At this point, I’ve pretty much planned your entire visit to Tulum, Mexico. From sharing 6 Tips for renting a car HERE, to sharing all of the need-to-know logistics HERE, recapping my super lux experience at the Coqui Coqui Spa HERE and literally laying out my day to day itinerary HERE, you should be covered. And if that wasn’t enough, on my IG you can follow along on my journey and get even more tips and guidance via my saved highlights and guides tabs (HERE-All You Need to Know to Explore Tulum, Mexico), and now, I want to share my recommended must-eats for the area, below!
Rosa Negra From their IG: A tribute to Latin American cuisine. Our eclectic menu includes gastronomic traditions from Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Mexico.
This was my favorite place we ate at while in Mexico, from the food to the atmosphere, I will go back again and again! I got the salmon and though it’s hard to mess up salmon, it was one of the best I’ve ever had! This is the perfect place to go if you are celebrating something!
Price Range: $$$
2. Taboo Tulum From their IG: Taboo is a beach club, rated as one of the best restaurants in Tulum which adopts Mediterranean food as a lifestyle.
Come for the food, stay for the hookah and vibes. I love the menu here at Taboo and I’ve been on two separate occasions with large groups who have tried just about everything on the menu and there were no complaints! I also love the live music and everyone dancing around, truly a party scene!
Price Range: $$$
3. Ziggy’s Beach Club From their IG: Culinary experience in Tulum beach 🍴; Best vibes occur in Ziggy’s
The food here is simply tantalizing, come here if you value good eats!
Every year on April 22 since 1970, the world celebrates Earth Day, with each year hosting a different theme. 2021’s theme is RESTORE OUR EARTH.
The earth is our home, and this day is just a special reminder to protect and love that home! As travelers and travel lovers, we all should take special pride and care of our earth as we marvel in its beauty at each new country/state/city we visit! Protecting the earth and being mindful of things like deforestation, air, and water pollution, amongst other issues negatively impacting our planet.
You can easily find activities and events happening around the globe for Earth Day by visiting EarthDay.org. And while I encourage everyone to get active on each earth day, I want to share ways to become a more sustainable citizen of this planet and traveler everyday. Below are a few, simple changes that I’ve been trying to incorporate into my life:
Using a reusable bottle This is probably the easiest firs step to living a more sustainable travel life! Reusable bottles can be purchased at almost any major retailer or online and prices can range from $1USD to more premium bottles in upwards of $30USD. I’ve purchased $1 Bottles at Walmart that have held up for years and also have a few Camelback bottles from Amazon that I love! At home, I use a Brita filter to keep fresh water on hand which I use to refill my bottle. While traveling, I find a water bottle filling station or pre-covid, would ask restaurants to fill my water bottle (which most would with no problem). During Covid, admittedly, I’ve been having a tougher time as a lot of water bottle refill stations have been closed off and a lot of fast-casual restaurants are closed, however, I have had some luck at a few sit-down restaurants by asking politely. The more we begin to normalize using reusable bottles, the easier it will be to find ways to keep our water bottles full! Check HERE to purchase your own reusable water bottle or HERE for a list of the 14 best water bottles of 2021.
Refusing straws/Reusable straws It is estimated that 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches, that’s BILLION. 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year. So by starting with my first change, purchasing a reusable bottle, you’ll be helping to eliminate plastic water bottles from the ocean and by leaning in for change 2, you can help with decrease in disposable straw usage. The first way to go is probably the most obvious, just refuse the straw! But I understand the hesitation to put your lips directly on a glass in a restaurant or bar, but fret not, you can purchase and carry a reusable straw! There are so many to choose from, and you’ll have options for travel sized/friendly straws that also include a carrying case to be easily used on the go! You can choose from metal straws, silicon straws and even Bamboo! Check HERE for a list of the 14 best Reusable Straws or HERE to purchase from Amazon (Can also be found at retailers like TJMaxx/TKMaxx).
Using reusable masks over disposable when possible Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve all been using and wearing masks, and I don’t foresee this going away in the near future, but just like the humans we are, we’ve turned this solution of protecting us from a deadly disease to our planet’s next plastic problem. Disposable mask production is now estimated to be in line with that of disposable/plastic water bottles, however there is no current guidance for recycled masks (not that everyone is recycling their water bottles either), so that means every minute of every day, we are throwing away 3 million face masks around the world, which often end up on in our oceans! Buy and wear a reusable mask, it will actually be easier on both the environment and your pockets! Masks are now being sold at almost every major retailer and ecomm site and prices can range from $3USD to more premium prices, just pick your poison! Personally, I’ve purchased a few masks from Etsy, Amazon, Anthropologie and even Athleta. Check HERE for a list of the best fabric masks to buy in 2021. The alternative is to make your own mask with a piece of cloth or fabric, HERE is a YouTube video on easy DIY masks! !
