Sorry about the lateness of the blog this week but here it is…
This past weekend I travelled with some of my good friends to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for a girls getaway. Four days at an all-inclusive to enjoy the sun and beach in the middle of winter. What more could you ask for?
Booking the trip taught me a lot. First I was joining my friends on Friday at the all-inclusive RIU Playacar. They had booked a package through Apple Vacations and had arrived on Tuesday. Now booking through a third party is great if you don’t care about how much money you spend. Since I was joining them late I called Apple to try to add on to their trip. After waiting on the phone with a representative from Apple for almost an hour she came back to me and told me that my 3 night/4 day trip including airfare and hotel transfers would cost $1500. I don’t know about you but I thought that was a bit excessive, especially since my friends paid $1300 for 6 nights/7 days. So i politely thanked the representative and hung up. I knew I could make this trip happen for significantly less.
Travel agents are not bad. I even wanted to be one once. However, they are geared toward convenience and that is what you pay for. You pay someone else to tell you how to get to your destination and what you’re going to do when you’re there instead of taking control of your own vacation and that’s great for some but for me… I like to know what’s going on.
First thing I did when I got off the phone was call the RIU Playacar resort. Smartest idea. I was adding myself to a current reservation so I was able to just pay the increased fee for adding one person to the room and my friends didn’t incur any additional costs. So I was able to get the hotel for $340 total, drinks, meals, etc., done. After that I looked for my airline.
I found a really cheap flight on Frontier airlines through Google flights. If you haven’t used this service you should. I found it to be able to find the best deals of all the travel search engines, such as Skyscanner and Jetradar. Now I’ve never flown Frontier and neither have my friends, and now I know why. Frontier is a no frills, bare bones airline. You want to bring a carry on? That’ll be $30 each way extra. Want to pick your seat? That’ll be $15 extra each time you try to switch. Want a seat that reclines or has a little bit of cushion? Pick a different airline. The only good thing about this airline was the initial price! As much as I’m extolling the obvious faults of this airline, one thing cannot be taken away from it… it got me to Mexico and home safely…there’s something!
The last piece of the puzzle was finding ground transport between the airport and the hotel. There are several options. First you could get a taxi. Taxis to Playa del Carmen will run you around $50-65 US, one way. You could take the local bus, ADO. That will run you around $15 US but you would still have to grab a taxi from the bus station to the resort. You could rent a car, which is super cheap. For 4 days I was given a quote of $25 US. The issue here is obviously, not knowing where you’re going. In addition as I understand it the likelihood that you might get pulled over by the local police is very high and that could end up costing you hundreds. So i opted for the final choice. A hotel transfer by a local transport group. These are great I used Lomas travel on the way to the hotel and booked Amstar on the way to the airport. Make a reservation ahead of time. I made mine the day before through their website. If you book a shared transport the price is $25 each way. The Shuttles are clean and the drivers are knowledgeable and very courteous. Make sure to tip them. It goes a long way.
By doing a little bit of legwork on my own I was able to save big. My trip: flight, hotel, and airport transfers was $630 US, (that included all of my taxes and fees) compared to Apple Vacations quote of $1500. That’s a savings of $870!
I know with travel agents you’re paying for convenience, but wouldn’t you rather have $800 extra for spending money? Please post any questions you may have about the websites or companies I’ve used for this trip. I’ll post about the trip itself next week. Until then don’t be subject to someone else planning your trip! Travel as you desire!