FAQs

I don't know which service I need, help?

Answer this question: how much time do you have?

a) You don’t even have time to be reading this. You need bells and whistles, i’s dotted and t’s crossed, and for it to Just Get Done —–>
Platinum itinerary planning

b) You’d like someone else to manage the project and you’re okay with a relaxed itinerary ———>
Gold itinerary planning

c) You’re happy to do it yourself, just not sure where to begin / suffering from information overload / traveling next week / need guidance and tailored recommendations AND you have 40 – 80 hours to dedicate to planning your own trip ——–>   Coaching

d) You just need an hour or two of time to give advice on an existing itinerary ——–> Hourly consulting (contact me at dave@magicalmexicotravel.com)

How much advance notice do you need to plan my trip?

It depends on when you are going and how flexible the itinerary can be. For trips in high season, the more notice the better. For a low stress planning process, 3-4 months is ideal. For Platinum itinerary planning, we definitely need 3-4 months to plan your trip. For Gold itinerary planning service, we need at least 2 months to plan your trip. For coaching service, as long as you can get on my calendar, you can do it last-minute.

If I send you details of a tour I found online, will you create the private version for me?

Absolutely. And sometimes we can create the same trip for a lower cost. Online tours are sold at a package price, and when we break down the individual costs – even with our highest end Platinum level planning services – the total trip cost usually comes out lower.

Will you plan larger groups?

Fees are based on groups of 6 people. If your group is larger than 6 people please contact me to ask about fees.

What do I get for on-trip support?

24/7 phone support is included at the Platinum level.  You can add it to the Gold level for $50/day.  This means you can call me anytime for any reason.  Here’s some examples of when you might need to contact me:                        

  • Someone doesn’t feel well. Where’s the closest pharmacy or hospital? (I’ll also help translate)
  • We’re tired. Please cancel tomorrow’s activity.
  • We’re running late. Please let our guide / hotel / restaurant know.
  • Please cancel/change our dinner reservation
  • The cigarette lighter on our rental car is broken so we can’t plug in our GPS. Please arrange for a new rental car and tell us when and where to do the exchange.
  • We need to do laundry, what are nearby options?
  • We are museumed out and would like to update tomorrow’s itinerary to include an outdoor activity instead.
  • The forecast is for rain tomorrow so we won’t be able to go hiking. Please suggest alternative activities.
  • We just heard there’s a great concert tomorrow night. Please get us tickets and have them ready at the hotel for us.
Does coaching need to be on consecutive days or can we do a few days, take a break, and then resume?

Coaching does not need to be on consecutive days, and yes, we can take a break or two while you work on bookings. The important thing is to get the coaching days on my calendar.

What if I want to make changes to the itinerary?

Don’t worry, we’ll work together until it’s perfect.

Do you have ideas for trips with the kids?

I have three children and have traveled a lot with them, so yes I have lots of suggestions for traveling with kids in Mexico. What influences trip planning more than anything else is how you travel with kids: some people want a kid-oriented vacation, so they move from beach to playground to children’s museum. Others want to do the same things they’d normally do, but move at a slower pace and be back at the hotel in the middle of the day for nap time. I’ll customize it based on your needs.

What's the difference between a travel consultant and a travel agent?

The short answer is: the business model. Here at Magical Mexico Travel, I can offer all the services a travel agent can offer, except I don’t usually book flights. I have a depth of Mexico knowledge that few travel agents have. Travel agents receive commissions for booking hotels, cruises, flights, or tours for travelers from their portfolio. From a business perspective, they must spend their time booking things that give them commissions or they won’t be in business for long.  Since they don’t typically make money from booking guides, drivers, or restaurants, they usually don’t spend time working on these areas with you.
As a travel consultant, I charge for my time and expertise. I want to be able to spend time on the areas that will make your trip absolutely amazing. I spend lots of time on things that do not offer commissions such as:

  • Detailed recommendations for the best way of getting from A to B within Mexico
  • Specific shopping recommendations with maps for the most efficient shopping route in a city
  • Recommendations for restaurants, cafes, food festivals, and local markets
  • Hiking route recommendations for people who can hike on their own and would like some suggestions.
Does the written itinerary I'll get replace a guidebook?

