Luxury Couple's Getaway to Cancun for Less than $500
I’m sure you guys know by now that The Sinclairs’ are super last minute travelers. What can I say? I’m spontaneous! If I get the trip details all figured out, I usually don’t get any pushback from the mister either. Over time, I think he’s began to enjoy the variety and excitement of shoving some clothes in a suitcase and jetting out the door to set off on another adventure. Although, sometimes I surprise myself like the time we booked last minute flights for a quick trip to Dublin because WOW Air was running a crazy, good Black Friday sale. Deciding to getaway this time wasn’t any different. We’d made up our minds that we were going somewhere on Tuesday, booked it on Wednesday and headed out on Friday. From our past experiences, we knew that if we wanted to get a good deal, we’d have to be flexible with our destination choices. Luckily, Google Flights and Skyscanner search engines allow users to enter a departing city while leaving the destination field blank. This is a strategy that I use often if I need to getaway for cheap on a particular set of dates. By being open with destination choices, you will ensure yourself to book a good deal by allowing price to determine where you will go. We did just that! Keep scrolling for our GO, STAY, PLAY suggestions for a quick, budget-friendly couples’ getaway to Cancun, Mexico. To watch our video from this trip, scroll down to the bottom of the post.
I used google flights to search for the dates I needed with a departing city of Dallas. When I searched, tons of cheap flight options came back, like Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, Cancun, and Philadelphia. We knew we preferred some sunshine and pool time. Los Angeles came back for $116 and Cancun came back for $185. Normally I would have chosen LA because of the price, but we are headed there in a couple of weeks, so Cancun was the obvious choice. While $185 is great for a nonstop roundtrip flight from Dallas to Cancun, it was a little over what I wanted to spend. Because this trip was such a spur of the moment, I needed the entire budget to be around $500. By booking the $185 flights, that would already take up 75% of the budget so I had to come up with another plan. I thought to myself, how can I make this work but stay within my $500 budget? Then I remember that I had just earned 18,000 points on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. if you’re interested in getting started in the points and miles world, its a AMAZING card to start with plus the annual fee is waived for the first year. You can apply here. I could use 15K of those points to book half of the trip and then pay cash for the other half. So I logged into my chase account, transferred the points to my British Airways account, and booked the first flights from Dallas to Cancun. The cost for this was $33 per person. Next I booked the return portion of our flights, Cancun to Dallas, with Spirit Airlines at the airport. If you’re thinking of trying this strategy for yourself, check out my guide on how I booked roundtrip flights for $116 roundtrip per person.
We stayed at the newly opened Renaissance Cancun Resort & Marina. I found this hotel by using google to search for Cancun hotels. We were lucky to be one of the first few guests to stay at this hotel. When we arrived, the hotel had opened only four days before. We were able to get this gem for only $106/night +taxes and fees. We were staying two nights so it was perfect! I was a little worried about the hotel because it was listed as being located in the city of Cancun. I must admit, we are not big fans of the “Hotel Zone” area in Cancun. It can be really touristy, and we prefer to have a more authentic stay. I was really happy to find out that the hotel was located in the Puerto Cancun area. It’s a newer area near the Marina, away from the tourist traps in the hotel zone. I wouldn’t describe the hotel or the Puerto Cancun area as being authentic Mexico, but its a nice compromise when you are looking for a tropical luxury getaway away from the crowds.
The hotel is amazing. It is beautifully decorated in neutral colors. It includes one restaurant which also provides room service, as well as a gym, a bar that serves specialty cocktails, and a breathtaking infinity pool that overlooks the marina. We dined in the restaurant for breakfast and had a couple of handcrafted cocktails as we lounged by the pool. My favorite was the Caribbean Gin cocktail! It was made with differently shaped frozen juices. The drink was so pretty to look at as well as delicious! The hotel is conveniently connected to the town center shopping mall. If you want to do some shopping, or maybe see a movie and have an amazing Mexican dinner at La Numero 20 Cantina, all of these are located right next to the hotel, eliminating the need for a taxi ride.
After landing in Cancun airport, we argued about whether to take the bus or catch a taxi. After reminding my Love that we were on a budget getaway, he understood why I wanted to take the bus instead of getting a taxi or booking one of the popular shuttle vans. Taxis can cost around $35 per way for those headed to the hotel zone. If you’re headed further, to Cozumel or Tulum, be prepared for sticker shock. The shuttle vans are just little less expensive starting around $12 per person each way, but you have to sit through lots of passengers being dropped off at their hotels before you. As with many cities, the bus is the cheapest was to get around in Cancun. We took the Ado bus from the airport. It leaves the airport and takes you to downtown Cancun. You can then take a transfer bus to get you to your hotel. The bus terminal is located to the right after you walk out of the airport and past all of the taxis drivers and transfer companies bidding for your business. The cost for the bus was $86 pesos or about $5 each per way. The buses are really nice, clean coach buses with air conditioning. The bus was pretty empty when we rode. We were two of three people on the bus when we departed the terminal.
Speaking of the bus, we met the most interesting gentleman from South Africa called Marion. He was a serious world traveller dedicated to exploring on a budget. He told us of stories about how he’d couch surfed all over the world. He also admitted that he mostly travels alone because his friends don’t love his method of budget traveling. Hey, sometimes the journey is best done alone! We sat and listened to him, both of us in awe of his travels. We happily chatted with him for the entire bus ride. We arrived in downtown Cancun which is where you can find the locals. We decided to hang around the area and grab a bite to eat. We found this unsuspecting little pop up food stand serving cold drinks, slow cooked beef tacos topped with fresh cilantro and onions and beef soup, caldo de res. The soup had to be one of the best soups I’d ever eaten in my life! I must warn you though, don’t expect anything fancy here. There are only 8 places to sit, so many patrons stand and eat. The plates are covered in a disposable plastic liner, but the beef was so tender and perfectly seasoned that I would happily wait in line for an hour to eat that food again. If you are looking for mouth-watering, cheap eats, downtown Cancun is the place for it. Our total for 5 tacos, a bowl of soup with steamed tortillas, and a Mexican coke was a whopping $8. Also, if you want to do some grocery shopping or pick up cheap beers, do it here instead of in the hotel zone. We stopped by a local store and picked up beers, snacks, and a couple of large bottles of water for less than $10 before heading to our hotel.
The next day, we headed out to explore the shopping mall. We weren’t interested in shopping, but just wanted to see what the buzz was about. We found this neat little outdoor food court on the second floor of the mall. There are so many types of food to choose from in this area ranging from Domino’s pizza to classically prepared French onion soup. Eating here is an amazing choice if you are dining on a budget. After sampling one of the restaurants, we stopped into the cutest gelato shop called Aldo’s. It is located on the first floor of the mall on Market Street. The sweet smell of freshly cooked waffles filled our noses when we entered. There were so many flavors of gelato! They even had at least 10 flavors of milk free gelato for those following a vegan diet. I chose a double scoop of pistachio and chocolate while Ian opted for a slice of cheesecake. The total cost was $9. For the remainder of the day, we soaked up the warming Caribbean sun while lounging around the hotel pool. Before we knew it, our quick, but so relaxing couples’ getaway had come to an end.
If you are looking for a cheap, budget friendly getaway or maybe even longer vacation, I would highly suggest Cancun Mexico. It is such a breath-taking place that doesn’t require a terribly long flight to get there. Quite often you can find amazing flight deals, and gorgeous hotels that don’t break the bank.