7 Tips For Traveling Across The Country On A Budget

This post was first published on Tailwind blog on August 11, 2015.

traveling across the country, road trip tips

If you’re going to try to see the countless amazing sites across America, you’ll need to get started now. And if you’re hoping to remain within a budget, you should definitely follow these tips.

1. Use Technology for Cheap Gas


Imagine if you knew which gas stations along your route had the lowest-priced fuel. Just think of how much you could save! That’s exactly what GasBuddy does. You can check out their website or download the app, and never overpay for gas again!

traveling across the country with groceries

2. Bring Your Own Groceries


If you’re driving across the country, a cooler with lunch meats, soda and condiments can come in handy at rest stops. Even when you’re staying at a hotel, it’s best to have food stored in the refrigerator. Save eating out for those special restaurants that you just have to try.

3. Invest in a Federal Recreation Pass


Some cities are always going to be expensive, but if you think ahead and buy a Federal Recreation Pass, you can enter federally-funded recreation areas throughout the United States for free. This includes places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park. You can even have some friends tag along!

4. Check out Free Sites


Even if you don’t pay for a pass to see national landmarks, there are countless sites you can visit for free. From the White House in D.C. to the French Quarter — which also has low cost hotels in New Orleans like Historic Streetcar Inn — there are definite stopping points that can be accessed on a shoestring budget.

traveling across the country with friends

5. Bring Friends Along


If you’ve opted to see the country via automobile, one of the best ways to stay within your budget is to bring friends along. Not only will you get a better value on your Federal Recreation Pass, but you’ll also be able to split the cost of fuel and your lodging. Just imagine, for instance, how much more affordable a trip to The Big Apple would be if you weren’t footing the bill for New York hotels and taxis alone.

6. Utilize Travel Aggregation Sites


Online travel sites have become a popular way of saving money. Using travel aggregation sites like Hipmunk, which seek out the lowest prices from all the top travel sites, is an ideal way to save money on traveling.

 7. Avoid Dining in When Eating Out


When you do opt to buy food from a restaurant, it’s best to place your order to go. This will minimize the necessity of tipping. Even if you find a cheap hotel in cities ranging from Chicago to El Paso, tipping can quickly wipe out the money you’re saving on a low-cost hotel.

traveling across the country, food

Traveling across the country doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. There are now many methods for saving on cross-country trips. Fortunately, this means great travels without breaking the bank.

Could The Side-Slip Airplane Seat Change The Boarding Process Game Forever?

side-slip airplane seat

One of the most frustrating parts of a flight comes at the very beginning: The slow-moving and cramped boarding process is a constant hassle. Dozens of people, loaded down with heavy bags (and kids and strollers), attempt to navigate their way to their seats by squeezing past one another in an impossibly thin aisle. Even when boarding is staggered by section, the process can still be uncomfortable and irritating.

Perhaps not for long, thanks to the work being done at the Denver-based Molon Labe Designs LLC. The minds behind Molon Labe Designs are busy at work crafting a slideable aisle seat that retracts inward during boarding. The design makes for a 41” aisle, which is practically palatial when compared to the traditional 19” one. As this video demonstrates, once the seat is retracted passengers can move about freely, gliding past one another in a breezy travel-induced haze.

As travelers, we love the potential in these seats, but it does have us wondering about the wacky and uncomfortable scenarios that are bound to occur with full on Slip-n-Slide styled airplane seating:

  • A sudden sharp dive to the left could potentially send aisle-seaters sliding into their seat mates, which could make for some great flirting if the person in 5B turns out to be a cutie…
  • …or a complete disaster if 5B turns out to be sick and the unfortunate aisle-seater slides right into a sneeze….
  • …or an even bigger disaster if 5B was just served a piping hot coffee.
  • Getting in and out to use the restroom would be much easier with a retractable seat…
  • …unless of course 5A turns out to be a clutz and they plop right onto 5C’s lap mid seat-slide when returning from the bathroom.
  • (Though traditionally not a problem if 5A’s a cutie, see #1.)
  • But as long as all the aisle-seaters stay in control of their seat, none of these disasters are going to occur, right?
  • That is of course until a young child ends up in an aisle seat and all chaos breaks loose. What’s more fun, a coloring book or a slide-able seat?

