Taking a vacation to Mexico with your family doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg! In fact, Mexico can be a very affordable vacation destination for your family if you plan your Mexico travel budget carefully.
Prices in Mexico are a fraction of what they are in the United States, Canada, or Europe. This means you can have a memorable family vacation in Mexico without going into debt. For families wanting to save a bit of money on a family vacation, Mexico is a great affordable option!
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As you're planning for your Mexico family trip, set a budget for what you expect to spend each day.
The typical daily costs for a family of four traveling in Mexico can range from $90 to $190, depending on the city. This includes lodging, in-city transportation, food, activities, and miscellaneous supplies.
In general, prices in Mexico are much cheaper than other North American countries, as well as European countries. Most basic supplies are readily available in Mexico, including diapers, clothes, shoes, swimsuits, sunscreen, and toiletries. This is especially true in major cities and popular tourist destinations.
When it comes to airfare, the prices will depend on where you are flying from and what part of Mexico you are flying to. The airline you book will also affect the cost of airfare. International airlines that fly into Mexico include Delta, Alaska Airlines, United, and Air Canada. Mexican airlines that fly between the United States and Mexico include AeroMexico, AeroMar, Volaris, Interjet, and Viva Aerobus.
When you’re planning your Mexico travel budget, think about the time of year that you will be traveling. Airfare costs tend to rise in the spring and summer. But flying in the fall and winter months may yield you cheaper prices.
On average, for a family of four, airfare in and out of Mexico costs around $1,200-$2,500. Round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Cancun during the high season (December to April) can range from $500-$1,000 per person. A similar round-trip flight originating from New York will range from $700-$900. And from Seattle, that flight will cost between $600-$1,500. During the low season, flights cost around half of what they cost during the high season.
Mexico travel budget tip #1: Plan your trip for the low season
The next big ticket cost in Mexico travel budget is lodging. Hotel prices in Mexico can be as cheap as $30 a day, or as expensive as $300. You can get a feel for how much hotels might cost by looking in the Lonely Planet Mexico guide book. But in general, it really depends on the type of hotels you want to stay at.
An alternative to hotel stays are vacation rentals, primarily Airbnb. As with the hotels in Mexico, you can certainly splurge on gorgeous Airbnb properties that can be upwards of $250-$350 per night. But there are also budget-friendly options available. Daily lodging costs can range between $40-100, depending on the city.
Mexico travel budget tip #2: Look for lodging outside of the city center or hotel zone
If you’re not eating out at five star restaurants every day, you’ll actually find that food prices in Mexico are pretty reasonable. You can feed a family of four for as little as 120 pesos (or $6) at a taco stand. Of course, you can also spend over 1,200 pesos (or $60) when you splurge on a dinner of fresh oysters or artisan burgers! Anything is possible in Mexico!
One tip for keeping food costs down is to shop at the markets or grocery stores and cook your own food. You can also limit your restaurant outings to once per day. For snacks, street vendors tend to be cheaper than convenience stores like OXXO. For a family of four, daily food costs can range from $34 to $55 per day.
Learn a few basic Spanish phrases for travel beforehand so that you can ask for the price of an item or ask for the check at a restaurant.
Mexico travel budget tip #3: Eat meals at locally owned taco stands or loncherías.
Getting around Mexico is relatively easy. Bus companies like ETN, Primera Plus, and ADO can take you between cities. And there are also many domestic airlines that fly across the country. Some of the better domestic airlines include Aeromexico, Aeromar, and Interjet..
For the buses, aim to arrive between one hour to thirty minutes before departure. But for flights, you should plan to be at the airport at least an hour and a half before take-off. Many of the cheap domestic airlines have long lines during check-in, so you don’t want to accidentally miss your flight. Depending on where you plan to travel while you’re in Mexico, you can expect to spend around $290 for buses or domestic flights.
Mexico travel budget tip#4: Save money on domestic travel by taking a bus instead of flying.
If you’re planning to rent a car in Mexico, the costs will vary depending on the length of your car rental. Costs will also vary depending on the rental company you use. There are internationally recognized car rental brands like Avis and Hertz. Or you can use locally owned car rental companies.
While Mexico does not have specific federal laws related to children riding in cars, each state does have their own specific regulations. As a precaution, you might want to bring along a child car seat or a travel booster seat for your kids. If your children are old enough for booster seats, consider taking along a Bubble Bum inflatable booster seat or mifold booster seat. Car rental companies might not have car seats or booster seats available to rent.
Expect to pay between $40-$80 per day to rent a car. This cost will include insurance, which is required by law for all car rentals.
Mexico travel budget tip #5: Rent directly with locally owned car rental companies when you get there.
Uber is available in over 50 cities in Mexico. In some cases, Uber is much cheaper than a taxi. But in some cities, you may end up waiting a long time for an Uber to come. That’s why taxis are still a solid option for getting around a city. Most taxi rides cost around 50 pesos per 1-2 kilometers.
Another option for traveling around a city is taking public transportation. Mexico City, for example, has an extensive subway system that is relatively easy to navigate. Most cities have minibuses, called a collectivo, that travels a set route. A collectivo ride can cost between 20-40 pesos per person.
On average, expect to spend between $3 to $9 per day on local transportation. This includes a combination of taxis, Uber, and public transportation.
Mexico travel budget tip #6: Ask locals or other travelers ahead of time what the standard taxi rate is to avoid getting overcharged.
Sometimes there are occasional supplies that you’ll need to buy during your Mexico family travel vacation. Most travel supplies and miscellaneous items are readily available in Mexico. This is true especially if you’re in a city with a relatively large expat population.
Expect to spend $9 to $15 a day for supplies. But it really depends on the location and the type of property you are staying in. These costs can also include any medical costs you might need, as well as new clothes or games for your family.
Mexico travel budget tip #7: Save baggage space by buying toiletries, sunscreen, or insect repellent in country.
The last set of costs to think about are activities and entertainment. Prices in Mexico vary when it comes to activities and entertainment. If you’re on a budget, you can limit yourself to free or cheap museums, and local activities like going to the movie theaters (they’re so much cheaper than theaters in the US!).
But if you’re willing to splurge, you can spend a few hundred dollars per person on activities. On average, expect to spend between $15 to $35 per day on activities and entertainment. Local museums in smaller towns can be as little as 50 pesos per person to enter. Mayan ruins can range from 75 pesos per person for lesser known ruins to over 400 pesos per person for popular ruins. A tour can cost around $30 to $90 per person, depending on the type of tour and the length of time.
Take a look at the different activities you can do during a 10 day Mexico itinerary.
Mexico travel budget tip #8: Book activities directly from independent and locally-owned companies rather than booking through your resort, travel agent, or an international chain.
A Mexico family vacation can truly offer families the best value for their experience. For less than the price of a Disney Cruise, you can easily have the time of your life in Mexico with your family!
If you’re thinking of ideas for your next vacation with your family, consider taking advantage of the affordable prices in Mexico and take your family to visit this beautiful country!
Have you spent time in Mexico with your family? Share your thoughts on what was in your Mexico travel budget on our Facebook page.
Looking for ideas of where to go in Mexico? Take a look at these family-friendly 10 day Mexico itinerary ideas.