Cheap Flights: Fly into Mexico from $76 in June

How can a single mom afford to travel so much? Budget airlines that offer dirt cheap flights. To be even more specific, Mexican budget airlines. In the 7 years since I moved abroad, there are three companies that have grown and continue to expand their service to international destinations. They now serve large U.S. cities: Vivaaerobus, Volaris and Interjet. They are also continuously adding new routes in Central America.

Small prices but Big Improvements

When I first flew with these companies, over 5 years ago, they couldn’t accept my U.S. debit card online and the websites were all in Spanish. I remember having to book online, print out a voucher and bring it to the local Oxxo (7/11 style convenience store) to pay in cash. I had the opportunity to fly with all three of them in the past few months, on different routes. I have noticed several attempts to bridge the language barrier and appeal to international travelers. They are now giving instructions in English and Spanish and using bilingual flight attendants. Of course, their websites also have English versions and will accept all major debit/credit cards. Still, when I travel one them, I am usually the only foreigner. Why? Because most non-Mexicans don’t know about these airlines.

Why don’t you know about these cheap options?

They won’t show up if you search on many of the travel websites, like Google flights, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc. But if you are willing to put a few minutes into checking out flights on their direct websites, you can end up saving hundreds on your airfare. To give you an idea, I flew from Merida to Veracruz on Vivaaerobus in March for under $50 with a baby and luggage. I also recently flew from Mexico City to Guatemala City on Interjet for under $200 again with the same baby and luggage. Below, you will find some of their upcoming deals, what U.S. cities they service and certain travel tips that I have discovered along the way.

Mexico’s budget airlines

Vivaerobus 

Service from: Houston, Texas

Vivaaerobus currently only flies out of Houston, but has extensive routes within Mexico if you plan to visit more than one city.

Best Upcoming Deal: Houston to Monterrey any Sunday, Monday or Friday in June for $76.55 (including 1 carry-on and 1 checked-in bag).

Travel tips: Vivaaerobus operates similarly to Spirit Airlines. They are a no-frills carrier. Expect to pay more if you are traveling with several pieces of luggage. They have three different fair rates: light, basic and smart. Each includes different amenities like additional luggage, preferred check-in and boarding, seat selection, etc. They have limited service from the U.S., but once in Mexico they have many route options at the cheapest prices.

Volaris 

Service from: Over 20 U.S. Cities, Ontario, Guatemala City and San Jose

Volaris has the largest presence in the U.S., serving many major cities and is expanding into Central America.

Best Upcoming Deal: New York City to Mexico City on June 26th for $111.13.

Travel Tips: Sign up for the VClub if you are planning to travel round trip or more than once with this airline within the year. If you pay in pesos, the Vclub costs $500 MXP pesos ($26.71 USD according to today’s exchange rate). However, if you pay in dollars, it costs $49.99. *One note: If you are traveling with a baby, Volaris is the only airline of these three that required an additional payment for infant luggage. This included a stroller, car seat and carry-on diaper bag. The other airlines checked my stroller for free at the gate.

Interjet 

Service from: New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas and several cities in Latin America (including Cuba).

Interjet services a few major U.S. cities, but also Cuban cities and Guatemala City.

Best Upcoming Deal: Miami to Cancun on June 26th for $123.02.

Travel Tips: The light fare option does not include a checked in bag. It is an additional $25 USD for a checked in bag. Often times, you can choose the Optima fare category for the same price or just slightly higher. This option comes with additional benefits. You can choose your seat and are able to change the passenger name or your flight for a discounted rate ($35).

ALWAYS SEARCH IN THE LOCAL CURRENCY

Additionally, you should note that to get the best deal, search in the local currency. The following fares were in pesos and converted to dollars at the current exchange rate of 18.68 pesos to 1 dollar. The difference in the peso and dollar fares ranged from $6 to $33 for the same flight. If you are flying round-trip and/or with other people, that money can add up quickly.

To continue saving on these budget airlines

All three of these companies have sales and promotions all the time. If you are a frequent traveler, it is worth it to sign up for their e-mail alerts. Vivaerobus sometimes has flights up to 90% off (at $300 pesos, just over $15), Volaris and Interjet up to 50% off. Either way, they are basic and cheap airlines that will get you to your destination for a fraction of many other companies.

These were just some of the specials that I found for the month of June. July and August are the high season for American travelers to Mexico, so there are few deals to be found during those months. Of course, if you look ahead to September through December, you will find even better prices in the low season.

 

The 5 Must Have (and cheap!) Products When Traveling with an Infant

It’s not easy to be a minimal packer with an infant. But it is possible. My daughter, Sofia, and I started our journey when she turned just 3 months old. She was born in El Salvador. It took us a few weeks to straighten out her paperwork with the American embassy, get her American passport and then her first round of vaccines so we could begin traveling abroad. The vaccines weren’t a requirement but I just felt more comfortable with her having at least one round. Since then we have gone to Guatemala City, Cancun, Progreso (Yucatan, Mexico) and now we are located in Veracruz. We have been traveling for 6 weeks so far and although I thought that I had thought of everything… there are things we have had to pick up along the way. Although it’s tempting to buy secondhand walkers, baby gyms, and bouncers to keep her occupied, we always travel on budget airlines (think Spirit), and so packing light is a priority. To keep our travel cheap, and avoid additional luggage fees, and in the spirit of being a minimalist, I have been very selective in what I have packed and purchased for her.

