Playa Del Carmen for Beginners

My wife and I love to travel. This year we were blessed with being able to visit four different countries. One of our favorite spots is the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Whenever I speak to people about travelling abroad, I always get misconceptions. Here’s a list of 5 myths about travelling in the Riviera Maya from a Caucasian United States citizen’s perspective.

Myth 1: It’s Dangerous in Mexico

It can be dangerous anywhere! While it’s true that parts of Mexico have been getting a lot of attention, the Riviera Maya happens to be a huge tourist area that the government I’m sure would like to retain. To that effect, we’ve never felt unsafe travelling around anymore than if we were in New York City or Washington, DC.

Myth 2: I can’t go to Mexico because I don’t speak Spanish

So many people speak English these days that it’s almost embarrassing that we as Americans don’t have a second or third language in our repertoire. I definitely recommend picking up some local phrases but it’s not critical. As with anywhere, the more rural you get, the more of the local dialect you’re going to get. Heck, I know Vermonters (my home area) who I can barely understand!

Myth 3: I need my internet

Let’s face it. Travelling abroad has been around a lot longer than the internet and while it’s one of those First World Problems when you’re out of service, most American cell carriers have an international plan that will allow you internet access wherever you’re at. There are also SIM cards you can pick up and throw into your phone if you’re on an extended stay like I personally do when I’m in Scotland for a summer. Service can be dodgy wherever you might be but the same holds for the United States.

Myth 4: It’s too expensive

Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to Mexico. In a highly touristy area such as the Riviera Maya which is probably more expensive than inland Mexico, a margarita on the beach is about $6 USD. Airbnb accommodations can start as low as $25 USD a night. Excursions can be pricey but so are private tours in the US. Recently, we splurged and spent about $700 USD on door-to-door private tour to Chitchen Itza that included an English speaking guide, private van to the ruins, two Cenotes and lunch for 4 at a local establishment. The company was awesome and exceeded all of my expectations. If you’d like to know more about it, message me at Here’s a link to cost of living expenses in Playa Del Carmen. The exchange rate when we were there was about 20 pesos to a dollar so a 2-liter bottle of coke was just over $1 USD.

Myth 5: The logistics are overwhelming

Are you a planner or a doer? I’m a doer and my wife is the planner. That being said, we didn’t really pull the trigger on this trip until 2 months out from departure. Set a budget. All I need to know is when I’m flying and where I’m staying. Find the nearest large transport hub and start pricing out your trip. Use Airbnb as a starting point for accommodations. It’s real easy to figure out when you’re available to travel and flush out price points in Google Flights that work for that schedule. Airbnb has a pretty easy to use search by price and location to help you narrow down your options. Once these two major hurdles are taken care of, the rest can by fly-by-your-pants.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments about travelling abroad, let us know. We’d like to help make your trip fun and low stress express!

Aldo Bus Station - Cancun
ALDO ticket counter in Cancun airport. Photo courtesy of
Pago Solo En Efectivo - Cash Only
Pago Solo En Efectivo – Cash Only
Taxis in Playa
Local catch
Local Catch on the Beach
Spiderman & Venom
Street Entertainers

***Important and respectful note: this is a tourist area and while you’re visiting, if you happen to take up locals on their offers, please show some respect for their efforts and tip. I don’t like getting caught up in this stuff in big US cities so I’m not a fan of it anywhere else but if someone is providing a service or entertainment – however irregular it may be – I pay for it. Here’s a good article on tipping in Playa.

Tequila Cappuccino Pairing
Tequila Cappuccino Pairing
Punta Sur
Punta Sur – Cozumel
Grocery Store Wares - Chilies
Grocery Store Wares – Chilies
Chitchen Itza
Chitchen Itza
Tour Guides
Tour Guides – Juanjo and Rodrigo
Cenote Swimming
Cenote Swimming
Beach Pontification
Sunrise Beach Reflection
Rest between endeavors
Rest between endeavors


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