Vacation: Using Money Wisely-Timing Counts

SHIRLEY MUELLER, MD

The American dollar is worth roughly 82% more now than its average compared to the Mexican Peso from 1972 to 2015. This makes for some choice bargains in Mexico for Americans.

“The US Dollar increased to 14.85 Mexican Pesos in February from 14.78 in January of 2015. The Mexican Peso averaged 8.18 from 1972 until 2015…”

From http://www.tradingeconomics.com/mexico/currency

The American dollar is worth roughly 82% more now than its average compared to the Mexican Peso from 1972 to 2015. This makes for some choice bargains in Mexico for Americans. After a recent 10-day trip there, I can personally testify to this. Choosing Mexico as a vacation spot now can not only save money but provide pleasure doing it. Here are 5 reasons why.

1. Airfare is inexpensive. On February 10, 2015, a nonstop economy round trip ticket on Delta from the New York City area (Newark) to Mexico City was $528.00, less than flying to another foreign country. For example, round trip on British Airways from NYC to London, also nonstop economy, is $1,091.00. Both figures were obtained from Travelocity as the least expensive fares.

View from the Gran Hotel rooftop restaurant in Mexico City over the Zocolo at night.

Photo by the author.

2. Ditto for hotel rooms. The Gran Hotel Ciudad de México on the Zocolo, the most prominent square in Mexico, charges $124.00 per night as its lowest rate. The more luxurious Four Seasons nearby, but not directly on the Zocolo, begins at $460.00 per night, considerably more, but in a comparable city like Manhattan would be $695.00 per night.

One of the 2 silver earrings (shown against a tulip bulb) I purchased from the gift shop of the Olga Y Rufino Tamayo, a modern art museum near the Archeological Museum in Mexico City. They cost about $118. Notice the contrast of the tarnished silver piece in the middle between the 2 silver roundels on either side. The mate to this earring is the reverse: tarnished silver, silver and tarnished silver rather than silver, tarnished silver and silver. This makes the earring pair interesting as well as attractive. Photo by the author.

3. The shopping prices are phenomenal. What was inexpensive before in Mexico is even less so. Think of silver and gold. For example, I purchased a 14 Karat ring to supplement my wedding band for about $400. It was tooled in an intricate fashion and pleasantly light on my finger. Less expensive jewelry included pure silver earrings, approximately cost $118 dollars (please see illustration above). Nicely fashioned and colorful earrings made of other materials were less.

Food preparation. The restaurants in Oaxaca were excellent and prices modest by American standards. Photo by the author.

4. Meals were good to outstanding. In Oaxaca, we had lunches and dinners that were more sophisticated and tastier than many NYC restaurants. That is saying something. The cost was less, too, a maximum of $100 for my husband and me including wine and tip. In Manhattan, a comparable meal at a high end restaurant would have cost more, at least $150.00.

Monte Alban near Oaxaca is an important pre-Columbian archaeological site as well as a world heritage site. Photo by author.

5. The historic sites within the country are numerous, worthwhile and well kept. There are 32 cultural properties listed on the World Heritage Site in Mexico. In short, these properties are a joy for the eyes and heart.

Map from US Mexico Travel Warning site.

One word of caution about safety in Mexico. There clearly has been and is crime in the country. In fact, the U.S. government has travel warnings out for parts of the country. Please see details on the US Department of State site. We visited Mexico City, Puebla, and Oaxaca with no trouble. They are all in the lower half of Mexico where there have been fewer drug problems than in the Northern areas. In fact in Puebla and Oaxaca, much smaller than Mexico City, the atmosphere seemed rural and welcoming. The only reason Mexico City didn’t appear this way was because it was so crowded and thereby hard to navigate. Still, it is always advisable to take reasonable precautions such as staying in tourist areas or if going elsewhere being accompanied by a guide.

Last, but not least, Mexico is more or less within the same time zone as the United States. The 3 places we visited are in the central time zone. This made for easier adjustment on the body. This is in addition to money saved and pleasure gained when visiting Mexico now.