Main | Books, Websites and other resources on the Yucatan »

Welcome & Travel Preparations: Where to book flights and hotels

Welcome to our Yucatan blog. Mike (hubby), Mika (7yo), Camila (4yo) and I are getting ready for our brief, 2-week tour of the Yucatan. I love planning trips almost as much as actually taking them, so I've been busy with all the details of this one: even though I'm pretty sure that once in route we'll change our plans, at least somewhat. But that will just add to the fun of all of it.


One of the main reasons why we are going to the Yucatan, is that I scored pretty affordable tickets. I did so by checking several travel sites several times a day. Mostly I used Orbitz, Expedia, Cheap Tickets and Kayak, a website that lets you check several sites at once. I found Kayak sort of clunky and not that useful, I preferred checking out each website by itself. I skipped Travelocity, because it's very frustrating - it almost never has the flights it advertises, you go through the whole buying it process only to be told the fares have increased from five minutes before. It's a waste of time. I also used Book It, to look for combined air-hotel packages, but I found that the flights it offered me were horrible (cheap, but with very extensive layovers). I also used the airlines websites directly.

What I learned using these websites so intensely for a few days is:

-None of them had all the flights at any particular time. The flight I eventually booked, I bought it at - but it also appeared in Orbitz. Expedia, which used to be my favorite search site, offered me the worst flights this time around. So the moral of the story is: to find the best flight, search several websites and search often.

-Prices change wildly all the time. A flight that might be $300 when you search, may be $350 when you search 10 minutes later and $280 when you search again. Don't despair if you "lost" a great fare, you may get a better one a few hours later.

-Book when you find that great fare. Yes, they may go down in price, but then again, they may not. The flight that I booked for Cancun costs, at this very moment, three times as much.

-Search other airports. Sometimes fares are lower from neighboring airports - if you can use them just as easily, do searches that include them as well. ALSO, if you are going to take a flight that has a layover anyway, see if it'll be cheaper to buy each flight independently. When you do that, you can make use of smaller airlines that do not appear in the search engines.

-On that same token, don't forget Jet Blue, Southwest and other airlines that don't appear in the search engines. If they go where you want to go, search them separately.

At the end I ended up with a great flight, going direct to Cancun, at a reasonable hour for less than I was planning to pay. But believe me, when I saw that flight come up I grabbed it immediately.


When I was a "budget" traveler, staying at the cheapest hotels possible, I never booked hotels in advance. For one, when you do, you are pretty much stuck by the itinerary you first plan. For another, most of the fleabags hotels I used to stay, don't take reservations. And truth be told, when you travel to the Yucatan in summer (specially in this economy and after the swine flu scare), you don't really need reservations.

BUT, what I found searching around, is that while hotels in the region have brought down their prices to deal with the scarcity of tourists, they are less likely to tell you so when you approach them directly (at least by e-mail or over the phone). Sometimes the best prices you can find are through an online travel agency. But which travel agency? Here, I found out that it also varies by hotel. Some agencies will have the best prices for one hotel, and really expensive ones for others. If you are looking for a bargain, you need to check several of them.

The cheapest online travel agencies I found for hotels in the Yucatan peninsula were:

For resorts/all inclusives

Cheap Caribbean
The vacation travel mart

For smaller hotels in Mexico

Best Day
Great hotels

But don't forsake the big ones, either. I found the best price for a cheap hotel in Cancun at Travelocity. And beware that some hotels only list with one online agency - and some with none.

Even if you are not going to make reservations in advance, it pays to check what the online price is, so that when you show up at the hotel you can ask them to match it. For what I read, not all of them do, however.

Something else to be aware, if you are traveling with 2 children, is that some hotels which offer 2-double beds in a room, have an online maximum of 1 child per room. I called one of those hotels on the phone to make sure it'd be OK to have 2 children in the room and they said "but, of course". Note, however, that in particular in Merida, many hotels do not take children in the first place. You need to visit their website to find one which ones.

I start my research into hotels at Trip Advisor - a website that, among other tings, features reviews of hotels world wide made by travelers. Though I publish my hotel reviews on my website, I usually also post shortened versions to Trip Advisor. And so do thousands of thousands of people, so you are likely to get at least a review or two (or a hundred) even for small hotels in small destinations. When there are few reviews I google the name of the hotel online followed by "review", but this is less useful as the hits you get for the first few result pages tend to be travel agencies rather than independent travelers.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 27, 2009 5:45 AM.

The next post in this blog is Books, Websites and other resources on the Yucatan.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.34