It is one of my goals in this life to get people out of towns they were born in and see what this incredible world has to offer. As long as I have breath in my body, I will attempt to dispel the myths that travel is 1) for the rich 2) for the retired  3) for the lucky.

To that end, we want to be 100% transparent so you can decide for yourself if galavanting the earth in this fashion speaks to you, and if it does, we hope this will inspire you to start saving and experiencing it for yourself!

So, here goes… (all costs in USD)

Days in country: 31

Projected budget: $2,500 (this is what we typically spent each month at home in Washington so we figured if we come in under this, then we’re doing alright)

Actual Living Cost: $1,569.07 (food, lodging, transportation, attractions, misc. this excludes airfare)

Daily Cost: $50.62 for both / or $25.31 per person

So what did that buy us? Let me break it down…

We lived here for a month ($391.00 for the month)

Which was a 2 minute walk to this:

Taken by me, on a Tuesday.

We ate incredible food! (I actually gained weight despite the heat!) You can get: rice, beans, freshly squeezed fruit juice, authentic and hearty main dish, bottomless fresh tortillas. This will set you back $8.00… for 2 people. If you eat from the carts as we did often, it’s .40 a taco. Delicioso!!

We learned Spanish. We’re nowhere near fluent, but living in the local neighborhood of Colosio threw us headlong into this gorgeous language out of necessity first, but as I write this, Noah is watching Spanish Television and spends up to 6 hours a day practicing. We also paid for an amazing tutor while in Playa and we’re both plotting our next trip to Latin American so we can dive right back in.

Climbed ancient Mayan Ruins (Coba & Tulum)

Coba was amazing! We rode bikes in this jungle as it poured on us. As we reached the top of this pyramid, Noah and I had a “this is what we were meant to do” moment.

Beautiful Tulum.  But if time is a factor, see Coba instead.

Walked a local cemetery at night on Día de Muertos

No pictures from the cemetery out of respect to the families dining / visiting with their loved ones, but these cuties were cracking me up at the “Day of the Dead” parade on Quinta avenida.

Swam in underground cave systems called Cenotes. There are 30,000 of them and we only got to 3.

El Jardine Eden Cenote. 1 of 30,000. Gotta collect them all!

Ziplined through the jungle at Xplor park

Constant surprises. We turned a corner and *BOOM* Sunday Market! We followed our nose to the most incredible meal!

Played hangman on the beach with some local kids and almost came home with a puppy by mistake! (My lack of Spanish kept getting us into trouble)

Noah got patted down by these guys after talking to our neighbor Raul for an hour in Spanish. He calls this his “best travel experience” to date.

We felt the passion (pasión). I get why Mexican families are so big. Yes, the majority of them are Catholics and therefore contraceptives not widely used, but that’s the “after” the start of it all, is all the kissing. I have never seen so much PDA in my whole life. There is so much love here it was easy to step back and look at my husband in a more loving light.

Young love.

Made lifelong friends (Until we meet again amigos: Deb, Crick, Ina and Jason!)

We had a million different experiences in just 31 days and can’t recommend theYucatan Peninsula enough. Playa Del Carmen is safe, full of patient and extremely generous people. Don’t believe what you’ve heard and that goes for my writing too. This is our experience but I say put your feet on the ground, see it for yourself and form your own opinions. Don’t let someone else’s fear ever talk you out of taking a trip.

Mexico for us was a total surprise. We honestly didn’t expect to love it as much as we did and the ripple of those 31 days will stay with us forever.  I feel like a stronger woman, you can’t physically see any change but I feel a shift and somehow tapped into a well of confidence. We’re talking hard numbers above but the experiences, connections and lessons are priceless.

Final Thoughts: Our advice is to talk to the locals, walk in the other direction of the “tourist trap” and seek the authentic Mexico. If you’ve seen one pool, you’ve seen them all. But have you tried to order from the Taco cart where you’re the only non-mexican? THAT’S the experience you’ll never forget and will talk about for ages.

This is a 5 star resort right next to us, (we called it “The Prison”) The cheapest room here costs $390.00 a night (4 nights here is our entire months cost). It shares the same beach as us and has the worst cover band butchering “Sweet child of Mine” every night.

Will we visit again? A resounding yes!

For more Mexico pics, check out our Facebook album.

And YouTube videos