Hope you all had a good weekend! Mrs Scot and I spent the weekend enjoying the ‘crazy’ snow that London had to offer, we couldn’t help but laugh at how seriously some drivers take a little bit of snow. While I grew up in Scotland and learned to drive on ice, it is safe to say that a lot of London drivers have no idea what to do when the snow starts to lie. Some decide to drive faster to get home quicker and avoid it; others decide to drive at 20 miles per hour on the motorway because they are scared of it. Unfortunately the mix is very dangerous and leads to much frustration from all parties! The faster drivers appear aggressive and impatient to the slow drivers; the slow drivers appear inconvenient and annoying to the faster drivers. The concoction leads to a LOT of road rage!!
Personally, I decided to avoid driving where possible until the gritters got everything properly under control. I spent Friday working from home and we spent a large portion of the weekend Planning Our Holiday to Mexico!!!
I have divided this post into 3 main sections: The Flights, The Accommodation and The Activities! Enjoy
Step 1 – The Flights
For me booking flights is always a trade off between planning very far in advance and looking for deals on last minute travel. For this trip, we were constrained to flying with United, given the vouchers that we were awarded in compensation, following my complaint to the CEO following the disruption that we experienced on the return trip from our honeymoon last year. That said, I still used a comparison site to investigate the different options, including: dates, departure airports and number of stops. I always find the interface of these comparison engines much easier to use than logging on to individual carriers. They also usually let you change details and re-search very quickly! The damage:
2 x tickets: London Heathrow – Cancun, with one 2 hour stop in the US en route, for £1060 (price after $500 voucher was redeemed)
Step 2 – Accommodation
Those of you across the pond in the US or Canada are probably aware of how expensive some of the all-inclusive resorts are on the Riviera Maya. I actually visited Mexico a few years back for a holiday, but got a great deal at the time and hadn’t realised just how expensive most of the resorts are! I am a huge fan of TripAdvisor and will much sooner believe what other travelers say before I believe a star rating of a (probably corrupt) tourist agency! Needless to say, tripadvisor is one of my closest companions when holiday planning – both from an accommodation and activities perspective!
After much debating and planning, we managed to find a fantastic deal on an all-inclusive resort and paid for an upgrade to stay in the adults only hotel on the resort. The result: 14 nights (YES WE KNOW HOW TO TAKE VACATIONS IN THE UK) with 15 restaurants, 12 bars and 24 hour room service included… what’s more, is that we also have unlimited uses of the ‘a la carte’ restaurants while we are there – for those of you who are familiar with Mexico, you might know that these are often limited to 2 or 3 visits a week. The damage:
14 Nights All-Inclusive 5 star hotel with upgrade to adults-only portion of the resort – £1298
Step 3 – Entertainment and Activities
Most of you will know by now that I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie… and Mrs Scot is catching up fast! Mexico is an amazing country and has so much to offer. While I fully intend to spend a good portion of the trip enjoying the benefits and features of the all-inclusive resort (saves money too right?!) there are plenty of things that we want to do whilst we are there!
Where better to start than diving! After finishing our Rescue Diver Courses last year, we have both been above the surface for too long! Mexico offers some beautiful diving on the second largest reef in the world (Mesoamerican barrier reef) – the same reef that stretches down to Roatan and Belize – and we are planning a few drift dives off the island of Cozumel. The currents can get up to 8 knots here and it is not uncommon to drift 5 Kilometers in a single dive!
Mexico is also famous for the enchanting Cenotes – a vast network of underground caves and caverns – many of which are underwater. While we don’t quite fancy full-on cave diving, we are planning to visit some of the underwater caverns and (hopefully) take some awesome pictures of the stalagmites / stalactites like the one below. The cenotes are fresh water and visibility can exceed 50 meters (which is a Scuba Divers dream)!
Isla de Mujeres offers something pretty special between May and September each year; Whale Shark mating. During this incredible phenomenon, it is not uncommon to see up to 100 whale sharks gathered around the island and hopefully we will be blessed enough to swim and snorkel alongside them.
Total (estimated) damage: £650 for 3 days (6 tanks) diving and 1 day whale shark snorkeling for two.
Probably best to categorise our activities this way given that diving always takes over :). From a non-diving point of view, we are definitely not short of options. One of the must-see things is The Chichen Itza! One of the seven modern wonders of the world, the Mayan pyramid is a definite on our list!
Other activities that we are currently considering include:
- Wake boarding
- Swimming with Dolphins
- Xel Ha Lagoon
- Xcaret Nature Reserve
- Zip lining and Cavern Rafting
Estimated Damage – £350 for two additional activities for both of us.
If you total up the cost of this holiday, you will see that we will be spending upwards of £3000 / $5000 on this trip. I don’t make any apologies for this, nor do I think that it is irresponsible. I mean sure, we could pay that extra money towards our house and increase our equity. We could use it to pay off a large chunk of my car loan, or to buy some extra furniture… but guess what – we don’t want to.
We are both pretty sensible when it comes to money; we both work full-time jobs and shop frugally. We shop around on almost everything we buy and negotiate wherever possible. Mrs Scot and I hardly ever go out for expensive dinners and we definitely don’t spend our money in pubs and nightclubs. Instead, we spend our hard-earned money traveling. We love to spend the limited time we get together doing the things we enjoy the most and I certainly don’t feel guilty about it. Why should we save the money for a rainy day… we are living right now and we don’t know when the rainy days will come (if ever)!
I guess what I am trying to say is that you can criticise me for spending what you might think is an irresponsible amount on a holiday all you want; but it won’t change anything. Paying off debt and saving into a big emergency fund are great things to do, but you need to have a balanced life. You have to do the things you love to do and make the freaking most of your time here! You never know when it can be cut short, nor do you know how circumstances can change!
As I write this, come dine with me is on in the background (a dinner party cooking competition show in the UK). The guy just proclaimed to his dinner party guests that he spent £9000 on a 2 week trip to the Maldives and I think this justifies our trip even more!