No, you’ll still want the guidebook. However, Platinum Trip Planning itineraries include historical information that can replace a guide book. The written itinerary is an outline of activities, contact information, and a daily route map, and will be about 1 or 2 pages per day. If you would like guidebook suggestions I am happy to provide them.

At $225 per trip day, what's the return on my investment?

Return on your investment is in 2 parts:

Time saved during the planning process: To organize a trip to Mexico with the level of organization and detail provided by MMT, plan on spending about 8 hours per travel day if you are going to do it yourself. A 10-day trip would therefore take about 80 hours for an average person to plan (including internet and guidebook research, time spent on the phone to Mexico, booking time, and double-checking everything). By contrast, plan on 2-3 hours spent via phone or email with MMT. For a 10-day trip, that’s about 77 hours of time saved. How much is your time worth per hour?

Time used more efficiently on the trip: when a trip is well-organized ahead of time, you won’t waste time getting lost; showing up at the bus station and realizing that bus doesn’t run on Sundays; fixing errors due to the language barrier during the booking process; or waiting in line for 2 hours for a museum exhibit that could have been pre-booked. It is estimated that travelers with organized pre-booked itineraries can accomplish 20% more in a day, and don’t forget: you accomplish more in a single day, at a lower stress level, for more enjoyment.
An Example:
Let’s say your 10-day trip to Mexico works out to cost $600/day, including everything. Let’s say you have 12 hours per day of “out and about time”, to enjoy, explore, and relax. Each Mexican vacation hour essentially costs $50. A 10-day vacation has 120 vacation hours. Therefore being able to do 20% more because of a well-planned vacation equals 24 hours during the vacation which are spent relaxing and enjoying Mexico rather than spent problem-solving and stressed in a foreign country. To put a dollar value on it, those 24 hours x $50 per hour is $1200 worth of time that can be used to enjoy Mexico instead of time lost due to planning mistakes.
Put your own numbers in to the examples above in 1) and 2) (and take into account that part 2 can be multiplied by number of people traveling together) to calculate how much you will actually save by having Magical Mexico Travel plan your Mexican vacation!

Can you get me discounts on hotels and guides?

Sometimes. But more importantly, you can be assured that all recommendations are good value for the money. You get what you pay for, so I don’t necessarily recommend the least expensive option. However, I am used to working within a budget.

We don't want to miss any of Mexico's main sights. Will you plan an MMT trip for us?

Sure. Mexico’s main sights are famous for good reason. Sometimes “magical” means the way you travel, not what you see. So maybe you want to see the main sights with a 2-year old in tow, or maybe you want to avoid crowds as much as possible. We’ll come up with the perfect plan to get you to the things you want to see.

We're not sure whether we're 'independent travelers'. We want to be, but we've traveled very little and we definitely want to see Mexico.

We’ll discuss this before we begin.  I want you to feel completely comfortable and secure before you set foot on the plane.
Your Magical Mexico Travel itinerary will be pre-organized, everything will be pre-booked and double checked, and you’ll just follow the itinerary when you get there. You’ll know where to go, when, and how to get there because you’ll have your itinerary in hand, along with contact info. Also, local guides can help a lot here, which I can book for you. You’ll go with my support and guidance.

Why should I use a travel consultant?
This excerpt from a  Wall Street Journal article does a great job of outlining four reasons you should use a travel consultant:

When should you reach out to a travel agent?

