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Packing List For Mexico: Guide to What to Take for a Trip to Mexico

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Mexico is a common favorite for tourists and vacationers. Family vacations, romantic getaways, anniversaries, or you just need to get away from it all, Mexico is a fun place to visit.

However, if you’ve never been to there before, knowing how to pack and what to take to Mexico can be a bit tricky. It’s important to know what to wear in Cancun and other areas of extreme heat.

Our guide will help you choose the right things to buy and bring with you so you can have the most fun on your trip to Mexico. Use it to build your Mexico packing list and you won’t forget a thing.

Packing List for Mexico 

Pack Light

First, try to pack as light as possible. Whether you’re going on a weekend trip or longer, you don’t want to bring too much stuff with you to lug around at the airports or cruise ship.

Also, if your luggage goes past a certain weight, you could get charged extra at the airport.

This may be easy for those who are minimalists, but difficult for others. The trick is to bring only the essential things for your vacation and leave everything else at home.

Add these to your packing list for Mexico:

  • Pack only the essentials
  • Leave your flashy items behind
  • Don’t pack anything too heavy

Toiletries

Now that we’ve established the need to pack light, let’s go over what you should pack. We’ll start with toiletries, as you need basic toiletries everywhere you go.

Many hotels, restaurants, shops, or the cruise ship you happen to be on, will have all the basics for while you’re in their facilities.

But there are some things that they won’t have, like sunscreen and bug repellant. Make sure you get biodegradable sunscreen, especially if you’ll be swimming in the cenotes or plan to visit popular parks, as it is required.

With bug repellant, there are many options to choose from. If you go with a spray, we recommend something made from natural ingredients, so you aren’t having to deal with any harsh chemicals.

Remember, if you bring any of these items in a carry on, TSA requires it to be in a small bottle that’s 3.4oz or less.

You can also get mosquito-repellent bracelets and wear those around Mexico. Easier to pack and use, and you won’t have to worry about the tell-tale smell of bug spray following you wherever you go.


Add these to your list:

    • Biodegradable/reef safe sunscreen (this is very important if you plan to visit any cenotes- you must have biodegradable sunscreen or they will confiscate it! Not all of them check but I’ve had my bag checked several times so be sure to take a large bottle.


  • Bug repellent bracelet (or a small spray bottle of repellant)

Medications

If you are on any prescription medications, definitely remember to pack those. Though you may be thinking “duh, of course”, trust me, in the frenzy of trying to get ready for a trip, it can be super easy to forget something that important. Especially if you have a condition that could be fatal should you not have your proper medicine.

That said, there are also a few over the counter options that you should consider for your trip.

First, be sure you have some ibuprofen or acetaminophen for headaches and muscle cramps. Though traveling is fun, it can be stressful at times. Also, spending a lot of time in the sun and swimming (especially in seawater) can do some crazy things to your body if you’re not used to those activities.

Another medication you will want to have is something for an upset stomach, indigestion, or heartburn. Mexican cuisine can be very spicy and heavy and can wreak havoc on the intestines. Having a bottle of Pepto Bismol or some Zantac tablets on hand can be very useful during your trip.

You may also want to have an anti-diarrhea medicine like Imodium.

Add these to your list:

  • Prescription meds
  • Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Zantac
  • Imodium

Water Bottle

Get a reusable water bottle, preferably one that is BPA-free and eco-friendly. Keep in mind, though, that tap water in Mexico is not safe so you will either want to invest in a small bottle of iodine tablets to purify the water you put in your bottle or get a water bottle that is equipped with a water filter.

Add these to your list:

  • Reusable water bottle


  • Iodine tablets (or get a water bottle with a filter)

Electronics

We don’t recommend bringing a ton of electronics with you. The most you will probably need is your cell phone, and possibly a digital camera (if you prefer using that over your phone’s camera).

When it comes to the cell phone, most US phone plans are not going to work in Mexico and adding international coverage to your plans is extremely expensive.

Instead, we recommend having an unlocked phone (iPhone or Android, whatever your preference), and when you get into Mexico, buy a local SIM card to use for while you’re there. I personally use Telcel.

Then, download some Mexico travel apps, like Uber, Restorando (to book restaurants), and Google translate to help with that pesky language barrier.

Make sure to remember your cell phone charger, as well as the charger for your camera. You are going to want waterproof cases as well, and a waterproof bag for things like your phone, wallet, camera, and passport. The waterproof bag will come in handy when you’re on the beach or swimming in the cenotes.


If you’re concerned about outlet compatibility, you don’t have to worry about using a power converter if you’re from the US. If you’re visiting Mexico from outside of the United States, however, you will need to buy a power converter. Also, I always carry a fully charged power bank to make sure I’m never stranded with a cell phone with a dead battery. This is especially important if you’re reliant on your phone for Uber rather than utilizing public transportation. 

One last suggestion regarding electronics: a handheld fan or misting spray. Mexico can be very hot, so you will want to do whatever you can to stay cool. You can even get one that’s USB-powered and rechargeable, so you don’t have to pack a bunch of batteries.

Add these to your list:

    • Phone (preferably an unlocked phone so you can use a local SIM card in Mexico to save communication costs)
    • Camera
    • Laptop (if you need it for work)
    • Charging cords
    • Power converter (only if traveling from Asia or Europe)
    • Power bank (I use and recommend the Anker power bank– it’s not that heavy and can handle multiple recharges throughout the day)


      • Handheld fan or mister

Footwear

Having the right footwear for your trip is a must, and you want footwear that is also going to be comfortable.

