (10CAD) when it would have cost us about 21CAD for the exact same groceries in Canada.

 

 

 

Day 9 – Puerto Escondido to Huatulco
Hotel 125CAD (1875MXN)
Breakfast – Cereals  0MXN
Bus to Huatulco 150MXN
Lunch – Handmade Sandwiches  0MXN
Taxi to Hotel 50MXN
Dinner – Filet Mignon 450MXN
Medicine 150MXN
Total 2,675MXN (133USD) (178CAD)

 

We stayed in a great Airbnb with a nice view, clean, and in a pretty good location. The only issue was the noise of the nightclubs blasting their music until 6 a.m. but that was an issue in the whole city, not just this place. After a sleepless weekend, we finally got a quiet night on Monday night then took a very short bus to Huatulco that next morning.

 

Day 10 – Huatulco
Hotel 125CAD (1875MXN)
Breakfast – Cereals  0MXN
Lunch – Shrimps 160MXN
Groceries 80MXN
Dinner – Steak and Tuna 330MXN
Total 2,445MXN (122USD) (163CAD)

 

Huatulco was one of the highlights of our trip! Our hotel was perfect, the food was perfect, the beach was perfect, and the sun was always out.

 

 

Our hotel was located in the Chahue bay, which was super quiet, clean, and simply perfect. The sand was of a soft gray tone and warm between the toes. After exploring the beach in the next bay over, we were super glad to stay at the Chahue bay. The beach of Santa Cruz bay had restaurants all along it, was loud and super busy. There was a lot of sellers haggling us and it was not very relaxing so we stayed in our quiet bay. 🙂

 

Day 11 – Huatulco
Hotel 125CAD (1875MXN)
Breakfast – Yogurt and Fruits  0MXN
ATV Activity 800MXN
Dinner – Shrimps and Fillet Mignon 450MXN
Total 3,245MXN (162USD) (216CAD)

 

After the lousy restaurants of Puerto Escondido, you cannot imagine how delighted we were to eat fresh seafood, filet mignon, and fresh fish. 🙂 On the 5th, we went on an ATV ride through the jungle and along the beach. We used a company recommended by our hotel called Paraiso Huatulco. The ride was pretty cheap (40USD) (53CAD) and entertaining, we got to zoom along the beach but most of it was on dirt roads.

 

My face was the same color as my shirt, I really had a taste of Mexico!

 

After a nice, relaxing, stay we flew back to Mexico City to catch our flight back home. There is a bus option to go from Huatulco to Mexico City with TAPO company, we could have saved a bit there. However, the (50USD) (65CAD) bus ride takes 15 hours and drives through mountainous roads. We did not need to experience this again so we took an hour flight with Interjet for 3000MXN (75USD each) (100CAD each). The flight was delayed but still much faster than the bus and a thousand times more comfortable than mountain roads. Unlike on American airlines, we had a lot of leg room and were not charged extra for our checked bag.

 

Day 12 – Huatulco to Mexico City
Hotel 44CAD (660MXN)
Breakfast – Yogurt and Fruits  0MXN
Lunch – Squid 230MXN
Taxi to Airport 150MXN
Plane Tickets 3,000MXN
Dinner – On the plane 0MXN
Ice cream 60MXN
Total 4,100MXN (205USD) (273CAD)

 

We then spent the night in Mexico and hopped on the plane the next afternoon. We stayed in a cheap hotel downtown so we were able to walk around and explore the city a bit more the next morning. Once at the MEX airport, we walked and walked forever before finally getting to our gate. The airport is super long and unorganized, there were no clear signs so we just wandered until we finally found our airline.

 

Third stop: Miami, FL

Day 13 – Mexico City to Miami
Hotel – Sheraton Free!
Breakfast 200MXN
Lunch – Airport Restaurant 350MXN
Total 550MXN (27USD) (36CAD)

 

Just like on the way there, we decided to do a 24h layover. We stopped in Miami and honestly, felt like we would be stopped there forever! The staff was, again, unorganized, and the security check lines went on for hours.

We slept at the Sheraton and our reservation would have cost $150USD. Again, we booked with SPG points so our total was a big fat zero! Just by signing up you also can get free nights at luxury hotels. With all those savings, we felt like it was ok to splurge a bit and got a pizza delivered, followed by room service.

 

Day 14 – Miami
Pizza Delivery 20USD
Room Service – Drink and Desert 27USD
Total 47USD (61CAD)

 

After all of this, after 14 days of exploration, we ended up spending only 2,359USD or 84USD per day per person (3,100CAD or 110CAD per day per person) for our honeymoon. This number includes flights, accommodation, food, activities and everything else!

We spent less on our whole honeymoon than what my coworkers recently spent on a weekend bachelor party in Tijuana.

Think about that for a second. We explored Mexico for 14 days and spent less than a 2-day bachelor party.

Travelling does not need to be expensive. If you plan properly and budget your vacation, you can stretch your dollar pretty far. We did not stay in 5-star hotels all the time and used Airbnb when advantageous. We mostly ate in local restaurants and cooked some meals ourself but still had a great time. It is always nice to pamper yourself a bit on trips but you do not need that every single day of your stay.

We had a wonderful time and I hope you can also experience amazing trips for much less than advertised. Being on vacation is certainly not a reason to go into credit card debt and there is always an option for your own budget. Plan ahead and look outside of the all-inclusive resorts.

 

Share your own travel stories, we would love to hear your adventures. 🙂

Mr. and Mrs. Xyz.

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9 Comments

  1. That’s a pretty cheap trip for going during the peak Christmas holiday season. Looks like you had a lot of fun on a budget not much more then a 7 day typical family trip to the beach.

  2. Amazing trip! And amazing job packing all that in for such a reasonable budget!

    I agree about avoiding the fancy resorts. Call me crazy, but to me, a hotel is a place to sleep. I’ve stayed in everything from dingy motels to the $500/night Hilton Conrad in Chicago. The experience is pretty similar. It’s all about where you go and what you do on vacation, and not the name or price of the bed.

    • Xyz

      February 8, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Agreed, we have our minimum requirements of cleanliness and comforts but after those are met, a bed is a bed!

  3. Sounds you like you had a fantastic time. Great pictures!

  4. Wow! Sounds like it was an awesome trip! Loved all the photos from the Mexico portion of the trip. I’m craving some tacos now. I love Mexican street food and always try to get some (just be sure to use plenty of lime juice to kill germs)

  5. Fun and Exciting !!! thanks for shared your budget. I enjoyed this and came to know lots of new things. It’s worth able to share with my friends. Keep sharing these kind of informations.

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