As I mentioned before, earlier this year I traveled to Belize for $152 roundtrip. But what I didn’t tell you was the week long trip cost less than $900, including airfare, hotel, food and entertainment (note: Belize has a 2 to 1 currency rate. $1US = $2 Belizean). And of course I’m going to share the ins and outs of how I did it and how you can do it too, whether it’s to Belize or another country.
Airfare: I outlined in a previous post how to go about searching travel sites for a deal that’s within your budget. Sometimes you have to search high and low and other times, an amazing deal will be dropped in your inbox thanks to Travelzoo.
Hotels: I initially planned to stay with a friend, but once those plans fell through, I went in to panic mode searching for a hotel. I was traveling alone so safety was my primary concern, but I also needed to save my pennies. After much research via Google, Belizean tourist sites, etc, I settled on Ruby’s in San Pedro at $25 a night and Popeye’s Beach Resort on Caye Caulker for $50 a night. Ruby’s was certainly no frills; bed, shower and my closet was three wire hangers on a wooden bar. And Popeye’s, though the name’s laughable, had a full size bed, air conditioning, cable TV and free wi-fi. Although a swanky resort wasn’t within my budget, both hotels provided me with a great location and safety; they were right on the beach, near cheap eat spots and flanked by luxury resorts where I occasionally saw security patrolling the area. I made sure to check out both hotels’ ratings and reviews on Trip Advisor as well; great place to go for honest feedback from those who’ve actually been there. I used to think all hostels or budget hotels were grimy and creepy, but if you do your research, you can find an affordable (safe!) place to rest your head. Check out this New York Times article on the “upscale” hostels in Europe. Hopefully I’ll be staying in one of these digs when I visit London and Paris next year.
Food: Ah, what to eat while away from home? I have to say I indulged while in Belize. Ruby’s had a cafe next to the hotel and in the morning, I would get a johnny cake (kinda like a beef patty) and/or a cinnamon roll for $2. Lunch would usually be chicken and rice. While on Caye Caulker, I decided to duck into this place called Bamboo while walking on the beach and I’m glad I did. For $7, my dinner consisted of fried red snapper, rice and beans, cole slaw and plantains. The food was so scrumptious, I went back the following night for the same meal. They also had A-mazing happy hour specials. The waitress informed me their happy hour was from “3pm, till everybody happy!” One night, they had Panty Rippers for $1.50. I had never even heard of this drink before, but man, it was good.
It’s natural to check out whatever eateries are near your hotel, but you also want to travel off the beaten path to find a great, (usually cheaper) place. Whenever you’re in a tourist-y area, you can guarantee prices are going to be a few dollars higher, so walk up or over a few blocks and discover a hidden jewel. Or better yet, ask one of the locals where they eat! *But of course, be safe and use common sense if venturing off somewhere*
Entertainment: Much of my time snapping pics, walking up and down the beach or lounging in a hammock reading my books (like I said, my budget hotels were near the upscale resorts so I would just sneak over on to their chairs and hammocks). But my true form of entertainment came on the second day of the trip when I took a tour of the Mayan ruins with Tanisha Tours. Though it cost $120, it was so worth it. Yes, $120 is a lot but I did my research and the price was reasonable and the company came highly recommended. The tour lasted from sunup to sundown, included breakfast, lunch, snacks, alcoholic drinks (yay!) and an awesome, knowledgeable tour guide. And can you really put a price on climbing a 120 foot high Mayan temple?
Be sure to check with your hotel to see what type of activities are offered in the area. They may be able to give you a discount!
Travel tally (for seven full days):
$152 plane ticket
$300 spending money
$120 Mayan ruins tour
I had $300 in cash and that was all the spending money I allowed myself. The only time I used a credit card on the island was when I paid for the tour, but other than that, the cash covered everything from food, souvenirs, transportation between the islands, immigration fees, etc.