Mexico and El Salvador for Pretty Damn Near Free

Today I leave beautiful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I have been spending the past week as a pretty-close-to-free vacation. I have been staying in a gorgeous little casita, behind the main house of an American expat with whom I did a home exchange—she came to Austin earlier in the summer, and now I am staying in her place. I have my own private little two bedroom quarters, attached to a Spanish colonial patio and lush gardens. All at no cost to me. Absolutely nada.

And I used frequent flyer points to book my ticket here on United. In fact, I took advantage of my points by booking a three-way ticket for the same amount of miles that just a round-trip from Austin to Mexico would have cost me. For 35,000 miles I booked an itinerary from Austin to Mexico, then Mexico to El Salvador, and El Salvador back to Austin on January 24. Total cash out of pocket for this ticket? $128.63, which includes the departure and tourism taxes for Mexico and El Salvador, as well as the U.S. customs and immigration fees.

I’m here in Mexico on very little money, and spending no more than I would at home. I’ve spent the same amount on food, and being in a home exchange where I have my own refrigerator, microwave, etc has allowed me to buy items at the grocery store and also bring home leftovers from restaurants to eat later. A few taxi rides, but I’m not paying for gas on my car back home right now, either.

Today I fly to El Salvador to meet Keith—who also used airline points, on British Airways, for his ticket—a total of 20K miles and $59.63 for the fees and taxes. We will spend two weeks exploring this country, staying at very inexpensive, small, family-run B&Bs and enjoying the low cost of travel in the Central American country.

What could be better?


About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."
This entry was posted in Accommodations, Airline Points, Central America, Frequent Flyer Programs, Home Exchange, Mexico and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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