The Cost of Spending Thanksgiving in Mexico

Photo credit: Liliana Saeb, CC BY 2.0.

Ever since I moved across the country to California, far away from my parents in Maryland and Ohio, I have found myself skipping out on some of the traditional family holidays and opting for trips closer to my new West Coast home. My first year in LA, I stayed in the city and hopped around from Friendsgiving to Friendsgiving. My second year in LA, my boyfriend and I took a trip up to San Luis Obispo.

This year, we decided to drive down to Rosarito Beach in Baja California, Mexico with four of our friends. We were excited to trade long airport lines and expensive cross-country flights for leisurely beach strolls and cheap tropical drinks. Here’s a breakdown of the costs of the trip:

Before we left

  • Airbnb: We booked our Airbnb all the way back in March to ensure cheap rates for our three-night, four-day stay.
    • Total price: $678 for entire stay
    • Price per person: $113 for entire stay
  • Mexican car insurance: Since none of our car insurance plans included international coverage, we had to purchase additional insurance just in case. We took two cars to Mexico; the owners of the cars purchased the insurance, and we split the cost six ways.
    • Total price: $122
    • Price per person: about $20

Day 1 

  • Gas: The two cars filled up right before crossing the border into Mexico, and we split the cost six ways.
    • Total price: $49
    • Price per person: about $8
  • Beach lunch and drinks: When we first got to the Airbnb (a mere two and a half hours from LA!), our place was not quite ready. We decided to kill time by hopping down to a hotel-owned restaurant right on the private beach that our property had access to.
    • Total price: $120
    • Price per person: $20
  • Small grocery run: The first day we were there, a small group went out to buy water, beer, limes, and tequila to have handy at the house.
    • Total price: $42
    • Price per person: $7
  • Cabs to/from dinner: We took five-minute cab rides to/from our Airbnb and the restaurant we ate at on Thanksgiving night—a steakhouse called Tapanco.
    • Total price: $24
    • Price per person: $4
  • Dinner: At Tapanco, we each ordered multiple glasses of wine for less than $5 each throughout the meal. We all ordered a special dish, which came with a soup course, a salad course, and seemingly unlimited tortillas.
    • Total price: $192
    • Price per person: $32

Day 2

We couldn’t decide which place we wanted to try for lunch, so we agreed to eat two lunches on Day 2!

  • Lunch #1: Our first stop was Tacos El Yaqui, where we each enjoyed one large carne taco.
    • Total price: $21
    • Price per person: $3.50
  • Lunch #2: We then drove to Puerto Nuevo, the nearby Lobster village, and ordered three medium orders of lobsters (about nine lobsters for the six of us) from Villa Ortega’s. The lobsters came with a soup course, rice, beans, and tortillas. Almost all of us nursed beers while we ate.
    • Total price: $105
    • Price per person: $17.5
  • Grocery run for homemade dinner: After exploring the lobster village, a group went to the grocery store to pick up supplies for a homemade Thanksgiving-esque dinner. We roasted two small chickens on top of potatoes, and made chicken gravy to top cornbread and apple stuffing. We purchased additional water jugs and multiple bottles of wine.
    • Total price: $93.47
    • Price per person: $15.58

Day 3

We split up the most on Day 3, with five of us venturing out towards Baja wine country in the Guadalupe Valley, Baja’s wine country. After spending some time at a beautiful vineyard, we went to Corazón de Tierra, ranked one of Latin America’s Best 50 Restaurants this past year.

  • Wine tasting at Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards (four people partook):
    • Total price: $45.71
    • Price per person: $11.43
  • Wine bottles at Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards (each couple bought differently; I bought two bottles for my boyfriend and me):
    • Total price: $40
    • Price per person: $20
  • Wine glasses at Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards (four people partook):
    • Total price: $21
    • Price per person: $5.25
  • Tasting menu at Corazón de Tierra (five people partook):
    • Total price: $472.58
    • Price per person: $94.52
  • Wine pairing with lunch (four people partook):
    • Total price: $216
    • Price per person: $54
  • Dinner: After having stuffed myself with delicious food and a touch too much wine at lunch, I opted to stay home while the rest of the group went to dinner at Tampanco’s sister restaurant, El Nido.

We did not spend any more money until we crossed the border into the U.S. the next day. We stopped at a Stone Brewery outpost in Escondido and celebrated a successful alternative Thanksgiving trip!

The total cost of my share of the trip: $425.78!

Isabel Galupo is a Los Angeles-based writer and pug-lover. You can find her still not really understanding how to use Twitter @igalupo.

This piece is part of The Billfold’s Holidays and Money series.


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