Budget Travel: My Trip from Ambergris Caye Belize to Cancun and the USA

Flying from Cancun Airport Rather than Belize City – Advice and Scheduling – or “How to Eat Your Body Weight in Junk Food in Under 36 Hours”

Cancun has one of the biggest, busiest airports in our region – as the crow flies it’s less than 250 miles from Ambergris Caye.  With hundreds of flights coming and going each day, the prices are sometimes much lower, the options much greater, flying to or from CUN rather than Belize City.

(I wrote Eight Things I LOVE About Cancun & Two Things I do Not)

But…how do you get there.  250 miles driving on a nice highway by car is very different from 250 miles crossing borders, taking boats and buses and crossing time zones.

There are a few different ways to go.  Flight.  Boat and bus.  Hired van.

But I’m going to tell you how I did it over the last 2 days.  The EXTREME budget way.  Cheapest scheduled route I know of.  And one that took me 36 hours from door to door – my home on Ambergris Caye to my brother’s house in Barrington Rhode Island.

Was it worth it – to save a few hundred US dollars?  You betcha!  Do you know how much good stuff you can buy at Old Navy for $200US?

Here’s my travel scoop.

First leg:  San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi.  4:30pm.  From San Pedro to Belize City.  One way ticket with membership card.  $27bzd.

I was a bit early so I enjoyed a coffee in town and the view.

View San Pedro Belize

The water taxi was relatively empty from Ambergris Caye to Caye Caulker.

LOADS of back packers got on in Caye Caulker for the second leg of the trip.

Total time.  1.5 hours

Once in Belize City, I hopped in a taxi ($7bzd) for a ride to the bus terminal.  It’s about 7 minutes away but lots of turns and busy streets – taxi is best for sure.

SECOND LEG.  There is a well-marked kiosk in the terminal which sells the overnight bus tickets.  You can buy the ticket up to 3 days in advance or just buy it here.

$19bzd here.  And then more later.  This bus loves to STOP.

All 12 of us loaded up on a HUGE bus to head out.

The #1 Thing YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS BUS.  It is FREEZING.  Do not underestimate how strong this air conditioning is.  It can ruin your trip and totally wreck your ability to sleep.

Find your seat.

I was wearing sweatpants, a tank top, a long sleeved shirt, a hoodie, a cotton wrap/scarf and thick socks.  I brought an old towel to use as a pillow…or a blanket.  And I really could have used one more layer.  It is THAT cold.

And the bus stops.  Too much at very inopportune times.

We stopped at the Belize border – at about 1130pm.  Unload…pay $40bzd exit fee unless you are a BZE resident or citizen.  Walk to Mexican border – fill out form, drag all luggage, get your stamp, load back up.

And then 30 minutes later…shuffle off the bus in Bacalar, Mexico to pay the remaining cost of the ticket.  $100bzd.  Or 750 pesos (I paid in pesos since the US/peso exchange rate now is CRAZY!)

And we were off…huddled up like an eskimo, I fell fast asleep, only to wake at Cancun airport.  It was 5:45am and the sun was coming up.

The 10 minute walk to my terminal made me glad, again, that I only had carry on.

I had just an hour and a half until my Delta flight to Atlanta.  Just enough time to stop at Starbucks…for a way over priced but deliciously familiar coffee.

So totally do-able, right?  Not  bad at all if you have an early morning flight from Cancun.  Which I did.  But what I didn’t consider – and what was the very worst part of my trip was the 10 hour layover in Atlanta before I moved on to Providence, Rhode Island.

Sure the airport in Atlanta is HUGE and there are plenty of restaurants and shops.

I ate about 8 times – out of boredom.  Shake Shack is DELICIOUS.  Such a great burger and fries.

But then I piled on Dunkin Donuts and…some sodas…and M&Ms and…ugh.  Overkill.  I had to FORCE down the Cheezits they gave me on the plane 🙂

10 hours is a LONG day at an airport.  And I was in no mood to get out and explore.  My flight to Providence FINALLY arrived – and was delayed – and I made it there just after midnight.

And got my VERY FIRST UBER!  So genius!

I asked my driver about 100 questions about how it works…

I’m pretty sure Tony (the Uber driver) thinks I’m an escaped Mennonite.  Or a middle aged Amish woman on rumspringa?

Either way.  I made it!  And the weather in Rhode Island is heavenly.

Tips and Tricks:

Do NOT attempt this if you have tons of luggage, you’ll be annoyed and frustrated

Bring earplugs.  The bus can be noisy – playing a movie or loud Israelis sitting behind you – earplugs work GREAT.

Keep organized.  It’s early when the bus stops and you feel like a zombie.  It’s VERY easy to leave a cord or a Kindle on your seat.  Only remembering when the bus is off to its next location.

Pack warm clothing.  Seriously.  No joke.



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