Jokey scenarios aside, we’re excited by the prospect of some new seat technology and will be the first ones to sign up for a demo flight. Someone has to test out these slidey gizmos before they hit the public!

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on Oct. 6th.

How to Get the Best Seat on the Plane

best seat on the plane

Traveling on a plane can come with a slew of seat-based comfort challenges, whether you’re assigned to a seat that doesn’t recline or located just adjacent to the bathroom. If you want to get the best seat without having to pay extra cash, there are a few simple tips to follow. While you might not feel like you’re lounging in a featherbed in one of the many luxury hotels in Milan, you will optimize your chances of having a travel experience that’s comfortable, pleasant and relaxed.

1. Don’t Pre-Select Seats

Many flyers are tempted to pre-choose seats when they book their plane flights on Hipmunk. However, it’s best to actually let the airline assign you seats when you check in; particularly for full flights. Airlines cannot require you to pay for premium seats if they are the only spots available. If you wait until everyone else on the plane has chosen a seat, there’s a good chance that one of the premium seats will be assigned to you at no cost.

2. Volunteer to Sit in an Emergency Exit

Flight attendants need to fill emergency exit rows with capable passengers who can assist in an emergency. If you feel physically fit, you can volunteer to move to an exit row if flight attendants are looking to fill the seats (or swap someone out who is not qualified). Sitting in an exit row affords you a lot of extra leg room. It’s also often is an emptier row, as airlines usually pre-charge an extra fee to sit there.

3. Fly During the Middle of the Week

Statistics show that the smallest number of travelers fly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. To ensure you have the most room on the plane–and the biggest selection of great seats–fly during the work week.

4. Take Seats Freed by Upgrades

Once you board a plane, some may opt to pay extra for first class or business class seats. Ask if you can take the seats they left empty. Many of these seats will have been occupied by frequent flyers or business travelers, which means that you might earn yourself a premium seat with extra legroom, greater recline or other great features.

No matter whether you’re crossing a few state lines or the Pacific Ocean, having a comfortable seat can ensure you have a restful and pleasant flight. By following a few simple tips, you can find yourself the best seat possible without forking over any extra dough.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on Sept. 2nd.

Food on the Fly: Successful Self-Catering

self-catering while traveling

Picture yourself at lunch in Paris, sitting at a sidewalk café, eating salade niçoise and gazing at the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Perfection, non? Doesn’t get much better than that.

Unless, of course, you were dining in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

This is the magic of self-catering. Skipping the restaurant meals in favor of a grocery bag full of goodies can lead to magical travel memories of perfect picnics, exotic delicacies and adventurous eating. You’ll also save a little money along the way. Start turning meals into memories with these tips for successful self-catering.

Marketplace Magic

Word of warning: Once you start shopping local markets, you may never go to a restaurant again. When food becomes this much fun, you won’t want to. Barcelona’s La Boqueria, for example, is a vibrant sensory experience, awash in color and sound. It’s a photography buff’s dream. Here, you can sip a cup of fresh-squeezed juice in any flavor imaginable while you stock up on authentic Catalonian lunch fare — plus some goodies to enjoy while people watching from your balcony during a siesta at Arc La Rambla.

Locally Made Goodness

Seek out small shops. You’ll find delicious, fresh-made local fare, with the bonus of a more personal touch. Since meeting new people is one of the best parts of travel, visiting friendly mom-and-pop shops makes for a truly special travel experience. Bakeries are a great place to start; try stepping out of your hotel in Paris and follow your nose to a fresh-baked baguette. It’s hard to imagine a greater joy than ripping off warm hunks of bread on your way to the Champs-Élysées.

Picnic Perfection

With self-catering, where you eat is just as important as what’s on the menu. Casually enjoying a leisurely meal in an iconic location is an experience you’ll never forget. While enjoying a stay in any of these family-friendly New York City hotels, take the gang for a picnic in Central Park. The kids will love playing in the green expanse while you all fuel up for a visit to Strawberry Fields or the Central Park Zoo.

To truly feel like a native Londoner on your next U.K. visit, join the locals enjoying their lunch against the backdrop of St. Peter’s Basilica. Or enjoy a picnic in St. James Park, with a view of Buckingham Palace.

