Where can I go for a ridiculously cheap vacation this summer?

Important bulletin: Apparently, readers don’t care all that much about manners because we haven’t gotten any etiquette questions. But we’ve been overwhelmed with queries about whether making your own beer is cheaper than buying it, where to get the best hot dogs in Brooklyn, how to find a cheap, non-irritating dandruff shampoo (RiteAid?)  and now this one: about where to travel cheaply. So our nimble correspondent shall heretofore be dropping the Miss Manners racket and turning into the Brokelyn Answer Lady. We’re keeping the cute handle, though. Readers, fire away: [email protected].

If I were planning a trip this summer, I’d hightail it to Mexico. Specifically, Oaxaca. And I’m not just saying that because I grew up next to Mexico, or because I spent an excellent two weeks in Oaxaca a few summers ago. The dollar is doing well in Mexico. Post swine-flu flights will get you down to Mexico for less than $300, and you don’t have to worry about dying while you’re down there because the State Department has lifted its travel warning.

And things down there are cheap. I did a language program through Becari School in Oaxaca—$160 a week, plus ten pesos a day (about a buck) room and board, living with an incredibly cool Mexican family. I had my own room, free breakfast every day, and for the rest of the meals I ate mango and garnachas—delicious small corn tortillas fried with shredded meat, cheese, and awesome pickled cabbage—from street vendors, paying next to nothing. (I suppose you’re not supposed to eat street food, and maybe I have a stomach of iron, but I never got sick. And there are enough street vendors on tourist-y strips to suggest street food is not so hazardous).

If you’re looking for a trip to replace, say, Paris, try Mexico City. You want art? Mexico City has world-class museums and galleries. Hotel Habita—an elegant boutique hotel in Mexico City’s chic, moneyed Polanco district— is offering guests who inquire through email discounts of 33 percent or more. You want drink? Try “pulque,” a 2,000-year-old Aztec drink, made from fermented agave juice, popular among city hipsters (one liter is about $3). You want fashion? They have a fine men’s boutique down there that sells bulletproof suits—ok, maybe that isn’t a selling point (and never mind, the prices there are not Brokelyn-appropriate.) The point is, Mexico City is interesting. Like Paris, only cheaper, and with street cred.


  1. Nail on the head. I keep raving to my friends how great Oaxaca and Mexico City are, and how affordable a trip there is.

    In Mexico City, I would recommend checking out a southern section of the city: Coyoacan. It’s a neighborhoody, chilled out area and surprisingly safe. Lots of artists and middle-class people live there. I recently stayed at a cheap hostel there: the Hostel Cuija Coyoacan. It was 4 blocks from Frida Kahlo’s old home and cost me about US $10 for a dorm bed. It included breakfast and the staff was so lovely.

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