The next adventure: Belize & Mexico

Letter 171

Reefs, ruins, rainforests and rivers: the four features the tiny country of Belize is known for, and are four of the many reasons I chose it as my next destination. Central America has always fascinated me, and Belize has been finding its way to the top of my bucket list for the past few years. Now that flights are booked and plans are roughly sketched out, it’s finally becoming a reality.

For the first three months of 2020, I will be travelling through Belize and Quintana Roo in Mexico, where I’ll learn to dive, explore Mayan ruins, trek through rainforests and volunteer at an eco-community. I feel like this will be my most diverse trip to date and I am so excited for everything it will bring.


I’ll be flying over to Cancun early January and then making my way down the Quintana Roo coast into northern Belize. I’m not exactly sure of the stops I’ll make, or how long I’ll stay, but I will have about 4 weeks to make my way down to San Ignacio in the Cayo district of Belize.

mexico isla holbox
Isla Holbox, Mexico

I have almost a week planned in the sleepy island of Caye Caulker where I will complete the PADI Open Water course. I’m so excited for this, as well as getting the chance to swim with manatees, sharks and rays around the second largest barrier reef in the world. (Still in disbelief this is all real!)

belize caye caulker
Caye Caulker

After heading inland to San Ignacio I’ll start the next part of my trip, which will be one month volunteering. I now have a position confirmed which will be a very interesting way to spend a month, as the project sounds amazing. They are keen to get me involved in the construction side of the project, due to my architectural background, as well as tours and a conference, so it sounds like it’ll be a crazy and varied month!

belize san ignacio
San Ignacio

I’ll then have around 3 weeks to travel back up to Mexico which is undecided. Most likely either Guatemala or Southern Belize.

belize big falls
Big Falls, Toledo District

My last stop will be a relaxing fortnight in Tulum, Mexico, where I’ll meet my mum to relax on the beaches and explore the local ruins, before flying back home from Cancun in early April.

mexico tulum
Tulum, Mexico

It’s set to be a jam-packed 3-months.

I have planned most of it out roughly due to needing to book things like my volunteering dates, PADI course and the two weeks with my mum. Luckily this still leaves me with some flexibility in the trip and I won’t be booking much else until I get there.


Using my tried and tested budget formula, I have calculated a very rough budget for the trip. Initially when I looked at accommodation, I figured it would be about £12.50 per night on average, so this is the figure I’ve worked with to calculate my budget.

Accommodation – £87.50 per week

Spending – £87.50 per week (roughly the same as accommodation – to include food and activities)

Travel – £17.50 per week (10% of my total accommodation/spending budget)

TOTAL – £192.50 – round up to £200 per week

Based on this, my weekly budget will be around £200, or 530BZD, or 5000MXN.

I’ve then allocated a separate budget to diving/snorkelling trips, as my PADI alone is over £300. I’ve estimated about £750 – but it will depend on how many trips I decide to do.

Lastly, for my workaway, I’ve allowed about £70 per week, though I have no idea if I’ll spend this. My accommodation and main meals are free so I may spend much less.

Having booked a few bits of accommodation, it seems to be a little higher than I first thought (probably because of taxes that get added on), so it’s likely to be about £14 per night. This might mean I need to increase my budget, but I’ll start with £200 a week and see how I go.

When I include my flights (from Edinburgh to Cancun), my 3-month trip to Mexico and Belize is looking to be about £3500. This is just a rough number at the moment, but I like to have an idea before I go and this is always the formula I use to calculate it.


I have a busy month until I leave for Cancun, including the last couple of weeks of my job, Christmas in London, New Year in Edinburgh and finally a few relaxing days to get ready to leave. I’m trying not to get overly excited yet and just enjoy my time here in my work routine and my lovely flat.

I think it will creep up fast! If anyone has any advice about these countries – please let me know!

Speak soon,

From Lou

About Me

Information about my travel budget formula: How to calculate a travel budget (and other tips)

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