The Ultimate Mexico Packing List

Mexico Packing List | 33 Things People Forget [2021]

After a year without travel, everyone forgets a thing or two on their Mexico packing list. Well, except you! Because now you’ve got my handy checklist of exactly what to pack for Mexico.

What’s In This Post

I recently spent over a month traveling in Mexico and learned very quickly what in my backpack was actually useful, and what was dead weight. I made this list to help you avoid my mistakes, and hopefully to remember a thing or two you were forgetting to bring (leave me a comment at the end with what you almost forgot!).

Let’s start with the essentials:

Mexico Packing Checklist

Various items needed for a trip to Mexico spread out on a floor
Travel Lemming’s founder Nate recently went to Mexico – and prepped with many items from this checklist

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support my work by purchasing through the affiliate links on this page, which may earn a commission for this site. Thank you!

Waterproof Phone Case

Our Pick
UNBREAKcable Universal Waterproof Pouch
$13.59

We love that it fits pretty much any phone!

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 08:42 am GMT

Maybe the greatest investment you’ll ever make is a cheap waterproof phone case. I think this one by Mpow is just absolutely genius. It fits nearly every popular phone model! While it protects your most prized possession, you can relax and fearlessly enjoy the water on your vacation.

Filtration Water Bottle

Our New Favorite Travel Water Bottle
GRAYL Water Purifier Bottle
4.5
$89.95

Why does simply getting a drink of water while traveling or hiking have to be a such a pain? This premium water bottle filters out more viruses and bacteria than any we've seen before. The price tag means its an investment, but you'll save on water bottles and help save the planet along the way!

View on Amazon Read Our Review
12/03/2021 09:04 am GMT

Clean, drinkable water is hard to come by in Mexico (never drink from the tap!). Bottled water is many travelers’ solution, but it’s a hassle and horrible for the environment. The solution? Invest in a portable filter.

I recently reviewed a new filtration water bottled called the Grayl Geopress and was blown away by its quality. Fair warning that it is a little pricey though, so if you’re on a budget you could consider using the cheaper Lifestraw or even some water purification tablets (I have personally used these Aquatabs in Mexico and they worked perfectly).

Compression Bags

My Favorite
Compression Packing Cube Set
$17.98

These are how I became a packing pro! Definitely worth the investment for the space - and sanity - they will save you.

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:05 am GMT

Ok, I’m giving away my secret sauce here, but this one is truly the secret to becoming a travel packing master. If you want to fit all your clothes into a small bag, use these awesome compression bags. They remove air and help you make space to bring more essentials to Mexico (really, they work like magic)!

Travel Insurance for Mexico

My Top Choice
World Nomads
4.5

I personally use World Nomads (here's proof) and have for more than 50 countries.

Pros: Simple and flexible, balances price and quality, upfront transparency about covid

Cons: Not available to seniors 70+ in USA (65+ elsewhere)

Get Quote

You never want anything to go wrong on vacation, but it does happen.

That’s why no Mexico packing list is complete without travel insurance for Mexico. You can compare different travel insurance policies (some for as little as a dollar or two a day) over at this nifty site.

Leave-in Conditioner

Our Pick
Coconut Whipped Creme Leave-In Conditioner
$12.78 ($0.80 / Fl Oz)

Ladies, this will save your life for those post-beach nights!

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:04 am GMT

People with long hair can attest, salt-water does nothing for silky locks. This coconut leave-in conditioner is perfect for keeping your tresses healthy after a dip in the ocean.

Dry Bag

My Favorite
Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag
$19.99

If you're going anywhere near the water in Mexico, you definitely need a dry bag!

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:05 am GMT

Speaking of keeping your stuff dry, packing along a dry bag is essential for any water-based activities you do. This one by Earth Pak is my personal go-to!

Quick Drying Towel

Our Pick
Rainleaf Microfiber Travel Towel
$11.99

A microfiber towel is in every smart traveler's Mexico toolkit!

