Have you ever asked someone a simple question, only to receive a response with WAY too much information?
I used to live with someone who did this. Here’s how one of our conversations went a couple years ago.
Me: “So what is this Game of Thrones show about?”
Him: “Ok, so there are these families, right? And they all have kingdoms. The Lannisters, who are the ones with a golden lion on their flag, are enemies with the Stark family, who lives in the north and have a direwolf on their flag. Oh and the Lannisters control Kings Landing, which is pretty crucial. Oh and Jamie Lannister is called “The King Slayer” because he killed one of the kings he was supposed to protect, oh and they’re friends with House Tyrell, who…….. (10 minutes later)…..and that’s the basic overview”
Me: (pretending to have actually understood any of that) “…..cool. Thanks”
I was looking for a twitter-length synopsis of the show, and instead got a 10-minute overview of every character and plot twist.
Searching for travel advice is no different.
Google “Things to do in X city” and you’ll find dozens of complex travel guides, trip reports, and poorly written advice from people who have never even been to the city they are writing about.
(My favorite are the TripAdvisor reviews that go something like “My husband and I visited this place. It was nice”.)
The process is incredibly frustrating, and often creates more confusion than clarity.
I’m a big fan of keeping things simple. Which is why I am happy to introduce a new type of post on GFF called “5 Thoughts”.
5 Thoughts is exactly what the title indicates, 5 simple thoughts about a specific travel destination that I have visited.
No lists of “100 things to do in X city”, no attempts to sell you expensive travel packages, and no long-winded overviews of how you should spend every minute of your precious travel time.
Just 5 thoughts that went through my head while visiting a new place that might help you plan your own trip.
Let’s get to it.
Here are 5 thoughts I had after visiting Cancun, Mexico:
1. You don’t have to stay at an all-inclusive resort
When researching where to stay in Cancun the general consensus seemed to be that an all-inclusive resort was the way to go.
What’s not to like? You pay one flat fee and have access to all the alcohol and food that you want.
But when I priced it out, the all-inclusive resorts were at least $250 more per night vs. the traditional hotels. Keep in mind also that we are traveling during low-season in Cancun.
$250 buys a lot of beer and food in Mexico so I opted for a traditional hotel.
This also removed any pressure to “get our money’s worth” by over-indulging. Remember that when it comes to travel, less is more.
I ended up staying at the Royal Caribbean, which I would describe as “good, not great” accommodations. The rooms were somewhat dated but the property was well-maintained and had a beautiful beach.
I gave zero thought to budget and still spent less than $300 on food and drinks for the entire weekend. This included more than a few premium margaritas and upscale dinners.
Pair that with the fact that we left the resort for an entire day and the traditional hotel options was certainly the better move.
2. An Edventure tour will be the best day of your vacation.
Before traveling to Cancun I reached out to a number of readers who have previously traveled to the area.
Almost every single one of them said the same thing. “An Edventure tour will be the best day of your vacation”.
So I booked one, and I couldn’t agree more.
We opted for the Edventure Snorkel Tour and added the Tulum Ruins and Turtle Bay add-ons. The total cost was just over $120 per person and included transportation, lunch, private tour guides, and 3 separate snorkel stops.
We dove in the cenotes (underground, fresh-water rivers), toured the Tulum ruins, and got up close and personal with dozens of sea turtles.
The company owner, Ed, even brought the group to his beachside home for lunch.
I’ve snorkeled all over the world with a number of companies like Edventures, and I have to say that I was very impressed with their product.
I would book with them again in a heartbeat if I ever return to Cancun.
(Side note: this is another reason not to book an all-inclusive. We would have missed out on an entire day of food and drink that we paid for.)
3. Don’t take taxis
Like any popular tourist destination, the taxi drivers in Cancun are always looking to make a quick buck from unsuspecting tourists.
Cab fares from the Airport to the hotel zone are often negotiated and can run as high as $80 per trip.
A better option is to book your transportation ahead of time with a transport company. You can schedule your pickup times and pay one flat rate for your entire group.
We used USA-Transfers and paid just $50 for transportation for 4 people to and from the airport.
For transportation between resorts consider using the public bus. There are dozens of stops in the hotel zone and the fares are a fraction of what a cab would cost.
4. If possible, use points to fly on Southwest Airlines
Don’t forget that Southwest Airlines flies to Mexico and the Caribbean now. My flight was only 22,000 points round-trip and I was able to bring my wife for free thanks to my Southwest Companion Pass.
Most other airlines charge at least twice that price (in miles, I haven’t paid cash for a flight in years).
5. Visiting the Mayan ruins is a must.
It’s easy to go to any beach destination and never leave your resort, but in Cancun that would mean missing out on perhaps the best tourist attractions in the region.
The two biggest attractions are the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum. Neither of them are particularly close to the hotel zone so don’t feel the need to do both.
We visited Tulum as part of our Edventure Tours package and were able to see the entire site in about one hour.
Cancun certainly exceeded my expectations and I would highly recommend it, even if just for a weekend.
P.S. Fun fact about the Yucatan area of Mexico. It got its name after Spanish explorers arrived and asked the Mayan people what the area was called. They responded “Yucatan”, which means “I don’t understand what you are saying” in Mayan.
P.P.S. I’m headed to London and Scotland next week for another amazing PR opportunity for GFF. I’ll be sharing that with you soon. Thanks for being the amazing readers that you are.