  • If you want someone to call when things go wrong: Nearly 70% of affluent consumers who use travel agents say what’s most important is that an agent protect them or help them when things go wrong with a trip, according to a study by Harrison Group and American Express Publishing. “Travel agents are a kind of insurance,” Taylor say. For many agents, this means being on call at all hours.
  • If you’re pressed for time or just want to avoid hassles: About one in three travelers feels overwhelmed by the amount of travel information online, according to the American Express Spending & Savings Tracker, a survey that looks at Americans’ spending and saving habits. If you’re in this group, or simply don’t have time to deal with trip planning, travel agents can do it all for you. Tell them where you want to go and the types of things you like to do, and they can put together a list of options for you and book them, saving you time. Agents are particularly useful to travelers who plan to take complicated trips, or go to multiple destinations or with multiple generations, says Gonchar.
  • If you want more of a local experience: Good travel consultants have relationships with locals in your destination, experts say, so they can do things like arrange for you to have dinner with a local family, recommend restaurants and pubs that residents like but tourists don’t tend to know about, or find a tiny B&B for you to stay at where you can get to know the owner.
  • If you want a highly customized experience: More and more travelers are asking for one-of-a-kind trips specifically tailored to their likes, says Gonchar. A foodie might want something like a private cooking class in Italy, a meet-and-greet with a chef she’s been reading about and a table in the private wine room of a restaurant. While she might not have the connections to get this done herself, a travel agent with deep local knowledge might be able to make this happen for her, Gonchar says.
Why should I choose you?

Ok, here’s where I am going to toot my own horn a little bit. I am hard working, detail oriented, and will provide you excellent customer service. But anybody can say that. Here are ten specific reasons you should work with me that separate me from other travel consultants:

  • I lived in Mexico for five years. The benefits to you are that I know how things work, including the little things, and how to navigate them. I know what can go wrong, and how to fix it. I have the answers to questions about Mexico that you didn’t even know you should ask.
  • I’ve worked setting up group tours to Mexico for six years. The benefits to you are that I know how to find great hiking and biking trails in Mexico, cool restaurants and beaches, off-the-beaten-path museum and tours, etc. and I can recommend lots of great hotels and out of the way places and unique experiences. I have detailed knowledge of many Mexican regions. And probably most importantly, I understand Mexcio’s “wow” factor and can ensure you have it on your trip.
  • I speak fluent Spanish (and have taught Spanish). The benefits to you are that while I work on your trip, I do my research in Spanish, so I can access many more reviews and different perspectives and lots of information that you cannot access if you only speak English. I also speak French, and that comes in handy when reading reviews, too. It also means that there is no miscommunication when I make reservations or bookings, and that I have relationships with guides and service providers.
  • I am a process person, I can manage a project and a budget. Nobody can keep on top of every hotel and restaurant and guide in Mexico, but my processes and methods mean I can make the best possible recommendations for your specific trip. I can ensure that each of my travelers has a personalized, high-quality and unique trip. And, for Gold and Platinum clients, I can manage your budget.
  • I’ve traveled to lots of countries. The benefits to you are that I know what it’s like to feel like a foreigner in a foreign land. I have tips about travel insurance, luggage, cell phone usage, and language, etc.
  • I understand customer service. The benefits to you are that you get a North American level of customer service from me, and I act as the bridge between cultures, setting expectations on both sides, because the words “customer service” don’t always mean quite the same thing in Mexico.
  • I have three children. The benefits to those of you with children are that I know how to travel with kids. We’ve taken our kids to many places in Mexico and the U.S. I understand what it’s like to travel with young people and will ensure that your trip is fun for the whole family.
  • I work with guides who are engaging, informative, and provide the context you need, whether you prefer to focus on the kids; Mexican history, art and artists, or an emphasis on food, etc.
  • I will spend time on details like transportation, food, festivals, and the overall flow and balance of your itinerary. Travel agents cannot earn commissions on any of these items so most will not spend time on them. That’s why I charge consulting fees; these are the details that will make your entire trip flow smoothly.
  • I do not mark anything up or create a nebulous “package” with one price. All your trip costs are transparent, because you don’t pay me – I will pay the vendors directly so you’ll see line by line, what each item costs you. Hence my consulting fees.
Do you only plan Mexico or will you plan other destinations for me as well?

Officially, I only do Mexico. However I have spent a lot of time in Guatemala and Costa Rica. I have more experience in Mexico but I am happy to plan other destinations for clients.