30 Tips for a Cheap Cabo Trip, Part 1: How to Get Flights and Lodging You Can Afford
Cabo San Lucas was ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s top 10 best destinations in Mexico. Billionaires love its beauty and luxury beach resorts. But Cabo isn’t just for billionaires! With some planning and these insider tips, you can afford the Cabo vacation of your dreams.
This is your guide to planning a cheap trip to Cabo that lives up to all your expectations—and some of your wildest dreams! We came up with so many great tips, we’ve divided our guide into two parts. In Part 1, you’ll find advice on:
- How to do research right, so you get everything you want from your vacation
- How to score the cheapest flights
- Where to find affordable, comfortable lodging
In Part 2 we’ll explore:
- Cheap food
- Cheap fun
- Cheap transportation
- How to make your money go further while you’re in Cabo
Time is money, and taking the time to research your trip can pay off big because you won’t spend money impulsively.
1. Crack open a book.
You can find anything on the Internet, but much of it’s in bits and pieces. Go to the library, the bookstore, or a travel shop to find comprehensive printed travel guides. Check out the travel pros:
2. Take notes.
Write down bargains and prices as you come across them. Resist the impulse to click on the “buy/order” button as soon as you see it. Review your notes when you’re done your research, and head back to the companies that offer the best rates.
3. Visit a tourist board.
Start at http://visitloscabos.travel, the official website of the tourist board of Los Cabos. Check out “Upcoming Events” and “Tourist Guide” for free festivals and cultural happenings. Jot down links to lodging and flights.
You’ve heard it before: Timing is everything. It’s true for travel too! Book at the right time, and you’ll get everything you want plus big savings.
4. Choose the right season.
Whales determine high season in Cabo. From December to March, Cabo is warm—while the weather is not-so-nice elsewhere, and whale watching peaks. But so do prices. Unless one of your vacation goals is to see whales, this could be a reason to avoid a winter trip. But keep in mind that hotels and tour companies invest resources in this peak season, so deals do exist!
Late summer and early fall are hot and windy in Cabo, but if you’re not the type of traveler who minds, you can find great bargains.
5. Ask an expert.
If your research turns up lodging or an excursion you like, call the company, and ask when their rates go down.
6. Plan ahead.
Last-minute airfare is rarely a good deal. Airlines know you need that seat and charge accordingly. The best time to book a ticket is 6 to 8 weeks before your flight and 12 to 16 weeks ahead for peak season, according to Matt Kepnes in Travel the World on $50 a Day.
7. Be flexible.
Flexibility in your travel dates and times will land you better deals.
Finding a cheap flight to Cabo challenges the thrifty traveler because unlike many popular destinations, it doesn’t offer a choice of airports. The average consumer visits only 3.6 sites when shopping for airline tickets online, but when it comes to a cheap flight to Cabo, research matters!
8. Check airline websites for special deals.
Southwest® airlines, for instance, doesn’t allow aggregators or online travel agents to sell tickets through third parties, so searching their site directly is best.
9. If you have frequent flier miles, use them.
10. Utilize booking engines.
Sites like Expedia®, Orbitz®, Hipmunk, and Booking.com are high-volume online travel agents. They charge a fee, but they do a lot of the searching for you. Also check out American Airlines Vacations™.
11. Use discounters and wholesalers like CheapOair®.
12. Take a chance on auction sites.
13. Take advantage of fare aggregators.
Their sites redirect you to an airline, cruise, hotel, or car rental site or to online travel agent for the final purchase of your ticket:
14. Set up a daily email with alerts on bargains at Airfarewatchdog™.
15. Think hard about packages.
A flight plus lodging may or may not be a bargain. Ask the package provider about service charges and taxes that may not be obvious when you look at the price.
16. Monitor airline Twitter feeds for deals.
See all airline Twitter handles at twitter.com/johnnyjet/lists/airlines.
17. Note extra fees.
These could be for luggage, a paper ticket, etc., and they add up!
18. Take a bus.
Depending on your starting point, a bus ticket could be the same price—or less than—a plane ticket.
19. Drive an RV.
The cost of gas could be similar to a plane ticket, and there are RV rental fees (if you don’t own one), but it does save on lodging when you get to Cabo.
20. Book a cruise.
Many cruises offer luxury experiences with lodging and food included. Be aware of taxes, fees, gratuity, and port expenses that aren’t included in the stated price. Want more info about cruises? Cabo Expeditions is a preferred cruise partner. Chat live with one of our experts.
Cheap Places to Stay
21. Book a package.
For hotel and resort specials, try the hotel aggregator Trivago and auction sites that let you name your own price. Ask about incidental, extra fees.
If you find a competitor’s lower rate, ask the hotel you want to stay in to match that price or include a free sports activity package. In Mexico, formality and courtesy is valued, so being polite and respectful will go a long way!
23. Use your member benefits.
Organizations you belong to may offer deals and discounts on trips:
24. Ask about incidental costs:
- Local phone calls
- Occupancy taxes
- Resort fees
- Energy surcharges
You can stay under $100 per night, even around $50 if you:
25. Rent lodging.
26. Stay at a hostel.
Hostels are typically about a third of the price of hotel rooms, according to Matt Kepnes (Travel the World on $50 a Day). You can get a private room for a higher rate if dorm-style sleeping is not for you. Check out Hostelworld and Hostelbookers.
Camping on the beach is praised by one intrepid traveler, who camped on the beach of Los Arbolites in Cabo Pulmo Marine Park for $5 per night. Getting to a campsite requires a vehicle, so factor car rental and gas into your expenses.
28. Stay with friends and family.
29. Stay with a future friend.
Hospitality Exchange organizations are popular:
- The Hospitality Club
- Couchsurfing (caters to ages 20-30)
- Servas International (caters to older, more cautious travelers; requires letters of reference and an interview)
Globalfreeloaders.com, for example, requires you to host in return.
Stay tuned for Part 2, featuring even more money-saving tips once you’ve arrived in Cabo. Hint: We’ll save you money on food, fun, and transportation!