Water shoes for while you’re swimming in the ocean or cenotes can be a great way to stay safe and keep your feet protected from rocks, fish, and anything underwater that may want a taste of your toes.

Water shoes are also great if you’ll be on a cruise, as the deck can get slippery. We especially recommend them for any children in your group.

You will also want to get a cheap pair of flip-flops for your trip. These can be great for the shower, quick trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or walking around on the beach. Don’t worry about getting the most fashionable or expensive kind, as they’ll see a lot of wear on Mexico’s roads and beaches.

If you plan on going out to nice dinners in the evening, you should be able to get by with a simple, inexpensive pair of sandals that will go with most dresses or outfits.

Finally, if you intend to do a lot of exploring around the towns, visiting Mayan ruins, or hiking around Mexico, flip-flops and sandals aren’t going to cut it. Instead, you’ll need a pair of comfortable walking shoes for those activities.

Add these to your list:

      • Water shoes
      • Flip-flops
      • Sandals
      • Walking shoes/sneakers

Clothing

When it comes to choosing what to wear in Mexico, for the sake of safety, especially for women (young and old) in your group, we recommend staying away from anything too revealing clothing-wise. Though there are some areas where wearing a standard bathing suit or clothes that don’t cover quite well, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Still, bring your bathing suit, but also pack some longer shorts and a lightweight coverup. Stay away from shorts or skirts that are too short, and anything with plunging necklines.

Still, Mexico can be very dry and hot, especially around the Yucatan Peninsula, Mayan Ruins, and tourist areas like Cozumel and Cancun. Wear clothing that’s lightweight and breathable, like maxi dresses light and airy tops or shirts. Anything made from lightweight linen or gauze-type material should work just fine.

To beat the sun, we also recommend a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Although daytime is very hot, evenings and nighttime can be chilly, so add a light jacket or sweater to your luggage. If you plan to go into the mountains, you’ll want something even warmer.

In the spirit of packing light, try to make sure any outfits or items you bring are interchangeable. This way you can avoid the “must have an outfit for every single day” mentality.

Add these to your list:

      • 1-2 shorts or a skirt
      • Maxi dress or other lightweight dress
      • Sarong or beach cover-up
      • Swimsuits (at least 2- so you can have one to wear while the second one dries)
      • Wide-brimmed hat
      • Lightweight and airy shirts or tops
      • Nothing too revealing

Safety

We mentioned a few items in relevance to safety, like water shoes and wearing modest clothing. There are also other safety considerations as well.

When you’re in the really high tourist areas of Mexico, theft is a huge concern. Keep your essential items (money, passport, other IDs, credit cards, etc.) under tight supervision at all times.

One item we suggest buying for your trip is a money belt, which is something that you will keep under your clothing to hold all those things. You’ll never have to worry about where your things are, and it’s insanely difficult to be pickpocketed that way.

It’s also a good idea to keep a separate wallet of with maybe $20 or less in it. This way, if you happen to be in a high-traffic marketplace pulling out a wallet with a small amount of petty cash will make you much less of a target for thieves than pulling out your big wallet with all your credit cards and mounds of spending money.

If you plan to stay in hostels, bring a padlock so you can lock your things up while you’re out and about during the day. And if you and any other females will be traveling alone, make sure to bring a whistle just in case you get accosted by any local men.

Add these to your list:

      • Money belt to wear under your clothes


        • Separate cash wallet/bag for only $20 or less in it
        • Padlock
      •  

Reading Material

On any trip anywhere, you’re going to have long waiting times, and a lot of downtime in-between activities. Furthermore, some people go on vacation to a remote place for the sole purpose of finally finishing that one book they’ve been reading.

Whatever your need, it is a good idea to bring some good books with you to read on the flight, while waiting at the airport, sitting on the beach soaking in the sun, or lazing away in your hotel room. You can bring a physical book or pack your favorite e-reader if that’s easier for you.

Add these to your list:

      • Book(s)
      • Magazine(s)
      • E-reader (I carry a Kindle Fire but if you’re going to be reading outdoors, say near the pool or on the beach, maybe check out the Paperwhite. This version is waterproof)


Lightweight Daypack

Even if you followed our very first suggestion of packing light, you’re still going to want a daypack so you can leave your larger bag at the hotel.

Fill it with only what you need for that day. You can either get one that folds easily when you’re not using it or something a bit sturdier to hold things like your camera and maybe your laptop if you need it on your travels.

Add these to your list:

        • Daypack (foldable or to carry a small laptop/equipment)


A Few Other Necessities

While a few of these may be obvious, it’s still worth mentioning. Again, packing for a trip can get crazy and you’ll find yourself forgetting the most obvious of items.

      • A copy of your passport and IDs (keep them separate, just in case something happens to the real copies)
      • Underwear and Socks
      • Headphones or earbuds 


      • Glasses
      • Contacts (if you wear them) and contact solution
      • Toothbrush and toothpaste
      • Shampoo
      • Soap

Enjoy Mexico and Be Safe

You now should have a better understanding of what to pack for Mexico. Make sure you have your medications, ways to beat the daytime heat, and that you follow our safety tips. Above all have fun and be sure to let me know how your trip went when you return!


Did I leave anything off of this packing list for Mexico? Let me know in the comments section below!

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