Why Mexico City Should be Your Next Adventure Destination

Most of the time when I ask people if they’ve been to Mexico, their answer is “Yes!” However, once I ask them where in Mexico they’ve been, they typically respond: Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, or Cabo. (Are you included in this bunch? It’s OK, no worries!).

I personally have only been to the first two that I mentioned, and I think they are GREAT for fun, vacation and relaxation! Nevertheless, you might agree with me and concur that these beaches even though very fabulous, they are a bit Americanized -which only means they’ve lost some of their Mexican flair and therefore don’t give you a real taste of Mexico!

This might sound a little biased (partly because I am half Mexican), but… Mexico has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world -crystal clear waters and white-dusty sand make Mexican beaches a hot (literally!) destination for many national and foreign tourists every year. So, if your mission is to lay back, relax and catch some Vitamin Sea, Mexican beaches are a perfect fit for that purpose!

BUUUT, if you are interested in experiencing the “true Mexico,” I highly recommend you visit Mexico City! As you may remember in my “About” page I shared with you that my dad is Mexican, and part of my roots are deeply tied to the culture, customs and traditions of mi querido (my dear) Mexico.

Ranking amongst the top 10 largest cities in the world, Mexico City offers a pool of different activities, including sight-seeing (of course!), that would take up to two weeks at least to do them all! As I previously shared with you, I have a real office job where I get limited vacation days for the entire year, so I narrowed my visit to a long weekend. My main focus was to visit as many historical landmarks such as:

  • The Palace of Bellas Artes
  • Hemicycle of Benito Juarez
  • The Tile House (Casa de los Azulejos)
  • El Zocalo Historical Downtown (the Cathedral, the National Palace, and the Tenochtitlan Temple)
  • Angel de la Independencia
  • Chapultepec Castle
  • Pyramids of Teotihuacan
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Palace of Bellas Artes
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Benito Juarez Hemicycle
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Pyramid of the Sun
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Tile House

AIRFARE

To be honest, flying into Mexico City can be really inexpensive given it is Mexico’s and Latin America’s busiest and biggest airport -so you should be able to find great deals as low as $255 a round trip with airlines like United Airlines or Southwest (that’s been the lowest I’ve found; if you can get a better deal that’s awesome!).

Search for your best flight deals on Expedia.com, Priceline.com, or visit directly the airline websites of United.com and/or Southwest.com. Don’t be afraid to mix and match airlines either -I’ve done it in the past to reduce airfare costs, but if your a points person, stick to your preferred airline.

HOTEL

My boyfriend and I did our due diligence searching for a place to stay during our visit. Here are the criteria we looked at to decide on a hotel:

  1. Location. Making sure your hotel is in a safe area is highly important. (Safety first!)
  2. Comfort and Quality of Service. Comfy beds with clean, fresh sheets, and some  AC make it a suitable environment for decent sleep. Note: depending on the time of year it can get hot -VERY hot and not all hotels have AC!
  3. Proximity. It’s nice to be able to walk to most places when your traveling to not miss out on any sight-seeing! We wanted a hotel that was walking distance from the downtown area where we would spend most of our time exploring the sites I listed.

Based on these three components we chose Hilton Mexico City Reforma which indeed is located on Paseo de la Reforma Avenue. Originally, our room was on floor 12, but at check-in we asked if there were other rooms available with a better view, and guess what?! We got moved to the 22nd floor with an amazing view of Alameda Central park (it was gorgeous!).

Overall the staff was very friendly, spoke fluent English, and provided great customer service. We loved our bar-tender, too, he took care of us every evening after being exhausted from touring all day long. He recommended trying the “banderita” shots -a  Mexican Flag shooter of lime juice, tequila, and sangrita (a traditional Mexican tomato juice served as a chaser to high-end tequilas).

We (I know my boyfriend would agree with me), highly recommend this hotel if you intend to explore the historical downtown of Mexico City!

TRANSPORTATION

If you stay nearby the downtown area, the only time you will need ground transportation is to get to and from the airport. Always request taxi’s through the hotel or at the airport terminal (right after you walk out from customs on the right you will see  taxi booths). Those are registered taxi drivers that are safe to take.

MONEY

Unlike the US where everybody carries plastic to pay for everything, you will want to bring cash so you can change your money into Mexican (MXN) pesos at the airport. There are many exchange currency booths once you exit through customs, make sure you look around before you get suckered into one of the booths that doesn’t give you the most pesos for every dollar/euro (or whatever currency you are carrying).

You will need MXN pesos to pay your taxi driver, tip the hotel staff, and meals at small or street restaurants. Also, if you are into bohemian fashion and love artisan clothes, purses, shoes, and jewelry, definitely bring more cash -you will need it!

Credit cards are accepted in many places, like your hotel, established restaurants, and some shops, but just make sure you carry cash at all times.

DON’T MISS OUT!

Whatever you do, please make sure you don’t leave Mexico City without doing these three things:

~ Visit La Terraza at the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. This hotel (which by the way… you can stay here too!) has a rooftop restaurant and bar with the most SPECTACULAR views of El Zocalo. Make sure you go online to place a reservation or get there early to secure a spot! (You will have to go for a meal, they don’t let you order only a bottle of wine -this method was already tested by my boyfriend and I, and it did not get us in… LOL).

