It’s officially been one month since I’ve been back in the states. Although my trip to Mexico was brief, I learned a lot about traveling in Tulum in that short amount of time and I wanted to offer a few tips on how to do it, and do it right.
As a disclaimer, Clint would probably advise that no one takes advice from me when it comes to traveling because I’m pretty sure he wanted to kill me with the few major mistakes I made. I will admit that I was a tad bit disorganized throughout the week on account of never planning an international trip before and being thrown completely out of my element. But, the good news is, that I made all of the mistakes for you, so these tips are coming from learning the hard way on what not to do while exploring this tropical paradise.
With a little inspiration from my Wildfox Mantra Perfect Tee, I’ve narrowed down my tips to 15 key points listed below.
TULUM TRAVEL TIPS
1. Rent a car. Traveling to a new country can be scary, and what’s even scarier is imagining getting lost and never finding your hotel. Before our trip I was extremely hesitant on renting a car straight from the airport. Now, after seeing that the road from the Cancun Airport is basically a straight-away to Tulum, I would highly recommend renting a car. You WILL need one if you plan to explore as everything in Tulum is spread out and taking a taxi everywhere will get costly.
Fortunately, Tulum car rentals are very inexpensive in comparison to the states. Because of my initial hesitation, Clint and I ended up taking a shuttle from the Airport to Tulum and renting a car in Tulum the next day. After everything the rental car total came out to just under $300 for the whole week, which is AMAZING considering the shuttle was $160 one way from the Airport.
2. On that note, DO NOT get a shuttle from the Airport unless you’re ready to spend some big bucks. The shuttle services are super safe and efficient, but in relation to how much it was to rent a car for an entire week, I definitely think a rental car is the way to go (especially if you have a handsome Man like Clint to drive you around like a princess all week).
3. Purchase international roaming or data services for your phone. One thing I noticed right off the bat, is that it’s extremely hard to navigate on the roads without GPS. We purchased roaming for our phones the first night and I am SO glad we did. Having GPS saved us when we got lost and helped us locate gems like the Coba Ruins and cenotes. Leave it to my generation to be completely useless when it comes to using actual maps with no voice guidance.
4. Research the time of year. This one is a BIG one. Little did I know, that July is “seaweed season” in Tulum. Being from Southern California I’m pretty comfortable beaching it when there’s kelp and seaweed on the beach or in the water. My ohhhh myyyyyy has my perception of seaweed changed. Apparently, about a week before I arrived, the beaches were hit with one of the worst seaweed invasions the locals have seen. Most of the beaches were covered in brown dead vegetation stretching along the beach and long into the water. On our last days we couldn’t even go to the beach because it looked and smelled so bad. This ruined a lot of the shoots I had planned for the ocean, and kinda broke my heart because I never got to experience the turquoise waters I had been lusting after when I planned the trip. Of course, a week or two upon returning home the beaches were immaculate again (I know because now I lurk #tulum on Instagram like an addict). So, be sure to brush up on the local weather and be sure that there aren’t any looming seaweed waves headed your way.
5. Be sure to figure out the currency conversion rate. This one is probably a no-brainer for some of you travel buffs, but I think it’s important to emphasize because if you don’t know the current conversion rate you will get ripped off. The locals know how to spot a tourist from a mile away and they will take advantage if you rely on them to calculate the rate for you.
6. Go to the grocery store. Unlike other parts of Mexico, or even Central America, Tulum prices for food are pretty on par with how much it would cost for a meal within the US. If you want to save some money, shop at Chedraui the local supermarket and you can stock up with snacks for all your jungle excursions. I still dream about how good their pan dulce is.
7. Order a Coco Loco from Mateos. Honestly, if you go to Tulum and don’t order a Coco Loco, I will be VERY disappointed. Coconut milk, coconut water, sugar and rum inside of a coconut. You can’t go wrong. I’ll take 5 please.
8. Explore cenotes. Swimming in freshwater underground caves in an experience you will never forget. There are thousands of these spread throughout the Yucatan and Tulum is home to some epic ones. You can pay a day fee for a swim and cool off from the humidity in crystal clear water.
9.Travel to Coba and climb ancient Mayan Ruins. This wasn’t part of my initial itinerary but I’m extremely glad I did it. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sweaty in my entire life, but climbing to the top of the ruins and looking out over the jungle was my FAVORITE experience the entire trip. Standing at the top of the pyramid and imagining Mayans climbing the same stones thousands of years ago took my breath away (and not just because I was exhausted from climbing up 130 steps).
10. Swim in the ocean. Duh. All the more reason to become a real mermaid.
11. Ditch the make-up. It’s way too humid for make-up in Tulum. It will literally melt right off (trust me, I know from trying to wear it in all my photo shoots).
12. Be sure to pack lots and lots of bug spray. I’m not one to usually advocate purposefully poisoning your body, but in this case, it’s necessary. I only brought one bottle of OFF with us and it was gone by the second day. After that, we were mosquito magnets and I still get itchy when I think about how many bug bites I had.
13. Bring light, breathable clothing. Even denim shorts were way too intense in the humidity. Think dresses and lightweight fabric (preferably with sleeves or a maxi dress to protect you from those evil mosquitos).
14. Speak to the locals and get advice on where to travel. One of the best things about my experience in Tulum was meeting Lisa from Amara Swimwear. Without her, we wouldn’t have known about half the places we visited. On a side note, she’s amazing and everyone should probably visit her website and check out her rad designs.
15. Last but not least, be sure to take tons of photos so you can reminisce about how wonderful your time was, but don’t forget to take a break from the camera and let the natural beauty around you sink in.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly,
don’t forget to…
Eat Well. Work Hard. Love Truly. Travel Often.