Tonya Rapley at hotel in Tulum, Mexico

This post is sponsored by Affirm

As much as I enjoy seeing the world for less, there are a few places on my list that aren’t exactly budget friendly. One such destination is Tulum, Mexico.

Tulum is nestled on the Yucatan Peninsula with dense sprawling jungle to the west and the Carribean Ocean to the east. I’ve been attempting to travel to Tulum since a family emergency required me to cancel my plans to this dreamy destination last minute in 2018. Three years later, fully vaccinated and eager to travel after the great pause known as 2020, I finally made my way to Tulum.

As mentioned above, Tulum is not necessarily the most cost effective trip. There are cost effective things you can do, however if you are looking for a budget getaway, I’d highly recommend other nearby cities such as Playa Del Carmen, Cancun, or Mazaltan. 

Here is the rundown of my Tulum getaway. 


The architecture and design of Tulum is luxurious and remarkably cohesive. Due to this and the popularity of this destination, staying anywhere on the main strip is going to be costly. My husband and I weighed our choices and we decided to stay closer to the main strip as opposed to an Airbnb located closer to the city center. Our accommodations were the second most costly element of our trip, only exceeded by our flights. 

We selected the Kai Hotel and it was an absolute dream nestled in sand facing the Carribean Sea. We booked on Expedia and used Affirm at checkout. This allowed me to spread the cost over 3 months.  Even though I had the cash available, I enjoy having the option to use Affirm because as an entrepreneur I like to be very mindful of my cash flow. 

With Affirm I can purchase what I want now and pay over time with a full understanding of how much it will cost me in interest. Their app is easy to use and stores all of your important loan information such as interest rate, loan terms and payment history in one place. There aren’t any prepayment penalties should you decide to pay your loan off sooner and applying with Affirm doesn’t impact your credit score. You can learn more about using Affirm for your next purchase or trip here.

Getting Around

We learned very quickly that taxis were the most expensive method of transportation. To travel from our hotel to many of the restaurants and activities we wanted to participate in was $30 each way. We found a place on the main strip called We Ride where we rented a motorized scooter for our entire stay for $60 a day. This decision alone saved us approximately $120 a day and provided us with flexibility.

If you want to travel even cheaper, quite a few of the properties also had bicycles that you could rent, however, Tulum is hot and things are rather spaced out once you move from the main strip so a motorized scooter rental might be your best bet.

Dining Out

The food in Tulum rivals most restaurants I visited in New York City. The quality, creativity, and variety was impressive. My favorite restaurants were Rosa Negra, It Tulum, and The Real Coconut, however, they were as expensive as upscale stateside. If dining out for dinner you will want to make reservations ahead of time, most places use OpenTable. 

I definitely recommend planning to splurge a few meals to get an entire Tulum dining experience; however if you want to cut costs consider Ki’bok Coffee Shop (for breakfast), Mama Matcha, Safari Campfire, and Tacqueria La Eufemia to name a few. 

Another cost effective option would be to cook some of your own meals if you happen to go the Airbnb route or have accommodations that have a kitchen.

Activities & Excursions

I’ll be honest, we didn’t participate in many activities. I checked out the Tulum Jungle Gym and visited the spa at Kore Tulum. Kore had a good deal where we received a day pass to their pool facilities, a couples massage, lunch at their buffet, and an open bar for $129. It isn’t the cheapest but a really good value and relaxing. 

If we had more time there I definitely would have checked out the ruins and a few Cenotes, which Mexico is known for. 

I had so much fun in Tulum and it has become one of my favorite destinations.  I wouldn’t say that it’s a family friendly destination, but the vibe is a mix between Miami and a boho retreat. You can rejuvenate, you can celebrate, or both. I look forward to returning, hopefully in the near future, and discovering more cost effective options to enjoy everything this beach jungle paradise has to offer.

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Created by nationally recognized millennial money expert Tonya Rapley, My Fab Finance is a leading financial education and lifestyle blog for millennials who want to become financially free and do more of what they love.