Explore, Experiment, Enjoy

Travel is all about new experiences. Start with these tips, and then experiment away. Whether it’s sun-dried tomatoes and ciabatta in Rome or dolmades in Istanbul, you’ll soon be crafting your own incredible self-catering experiences and turning meals into memories. Bon appétit!

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on Sept. 11th.

September Savings: Why the Off-Season May be the Best Time for a Vacay

shoulder_season_3 (1)

Click image above to zoom in for savings.

Summer’s endless possibilities have ended, school is back in session, and vacations have come to their conclusion.

Or have they? Because so many people travel to exotic destinations during the summer months, airlines face a huge drop in demand from August to September—and flight prices drop as a result.

In travel industry jargon, this period between peak and off-peak seasons is known as the “shoulder season.” So while September is still a great time to visit many vacation destinations (the weather hasn’t changed that much), you can actually get better prices because you’ve just missed peak season.

To determine which locations offered the biggest shoulder season savings, Hipmunk decided to examine the booking prices for flights to popular destinations this September and compare them to the prices in August, at the end of the summer.

Depending on the destination, you can save huge amounts of money on your flight simply by delaying your travel plans for a month:

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 10.16.46 AMThe biggest savings during September’s shoulder season are found at exotic island destinations like Fiji, Tahiti, and the Bahamas, where airfare drops 13-29 percent from August to September.

Europhiles can also save quite a bit of money across the pond in September, where travel to cities like Rome, Milan, Paris, and Barcelona is 11-26 percent less expensive.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Southern Hemisphere is actually more expensive to travel to in September than in August because our summer is their winter. For example, when visiting Australia or Argentina, September is closer to their peak season than August is, and because of this, flight prices are higher.

Places closer to the equator, like Mexico, also tend to be more expensive in September—likely due to the fact that summers there are extremely hot but become more comfortable (and desirable) during the cooler seasons.

Even still, if the weather is great in August, there’s a high chance it’s going to be really nice in September as well. But just to make sure, let’s look at the average daily high temperature in each of these cities, by month:

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 10.20.46 AMSure, things do cool off a bit in Europe in the fall. But for the most part, there is very little variation in temperatures from August to September. If you’re planning vacation, traveling in September is an excellent bet: you get all the wonderful weather of August, but because there is less demand, you get a better price.

Methodology: The table above shows the average price that Hipmunk customers (who booked in the last three months) got on their flights this September versus August.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on Sept. 9th.

A definitive guide to outlets around the world and how to use adapters without frying your electronics

guide to outlets around the world

These days, most of us want to travel with our electrical gadgets, whether that be a cell phone, tablet or similar mobile device, laptop, camera, music player or hairdryer. But not using the right power adapter when you are traveling can be worse than an inconvenience–it can damage equipment and lead to electrical failures. What’s more, it can be hard to find the adapter you need in some parts of the world, so it’s always best to travel prepared.

While most modern electronics are able to take 220 or 110 volt (V) power, many devices still need adapters even if you don’t have to convert the voltage. An adapter will allow you to connect to the power supply for the country you are in.

Whether you are staying in the fanciest hotels in New York or the best Las Vegas hotels, it’s always worth asking, as they may be able to offer you advice or lend you an adapter–find out before you travel.

And while many hotels provide some of the actual gadgets you may need, not all will. Most cheap hotels in London, for example, won’t be able to supply hair dryers in rooms or computers in a business center. (Though they may have one if you ask.) Therefore, it’s important to understand the various types of power adapters on the market as you travel, and be able to read the voltages labels on your gadgets so you choose the right equipment you need.

Reading Power Labels Properly

You can find information regarding your gadget’s power supply requirements on a label stuck to the back of it, on the plug or on the transformer box. The input will mostly be AC100-240 V 50-60Hz 14W with an output of DC 1.2V 23A. The input line reveals whether a gadget is single, dual or multi-voltage.

In the U.S., power supplies use between 110 and 120 V; in Europe it’s more likely to be between 220 and 240 V. Other parts of the world will have other variations. Again, check before you travel.

