Hey guys, thanks for stopping by to check out how to do Belize on a Budget! Today’s guest post comes from Erica. A little bit about her: Erica is a 25 year old Brooklynite, raised in Belize. She is also A data analyst, traveler and part-time yogi. She lives by the motto Try before judging.
Belize is a beautiful Latin-Caribbean country just south of Mexico. Despite its small size and population, with its jewel toned seas, numerous ruins and mountainous regions, it is a go-to destination that’s sure to have something for everyone.
With tourism being its main industry it’s no wonder Belize is listed as one of the top two most expensive countries in the region to visit. Even so it is possible to see Belize on a budget and no one knows this better than locals. So here are some tips from a local on how to get the most out of your vacation dollars.
Buy your ticket early. Belize is a very popular tourist destination and every year, especially during the summer, tickets drop under 400 USD round trip and under 300 USD if you happen to live in a city that’s a port to central and south america. This is particularly the case if you’re planning to travel there during the summer and can also buy at least a month in advance.
Get a package deal. Travel deal sites like Groupon often offer packages including airfare and lodging for a week or two.
Don’t change your money. Belize has long enjoyed a fixed currency of 2:1 to the USD. As a result all businesses accept USD alongside BZD.
Pair up with a local. If you have a friend from Belize definitely try to coordinate your trips together. Locals benefit from discounts or local prices on guided tours. It tends to be 10 to 25 USD less than what non-locals are charged and the only verification necessary is an accent and/or the ability to pull an old Belizean family name of which more than half the country tends to be related.
Ask a local or find a guide book. There are quite a few accessible sites tourist can visit on their own. Cahal Pech and Xunnantunich ruins and Guanacaste national park are just a few. All are either a short bus ride or walk away from their neighboring towns and any local can tell you how to get to them.
Where to Stay:
Hostel. I can’t stress this enough. Stay in a Hostel! This isn’t unique to Belize either. Most travelers know hostels tend to be a better deal and if you book in person you might hear of deals not listed online. For instance Bella’s Backpacker hostel in San Ignacio charges 12 USD for a bed, a night but they also rent the hammocks upstairs for 6 USD.
How to Get Around:
Just bus it. There’s no bus going from the airport and the taxis charge out the roof thanks to this. However Belize does have a great public transportation system that spans the entire country and considering how small the entire country is, it never takes too long to get from town to town. To minimize travel time, try to get express buses and travel outside the 3pm to 7pm rush hour. Also there is no ticket system just tell the bus driver or conductor where you need to go and hop on the bus he says is going your direction.
Air or Sea. The islands or cayes. (FYI this is pronounced ‘Keys’. Don’t embarrass yourself. No one will know what the ‘Kays’ are.) There are two main ways to travel to the Cayes of Belize. The most convenient and hence more expensive is to fly direct from the airport via Maya Island Air. One way to Ambergris Caye tends to run 75USD or 150 round trip. The most economical way and the way most locals tend to use is to travel into Belize city to San Pedro Water Taxi and take a boat out to the islands. The boat trip tends to be 35 USD round trip but a taxi to the water taxi runs about 25 to 35 USD one way. If you have exact change and bit of balls you can probably get the driver to just charge you 25 flat.
Where to Eat:
Skip the restaurant. One thing I hear often in Belize is how expensive it is to eat. Newsflash, there is food being sold everywhere in Belize. And 9 times out of 10 the old lady in the tiny house or with the cart at the street corner has some of the best food in town and locals know this, so again always ask.
Stick with local foods. Most foods common to Belize will be unlike anything you’ve had before. Belize is mix of Caribbean and Hispanic. It also has the added benefit of being mainland which makes available some ingredients which are inaccessible on the islands. Some local foods you can’t find elsewhere include Tacos, burritos, meatpies, fryjacks, boil-up and johnny cakes. Keep your palette local and you will ALWAYS get the best bang for your buck.
Lastly, let loose and enjoy. Belize is a super chill country with very nice people. You will definitely have a great time regardless of how you go about your travels.
Did you enjoy this guest post? Comment below to let us know if any of these tips were helpful on your journey to Belize! Happy Travels!
featured image via flickr by Mike Heller: Belize Dock