As an influencer, you often see a lot of the same destinations. From Tulum, to South Africa and Greece you are bombarded with “bucket list destinations” 24/7. Tulum especially gets a lot of attention for being a bohemian paradise: Where yoga, green juice and smoothie bowls happen right on the blue beaches. Nothing could go wrong here, right? Wrong. It may be tough to comprehend this if you haven’t been here. I thought the same before I went and NEVER expected to have the experiences that I did. If you are planning a trip to Tulum do your homework and use this post as a resource. I sure wish I did.
1. Rental Cars
We did decide to rent a car (without doing our research) with Hertz. We got a Volkswagen polo for our 6 day journey especially since we wanted to explore ruins that were 3 hours away. The customer service was great and they even waived our underage fee since the SUV we originally requested was not available. The cost of a 6 day rental after insurance ended up being around $600 USD. This is a pretty penny, especially if you are traveling on a budget.
As nice as it was to get around on our own, I would not recommend getting one. Besides the price to rent it the hassle of parking, paying for parking and dealing with corrupt police officers (Yes, scary!) made me wish we never got one. On the way back from Grand Cenote we (and other tourists driving) were motioned to pull over. We had not done anything, we did not blow a stop sign and we didn’t break any other rules. It was scary, and we ended up having to pay them $150 USD just to get them to leave us alone. If you are in a car know that YOU WILL BE PROFILED. If you look like a tourist, you are at risk for being harassed, threatened and eventually stolen from for no reason. “This is Mexico, you will play by our rules”-Corrupt police officer.
If you do rent a car I would recommend having your drivers license and a few hundred pesos wrapped around it so you can pay them off if necessary. Make sure you tell them that is all that you have.
2. Book Reservations To Major Restaurants Ahead Of Time
You might have heard of Hartwood, an extremely well known restaurant. We waltzed over to try and get a table one night and was immediately rejected. Hardwood requires that you make a reservation 30 days out! Long story short, we weren’t able to try this amazing restaurant all because we didn’t book a reservation (Lame).
Azulik, a unique boutique hotel only accepts walk-ins after 5pm. I would also recommend booking a dinner reservation right at 5 prior to your trip. This way, you can experience the beauty of Azulik at sunset. We also did not do this, so unfortunately we weren’t able to explore this hotel. It’s very instagram worthy so naturally, I was upset that we didn’t get to photograph here. Don’t make our mistake, book in advance!
3. Choose Accommodations Wisely
Once upon a time I decided to save $100 dollars and booked an Airbnb in the heart of Tulum. Long story short again, we lost $386 after we decided to cancel and spend more money on a hotel we were comfortable and safe in… Read the reviews before you book anything. We ended up staying at Kasa Hotel, a beautiful stay located near the main beach strip of Tulum.
I personally would have paid more to be on the main beach strip in Tulum just for the convenience of it. This would also be your best bet if you are thinking of not renting a car. Then you are located close to the Tulum ruins, Sian Ka’an, tons of restaurants and of course, the beach!
4. Watch What You Eat (Especially the Shrimp)
I had been indulging in shrimp tacos the entire trip not thinking it would do anything but make me full, happy and content. This particular day I had avocado toast, a smoothie from Matcha Momma and a snack (Shrimp Tacos). I started to feel very full and bloated after this but continued on with the day. Later that night we had a full body massage and immediately after we had to skip dinner so I could head back to the hotel to rest. I really started to not feel well and spent the night in my bathroom (Literally on the floor or… you know where.). A fever, hot and cold sweats and lots of trips to the bathroom came over me that night and lasted quite a while.
My body was completely shut down and it took me 5 full days to recover. Luckily, that was the last few days of our trip but I still missed out on ruins, food and beach days. Reading into it now I know it was the shrimp I had. Obviously no-one can tell what food is contaminated but I would just be sure the seafood you are having is fresh. I personally would never eat the shrimp again in Tulum and suggest that you don’t either. One fish taco was not worth the suffering.
5. Be Prepared To Spend More Than You Think
It’s true that Mexico as a whole can be a very inexpensive place to travel to. Tulum, however is a tourist trap. We spent close to $150 US for dinner one night. Yes, not the entire day but one night! Fancy drinks will run you close to $15. If you want cheap eats it is best to head to town and far away from the beach to stay within a budget. Wanting to stay on the beach or close to it? Plan to spend close to $400 US per night. Need a rental car? 3-600 US a week! We did not expect to spend as much as we did. Yes you can do it cheaper but if you want the experience you see in pictures be prepared to spend some money. Also, don’t exchange your money at the airport. You’ll get a better exchange rate in town.
Planning your trip to Tulum? Let me know if this was helpful or if you have any additional questions! I’m always happy to help.