Power adapters are usually 110-120 V to 220-240 V or 220-240 V to 110-120 V. They convert incoming voltage into an output your gadget can operate on. But in addition to the right power adapter, you will need the right plug adapter as well, as follows:

  • The UK standard has three rectangular pins in a triangle.
  • The EU standard has two circular prongs.
  • The U.S. standard has two parallel prongs of different sizes.

Some countries will be different, and, again, some may use different plug types for varying devices.

Finally, consider a universal adapter, which combines a power adapter with a plug that fits into varying socket types. (Expect to pay more for these, however.)

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on Sept. 10th.

Where to stay in Playa Del Carmen: My personal recommendations

As you all know, I’m a budget traveler. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean I am cheap — it means I also seek value. So let me tell you right now: when thinking about where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, keep in mind that there are so many wonderful, locally-owned guesthouses and budget boutique hotels.

Do not go for the international chain hotels!

They are typically located outside of the center. Yes, the website might say it is located just a few miles away from Quinta Avenida — but what they don’t tell you is that is in a completely different complex. You can’t just walk down the middle of the highway to join the action now can you?

Where to stay in Playa Del Carmen: from boutique hotels to hostels

That being said, I spent 2 nights at the wonderful Aqualuna Boutique Hotel, just off Quinta Avenida (5th Ave.), on 10th and 14th St. It is literally steps away from all the action of 5th, yet a world away. From my room (number 1), I could hear nothing but the gentle sound of the courtyard fountain.

**Unfortunately, this Playa hotel is closed as of July 2016 🙁

where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, Aqualuna

Aqualuna Hotel from 10th St.

where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, Aqualuna bed

Bed inside my room. Firm, but comfy

where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, Aqualuna room

Rooms from the hotel’s courtyard or “patio interior”

Additionally, there were several local restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, away from touristy 5th. This meant I saved quite a bit of money eating out. I would go back to this budget boutique hotel in a heartbeat.

You can read my full review of Aqualuna here

I also stayed at a sister property, Hacienda Paradise, for one night. A more upscale hotel, this is where I would have my breakfast or take a dip in the pool during my stay at Aqualuna as well. While I enjoyed my stay at Hacienda, I feel the location and total lack of noise at Aqualuna make it my favorite of the two.

My full hotel review of Hacienda Paradise

where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, Hacienda Paradise

Hacienda Paradise courtyard and pool area from the lobby

Hacienda Paradise room, where to stay in Playa Del Carmen

My Hacienda room. Very nice!

On my last night, I decided to try one of the local hostels. I stayed at Hostel 3B. Absolutely loved the gigantic lockers (they even fit my carry-on with wheels!), silent dorms, comfortable beds and crispy clean linens. Excellent location, just a few steps away from the beach and 5th Avenue. Staff at reception was very helpful and friendly as well.

where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, Hostel 3B

Hostel 3B: Cheap and Chic!

My only complaint is that the bathroom smelled terribly once I got there. I saw someone cleaning them, but the problem is that they have no ventilation whatsoever (I stayed in the old female dorm number 5, by the way). This made humidity stall. It had great water pressure, though. Why do I recommend it, then? Because I had the best sleep (and hot shower) I’ve had at any hostel, ever. And I seriously fell in love with the lockers…

where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, hostels

Hostel 3B’s massive locker. I could even fit the new wheeled carry-on I bought later that day!

where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, Hostel 3B dorms

Hostel 3B female-only dorm

Other wonderful hostels that come highly recommended are Hostel Rio Playa, Green Monkey, Hostel Playa, and Hostal Vive La Vida.

Another Playa Del Carmen accommodation option: Condo hotels

Just walking down 5th Avenue, I noticed several condo hotels in Playa Del Carmen. Rooms are similar to short-term rentals (more like apartments), while the grounds and amenities resemble a hotel. As a matter of fact, most of them are more luxurious than a B & B! A perfect example is Maya Villa Condo Hotel & Beach Club, the top-rated hotel of its kind in town.

where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, Maya Villa pool

Maya Villa’s gecko pool (Photo: Tripadvisor)

where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, Maya Villa

KITCHEN of one of the “flats” at Maya Villa Condo Hotel. Photo: Roberto B, Tripadvisor

Where to stay in Playa Del Carmen? Share your recommendations!

