Good morning from Mexico!

Yesterday my husband and I arrived at our first stop on a 12-day all-cash trip to the Yucatan. Though I enjoy using points and miles to travel more, it's also important to earn points when it makes sense. To me, budget travel hacking has always been about stretching your already established travel budget to make your money take you farther and help you travel more.

For today's email, I thought it would be helpful to break down what an all-cash trip to Mexico looks like for me and some of the simple ways that I'm saving money on this trip, too. This is by far the most expensive out-of-pocket trip we'll be taking this year, but we're earning a lot of points towards future stays, too. It's all about perspective - sometimes it's spending to earn and most of the time it's just spending points when budget travel hacking.

Part I: The airfare

Depending on where you live in the US, flying into Cancun can be really affordable. This is largely because it's such a touristy destination and there are plenty of flights- including budget carriers- operating here. It makes Cancun an easy travel destination for many Americans with so many airline choices. I find deals with Scott's Cheap Flights pretty regularly, too.

I opted to use our Southwest Companion Pass for one-way from Kansas City to Cancun. We paid cash for my husband's ticket ($170) and paid the companion fees ($35) for my ticket. That's a little over $200 for our tickets to Cancun.

Be sure to register: Southwest Companion Pass 101 masterclass!

Our airfare home is one of my favorite travel hacks. I receive $250 annual airline credit with the Hilton Aspire card. This credit- which is supposed to be used for incidentals- can be hacked for Delta flights by using a combination of travel credits or gift cards and the card with the credit as long as the total on the card is less than $250. I bought a $50 Delta gift card and used it with the $250 credit to pay for our flights home. Basically, use your card with the airline credit registered to Delta and add a gift card for a portion of the trip for it to trigger.

Total spent: $255 for two rt tickets, Kansas City - Cancun

Part II: The all-inclusive resort

Twice a year my husband and I like to spend a couple of days at the Hyatt Ziva Rivera Cancun. If you've been following my Instagram for a while you know that I'm more into local adventures, taking chicken busses over the all-inclusive experience, but there is something to be said about relaxing.

If you like Hyatt resorts, I recommend checking for deals on resortsbyhyatt.com. This website is run by Hyatt and gives discounts and free night promotions for Hyatt resorts. Because it's by Hyatt, you get the same point earnings and status perks. If checking out the website, be sure to scroll down to "Special Offers" to see the current deals. Just a helpful tip, if you do book be sure to call Hyatt afterward to confirm your account number was added.

The Hyatt Ziva Riviera has a great cash rate and they are almost always running really good promotions that make that cash rate much better than points. For this stay, I received a 5th-night free promotion and 20% off the nightly rate from Resorts by Hyatt. The promotion is no longer available but they run these free night promotions pretty regularly. It was this deal that brought our total to $1,200 for five nights for two.

The best part about this deal is that the nights also qualify for Hyatt's Bonus Journey's promotion. This means that I'll receive double the points on the cash rate and double the nights towards status, too. Using my World of Hyatt card my earnings on this hotel stay are around 15,000 points, which I value as three good Category 1 hotels for around $600 in value.

Total spent: $1,200

Part III: The Hyatt Regency, Merida

I'm very big on second city tourism, which is basically visiting a less visited city when traveling to highly toured places around the world. This time we're getting a rental car and heading to Merida. Merida is the capital of the Yucatan state and is known for its great day trips, food, and colonial architecture. For our five nights here, Merida has an inexpensive Hyatt Regency within walking distance of many good restaurants and shops. The hotel is a super cheap Category 1, at about $90 a night with taxes. Hotels like this are great earning opportunities for points and nights towards status because they are so cheap.

The best part? I actually got to use one of my many Club Access Awards during the stay, which gives us entrance to the hotel lounge. You can earn Club Access Awards at different tier milestones with Hyatt. They sometimes can be hard to use because you have to find a hotel with a club and availability. I find it best to use the Hyatt chat function on their website to try to use them.

Total spent: $450

Part IV: The rental car

While I originally planned to take the ADO bus from Cancun to Merida, the two roundtrip tickets were around $160. Though it was still considerably cheaper than a rental car, we planned a couple of day trips during our time in Merida and this will make it a lot simpler (especially while working remotely for a couple of days) while also not paying for transportation around the city and the day trips.

Just an FYI that booking a rental car in Mexico by law requires 3rd party liability insurance and almost all quotes won't include it. I've been using AutoSlash for finding the best rate on car rentals. It's super helpful because you can add all your programs and they'll send you a list with the best prices in one email. I do recommend using your Chase Sapphire Preferred card for the primary rental car coverage, and yes, it does work in Mexico even though you have to purchase the 3rd party liability, too.

Total spent: $384

On the last note, I've been researching cheap eats and things to do using my new Budget Search Term Guide. Can't wait to show you some of the cool places I'm headed to in Merida.

Explore on,

K