Traveling to Belize is cool for many reasons but not one of the best ways to have a budget vacation – unless you are creative and use some of these insider tips. On any vacation the key expenses are transportation, accommodation, food, tours and entertainment. Here we share some of the best ways savvy travelers save money on a Belize Vacation.
- Do Not Fly Direct To Belize. Flights to Belize from the main hubs in North America are very expensive. Instead, fly to Cancun and catch the ADO bus. You will save about 50% off your airfare and get to see two countries at the same time. If you must fly direct to Belize, be flexible on your travel dates. Fly in the off season airlines give out discounts that make flying to Belize not a bad idea. Expect discounts of about 10% to 40%. Most airlines have super saver discount alerts you can sign up for.
- Share The Cost Of Tours. Gang up with fellow travelers to book a guided tour. If you are visiting a public and popular attraction such as a Maya Ruin that is accessible by public transport (Xunantunich is right on a public highway) you can just take a bus and look around yourself. No guide is needed. But for most other activities such as other Maya Ruins, caves, rivers – you will need a guide. By teaming up with a couple other fellow travelers you can drive a harder bargain and split the cost. Look for guides who have a van, or even a taxi driver who has a van and negotiate on the spot rather than buying a tour before you arrive in Belize.
- Travel In The Off Season. You will save money on airfare and accommodations. It is an open secret in Belize that the tourism season lasts about six months. December to May. Many hotels and resorts actually close down in the off season due to very slow business, hurricanes, hot or rainy weather when tourists tend to stay away. So you can drive a hard bargain and get discounts of as much as 50%. It is a buyers market!
- Use Public Transportation To Get Around Belize. Gasoline and auto rentals are very expensive in Belize. Gas runs about U.S. $6. or more a gallon. Public transportation is cheap, about U.S. $4. to travel 50 miles by bus. Stay safe and use the buses during the daytime. Go for the “Non Stop” or “Direct” buses that office workers use to commute to their jobs and avoid the “Chicken Bus” unless you literally want to travel dirt cheap. Every town in Belize, except those on the islands, have a bus station. Get there early, before 7 a.m and check out the day’s runs which are usually posted inside by the ticket window. Buses start to run at 5 in the morning on working days.
- Avoid Upper Scale Tourist Areas. For example Ambergris Caye. You want a cheap beach experience not far from Belize City? Go to Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye’s humble cousin. In the south, avoid high end resorts at Placencia and look around for cheap beach cabanas in the outer areas such as Maya Beach or Seine Bight.
- Stay At A Bed And Breakfast. Or maybe a hostel as your accommodation but be careful as hostels can be expensive if a roommate pinches your luggage. A Bed and Breakfast caters to budget tourists and the breakfast is best because you can then save money eating on the street.
- Eat Street Food. Like fuel, food is very expensive in Belize. There are so many people out of work that many Belizeans sell food from street stands. Avoid uncooked vegetables and you should be safe. The popular Belizean Rice and Beans is literally at every corner food stand. It is served hot and is hearty, cheap and nourishing food. Costs about U.S. $2.50 Pupusas are fairly common in Latino areas of Northern and Western Belize and are cooked right in front of you and served hot so generally this a safe street food. Weekends in Belize you will see Barbeque food all most towns. Again this is cooked well and served hot so is a safe street food to consume. Costs about U.S. 2.50
- Do Not Scrimp On Drinking Water. Always drink bottled water. You will save money by not getting the runnies and ruining your Belize vacation, or worse, taking home a water-borne tummy disease that may cost you a couple hundred bucks on medical bills. Do not buy the half liter bottled water. This is U.S. 50 cents and is like two gulps. Buy the liter bottle for twice the volume at U.S. 75 cents a bottle. Better yet buy purified water by the gallon. You are having a fun vacation and you will be running around and sweating and you need to remain hydrated – especially if you are sucking down beers and other spirits. Do not buy bottled water at hotels, resorts or other touristy areas. They slap on like an extra 50%. Buy your bottled water where Belizeans shop – small supermarkets or corner groceries.
- Do Not Stay At Apartments Or Do Couch Surfing. I know some foreign websites recommend this but it simply makes no sense and can be dangerous. Belize has a serious crime problem. Apartments in safe areas are expensive. Couch Surfing has the same draw back; not easy to find a safe area. You will save money by not being robbed or having your luggage “jacked” or worse.
- Drink like a local! First rule: do not open a bar tab. Like anywhere else, tourists can be targeted by a dishonest bar that will slap on more than you drink. Better yet, minimize drinking at tourist bars or hangouts. Even bars and nightclubs used by locals can be expensive, especially mixed drinks. Rum is one of the few things that are good and cheap in Belize. We make that stuff here. Grab a liter or better yet, an “Elephant Foot” bottle of local rum from the local Chinese grocery, a bag of ice and a couple liter bottles of Coke and have a ball with your fellow travelers. With local rum about five people can get hammered for under U.S. $14. Your pocket will thank you the day after!