*FYI: This blog will be updated as we continue to travel and discover new finds that make life easier for baby and myself.*

#1 A Foldable Travel Bed

There are two options for this and I own both of them. One way to avoid overloading your luggage is to leave the pack and play at home. My daughter isn’t crawling yet and is very happy to co-sleep with me in the same bed. There is the regular co-sleeping travel bed (if you are traveling to an area that doesn’t have a mosquito problem) and the one with a mosquito net over the top if you decide to go the tropical route. Right now we are using the 2nd option, as Veracruz is very hot, humid and full of mosquitos. But the best part is that this travel bed is foldable and barely weighs a thing. I also flip it over and use it as a tummy time mat and when we go to the beach, I throw a lightweight sheet over the mosquito net to keep her in the shade as she sleeps. As you can see from the pictures, this option is best for newborns to babies about 6 months of age

Travel bed with mosquito net.

Her improvised tummy time mat.

#1 – Non-Tropical Option

#2 – Mosquito Net Option



#2 Chair to High Chair Converter

This is my favorite purchase so far. I bought it when we arrived in Veracruz from the US Amazon website. I realized that as we went out to eat with friends, my daughter would feel out of the loop and bored in her stroller, which keeps her located lower than a typical restaurant table. In order for her to join the “action”, I needed something else… but she isn’t quite ready for a regular restaurant high chair and many places abroad don’t even offer them, so I came across this converter. It has harness straps so it is more supportive than a typical restaurant grade high chair, and can be used with almost any chair. The best part is that is folds up very small and can be tossed into my purse (I don’t even carry a diaper bag). This product is recommended for babies up to 35 pounds so I know we will be using it for a while.

This cover converts almost any chair into a high chair.

My baby is able to use it at 4 months old. And it goes up to 35 pounds.

 

#3 Manual Food Puree Device

I spent a great deal of time in the Mexican Walmart viewing my options for making my own baby food. There are the obvious choices, blenders, and food processors, but they require electricity. We are often on buses or airplanes and even in restaurants at times there is not a nearby wall outlet. Plus, I wanted something small that could be carried in my purse/diaper bag. I found this gadget which resembles a large garlic press. You put the food into the bottom part and it smashes it by connecting the handles together. It comes with a spoon to feed the baby directly from the device and a cover to save any uneaten food. I love this because it means when we eat out, or even at home, my daughter can have the same exact food as I eat. No extra preparation and if we are on an airplane/bus/in rural Mexico I can easily mash up some food for her on the go – without electricity. This does mean that I have to eat healthier but I am willing to make that sacrifice for her.

The on the go food pureeing tool.

Nuby food masher.

The product that I have seem to only be available in Mexico. Here is the link to the Nuby Mexico if you happen to be in the country.

Below is the 2nd choice that I was considering. It’s slightly larger but it is also a great option. It has a bowl and separate masher. It comes with a spoon and lid to save the leftovers.

#4 Mesh Feeder

When I originally planned this big international trip for my baby and myself, I did it at a specific age. I wanted to avoid the teething stage. And well, don’t you know it, the week we get to our first Airbnb in Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico, she starts teething (at 4 months!). I was so happy that I happened to throw a mesh feeder into the duffle bag “just in case”. This has been one of the most valuable things for us as we travel. I can stuff it with ice so she relieves the pain on her gums, and also gets a little extra water (In tropical climates, the doctors recommend giving infant a few ounces of water each day because of the heat. I understand that this is not usually recommended in the U.S.), and even try out some new foods. The mesh part means that she has to mash the food completely before it exits the feeder, so basically, she is making a puree herself. You can put small pieces of frozen fruit for hot summer days or soft, cooked vegetables. She has been using it since she turned 4 months when the doctor gave the go-ahead to start eating actual food but she is just getting the hang of how to hold it herself now. I still have to help her a bit but she loves it. Also, I have found that in restaurants, the waitstaff is more than happen to bring me ice or small pieces of fruit to put in her feeder. It makes for a better dining experience for everyone.

This is a lifesaver at teething time or on very hot days.

#5 Foldable Bathtub

At home, we use a fillable bathtub which allows her to be immersed in the water. But on the road, I wasn’t about to bring that huge plastic tub with us, so I found this option. This bathtub folds up nicely, is made of mesh so it is very light and it also serves as a chair to feed her in and a beach chair (under very close supervision of course since there are no securing straps). Bathtubs themselves are very rare in Mexico so I end up filling up a large bucket with water and using a cup to “shower” her with the water

Her “bathtub” which also doubles as a place to feed her and her beach chair.

