Tag Archives: budget travel

Why is the Mexican Riviera so Expensive?

Ek Balam, Valladolid Mexico

Ek Balam, a popular day-trip from the Mexican coast

For the last several days I’ve been trying to understand why the Mexican portion of what is known as the Mayan Riviera is so expensive. In Monday’s post I complained that in Tulum we experienced some of the highest prices for some of the worst services we’ve seen anywhere in the world.

And while I can’t speak for the value proposition offered by the other popular Mexican coastal destinations we didn’t actually visit, a cursory look at prices elsewhere suggests the problem goes beyond Tulum. In Cancun, for example, the cheapest peak-season beach-front hotel we found charged 60% more than similar accommodations in South Beach, Miami.

That doesn’t seem right to me. I’m pretty sure the cost of living is quite a bit higher in Miami than it is anywhere in Mexico, especially now that the U.S. dollar buys nearly 18 pesos apiece. Why is a vacation to Cancun (and especially Tulum) so expensive?

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Why Don’t Worry About Money and Just Travel is the Worst Article of All Time

Caye Caulker Belize

Nothing to see here. These chairs are not for you.

There’s one travel article that really needs to be written. It’s a column we’ve had on the back burner for quite some time and it’s titled “Why ‘Don’t Worry About Money and Just Travel’ is the Worst Advice of All Time.” Unfortunately, the piece recently published by Time.com under that same headline is not at all what we had in mind.

If only its author, Chelsea Fagan, had attempted to address the title question her story may have stood as a useful tonic against some of the more irresponsible financial advice that sometimes passes for lifestyle wisdom these days. Instead, she chose to use most of her 1,100 words to rail against a single rich blogger’s privilege. Entertaining, perhaps, in the way that watching a temper tantrum can sometimes be but about as illuminating.

Worse is that rather than tearing down the travel finance myth her title promises, the article instead enthusiastically perpetuates another, more common, myth: that only the very rich can travel. Reading Ms. Fagan you’re left with the impression that there are only two economic classes in America. On one end of the financial divide are wildly wealthy trust fund kids represented by travel bloggers who want for nothing but self-awareness. On the other end are huddled masses living lives of complete immiseration. That’s it. 

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Magical Madrid, a Surprising Budget Destination

Madrid Skyline

One of the most shocking things about Madrid is how affordable it is, especially for a major Western European city. Compared with places like Paris, London, and even some of the surrounding cities in Spain, Madrid struck us as an absolute bargain.

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How Much Does Long-Term Travel Cost?

US Pasport and Money

Wannabe wanderers initially have just one question on their minds: How much does long-term travel cost? The classic response to this question may be informative, but is not completely helpful.

The web abounds with the personal budgets of folks who have taken off to explore the world. Through the magic of Google it is easy to find detailed financial histories for backpackers and RVers chronicling weeks, months and even years of their spending. These individual budgets are often posted as definitive answers to the headline question. What they miss, though, is the most important cost component of all: you!

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Travel advice from an unexpected source

A Souk in Marrakech, Morocco

New York Times celebrity opinion maker and columnist David Brooks discovers the benefits of simple travel in today’s column:

“Recently I did a little reporting from Kenya and Tanzania before taking a safari with my family. We stayed in seven camps. Some were relatively simple, without electricity or running water. Some were relatively luxurious, with regular showers and even pools.

The simple camps were friendly, warm and familial. . . . The more elegant camps felt colder…”

Brooks goes on to coin a phrase, the ‘Haimish Line,’ referring to the “warmth, domesticity and unpretentious conviviality” found in some places and not others. He decides that more often than not, the extra dollars we spend on luxury isolate us and puts us on the wrong side of the ‘Haimish Line.’

We found this to be true in Morocco. For simplicity, ease and efficiency we took a group tour of the African nation. The tour whisked us through many of the country’s great sites. We covered far more ground in our single week of vacation than we ever would have been able to as independent travelers. But we paid a price for the convenience.

Break free from the culture bubble and enjoy the local hookah, like Shannon here at Djemma el Fna square

We stayed in large western hotels at the cities’ edge. We traveled in air conditioned buses. Most everyone we spoke to spoke English. It was all safe, comfortable, familiar and totally apart from the place we were visiting. The tour was like traveling through an exotic location in a giant bubble of western culture. We took so much of home with us that we didn’t really get to experience the place we traveled so far to visit. We were on the wrong side of Brooks’ Haimish Line.

Brooks proceeds to make broader points about how money is often unwisely spent to isolate us. He eventually concludes with a thought that is a bit of theme here at EverywhereOnce:

Surveying the vast literature of happiness research, prominent scholars suggest: Buy experiences instead of things; buy many small pleasures instead of a few big ones; pay now for things you can look forward to and enjoy later.

Cheers to that.

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