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:06 am GMT

Microfiber towels are perfect for the beach and a must for any Mexico packing list. While they feel a bit weird, you’ll never have to stuff a soggy one into your bag.

Reef Safe Sunscreen

Environmentally Friendly
All Good Reef Safe Sunscreen
$29.99 ($5.00 / Fl Oz)

It's just the responsible thing to bring!

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:06 am GMT

Sunscreen at the beach is a given, but in order to protect the Mexican coral reefs from toxic chemicals and potential bleaching, packing the reef-safe kind is a must.

Make sure you pack the reef safe type for swimming in cenotes too (you don’t want to damage their fragile ecosystems)!

Portable Power Bank

Our Pick
Portable Charger Power Bank
$26.95

You need one unless you like to rush back to the resort to charge your phone.

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:06 am GMT

Even just a small charger you can carry around in your bag will ensure you always have cell phone juice. Though they aren’t fancy, Anker always makes super reliable ones that carry a lot of power! In fact, it’s so practical that it makes our list of the best Mexico gift ideas.

Underwater Camera

Highly Rated
Flashlight Waterproof Camera for Snorkeling
$76.98

You'll need this when you swim with turtles in Akumal or whale sharks in Holbox.

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:03 am GMT

Believe it or not, underwater cameras are actually surprisingly affordable these days (this one is cheap and gets awesome reviews)! If you plan to go snorkeling, you REALLY should bring one. The diversity of Mexico’s shores is incredible – in particular, the Yucatan features one of the largest coral reefs in the world.

Portable Door Lock

Our Pick
Addalock - The Original Portable Door Lock
$17.95

Props to Addalock for inventing the concept of travel door locks. Definitely a really cool idea to help travelers sleep better!

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:04 am GMT

Let’s get one thing straight: Mexico is much safer than the news would leave you to believe. But, at the same time, there is no denying that parts of Mexico – including tourist destinations like Cancun and Mexico City – do suffer from their fair share of petty crime targeted at tourists. If you want to sleep easier in your hotel or Airbnb, a portable door lock can provided added peace of mind.

Slash-Proof Bag

Our Pick
Travelon Anti-Theft Cross-Body Bag
$39.43

This is a great way to walk around Mexico in style without worrying about who is behind you at every turn.

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:08 am GMT

Whether you opt for a cross-body bag or backpack, make your day bag in the city slash-proof. Chances are this will just be an extra precaution, but it’s great for peace of mind and deters pickpockets.

Travel Pillow

Travel Lemming Tested
trtl Pillow - Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow
$29.99

Winner of our test of 5 travel pillows.

View on Amazon Read Our Test
12/03/2021 12:08 am GMT

If traveling to Mexico means a long flight, then a travel pillow is a must. The Trtl Pillow is super supportive and easy to travel with.

If you need a little help deciding which travel pillow to buy, then check out our article on the best travel pillows.

Wind-Resistant Umbrella

Travel Lemming Tested
Rain-Mate Travel Umbrella
$20.95

Travel Lemming tested 5 travel umbrellas, and this one came out on top for its combination of sturdy design and compact profile.

View on Amazon Read Our Test
12/03/2021 12:09 am GMT

Mexico has a tendency to hit you with some unexpected, yet powerful, showers. The Rain Mate Umbrella is a lightweight option that will keep you dry when the rain comes.

For more options, check out our article on the best travel umbrellas.

Backpack

The Tortuga Setout backpack is perfect for travel. Not only is it affordable, but it’s also highly durable, weather-resistant, and comes in either 35L or 45 L options. Read our brutally honest Tortuga Setout review to learn why we love this reliable bag.

Travel Laundry Bag

Our Pick
Kikkerland Travel-Size Laundry Bag
$10.44

How cool is that map on this bag? Definitely a good way to still look cool when you're lugging your dirty laundry down the streets of Tulum to the cleaner!

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 12:07 am GMT

Have you ever experienced packing your perfectly before leaving for a trip, only to find that getting it re-packed during the voyage is nearly impossible? Often the culprit is dirty laundry, since you don’t want to mix your dirty and clean clothes. In Mexico, there are little stands that will do your laundry just everywhere in the country, but you need to remember to have a laundry bag to carry it all in.