*Disclaimer: The above are affiliate links from Amazon which means that I get a percentage of the sale for referring you to the product. However, these are all products that I have purchased and we use as we travel. I try to find inexpensive items that will be useful for as long as possible to stay within our budget.

 

Work Online: The Best Entry Level Jobs

More and more companies are hiring employees to work online. If you are thinking about becoming a digital nomad, or have already made the decision to, then you need to figure out a way to support yourself financially during your travels. Additionally, if you are a stay at home parent, working online can be especially appealing as you can save on commuting and childcare costs.

Many jobs can be done remotely, such as web design, graphic design, APP developers, etc. But, most people don’t have the skills or training (or the time or money to go back to school) to obtain these positions. In this article, I am going to outline the realistic online work opportunities that can get most people on the way to infinite travel. And to be clear – you won’t find any scams on this list or MLM jobs. These are legitimate positions which will help you earn a stable income, as long as you have access to the internet.

It’s important that you don’t get discouraged by the salary estimations listed below. If you are traveling through most parts of the world, you will be making much more than the local salaries (for example, I am currently in Mexico where the minimum wage is about $4 per day). It will allow you to live comfortably and perhaps save a little along the way, depending on your lifestyle.

my recommendations for entry level jobs to work online

  1. Teach English (or another language) online

This is how I make my living as I travel. I teach English and Spanish online. While I have my university studies in language education and teaching with technology, this isn’t a necessity in this field. There are plenty of Asian-based, online English companies that will hire and train native English speakers to teach online. You can expect to earn $8 – $16 an hour with most companies. If you are starting out in this field, I can recommend trying Tutor ABC, Open English (if you are bilingual Spanish/English or Portuguese/English) or Education First. They are the largest companies, with comprehensive training for new teachers and many students. If you enjoy working with children, try VIPKid, which pays a little higher.

  1. Virtual Assisting

More and more VA jobs are becoming available as people are working from home and don’t necessarily have the room to have a live assistant in their home office. Additionally, you may end up working for someone abroad who needs your native English language skills. VAs are responsible for checking e-mails, setting appointments, communicating with customers and anything else an in-person assistant may be asked to do. Pay varies depending on the location of the company but a U.S. based one should pay at least $7.25 an hour.

  1. Customer Service/Support

Companies like Amazon, top hotel chains, and United Healthcare are hiring remote agents to handle incoming calls (there are also thousands of sales related remote call center positions available but these don’t guarantee a steady income and most people don’t enjoy selling). You may be dealing with upset customers, making hotel reservations or helping patients with insurance questions, just like a call center employee would in an office. Amazon was advertising their positions just before Christmas at $10 an hour.

  1. Data Entry

If you are somewhat familiar with computers and are a fast typist, then data entry may be a good fit for you. Companies hire people to fill out their software with information on customers, purchases, internal statistics and more. You may have to be trained on their software or it could be in Microsoft Excel or another program that you are already familiar with. Pay varies depending on the company and type of information, but the median wages are around $15 per hour.

  1. Non-medical Transcription

Transcription is the act of listening to an audio and typing what you hear. It’s as simple as that. It does require you to be very fast at typing and detail oriented, but there is a large demand for this type of worker. I have done freelance projects in the past, transcribing YouTube videos for English materials. Other possibilities may be transcribing podcasts, radio broadcasts, television programs and more. Non-medical transcription requires no special training other than an excellent grasp of the target language. Pay is usually determined by the number of words you have to type or per hour of audio, so the faster you type, the more money you will make.

Travel to exotic destinations without having to take off work. 

Options for Certain Skilled Workers

These jobs deserve some honorable mentions, although they may require some type of industry knowledge or training:

  • Medical transcription
  • Medical billing and coding
  • Call center technical support
  • Social media marketing
  • Content/technical writing
  • Translation

Legitimate Job Websites to find Remote Work online

There are many more websites to find remote work, but these are ones that I have experience with personally. You can also find remote positions on big job websites like Monster.com.

  • Ratracerebellionhttp://ratracerebellion.com/ In addition to their big list of work from home jobs, this website has a separate section for call center/customer service jobs.
  • Upwork https://www.upwork.com/ Make a profile and then begin searching. This website has plenty of jobs in each of the categories listed above. In addition, you can easily find online English teaching jobs on this website.
  • Freelancer https://www.freelancer.com This website is best for finding data entry and virtual assisting jobs. You will also have to make a profile to be able to submit proposals.

Equipment/Set-Up

  • A quiet, professional place to work (no dogs barking or children crying in the background if you plan to teach online)
  • A laptop
  • A USB connection headset (I recommend the Microsoft Lifechat LX-3000, which many companies use as their standard equipment, which can be purchased at Amazon.com:

  • A strong internet connection (note: some companies require a hardwired connection with a LAN cable. You can purchase one here:

 

FYI: The above are affiliate links.