by Chris Wang
[Reprinted with permission from Runnymede Capital Management]
Last week’s Presidential election brought volatility to financial markets and the most damage was inflicted on the Mexican Peso. With threats of renegotiating NAFTA and taxing Mexicans citizens to pay for a border wall, the Mexican Peso dropped over 10% in one day and became the worst performing emerging market currency in 2016. While this is terrible if you live south of the border, it can mean great things if you are planning a vacation. Since last year, the Peso has fallen over 23% which means huge potential savings for American travelers! It’s time to pack your bags and brush up on your Spanish because 2017 should provide money saving opportunities for the savviest travelers. Here are 3 tips on planning your future getaway.
Avoid the all-inclusive
While many travelers like all-inclusive trips, this is probably not the best way to take advantage of the currency swing. Prices for all-inclusives are likely to be slow to adjust especially during high season. So unless you find prices have dropped significantly, I would skip them this time around.
Go somewhere other than Cancun
Many US travelers visit Cancun or the Yucatan peninsula. Given the crystal clear ocean and white sand beaches, it is no surprise. In fact, I traveled there a couple of years ago and loved it. Unfortunately in Cancun, most restaurants and resorts price in US Dollars so there are fewer deals to be found. If you are dead set on Cancun, you will need to travel to the downtown area to visit local stores and night markets to get true peso based prices. My favorite was the Parque Les Palapas where the locals hang out on weekends with live music, food stands and rides for kids.
Craig Snyder, President of The Language Academy of the Carolinas, takes his Spanish language students to learn first hand in Central and South America. He says that if you are willing to forgo the beach resorts, he suggests heading to Oaxaca City or San Cristobal de las Casas. In these cities, you will get the full benefit of the weak peso and more of the true culture of Mexico.
The Lonely Planet describes Oaxaca City as
A burgeoning cultural and culinary capital with a beautiful colonial core of lovely, tree-shaded streets, Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s most captivating cities. Artists and artisans alike are inspired by the area’s creative atmosphere, indigenous traditions and bright, clear light. Oaxaca has top-class museums, charming inns, fascinating markets and its own superb version of Mexican cuisine.
Here is the description for San Cristobal de las Casas:
Set in a gorgeous highland valley surrounded by pine forest, the colonial city of San Cristóbal (cris-toh-bal) has been a popular travelers’ destination for decades. It’s a pleasure to explore San Cristóbal’s cobbled streets and markets, soaking up the unique ambience and the wonderfully clear highland light. This medium-sized city also boasts a comfortable blend of city and countryside, with restored century-old houses giving way to grazing animals and fields of corn.
Wherever you choose to visit in Mexico, you will have great shopping opportunities to bring back souvenirs for all your friends and family. Even in Cancun, you can head to Market 28 where you can haggle with vendors to get trinkets and jewelry.
With the strong dollar, you will eat well and for bargain prices. The Lonely Planet estimates that you can eat an economical meal for 60-80 pesos which is the equivalent of $3-4. A high-end dinner with drinks will set you back just 300-500 pesos or $15-25! My mouth is watering just thinking about all the tacos to be had.
So what are you waiting for? Escape the cold winters of the north and find bargain prices south of the border!
Are you planning to visit Mexico in 2017? Where are you heading?
Chris Wang is Director of Research for Runnymede Capital Management.
Get more out of your trip by learning Spanish with The Language Academy of the Carolinas. Small group classes, private lessons, and business programs available.