Daypack

Travel Lemming Tested
Osprey Daylite Daypack
$59.95

Travel Lemming's founder Nate really put the Osprey Daylite to the test - taking it to over 50 countries across 6 continents. And it's still the best daypack for the money we can find!

View at Osprey View at Amazon

For your daily essentials, you can’t beat the Osprey Daylite Daypack. It’s been the go-to day bag for this blog for over five years!

Need a bigger bag to store your luggage too? Check out our article on the best travel backpacks on the market.

Travel Medicine Kit

Our Pick
Travel Medicine Kit, Individually Wrapped
$14.99

Rather than remembering to pack a bunch of bottles of pills, save time and money by packing this kit of single-wrapped medicines!

View on Amazon
12/03/2021 08:18 am GMT

If you manage to get through your entire trip to Mexico without a single cut, bruise, or upset stomach, good for you! But better to be safe than sorry by planning ahead and bringing basic medicines like Ibuprofen, anti-diarrheal pills, motion sickness relief pills, and sleep aids. If you don’t want to buy all those, the above travel kit conveniently packs them together.

Insect Repellant

Our Pick
Ranger Ready Insect Repellant (non-DEET)

Picaridin is a safe and effective alternative to DEET. It won't harm your skin, clothing, or gear - but will keep those bugs away!

View on RangerReady.com View on Amazon

There are a LOT of bugs in Mexico, especially in the coastal areas. While you can find insect repellant in any OXXO (a popular Mexican convenience store), the price is going to be severely marked up because they know tourists really have no choice but to buy it.

It’s best to pack your own before you come to Mexico. I recommend using a non-DEET repellant like Ranger Ready, which is made with non-toxic picaridin. It keep you bite-free without harming your skin or gear. Plus, you can order a TSA-compliant 3.5 oz travel size!

First Aid Kit

Your packing list for Mexico should definitely include a good first aid kit, including bandages, alcohol wipes, salve, and tweezers. We highly recommend the first aid kits by MyMedic – which they specifically made to keep travelers healthy on the road. Make this a priority in your bag!

Toiletry Bag

I’ve been using this hanging toiletry bag for years. Remember to fill it with your toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, soap, face wash, contact solution, shampoo and conditioner, bug spray, and sunscreen.

That said, if you forget any of these things, you could easily purchase them in Mexico.

Pacsafe

A great thing to bring no matter where you travel, a pacsafe bag will store any of your valuables and secure it to an unmovable item in your accommodations.

Sunscreen

What’s the most popular souvenir that travelers to Mexico take home? A bad sunburn!

Protect your skin and your sanity. The Mexican sun is HARSH.🌞 Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen. Click here to search popular sunscreens on Amazon, and remember to book the reef safe kind if you plan to go diving!

(Premium) Masks

Masks are required in many parts of Mexico, and you should wear one even where they aren’t to protect yourself and be respectful of the communities you are visiting. Remember that premium masks – like N95s or the (easier-to-find) KN95s and KF94s – offer significantly more protection for those and those around you.

You can search premium masks on Amazon here. Pro tip: We at Travel Lemming find the KF94s more comfortable because they leave space for your lips, making talking easier.

Small Lock

For any hostel stays in Mexico, remember to bring a small lock so you can securely store your stuff in the provided lockers.

LED Headlamp

I pack a headlamp every time I go on a trip for nighttime or caving activities. Don’t forget batteries!

Bug Spray or Mosquito-Repelling Wristbands

Mosquito-born illnesses are a real concern while in Mexico. Don’t risk getting bitten and bring along a bottle of bug spray and some wristbands.