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Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico

~ Walk across from the Hilton hotel over to the Alameda Central park at night to shop for handmade clothes, or try some of the authentic Mexican street food -you will love it!

~ If you are a coffee fanatic #coffeeaddict, I dare you to try an “Horchata” iced coffee from Cielito -this coffeeshop is  like the Mexican version of Starbucks. I hope you like it a latte!!! :b

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

A lot of people have this idea of Mexico being very dangerous; my “Gringo” boyfriend was under a similar impression. But to be honest, Mexico City is a pretty safe city -we walked everywhere to and from our hotel and stayed out till midnight without feeling endangered. However, I do have some precaution measures I recommend when traveling (no matter where you are going):

  1. Carry your wallet in your front pocket, or your purse in front of you. Ladies keep your purse at sight at all times.
  2. Don’t carry all your cash with you when going out for walks and avoid wandering into lonely, sketchy areas.
  3. Leave your passport locked up in your hotel room’s safe.

Like in any big metropolitan city, be aware of your surroundings and use your good judgement; stay away from areas that don’t look so touristy. Other than that, go out and explore this beautiful historical city!

Hopefully this post wasn’t too long; I really tried to keep it short and straight to the point, but I wanted to make sure to not miss any important pointers to ensure you can make the most out of this wonderful trip!

If you have any questions on other topics, please feel free to message me! I really want you to have a great experience in Mexico! Let me know how your trip goes and what you liked most about your visit.

Safe Travels!

~Steph

 

Every Penny Adds Up: Save Your Credit Card Change

As our friend Benjy once said. . . “a penny saved is a penny earned”and boy, oh boy was he right! Saving change from cash payments was an easy way to save some extra funds back in the day; but nowadays, we live in a cashless society where most of us use credit cards –eliminating our opportunity to earn a little “bonus.”

 If you’re interested in saving money throughout the year, a really easy way to do it is with the Acorns app. I downloaded this app the first week of the year and have already saved up $54 with their round-ups feature. All you do is link your credit card(s) to your Acorns account and every purchse made on your card(s) will be rounded up to the nearest dollar; this money gets deposited into your Acorns account. It’s a really convenient way to start saving up those pennies –they could add up quickly!

Besides helping you save money for that trip you urgently need to escape from work, or pair of stilettoes you can’t live without because they match perfectly with your new outfit, Acorns offers some other neat PERKS!!!

  •  Earn $5 for every time you refer this app to a friend and they open their Acorns account (you and that person will each get $5 deposited to your respective accounts)
  • Earn $1,000 referral bonus when 10 of your referrals open an Acorns account before the end of January (you will get $1,000 deposited to your account)
  • Earn money on your money (yes, that is correct!). Acorns invests every $5 you accumulate from your round-ups into a protfolio of stocks and bonds which in return can earn you more money for the money you are already saving! Note: your money’s growth rate will depend on what type of investment portfolio you chose (mine is “moderate”), and how much money you continue to add into your account. (But heyyy… at least your savings will be earning more than .01% for every dollar saved unlike my personal bank account!)
  • The Round-Ups feature can be incremented from 1X to 2X, 3X up to 10X the amount from your transaction’s round-up (I personally have upped my account to 2X –but  start out with 1X just to understand how this feature works).

 Just so that you know. . .there is a $1 monthly fee for all accounts with a balance under $5,000 and .25% of the balance per year on accounts over $5,000.

 Don’t wait any longer and start saving today! To download this app to your phone click here. Note: this is a secure site –my brother, some of my friends and colleagues, and I already open our Acorns accounts and have liked the app thus far!

 By all means, I am not saying that I am a professional financial advisor; I am just sharing my experience from using Acorns as a savings and investment tool, helping me meet my goal of saving more money this year.

~Steph

P.S. This is not an “I love you” note, to download this app and earn your first $5 (WoOhoO!) click on any of the hyperlinks in this post from your phone.

Easy Money: How YOU can earn it!

I don’t need more money -said no one ever!!! If you love shopping, traveling, going out and enjoying a good time, this costs money and I know you wouldn’t mind some extra cash (just like me!) to enjoy more fancy shoes, adventurous trips, social happy hours, and cool experiences.

One of the easiest ways you will ever earn money is by swiping a cash-back credit card! (I agree. . . this sounds TOO good to be true, but I am not kidding!)

For instance, I bank with Chase J.P. Morgan and applied for their Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card; once approved, I got an automatic $150 bonus for spending $500 within the following three months. Additionally, I started earning 1.5% cash back for all my purchases. The Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card offers:

  • No annual fee (YaY-hOoRaY!)
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn a total of 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in bonus categories that change every three months such as gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and other categories. (In other words you can earn up $75 each quarter for the advertised categories, and once you max out, you earn 1 point for every dollar spent).

So pretty much this is what it comes down to. . . you get 1 point per dollar spent on everyday purchases, and 5 points per dollar spent on purchases in the categories highlighted during each quarter. Note: Every 100 points you accumulate is equivalent to $1.00

SECRET: Every year, from January to December, I use my cash-back credit card to accumulate points from all my purchases. From drinks, meals and  groceries to bills, rent and insurance, I pay for everything and anything that I can with a credit card to earn as many points as possible.

TRUE FACT: This practice has helped me redeem an average of $350 to nearly $400 per year!! (I typically use this “bonus” to shop for Christmas gifts).

Continue reading “Easy Money: How YOU can earn it!”