I just got back from a great month traveling throughout Mexico and Central America. I met up with some good friends from high school and absolutely loved every second of our trip. I speak Spanish and look Hispanic, so that should be taken into account when you consider my experiences but I just wanted to pass on some tips in case you guys find yourselves in a rut!

1. Yucatan, Mexico

Our first stop in the Yucatan was Cancun. We stayed a few nights in Cancun but I don't recommend doing that at all. Unless you're staying in some fancy resort, Cancun is trash compared to Playa Del Carmen or Tulum. Tulum is slowly becoming one of the hottest destinations for Millenials who want to sit back, relax and enjoy the natural beauty that this place has to offer. The bohemian flair that surrounds this place is one of the main reasons why this particular place has become so popular, especially for college-age travelers like myself. We stayed at a Frida Kahlo themed hostel for 3 nights which cost the four of us around $18 total. It was amazing. We were five minutes from the Mayan Ruins in Tulum that are absolutely breathtaking. You have to be sure to check them out but be warned, it is HOT. There is no shade, but you can just dip into the beach which is onsite at the ruins and provides for a truly unique experience, seeing the ruins from the ocean. Be warned though, people will try to rip you off and sell you boat tours, do not do it! It is not worth it!

Our next stop was a beach called Akumal which is known for its sea turtles. Also, be careful here with tourist scammers. They offer you tours for the "great price" of $60 USD, when you can literally just swim out and see the sea turtles feeding on the seaweed on your own. Quaint little town, not very much to see unless you're sitting at some boujee hotel. Great little restaurants with beach front views though.

Our last stop in Mexico was obviously Chichen Itza. I won't say much about this, because so much has been said about this wonder of the world. I will say that it was amazing and a must-see, and a highlight of our trip. However, a lesser known treasure is Valladolid. Rather than pay tourist prices at Chichen Itza we drove an hour to Valladolid to explore a little, and found a quaint colonial town, absolutely beautiful. Had 2 full meals for probably $5 USD total, and discovered a great cenote called Cenote Oxman. Beware it is far off the beaten path, but definitely worth it. Unreal nature views, great buffet, pool, absolutely amazing. Highly recommend.

2. Panama

Our next stop after Mexico was Panama. Sadly since this was near the end of our trip we spent the entirety of our trip in Panama City. Obviously, one of the biggest attraction in Panama City is the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal has always been one of the more popular cruise destinations, so there were a ton of tourists near the cruise ports, but it was not that bad. To really experience the canal we took a luxury Panama Canal cruise, which took us through the canal and included a guided tour of the history of Panama City and the Canal itself. It was a great time. Another one of my favorite parts about Panama was the Amador Causeway, which was just absolutely breathtaking, and which we did every day. We visited various museums as well as Panama Viejo but I highly recommend taking a cruise through the canal, as well as making sure you spend a good amount of time on the Amador Causeway.

It was just a great trip overall, and I really enjoyed it. I am in the process of planning my summer trip, and if you have any similar vacations that you've done (a mix of rural and urban, hidden gems and tourists) or comments on what would've made my vacation better, let me know!

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