By Andrea Zheng

Hey guys! This past weekend, we had our free weekend during this program where we didn’t have any cultural excursions planned, meaning we had lots of free time to explore Mexico. As long as you let your teacher know where you are planning to go, you are free to go anywhere you want, as long as you can get back in time for class on Monday.

A group of my classmates and I decided to go to Playa del Carmen for the weekend, because you can never have too many beaches. We talked to our mamá about it beforehand because she wanted to help with the logistics of the trip and had lots of advice to give based on past experiences. There are only a few things that you need to plan in order to be able to organize a trip like this.

First, we had to get a bus ticket. The bus company ADO has travel buses that leave from various stops around Merida with a variety of different destinations around Mexico. Next, we booked an Airbnb that could accommodate 12 people because it’s MUCH cheaper than staying at a resort. After that, we just had to coordinate with everyone to make sure they knew the logistics of the trip. And that’s pretty much it!

Before we got on the bus, we had to get some snacks (because what’s a road trip without snacks). The bus ride was around 5 hours so by the time we got there, it was already night time, so we made our way to the Airbnb (after getting even more food).

When we booked our Airbnb, we thought it was a house with 8 rooms and 12 beds, but it ended up being an entire apartment complex that had 8 separate rooms, each with a kitchen, bedroom, and different bed setup. No complaints here.

The next day, a couple of us got up and made a little breakfast buffet, with breakfast tacos, fruit, and juice. This is a reason I liked the Airbnb setup because it gave us the freedom to make whatever food we wanted instead of hunting for a place to eat. After grabbing some food, what else was there to do but go to the beach! 

Besides the usual laying out, there were different aquatic activities you can do, like parasailing and snorkeling, or you can do what I did and just rent a beach chair and umbrella and get in some tanning time.

The rest of the day we were able to explore Playa del Carmen, walking down Avenue 5, which is a street filled with shops and restaurants, and hang out in the pool at the Airbnb. The next day we cleaned up the Airbnb and headed back on the same bus we came on.

This free weekend gave us an amazing opportunity to explore a part of Mexico that we didn’t get to see during the cultural excursions. I would definitely recommend planning a trip during the free weekend; just make sure that you get the logistics done ahead of time so you aren’t scrambling to organize a trip at the last second. Places that other people visited this weekend were Tulum, Cozumel, and Progreso, which are all great options to look into as well.

Now to get back to the real world and get ready for class tomorrow. Check back for updates after this week’s excursions!

Andrea Zheng studied abroad in Merida in Summer 2019.