Shopping sustainably Becoming a more sustainable clothing shopper is something that I am trying to work toward, getting out of the fast-fashion world, but I get it, it’s not easy. I do not have unending, disposable income to spend on all of my fashions, and while I enjoy looking good and creating content for my blog, I don’t have a huge budget to dedicate to this. However, I have been making strides. I’ve been following more fashion bloggers like @tenickab for not only store/brand suggestions, but also for ideas on how to slowly transform my closet to more sustainable/quality pieces and how to style them! HERE is a list of 14 sustainable stores to shop at online. And HERE is a list of 35 ethical & sustainable clothing brands. Note, buying sustainable does not have to be synonymous with expensive. Some of our favorite brands are becoming more conscious, like H&M, who’ve created a new line with our planet in mind with at least 50% of each item being made from sustainable materials, check that out HERE. And you can always try thrifting! And for my content creators/travel bloggers- you can and you should re-wear that outfit our swimsuit!
A few other, small acts and changes you can start with. Switching to cotton towels vs. paper towels, HERE is my favorite brand that I’ve been loving. AltLinen has cotton linens that you can purchase once, reuse over and over and have replaced forever, for free, once they’ve been too worn. Use reusable bags when shopping and ditch the plastic, I get mine from Trader Joes for my groceries or TjMaxx/Marshalls for general shopping and for only $.99 USD, you can find reusable bags just about anywhere, including HERE on Amazon. And as always, recycle when and where possible!!
I often hear people say, ” I am just one person, how can I make a difference” and I get frustrated because if every 1 person has this same take, we will never achieve change. Just by us making small changes, every day, and then encouraging others to do the same, either through action or encouragement, we can begin to make a true difference!
Let me know how you plan to make a difference this Earth Day!
There are so many reasons to rent a car when visiting another country, the most convincing one is convenience, picture this: you arrive to the Cancun International Airport (CUN) to get ready for a few days of sun and fun in Tulum, Mexico, but after 7 hours of flights + layovers, you have to wait an additional 2 hours for the next shuttle to drive you the 73 miles to Tulum. You’d wish you had thought about renting a car instead so you can make the 1.5hr trip yourself and get to paradise ASAP.
Tip: Click the Country/City name to access my guide and trip recap.
The other reason that renting a car in another country is justifiable is cost. Oftentimes, it’s cheaper to have your own wheels vs relying on public transportation, ride sharing, shuttles and taxis! Quick taxi ride here, jump in a lyft there…and boom, you’ve spent upwards of $100USD for transportation in a day. When visiting Costa Rica, we were staying 3 hours from the airport, our hotel offered a $190 USD per person, one way OR we could rent a car for $500 USD for the total trip, including insurance, split between two. The latter made sense because we then were able to drive to all of our excursions, dinners and places we wanted to visit, with only the additional costs of gas and tolls. We definitely saved money!
Lastly, some locations don’t have a lot of public transportation options available. Think Los Angeles, unlike it’s “large-city” counterparts NYC and Boston, LA does not have a wide transit network, you can’t quickly hop on a train to get across the city and though ride sharing app Uber was birthed on the west coast, it can still be costly.
So, now that I’ve convinced you that you should consider renting a car, check below for a few tips:
Probably the most obvious, but have your driver’s license! If you’re in the U.S., you should have a U.S. driver’s license, please check THIS list to understand how to get a license in the US if you’re a U.S. citizen and what to do if you’re a visitor/not a U.S. citizen! A U.S. driver’s license is acceptable to drive in all 50 states in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, some countries in Europe, the Caribbean, South America and Africa.
For other circumstances, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is required (in addition to a valid license from your own country). IDPs are valid for a full year, but check local website for the most up-to-date information. IDPs are available in over 150 countries around the world and can be translated into 10 languages. Also note, having a valid driver’s license or IDP is a requirement to secure a reservation for many rental car companies.
So, how do I get one? Companies like AAA make the application process easy, complete the application, present a passport picture and valid driver’s license and pay the $20 USD processing fee. Check HERE for more information or google “IDP for XXX country” to get more information.
