Travel Hacking Mexico City
Last weekend I visited Mexico City and had a wonderful time. Originally the trip was supposed to be a quick weekend getaway to ride roller coasters down in Mexico’s capital with a couple of friends of mine. Eventually it morphed into a family trip where my wife and baby daughter tagged along as well.
My wife’s mother and grandmother live in a small town about 3 1/2 hours from Mexico City so I devised a plan. I would fly down to the city with my wife and daughter and help them settle in before heading off to ride roller coasters. Her mother and grandmother would then take a bus to Mexico City and they would all stay in a hotel together and catch up. It worked out perfectly.
Of course any trip of mine has to involve money saving techniques. I have covered a few of these things in the past, however I thought I would put it all in one post. Here is how I travel hacked Mexico City.
Aeromexico and Volaris both fly directly from Las Vegas to Mexico City. While Aeromexico is much more expensive, two roundtrip tickets on Volaris would have cost about $600 roundtrip. The baby would have flown free as a lap child as well. The other option was to fly on Southwest through John Wayne Airport in Orange County. It required a connection, but we could use points.
My wife has the Southwest Companion Pass so she was able to book a ticket for 13,860 points and add my companion ticket for free. We were then able to add the baby as a lap child. The total in taxes was $203.16. So we saved about $400 in cash by flying Southwest, but did have to deal with a connection and about 2 1/2 hours of additional travel time.
I can see an argument both ways for and against this. In our case, the Southwest points have already been earned and thus it didn’t make sense to take cash out of our pockets to purchase the Volaris tickets. Another way to look at it is we used 13,860 Southwest points to save $400 so we got a redemption value of 2.8 cents each. That doesn’t quite tell the whole story considering the extra stop, but I am comfortable with the redemption.
Since we ended up being in two groups, we chose two different lodging options. My wife stayed at the Hampton Inn Mexico City Centro Historico. This is a fantastic hotel that is two blocks from the Zocalo (central square). It is located in a beautiful old building and the best part is it is only 10,000 HHonors points per night. My wife was also able to use her Gold status gained from the Reserve card to get upgraded to a suite with a small living room.
My friends and I opted to use Airbnb since we felt an apartment would suit us better. One of my friends had previously stayed at the Hilton Reforma and liked the area. It turns out this is an excellent area and I was able to find a 2 bedroom apartment one block from the Hilton for $115 per night. The apartment was located in a secure building, had full kitchen and laundry facilities and was very nice. As a reminder you can get $20 for free towards your first Airbnb booking. Here is my referral link, but you can use anyone’s.
As I wrote last week, my first Uber Mexico City experience didn’t go quite as I expected. I did manage to take four more rides with Uber during my time in Mexico City and had excellent experiences. If drivers wanted to deviate from the Uber route they simply asked. Uber is very cheap in Mexico City and I find not having to deal with money or haggling very convenient.
My friends and I also used other forms of transportation. On the day we visited Chapultapec Park, we decided to take the metro system. At a cost of 5 pesos (about $.30) per ride it is CHEAP and we felt very safe! From Chapultapec Park we walked about 5-6 miles down the amazing Paseo de la Reforma back to our apartment. Paseo de la Reforma is modeled after Champs-Élysées in Paris and has a similar vibe and atmosphere. Mexico City is so alive that I highly recommend walking around to soak up the atmosphere.
Six Flags Season Pass Bonus
One of the reasons for our visit to Mexico City was to visit Six Flags Mexico. While this wasn’t exactly planned, Six Flags has a huge season pass sale every Labor Day. While prices at the U.S. parks generally were $60-$80 per pass, we were able to pickup our 2016 season passes including parking for $35 each! A nice little bonus.
I will be writing some more about Mexico City over the next couple of weeks including full reviews of our experience flying Southwest, a review of the excellent Hampton Inn and my overall thoughts of Mexico’s capital and why I think it is vastly underrated.
As with any trip, I was able to keep the costs down quite a lot. For my friends and I the Airbnb option worked out great since we had plenty of space for less than half of the price of the Hilton. For normal hotel needs I can’t think of a better value than the Hampton Inn at 10K points. The only painful experience of flying to Mexico is taxes, but those are unavoidable. Overall it was a successful and very affordable trip and my wife’s mother and grandmother were able to meet baby Elizabeth for the first time which was priceless.
Do you have any Mexico City hacks or money saving tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments!