Category: travel

The Cheapskate Guide To: Tijuana

Interested in cheap travel to Tijuana? Click through for cheap Tijuana travel tips from a local - what to do, where to go, and what to eat. #tijuana #cheaptravel #budgettravel #mexicotravel
How cheap is Tijuana? Is it safe? How much does a hotel cost there? Today, lifelong Tijuana resident Nicté Trujillo is telling us about cheap travel options in Tijuana, Mexico – $24 hotels, $4 tlayuda (aka ‘Mexican pizza’), and free art exhibits!

Hey there, I’m Nicté Trujillo, a graphic arts nerd and photographer born and raised in one of the most visited borders of the world and I’m so happy to show you my beloved city! I love Tijuana and take any opportunity available to share the wonders it has to offer to the world.

Because we are so close to the United States, we’ve developed a cross-border culture you’d be amazed to see live, and although Tijuana is very young city we have internationally renowned dishes and landscapes, bespoke shoes, polka music, great weather all year long and so much more!

Cheap lodging Tijuana

Cheap lodging in Tijuana

If you’ve ever wanted to give Couchsurfing a go, this is the city to do it! We have an awesome community and are always eager to show people around but if staying with strangers (potential best friends forever) is not your thing, these are some of the options you can try:

Gamma by Fiesta Inn – $35 / night

This is a very centric hotel, it was recently renewed and has all the accommodations necessary to make you feel happy and comfortable.

Hotel Pacific – $24 / night

It’s not fancy, but the location is perfect – close downtown and many coffee shops, restaurants and eateries. You’ll be glad you stayed there! 

Hostel Pangea – $10 / night per bed

This is the only hostel in the city and it has a whole floor dedicated to art exhibitions, a restaurant featuring locally-grown ingredients, concerts on a constant basis, and it’s right in the heart of downtown.

Airbnb – $23 – 28 per night

There are plenty of affordable, highly-reviewed private room options in Tijuana, like this room that’s a 10-minute walk from the beach, this room in a stylishly minimalist home, or a tiny cottage with a sleeping loft for $28 a night!

And if you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking!

Cheap food in Tijuana

Cheap food in Tijuana

We take food very seriously in the city and have our very own style where we mix the Mediterranean recipes with local flavors and even our tacos have a very unique touch. You can find taco stands almost every corner and delicious coffee shops are now abundant too, so even if you just take a stroll down the main streets you surely will find something delicious.

Caesar Restaurant & Bar – $7 for a caesar salad (home of the original Ceasar salad!) 

You might not know this but the Caesar salad was invented in a hotel in Downtown and you can still visit the place where they created it. They will prepare right by your table and the flavor will amaze you!

Plaza Fiesta – $3 for a Craft Beer

In the last few years, lots of entrepreneurs have looked at craft beer as an opportunity to experiment and create amazing stuff, for and by the locals. Nowadays many breweries have established in Plaza Fiesta and offer a special (cheaper!) price on Tap Tuesdays so this an amazing opportunity for you to try different craft beers and even try some snacks.

La Oaxaqueña – $4 for a Tlayuda

The best way to explain this dish is to call it a Mexican pizza. This is a traditional Oaxaca, dish and it’s one of my favorite things to eat in town. It’s a huge tostada (toasted tortilla) with beans, meat and vegetables – perfect for sharing!

Cheap places to eat in Tijuana

La Diferencia – $4 for a Cactus and pork grinds salad

This restaurant has amazing interpretations of Mexican dishes that mix flavors and textures so all the items on the menu are amazing! If you should only try one thing, try this salad; it mixes the traditional and the modern.

Mariscos El Mazateño – $5 for 2 spicy shrimp tacos

If you want to experience the warmth and flavor locals love, visit El Mazateño for their wide arrange of seafood tacos. My favorite is the “camarón enchilado;” it’s a spicy shrimp taco that comes in a crispy tortilla with melted cheese. Yum!

Humo – $5 for a bacon hot dog

Humo is part of one of the most popular food trucks park of the city and it probably has the best hot dogs of Tijuana. With a homemade sausage and bread and a corn cob on the side, you have got to give it a go if you are a meatlover.

Veggie Smalls – $5 for a lentil and Portobello hamburger

Tijuana also has some amazing dishes for vegetarians and vegans. Try their tacos and hamburgers with onion rings or sweet potato fries along their homemade ketchup.

Cheap things to do in Tijuana

Cheap things to do 

Mercado Hidalgo – free

This market is an amazing sample of the colors, flavors, and tastes of Mexico. You can find spices, crafts, exotic fruit, piñatas, and so many chilies. Walk among the vendors, grab a cup of fruit with chili powder or drink from a fresh coconut and you’ll be in paradise in the middle of the city!

Picture with a Burro Zebra – $5

Take a picture with our traditional donkey dressed up as a zebra!

Since 1939, photographers have been decorating a wheelbarrow with Mexican paraphernalia, like sombreros, zarapes, etc., and visitors could pose with the donkey. Since the pictures were black and white back then, the donkey wouldn’t show much so someone decided to fix this by painting the animal!

Since has become a tradition and you will find these zebra/donkeys on different corners of Revolucion Avenue.

See the art exhibits at the CECUT, Tijuana Cultural Center – $3 – $5, free on Sundays

CECUT has a few different options if art and history are your thing. On the weekdays, you need to get a ticket (the price range is $3-$5) for most of their art exhibits but on Sundays, all the exhibitions are free. You can visit the contemporary art building, El Cubo, walk around their botanical garden or check any of their temporary art exhibits, where you can find both local, national or international artists creations.

Movie at the IMAX dome – $3

You feel that you are right inside the movie…just be careful if you get motion sick easily.

Want to travel cheap in Tijuana? Like, EXTRA cheap? Click through for a local's tips on $28 Airbnbs, $4 Mexican pizzas, and free readings from famous actors –

Tianguis – free

If you love treasure hunting, looking for antiques or second-hand trinkets you will love our “sobreruedas” or “tianguis.” These are open air markets, where you can find food, clothes, furniture, and many other things. They are very common around the city. You’ll find them on a weekly basis and some of the biggest ones are in La Villa or by the Border in Otay Mesa.

Ask a local to point you to the closest and have a walk among the fruit vendors and grab some hand-churned ice cream for less than a dollar!

Walk by Playas de Tijuana – free

Our sunsets are best viewed on the beach! If you’re lucky, you might even see some dolphins riding the waves along the surfers. You will also see  our binational garden, which grows edible plants on both sides of the fence that divides Mexico and The United States.

Casa de las Ideas – free

This space and organization was created to promote creative thinking and aid in decreasing violence through workshops and events that promote collaboration and communication.

The building has won multiple architectural awards. Casa de la Ideas frequently hosts events that are free/cheap and open to the public, including reading by well-known actors and even yoga.

Walking tour Tijuana – free

A couple of couchsufing hosts host a free, weekly walking tour! You will be able to walk around the art corridors inside downtown, have a taste of locally brewed beers or even attend art exhibits, make great friends and just have a great time with locals.

As you can see, there is something for everyone in the city and if you have time to spare, you could drive south of the city to see more of our amazing state, like the new wine route, the Ensenada Pier or even see where the famous Tecate beer is made!

Thanks so much for sharing your insights, Nicté! Have any of you guys been to Tijuana? If you have, I’d love to hear your favorite cheap tips!

P.S. 7 travel tools I will not shut up about till you buy them!

photo credits: sam wheeler // following photo sets by nicté trujillo // cc

Mini Travel Guide: Queensland, Australia

 Looking for a travel guide to Queensland, Australia? This written-by-a-local travel guide will tell you what to do, where to go, what to eat, and how to deal when an Aussie 'takes the piss'! –
No travel guide to Queensland, Australia would be complete without cultural tips for navigating the Australian sense of humor. True story: I had several Australian friends when I lived in Taiwan and I spent most of our friendship wondering if they even liked me!

Read on for Sandra’s advice on eating ‘bush tucker,’ getting free rental cars (I’ve done this! It’s great!), and how to travel through Aboriginal Australia respectfully.


The Cheapskate Guide To: Los Angeles

Looking for cheap LA travel tips? Tap through for a local's guide to cheap L.A. lodging, food, where to go, and what to do! #losangeles #cheaptrave; #traveltips #laIs it snowing/sleeting/freezing where you are? Are you reading this while wearing 17 sweaters? Me, too.

This is our friendly reminder that LAX is the second biggest airport in the U.S., with jillions of cheap flights in and out every day. Today, LA local Mandy Sutton is telling us about beach camping for $35 a night, $2 tacos, and $8 double features at iconic movie theaters!


Mini Travel Guide: Belgium

Looking for a travel guide to Belgium? Look no further! Great Belgium travel tips on what to do, where to stay, what to eat, and how to navigate the culture!

Welp, I’m afraid you’re going to have to add Belgium to your list of ‘Places I Didn’t Know I Wanted To Go Until Now.’ An optical illusion church? A forest so covered in bluebells it’s called The Blue Forest? Two distinct kinds of waffles?!! INTO IT.


The Cheapskate Guide To: Atlanta

Want to travel cheap in Atlanta? Click through a local's best Atlanta budget travel tips: $15 camping, $1.95 biscuits, $10 river tubing, and free Walking Dead tours! #cheaptravel #Atlantatravel #budgettravel

Want to travel cheap in Atlanta? Of course you do! It’s a gorgeous city and there’s tons to do! Today, Atlanta local Katie McLendon is sharing all her best Atlanta budget travel tips: $15 a night camping (or $85 a night glamping), $1.95 biscuits, $10 river tubing, and free Walking Dead tours!


Mini Travel Guide: Canada’s Yukon Territory

This written-by-a-local travel guide to Canada's Yukon territory is full of so many helpful travel tips! Where to go, what to do, which foods to try! Click through for great travel advice >>

I have such a special place in my heart for off-the-beaten-path, rustic travel destinations. There’s a reason Mongolia is at the top of my must-visit list! So when Janelle offered to write a travel guide to Canada’s Yukon territory I was alllll over it.

If you, too, love wide open spaces, towns with wooden boardwalks and dirt roads, or foraging for berries and mushrooms, you’ll want to book a ticket ASAP.

The Yukon Territory is in the northwest corner of Canada, above British Columbia and beside Alaska. It’s got a stark feral wildness to it, with very few people (35,000) and a lot of land.

My name is Janelle and I grew up in the same home my mother did, on the banks of the Yukon River in downtown Whitehorse, the capital city of the Yukon. I love this summery sun-drenched and wintery cold darkness wildly, and my heart always feels right when I’m surrounded by the landscape of the north, among the resourceful and creative residents.

This written-by-a-local travel guide to Canada's Yukon territory is full of so many helpful travel tips! Where to go, what to do, which foods to try! Click through for great travel advice >>

Must Do in Yukon

Whitehorse is my hometown and the capital city of the Yukon. It rests in a river valley on either side of the mighty Yukon River and sprawls upwards and away from that valley into extended country residential suburbs.

The name Whitehorse comes from a description of the rapids running through Miles Canyon, just upriver of Whitehorse, where many foolish goldrushers died as they attempted their desperate journey north to the Klondike.

The whitecaps from the rapids were said to resemble galloping white horses, hence, Whitehorse. However, after the Yukon put in a hydroelectric dam just south of the canyon, the rapids disappeared.

Whitehorse is filled with artistic and cultural productions and communities, as well as a world-class cross-country skiing centre, and a wild community of cyclists that bike all year round.

It’s a wonderful jumping off point for adventures and exploration. People viewing the northern lights (aurora borealis) in the winter and experiencing the unending midnight sun in the summer, as well as trying out dog sledding and other classically northern adventures.

Dawson City
Dawson City is home to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, which caused the Yukon’s population to transform from the 14 First Nations, missionaries and fur traders, to an additional 30,000 fortune hunters from all over the world in less than one year.

When you visit Dawson City you step into a town of 2,000 people that has preserved it’s historical character. Wooden boardwalks, dirt roads and managed to also establish a visual arts school. There’s thriving contemporary arts community with the contrasting values of the Trondek Hwech’in First Nations, gold miners, artists, hippies, transients and starry-eyed southerners determined to live a rustic northern life.

Old Crow
Old Crow is just south of the Arctic Circle on the banks of the Porcupine River. It is a fly-in village of 200 people, mostly from the Vuntut Gwichin First Nations. It’s really far north, above the tree line, and is famous, among other things, for it’s square dances and fiddle music. Vuntut Gwichin means People of the Lakes, and derives from their annual muskrat trapping season.

Keno City
Keno City, named after a popular gambling game, was once a booming frontier mining town, and is now a tiny rustic cluster of buildings. Home to fewer than 20 full-time residents, a mix of artists, miners, old-timers an alpine interpretive centre and mining museum.

This written-by-a-local travel guide to Canada's Yukon territory is full of so many helpful travel tips! Where to go, what to do, which foods to try! Click through for great travel advice >>

Things To Do In The Yukon

The Yukon is so full of things to do it’s hard to even take it all in. There is something for the sporty, for the adventurer, for the culture vulture, for the artist, and for the hobo.

Especially music festivals, are the thing to do in the Yukon. For music, there is the Dawson City Music Festival, Atlin Arts and Music Festival, and the Frostbite Music Festival. For the arts, you can experience the Adaka Cultural FestivalYukon Riverside Arts Festival, the Available Light Film Festival, the Dawson City International Short Film Festival and more.

Activities include wilderness adventures, camping, bike races, softball tournaments and more. The 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival happens on summer solstice (when it never gets dark, all night long)  and then there is the Yukon Quest, a 1,000 mile long international dog sled race .

Most outrageous of all is the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous and, of course, the truly disgusting visitor rite of passage, the Sour Toe Cocktail. Dawson City’s Diamond Tooth Gerties, Canada’s first casino, where you can watch flashy can-can dancers and lose all of your money in style.

And finally, I recommend going to the Moosehide Gathering, located 3km downriver from Dawson City, it’s a celebration of Trondek Hwechin First Nations culture, a celebration inclusive to all. I was lucky enough to have worked there one summer when I was 16 years old, restoring the spirit house picket fences by painting them, and cutting down trees that were encroaching on the graveyard.

And, if you fall in love with the Yukon (which I predict), go to art school. Dawson City has a fully accredited visual arts college, the smallest most northerly one in all of Canada, in the quirkiest wildest little town of all.

This written-by-a-local travel guide to Canada's Yukon territory is full of so many helpful travel tips! Where to go, what to do, which foods to try! Click through for great travel advice >>

Must Eat in Yukon

Bannock is a classic First Nations fry bread. Deliciously hot, greasy and crispy, you’ll get different versions depending on whose recipe it is, but at it’s simplest, it is just flour, water, baking soda and salt, fried up in a cast iron pan in lard. Easy to cook at home as well as on the land, tasty and filling.

Wild Meat
If you get a chance to eat wild meat, don’t hesitate. Some of the best most organic meat I’ve ever had comes from hunter friends, and favourites are moose, caribou, as well as various kinds of salmon, and, from the nearby ocean, halibut. Smoked salmon in particular is a delicious First Nations specialty, and worth seeking out.

Midnight sun coffee roaster in Whitehorse roasts it’s own coffee and serves it up in house. You’ll find yourself tucked into a sweet quirky little café/roastery run by a local family, which is itself tucked into a local cycling shop.

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Whitehorse, The Woodcutters Blanket, is a tiny little wood cabin downtown. It is one of the most photographed buildings, due to the life-sized moose on the roof, horns locked in battle. All food and drink treats and beautiful woodwork dreamed up by one of my own brothers.

Tucked away in Dawson City is a fantastic greek restaurant called The Drunken Goat, and a few blocks away is a utopian café called the Alchemy Café. It’s family and traveler friendly, organically healthy, with stellar coffee and a community focus.

Berries and Mushrooms (especially Morels)
One of the biggest cultural pastimes and pleasures of being a northerner is berry-picking and mushroom harvesting. Cranberries are especially popular, and everyone has their own secret picking grounds.

If you’re there in the autumn, make friends with a local and ask if you can help them pick berries. Wild cranberries, blueberries, raspberries and more will ruin your taste for store-bought. If you’re especially lucky, you’ll find a local who also bakes and cans, and you’ll get to taste jams and pies made of your hard efforts.

Then, there are the mushrooms. So many mushrooms. Again, go with someone who knows what is what (not all mushrooms are edible or safe). Morels are shockingly delicious, and hard to find (you have to go where there were fires in previous years). Closer to home, shaggy manes are tasty, but you’ve got to time it so you pick them before they turn to slime! It’s worth the effort.

This written-by-a-local travel guide to Canada's Yukon territory is full of so many helpful travel tips! Where to go, what to do, which foods to try! Click through for great travel advice >>

Cultural Tips for the Yukon

Everyone speaks English, but, because Canada’s official language is French, and there is a dynamic Francophone population in the North, a surprising number of people also speak French.

Additionally, the Yukon is home to 14 original First Nations groups and almost every community has it’s own cultural and heritage centre, open to the public.

Stick gambling is a traditional First Nations game, and ‘massi cho’ is a commonly used Vuntut Gwichin phrase meaning ‘thank you.’

The Dene Games and Arctic Winter Games (a roving international showcase of northern sport and cultural talent)  showcase First Nations as well as non-First Nations games, but you really want to see the First Nations Games. Watching such intense physical endurance games such as the finger pull, the knuckle hop and more will humble you.

‘Outside’ refers to someone from outside of the Yukon, or for when you are leaving the Territory. ‘Cheechako’ and ‘sourdough’ are terms originating back to the Goldrush, and they signify belonging. If you’re a cheechako, you’re a newcomer who has yet to spend a winter in the north. You become a sourdough when you’ve spent a full four seasons in the Yukon.

This written-by-a-local travel guide to Canada's Yukon territory is full of so many helpful travel tips! Where to go, what to do, which foods to try! Click through for great travel advice >>

Cheap Travel in the Yukon

If you want to travel on the cheap in the Yukon people still hitchhike! Of course, use caution.  Bulletin boards will be your best friend; you can post travel needs and rideshares and other desires to the traveling community.  Hostels, Couchsurfing, Wwoofing and Helpx websites will also help you find lodging in exchange for labour.

Like most places, Airbnb is cheaper and more authentic than a similar hotel experience. Here’s a riverfront guesthouse for $62 a night and here’s a private room + sauna for $47! If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit towards your first booking.

Thanks so much for sharing your insights, Janelle! Canadian readers, do you have anything to add?

P.S. Did you know I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to North American travel? And one for budget travel?!

photos by bureau of land management // traveling otter // ro cemm // gary benson // joseph // cc