Special thanks to Xperience Hotels for offering a complimentary stay at Aqualuna Boutique Hotel and Hacienda Paradise. I was not paid for a positive review and all comments are my honest opinion, though.

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs: La gente esta muy LOCA…WTF?

Remember those sweet plans I had in mind, to swim with turtles in Akumal? Well, that travel bucket list item will have to wait. We can blame Playa Del Carmen nightclubs for that.

Seriously, they got me singing: “la gente esta muy LOCA…WTF?”

When I signed up for the Playa Crawl, I figured I would be out and about until 3 AM. Given the fact that I had gone on a tour the day before on 4 hours of sleep, plus the lengthy nap I had taken earlier that day, I thought I could party and make it to Akumal by 8 AM.

That didn’t happen.

I should have known beforehand. Not only am I a quarter of a century old, but I’m not a college student anymore. And after reading what the Playa Crawl entails… What was I thinking?!

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, bar crawl

Best choice to get familiar with Playa Del Carmen nightclubs? Going on a bar crawl with Playa Crawl

You read right: Includes any cover charges, 5 hours of open bar, 3 different clubs, and unlimited bottle service on 2 of the venues. Furthermore, there’s no wait in line + you get a VIP booth at every club. And at the third club you don’t get bottle service? We got 3 rounds of SHOTS (in addition to the 2-3 rounds of drinks we got in-between).


For only US $69.99 per person, saying it is a bargain is an understatement. As a solo traveler, it was also a great way to meet other travelers. Our group consisted of 13 people (including our guide and Jorge). Our guide, Pepe, was a blast as well. He has been traveling the world, by getting instructor/guide seasonal gigs, for the past 10 years — he knows what he’s doing!

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review: Playa Crawl group

Our PlayaCrawl group! I’m in the dead center, strapless black dress

So…I got home at 7:30 AM.

And by the time we left, the party was still going! Yes, we saw the freakin’ sunrise from the last club. That’s the best part of the tour by the way: You get to stay at your VIP seating area at the last stop of the crawl until that club closes. Granted, drinks will be on your tab by then, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be all good at that point.

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs and lounges: Which did you go to?

What I really liked about Playa Crawl is that it truly encompasses Playa Del Carmen nightlife. Every night there’s a bar crawl, the venue selection changes. This is tailored to the group and night of the week. For instance, if it’s an older crowd, the guide will skip the loud dance clubs and head to the chill beach clubs instead. From the get-go, Pepe saw that our group was full of partiers, and so we visited the following clubs:

Kartabar (hookah lounge): Calle 12 and 1st Ave. corner

Kartabar was the perfect warm-up: A hip hookah lounge playing oldies Americana music and even some good 90’s pop and hip-hop. We were there by 1045-11 PM and stayed for 1 hour and 20 min. (this is the duration of every stop of the bar crawl, by the way).

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, belly dancer

Belly dancer at Kartabar

During our stay, we were graced by the performance of a beautiful, talented belly dancer in 2 occasions. As far as drinks go, we got 3 rounds of shots: One of tequila and 2 of what seemed to be a Blue Curaçao concoction. Other travelers had about 2-3 rounds of drinks themselves, in addition to the shots. Yours truly simply had an additional margarita (in true lightweight fashion).

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, Kartabar view

View of 12th Street from our table at Kartabar

Mandala (dance club): Calle 12 and 1st Ave. corner

Before entering this night club, our guide Pepe said: “party begins now.”

I absolutely loved Mandala: From the red lights, to the colorful dance floor, to the semi-outdoor set-up. The impressive Buddhas were a nice touch as well. Our group was escorted to the second-floor balcony, half of which is roofless. The DJ played American Top 40s, with some reggaetón tracks to spice up the mix. On the few trips to the bathroom, I listened to some of the music on the bottom floor — more of a local, Latin mix.

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, Mandala interiors

Mandala’s bottom dance floor early in the evening

At Mandala, we had our first unlimited bottle service. While our waiter was mostly attentive, he kept forgetting about our pineapple juice. Once Pepe was firm about the request though, it was delivered right away. Also, even though we were in the VIP section, it felt somewhat crowded. Still, we had a blast!

