Tips on last minute travel to Tulum, Mexico

Are you as spontaneous as I am and book a trip overseas two days before the departure? If you are anything like me and love ditching town, especially when you live in a big city like Los Angeles, then you should definitely keep reading. I was trying to coordinate a trip with some girlfriends to head overseas to Panama, but it just wasn't in the cards and it wasn't working out.

Fast forward to two days before Labor day weekend and no trip booked.  I was looking into various destinations that wouldn't be a 14 hour excursion yet also affordable. Where could I go that was only about 4-5 hours away by plane and wasn't going to cost me a new house to get there? 

Low and behold the idea of Tulum, Mexico came to mind and as my friend was visiting we began to look up some flights.  The flights I seemed to be finding on your ordinary travel sites like Expedia were pulling up flights that were 14 hours in length, with a stop over in a US city and then arriving the next day in Mexico.  I thought no way, there has to be something better than this when Tulum, Mexico is only a 5 hour non-stop direct flight.  Then my friend said have you ever tried the website skiplagged?

Ironically, another friend mentioned this new app just days before and I wasn't too sure about downloading the app, as I was a bit skeptical but finally gave in.  We began to find flights that were much more afforable, say half the price and the hours I was looking to depart and return.  Then my friend suggested why don't you check another site out just to be sure. Now, it had been quite some time since I had checked into a site other than Expedia, why I am not sure, luck of the draw. 

So turns out Travelocity ended up having a flight for half the price of the original flights we were looking up and they were non-stop flights. It was finally happening.  Within a few hours I booked a last minute trip to Tulum, Mexico and I was so excited. Just to be sure I bought the travel insurance for the flight for an additional $30.00. I didn't end up needing it but in case of lost luggage or illness (Mexico's water isn't exactly the cleanest) I thought best to take precautionary measures for the extra cash.

However, knowing that I was going to eventually find a reasonable flight I began perusing hotels and airbnb locations to find a place to stay without also breaking the bank vault. Again as luck would have it I chose to go with the airbnb location that was only, you ready for it, $25.00 per night. 

The airbnb ended up being just what I needed for a relaxing getaway to detox from city life. It was near the main street in town, yet only about 4 miles away from hotel row which consists of higher end shops and a myriad of boutique and chic hotels.

If you have ever been to Tulum, you know there is a row of hotels that are classy and a bit trendy right on the beach.  Since September is off season, rooms were going for as low as $100.00 per night upwards of $500 per night.  Seeing as I was just looking for a last minute solo travel getaway I decided to skip the sand and stay in an airbnb which proved to be perfect for what I needed and I didn't lose my wallet doing so.  As much as I would love the luxury of a more expensive hotel right on the beach I also love to explore and a bit of a challenge whilst overseas.  The airbnb ended being the perfect blend of apartment and relaxation in a safe neighborhood far enough away from the noise of the main part of the city street, yet a five minute bike ride away.

One travel advisory that I wasnt warned of was the fact that this time of year (for about the past four years) the beach was laden with seaweed. Apparently the seaweed is a project of growth over the last four years and is possibly washing up on shore due to the earth's pollution.  The beaches in Tulum, are typicallly known as sandy white beaches with turquoise waters, but my time on Tulum's beach, was nothing of the sort, disappointing but reality.  Therefore not spending even $100 a night I was glad that I chose the airbnb over the beachside villas.

The airbnd had free bikes, hammocks and a lovely refreshing pool. Not to mention the local Cristal cenote was only a ten minute bike ride away.  Cenote's are part of the must see 'touristy' places when traveling to Tulum.  I definitely recommend having dinner in the city on the main road and doing your shopping there or off the main road, as there are many wonderful boutiques.

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One of my favorite destinations which is about 40 minutes outside of Tulum center is COBA ( the old ancient ruins).  One place I missed seeingg was Akumal where all the turtles can be seen right on the beach. Some of my recommended restaurants include Unico, which is on the main drag. Great service and reasonable prices for the portions of food and quality of food you get. I happened to go there on a Wednesday evening and mind you the crowds are not around in the month of September so there was only one other diner in the entire establishment, so it was like having the restaurant to myself.

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Another great establishment to grab a bite to eat was Hermana Republica which was a bit off the beaten path, but not so hidden that you cannot find it. This particular establishment I had run into, literally while biking around the town on my beach cruiser. There were a few diners and I truly enjoyed the light entrees I ordered, which consisted of a carpaccio like dish made with fresh daily fish and a pumpkin dip, served with some fresh homemade tortilla chips. 

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Looking for a spot to enjoy a night on the town, then definitely try out Batey's bar.  They even serve some light snacks if you have the munchies.  Some friends I met along the way and I went to this bar whilst passing by on a Sunday night and had a great time. The drinks are fresh and they offer live music, if you catch them on a night they have live music scheduled.  I highly recommend their fresh squeezed mojiitos, which I would recommend the watermelon with fresh squeezed watermelon and all the fixings, including a piece of sugar cane to enjoy with your drink.

Seeing as Tulum, is a quick plane ride away I may just choose to go back there, but for now visiting Tulum on a budget is the way to go.  In two months Tulum, will be in their high season and bustling with travelers and tourists alike.  If you look hard enough though you can certainly find deals.