Since I was a kid, I’ve been coming to Mexico. From all-inclusive resorts with my parents, to discovering local joints in my adulthood, Mexico will always be a vacation home-away-from-home for me. And it’s a quick hop, skip, and a ~ 4-hour flight jump from the cold and grey of Toronto to warm and sunny Cancun.
Truthfully though, most of the times I’ve come to Mexico have been with my family and I had never planned a trip on my own. This time, I definitely learned that perfecting your planning while booking your trip to Mexico or, really, any travel destination, is as important as the trip itself.
In many cases, good planning is the key to having a good trip…
In partnership with my friends at Aeroplan (p.s. if you’re not already a member – what are you waiting for? You literally earn miles to travel and it’s free. Click here to join), I’m covering everything you need to plan your next vacation. Aeroplan has a booking tool, where, in addition to redeeming your Aeroplan Miles for flights, hotels and car rentals, you’re also able to book a hotel or rent a car using cash (ensuring you’re earning Aeroplan Miles on every single dollar you spend). You actually earn 4 Aeroplan Miles per dollar on all cash bookings you make through aeroplan.com and it gives you the option right within the tool to either use cash or redeem your miles. This post was inspired by Aeroplan’s booking tool and how easy it’s made travel planning (not to mention, who doesn’t love earning miles on miles of travel haha).
From budgeting, to where to book your vacation, to how to make the most of your travels (present and future), to tips for Mexico, we’re going through it all in today’s post, so that all you have to worry about is getting out there and enjoying it!
1) What’s Your Budget
This might seem obvious, but as you Google search “best vacation”, it’s often easy to get sucked up by one trip or another, one detail over another, and you end up booking something just because you’re fed up with looking. Having a set budget in mind, broken down by your ideal flight price, accommodation price, car rental price, as well as incidentals and spending money will help you make sure you have the budget for many vacations to come. I personally use an excel spreadsheet to organize my travel expenses and create a template so I can re-use it for future trips.
2) Book All In One
You know that feeling of “damn it, where’s my reservation?” or “did we book this?” Yeah, me too. Honestly, even though I consider myself a seasoned traveler, I still get overwhelmed scouring the internet for every little detail for my trips. Aeroplan’s booking tool solves this completely. You can do everything from booking your flight, to booking your accommodation (at one of 250,000 hotels worldwide), to renting a car (at more than 11,000 car rental locations) right within the one tool. And of course, it means you’re earning Aeroplan Miles on every single one of those bookings when you pay with cash. Yay for more free travel from traveling!
3) Leverage and Collect Your Miles
It might seem obvious to use your miles, but I like to redeem them strategically. TBH, I’m a bit of what you might call a mile hoarder. Recently, I’ve been trying to keep my miles to redeem on a really big trip (that I otherwise wouldn’t treat myself to). It always panged me not to use my miles on my smaller trips, but now that I can book through the Aeroplan booking tool and earn miles from booking my other travel, I have no doubt I’ll get that dream trip I’ve had my eyes set on. You also earn Aeroplan Miles when you redeem your miles for car rentals, which is AMAZING. Basically, they’re giving me miles for using my miles haha The cat’s out of the bag! Bottom line: make sure wherever and whatever you’re booking, you’re taking advantage of all the miles you could be collecting!
4) Do Your Research
This goes without saying, but doing your research is probably one of the most important aspects of creating a great traveling experience. I like to open up tabs and compare reviews side by side before making my decisions, but TBH that process got really lengthy (and tiresome). The convenience of the Aeroplan booking tool makes not only booking multiple items but also reviewing multiple items so much better. It includes all the imagery, details, as well as TripAdvisor ratings (what I personally trust the most), so I don’t have to keep going from one site to the next.
The Aeroplan booking tool also highlights special deals for flights and shows you the rates other people have scored trips on. It looks like this and is always changing (I check back often just to get inspiration):
Check out Aeroplan’s (super convenient) booking tool Here
(p.s. between March 18-April 14, you earn an ADDITIONAL 4 miles per dollar spent on hotel and car rental bookings… that’s 8 miles per dollar!)
Tips For Mexico
As with any destination, everyone’s experience is their own. After having been to Mexico so many times, here are some of the things you should keep in mind:
- Decide whether you want an all-inclusive resort experience or not. It’ll dictate what type of trip you have.
- Most of the exciting excursions are from the hotel strip, so keep that in mind for day trips
- If you’re planning on doing a lot of exploring (e.g. if you want to go to any of the islands, Tulum, the ruins, etc), definitely rent a car. It’ll save you tons of money on taxis and tour costs
- Parking is pretty easy everywhere. Park where the sidewalk is painted red or yellow in the cities and it’s free!
- The local currency is the Mexican Peso, but almost everywhere accepts US dollar too
- The weather forecast changes almost hourly
Places To Visit in Mexico
- Playa del Carmen: less of a party-central than Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a lively downtown area in the Mayan Riviera (the entire “5th Avenue” strip is closed off to cars and is a great place to take a stroll anytime of the day)
- Cozumel: a sizeable island off the coast of Playa Del Carmen that’s renowned for its crystal clear waters, snorkeling, and vintage cars
- Tulum: this spiritual village on the coast of the peninsula was originally a spiritual village but has slowly become a posh Instagram heaven. It’s beautiful for a stroll and the IG-able locations are plenty, but get ready to pay a hefty price for thing
- Mercado 28: this artisanal market in the heart of Cancun is an amazing place to walk through and do some local shopping. Although most of the items are souvenirs and many of the booth owners are quite aggressive, you can definitely find some gems and you get to chat with local Mexicans (which I find worth it).
Where I’m Thinking Of Going Next
With 60,000 Aeroplan Miles sitting in my account right now, my travel bug is as contagious as can be. I personally have my eyes set on Amsterdam, Barcelona, or back to Paris.
I hope these planning tips help you to feel empowered to embark on your next travel adventure. Seeing the colours of the world is something I consider a luxury, but also a necessity for a fulfilled life. Aeroplan Miles has truly made this “life necessity” more accessible and easier. I collect miles everywhere I can and, though I personally also have an Aeroplan VISA credit card, Aeroplan membership is free and truly empowers more people to see the world. And that mission has my full and undivided support, always.
Until the next time, Mexico, and until the next trip, friends! Hasta luego!
***This post was made in generous partnership with Aeroplan. All thoughts, opinions, and recommendations about the Aeroplan booking tool are exclusively my own.