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, Mandala's Buddha

one of Mandala’s Buddha at the 1st floor bar

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, Mandala dancefloor

Facing where the stairs to the 2nd floor are located

Palazzo (dance club): Calle 12, between 5th and 10th Ave.

Another hotspot of Playa Del Carmen nightlife, Palazzo was extremely crowded by the time we got there (around 1 AM). It rivals any (small) club in Miami or Cancun: Huge chandelier, comfortable VIP balconies, great electronic music.

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, Palazzo

Palazzo entrance

At first, we were placed in one of the lower VIP tables. But…they were too small for our group. After simply making a comment, Pepe went ahead and talked to the manager of the club, who swiftly moved us to the upper VIP balcony. Score!

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review: Palazzo VIP balcony

Palazzo VIP balcony from the bottom floor

Service was superb. Here: We never ran out of bottles and even got a premium tequila bottle for shots. From here on…extremely LOCO!

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, Palazzo VIP balcony view

Palazzo VIP balcony view

Bonus – La Santanera: Calle 12 Mza 30 Loc 2, bet. 5th & 10th Ave.

If you are lucky enough to be hanging out with the owner or one of his family members that night? A 4th stop bonus! After Palazzo, our group was escorted to La Santanera. Owned and operated by the cousin of Playa Crawl’s Jorge, it is a breezy club where you will find more locals than foreigners. The music is outstanding (deep house + lounge upstairs). It is basically the place you go to party until the sun comes up.

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs, La Santanera bar

La Santanera bar. Loved the decor!

And I have nothing else to say about this hip club because… all I remember is dancing to great music, drinking from our vodka bottles at our VIP section until I saw the SUN come up. I didn’t get back to my hotel until 7-7:30 AM!

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs, La Santanera VIP

With my favorite Aussie in the group! Sitting at La Santanera VIP section. Pretty sure this was close to sunrise!

Alternatives to Playa Del Carmen nightclubs

Personally, I had a blast at all the clubs visited during the Playa Crawl. However, Playa Del Carmen nightlife offers a plethora of other options. Throughout my vacation, I also found the following venues to be quite attractive and fun:

Coco Bongo Playa Del Carmen
Calle 10, M31 L5 221, Playa del Carmen 77710

Yes, Coco Bongo is also a dance club, but they put on an amazing show. I had the pleasure of going to the one in Cancun. Too much fun to describe in words. Pricey, but totally worth it!

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, Coco Bongo

Coco Bongo Playa Del Carmen (Dan, Flickr)

Mamitas Beach Club
Calle 28 Norte Mza. 10 Lote 8 between Zona Federal Maritima and 5th Av.

Trendy, casual, and an amazing semi-outdoor experience. I personally love sipping cocktails and dancing while staring at crashing waves 😉 By the way, David Guetta will be here for New Years! The one night Mamitas will resemble one of the other nightclubs I mentioned (instead of its usual laid-back self).

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs alternative, Mamitas

Miss Spain contestants at Mamitas Beach Club (Noticaribe, Flickr)

Blue Parrot
12th St N & 1st Ave N | Blue Parrot Hotel

Laid-back beach bar that even has fire dancers. Watch the video below to sample of the some fun. The crazy fast dancing starts at 0:30!

Coco Maya Beach Club & Lounge
Calle 12 and Beach Front, Playa Del Carmen

Another casual club by the ocean, in the likes of Mamitas. It is BIG inside — loved the decor (swings by the BAR!), sand floor, and dancing space. There’s also a balcony to look at the waves 🙂 typical music played is hip-hop/R&B by the entrance; house by the beach.

Playa Del Carmen nightclubs review, Coco Maya dance floor

One of Coco Maya’s dance floors early in the evening

The drinking specials for ladies are even better: Every night, no cover and open bar until 1 AM! This includes tequila, vodka, and rum with respective non-premium (i.e. no Red Bull). I would say they still live up their “every night is a ladies night” motto 😉 Guys only pay US $35 for a bracelet that includes cover and similar open bar. Yes, Coco Maya can become more like a crowded dance club after midnight. Still, it is relatively laid-back in comparison to the other Playa Del Carmen nightclubs I went to.

