Winter Escape to Mexico! Part 2 – Transport to & From Playa del Carmen

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.

Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

Emily:  When I was a teenager, I traveled to Mexico as part of a mission trip to build homes for families in need.

The experience changed my life in such a positive way!  I saw how kind and generous the Mexicans were towards me, even when they had very little.  I realized how much we take for granted in the US, and how blessed we are in so many ways.

Since that time, I’ve wanted to return to Mexico for another mission trip.  But this time, my friends and I were on vacation, so we visited Playa del Carmen before our recent trip to Cuba!

Winter Escape To Mexico Part 2 Flights To From Playa Del Carmen

Prepare Yourself, Mexico, Here We Come!

No trip could ever replace that first time in Mexico though.  I feel thankful that I was able to go to help others.

Winter Escape to Mexico Trip Report Index:

Flights to Mexico

One of the ways I use my Chase Ultimate Rewards points most frequently is transferring them to Southwest.  I used this method to get nearly free flights to Mexico!

My friends and I flew from Austin to Cancun on Southwest Airlines.  Booking ~1 month prior to my trip, it cost ~25,000 points plus ~$75 in taxes and fees to fly round-trip in coach on Southwest.  I could have flown for ~18,000 Southwest points if I had chosen later travel dates when the airfare was cheaper, but we couldn’t wait to go!

But you can also usually find cheap paid flights to Mexico, so compare prices and be flexible!

We like to save money, so we brought our own drinks onboard.

Winter Escape To Mexico Part 2 Flights To From Playa Del Carmen

I Served as the Resident Mixologist

We were so excited to escape the frigid US winter!

After a few hours, we were safe in Cancun, and quickly collected our bags.

Winter Escape To Mexico Part 2 Flights To From Playa Del Carmen

Quick Pic Before Painting the Town :)

Transportation from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is less than an hour away from the Cancun airport.  Since we were a group of 6, we organized a large van to take us.  We booked the van at the Cancun airport.  The round-trip cost was $125 (the Airbnb we booked quoted us for $150 round-trip, so this was a pleasant surprise).

We could have taken a shuttle for $32 per person, or a bus, which would have taken longer.  The public bus that will take you to downtown Playa costs ~$5-6 USD. Here’s a link for more information on the ADO bus. You can even get tickets online! Don’t forget that you will still have to take a taxi or walk to your final destination, but this option could save a lot of money.

Winter Escape To Mexico Part 2 Flights To From Playa Del Carmen

Hiring a Van Was the Most Cost-Effective and Easiest Way to Reach Playa from Cancun

We stopped at a supermarket on the way and stocked up on supplies like food, wine, water, etc.

How You Can Do It Too!

Link:  How to Transfer Chase Points to Southwest

Link:  How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass

My favorite way to get to Cancun is on Southwest.

The Chase Southwest Premier and Chase Southwest Plus cards are currently offering 40,000 points in 3 months after you complete the minimum spending requirements.

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available).  And if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, your travel companion can come for (nearly) free!

And you can use the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card to pay for travel expenses.  It’s currently offering 50,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles after you complete minimum spending, which is worth ~$525 toward travel!  Here’s how to redeem the Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles.

 Round-Trip Coach Ticket From Austin to Cancun3 Nights in a Centrally-Located Airbnb for 6 People
Retail Cost$450$339 total
Our Cash Cost$75 in taxes$339 total, or ~$68 per person
Miles & Points Used25,000 Southwest PointsN/A
Source of Miles & PointsChase Ultimate Rewards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
Current sign-up bonus of 100,000 points
- Chase Ink Plus
Current sign-up bonus of 60,000 points
- Chase Ink Bold
Not available to new applicants

Southwest Cards:
- Chase Southwest Plus
Current sign-up bonus of 40,000 points
- Chase Southwest Premier
Current sign-up bonus of 40,000 points
- Chase Southwest Premier Business
Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 points
N/A
Alternatives- United Airlines - 35,000 miles round-trip + ~$50 in taxes
- American Airlines - 30,000 miles round-trip (25,000 between September 7 and November 14) + ~$50 in taxes
- Use Barclaycard Arrival Plus miles to erase $100+ travel purchases, like Airbnb
- Use my Airbnb referral code for $20 off!
- Use Hyatt points to stay at a hotel
Additional Information- You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest and United Airlines
- Here's how to get the Southwest Companion Pass, so your companion can fly with you for (almost) free for nearly 2 years!
- Here’s how to choose a good and safe Airbnb
- Here are tips on how to negotiate a better Airbnb price!
- You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt

Bottom Line

It was super easy to get to Cancun and continue onward to Playa del Carmen.  It made for a fun beach destination to escape the cold US winter!

When I booked ~1 month prior to my trip, it cost ~25,000 Southwest points plus ~$75 in taxes and fees to fly round-trip in coach on Southwest.  I could have flown for ~18,000 Southwest points if I had chosen later travel dates when the airfare was cheaper, but we couldn’t wait to go!

Cheap flights can be found because Mexico is so close, so compare prices and be flexible!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10 responses to “Winter Escape to Mexico! Part 2 – Transport to & From Playa del Carmen

  1. We went down to this area last winter and had a ball. I can’t wait to go back. We used a combo or BA points and SW points so got it all paid for with miles!

  2. Isn’t it a violation of federal law to drink alcoholic beverage onboard an an aircraft unless served by the airline? How were you able to save money by bringing your own drinks onboard?

  3. I was wondering the same thing Mark! Perhaps years ago that was the thing to do but now you never see anyone bringing and drinking their own alcohol onboard. How would you even make it passed security?!

  4. What’s all that about “flights to Playa del Carmen”? You flew to Cancun…

  5. @Mark It’s frowned upon, like masturbating on an airplane

  6. You coulda taken the ADO bus right from the airport to downtown playa for $5-6 dollars a person, kept the savings and bought alcohol on the plane, :).