2. Make sure you have insurance coverage. It is illegal to drive without insurance coverage (and without a license) in most countries.
I have the Chase Sapphire Reserved travel credit card, and it’s hefty $550 USD annual fee comes with a ton of travel benefits, including Special Car Rental Privileges and Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver that covers up to $75,000 USD in theft and collision damage. This waiver enables me to bypass most insurance plans offered by rental companies (except in rare instances where a country wants you to have additional insurance specific to their laws-like Costa Rica). See HERE for more information on the Chase Sapphire travel benefits. Check with your credit card company and your personal car insurance to see what options and coverage is available to you, you’d be surprised!
For those who can’t leverage the above options, there are still other insurance solutions available. Click HERE for a list of my favorite, reputable insurance companies that can offer coverage for your entire trip INCLUDING rental car insurance. Some of the companies include AIG, Travel Safe, Trawick Travel Insured, and more.
3. Navigation prep! Gone are the days of printing out map quest directions and following along the written instructions! In your hometown/country, you’re probably used to just leveraging apps like Google Maps or even Waze to maneuver through new or unfamiliar territory, but when in a new country, you have to plan ahead for things like access or lack of service. Rental car companies do still offer GPS rentals for a small fee, but alternatively, you can take Google Maps with you abroad, to over 104 countries! Before traveling, ensure you either have service or a SIM card and then download google maps and you’re ready to hit the road. If you will not have service, you can plan ahead by downloading an offline map, which can still give you driving directions despite having slow or no internet connection- check HERE for more information on offline maps.
4. Budget for additional expenses such as gas and tolls! I always recommend that people carry at least $20USD or its equivalency in cash for emergencies, but I suggest more than this when a rental car is involved. You can do some research ahead to roughly estimate how much you’ll spend in gas and fees to have an idea of how much to budget, and I recommend that you carry cash in addition to cards, in the event that cash is the only thing available. I also recommend understanding what the most common currency is and converting a few dollars to the local currency before hitting the road-sometimes, toll booths will only accept cash/cash in the local currency.
5. Familiarize yourself with the local rules of the road. Ignorance of the law is never a valid excuse for breaking said law. Unfortunately, you need to be overly aware of things that are illegal, like turning right on red in the city of New York, this isn’t allowable whereas it’s a norm in many other U.S. cities.
And aside from actual laws, know the “rules” of the road. What side of the road do you drive on? While 163 countries drive on the right-side of the road, you’ll find left-side driving in most (former) British colonies like South Africa, UK, and Bermuda for example.
6. Actually booking the car. I am huge promoter of booking experiences and excursions once at your destination, but for rental cars, I don’t like to always throw caution to the wind. I typically book my rental cars via expedia.com, it not only helps me to build points to use towards future stays/rentals, but it comes with 24/7 customer service and a menu of rental car companies to choose from! I can also read reviews from previous travelers to sort out any red flag or sketchy companies.
7. Consider parking costs or restrictions. In some cities/countries, you might not only spend a lot of time searching for parking, you may pay a lot to secure a spot as well. I try to look for hotels or Airbnb’s that include complimentary valet or parking, but this is not always an option when visiting larger cities like New York or D.C. in the US. Factor these costs into your overall rental budget!
When visiting big cities in the U.S. I leverage apps like ParkWhiz, Park Me or SpotHero, to find discounted parking rates! Click HERE for a list by Emily Delbridge on the Best Parking Apps to Save Time & Money.
8. When reserving your car, pay attention to the details. What kind of car will you need? Will you be doing any off-roading? How many people are traveling with you? Will you need a van? Do you need a lot of trunk space? What are the weather conditions? Will you need a vehicle with snow tires? Do not assume that the rental car company will think of these things for you! On a ski trip to Denver in the middle of December, we were given a rental car WITHOUT snow tires, and we slid up and down those mountains!
You’ll also want to make sure the vehicle is automatic if you are not trained in driving a stick shift (also known as manual or standard) – they are not the same! In the U.S., 96% of Americans drive automatic vehicles, but worldwide about 1/3 of the world’s cars are manual!
Additional Notes: Safety is always a top priority. Pay attention to your intuition if a situation makes you feel uneasy. Try to drive only during day light and on well lit streets. Lock your car and hide valuables when not in the vehicle.
Planning a road trip? Check out my Road Trip Essentials, Ultimate Road Tripping Guide HERE