Playa Del Carmen nightlife, Coco Maya Beach Club thatched ceiling

Coco Maya Beach Club’s thatched ceiling by 2nd dance floor

Playa Del Carmen nightlife review. Coco Maya

Coco Maya lounge area

Have you experienced Playa Del Carmen nightclubs? Tell us!

Special thanks to Jorge and Playa Crawl for the complimentary bar crawl. I was not paid for positive Playa Del Carmen nightclubs reviews, though. Comments are my honest opinion.

Best beaches near Rome — and how to get there (photo essay)

Wait…ruins and beaches? People forget how close The Colosseum is to the coast. Even when visiting in the summer, unsuspecting travelers skip the beaches around the ancient city entirely, driving or flying to farther towns for their Italian beach holidays. This week’s Beach Thursday photo essay features the best beaches near Rome and how to get there!

See more Italian beaches: Best beaches in Sicily

best beaches near Rome, Fregene

Peter Casier, Flickr

Best beaches near Rome (in no particular order!)


Did you know that Ostia Antica is actually Pompeii’s less-obnoxious sister? Only 30-40 min. away from the city, Ostia is not only considered the capital’s beach, but it is also a lesser-known point of interest. A worthy day trip from Rome whether you are looking for more interesting ruins and/or a beach escape. I recommend you hit the ruins early in the day, then refresh at the beach after lunch.

How to get there: Take the train (Metro Line B) toward Piramide station. Once there, go up the stairs in order to take the ROMA-LIDO train all the way to the end (C. Colombo Station). If you wish to see the ruins, get off at Ostia Antica station instead. [Source: Lonely Planet]

Extra tip: Since Ostia is quite close to Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport, it might be a good place to spend your last day or afternoon in Italy.

best Beaches near Rome, Ostia

Ostia Beach (•• Federì ••, Flickr)

Anzio and Nettuno

Want a plate of seafood with that beach trip? Only 57 km south of Rome, Anzio is a fabulous fishing port. You may also take a ferry to the Pontine islands of Ponza, Palmarola, and Ventotene in the summer.

How to get there: Take the Roma-Nettuno train from Termini. Once at the station, it is only a 10-15 min. walk to the sea 😀

Extra tip: Make sure you take the express train in order to get to the beach in an hour. You may also get there by bus, but beware: If you are only in Rome for a few days, you don’t want to take a 3-hour bus ride (each way!).

best Beaches near Rome, Anzio

“Near San Felice Circeo, between Anzio and Terracina” (Alessandra Kocman, Flickr)


Visiting Sperlonga is like taking a day trip to the Greek islands. Picturesque white-washed buildings make this a lovely little city. It has two different centers: A pedestrian-only one by the old town (lots of steps, gorgeous views from here!) and a second one open to traffic, leading to the beach. Blue-flagged for meeting high standards of cleanliness and water quality, Sperlonga is without a doubt the most beautiful beach near Rome.

How to get there: Take the train Roma-Napoli via Formia and get off at Fondi-Sperlonga. Once there, take the hourly bus (in the summer; every other hour in the winter) from the train station to the center. Total travel time is about 1.5-2 hours.

Extra tip: Do not rent a car and drive around the city in the high season — it’s unlikely you’ll find a parking spot!

best beaches near Rome, Sperlonga

Sperlonga beach (Alessia, Flickr)

Santa Marinella

Location location location — that’s Santa Marinella. Often quite crowded on weekends, it is not my top choice for beaches near Rome. However, I must admit that it is the most convenient. A stretch of its coast has free access, allowing you to bring your own towel (or chair) and enjoy. Alternatively, you may rent a cabana from one of the resorts and dine at one of the many seafood restaurants. It is a place you go to be social and/or people watch!

How to get there: From Rome Termini, take train on Roma-Pisa line toward Santa Marinella. The ride takes approximately 45 minutes.

Extra tip: This goes without saying, but I’ll tell you anyway. If you are seeking for a speck of solitude on the coast, Santa Marinella is not the right day trip from Rome for you.

best Beaches near Rome, Santa Marinella

Not the best beach near Rome, but the most accessible: Santa Marinella (pandemia,Flickr)

Did I leave out any of the best beaches near Rome? Comment below!