Other Mexico Essentials to Pack

  • Toothbrush
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • Toiletries
  • Razors
  • Phone charger
  • Laptop
  • Passport
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Books
  • Ibuprofen
  • Dramamine
  • Charcoal Tablets
  • Vaccinations
  • Contact Lens Solution

Clothing to Pack For Mexico

Mexico Packing List Guide

I recommend bringing along enough clothes for 7-10 days, and then simply doing laundry if you find yourself there longer. A few pairs of t-shirts and shorts should suffice, and be sure to bring along enough underwear to last at least a week. If you tend to sweat a lot, then I recommend that your packing list for Mexico include light and airy, but dark-colored clothing.

So what clothing should you pack for Mexico? Here is a quick clothing checklist:

  • 2-3 pairs of shorts
  • 2-3 sundresses
  • 1-2 swimsuits
  • 1 ball cap or sunhat
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of water shoes
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 4-6 t-shirts
  • 1-2 dressier shirts
  • 5-6 pairs of socks
  • 1 beach coverup

Ok, that’s the basic Mexico clothing checklist. But a lot depends upon the climate of where you’re visiting (there’s a HUGE difference between packing for Tulum or Puerto Vallarta and packing for Mexico City), so let’s break down some of the more common climate-dependent items:

Swimsuits

Whether you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort or a backpacker flophouse, chances are, if you go to the beach, you’ll be needing a swimsuit. Bring along two or three so you always have a dry one. These men’s trunks and this women’s suit have been tried and tested.

Sunhat or Ball Cap

A ball cap is an essential item no matter for every trip to Mexico. However, if sun hats are more your thing, then this panama hat should do the trick.

Beach Coverup

For the ladies out there, or for anyone feeling especially stylish, a beach coverup is a great thing to add to your packing list for Mexico for warding off a burn when not in the water.

Long-Sleeved Rash Guard

For when you’re in the water, a rash guard will help protect your skin. O’Neill makes excellent rash guards in both men’s and women’s styles.

Flip Flops

Whether you’re at the beach or are just grossed out by your hostel shower, a pair of flip-flops like these is a must on every trip to Mexico.

Water shoes

Whether you’re walking in the ocean, taking a tour through a cave, or swimming at a cenote, water shoes are always a smart thing to pack.

Money Belt

If you’re walking around larger cities with cash or other small valuables, I recommend keeping the bulk of it either back at your accommodation or on your body via a money belt.

Coba ruins Mexico
The famous Coba ruins near Tulum

Light Jacket

Believe it or not, your packing list for Mexico should definitely include a jacket if you’re in the mountains or cities.

As mentioned above, the Mexican desert can get chilly in the evenings. I have this light jacket from Columbia and it has never failed me.

Hat & Gloves

More items fit for chilly nights and outdoor activities, you won’t regret a hat and gloves.

Light Clothing

Also for the hot days on your Mexico vacation, I recommend stuffing your backpack with shorts and t-shirts. If you’re worried about getting a sunburn, then get t-shirts a little longer in the arms.

Layers

What to Bring to Mexico

Evenings and winters in the Mexican mountains tend to get quite chilly. I recommend packing layers that you can add to or take off when the temperature calls for it.

Hiking Boots

These men’s and women’s hiking boots are highly rated and perfect for Mexico travel.

If you’re in the mountains, chances are you’ll want to find some great views. To do this, I recommend bringing a quality pair of hiking boots and moisture-wicking socks.

Rain Jacket

In the event that it rains, this rain jacket will not only keep you dry, but it will also keep you insulated from any chills.

Valladolid Mexico
Valladolid Mexico

Figuring out what to wear in Mexico is harder than it might seem at first glance! Mexico is an incredibly diverse country with many regions and climates, and so if you feel overwhelmed by the idea of figuring out what to bring to Mexico, that’s totally understandable.

Sneakers

No packing list for Mexico would be complete without the proper shoes. But since shoes take up such a big space in your bag, let’s dive into which pairs you need to bring and which you can leave at home:

For Women – I personally love these runners from Adidas. They’re perfect for walking around in cities or taking a leisurely hike.

For Men – Whether you’re a hiker, runner, or just out for a walk, these New Balance Men’s Running Shoes are perfect for everyday activities.

Sandals

For WomenThese Teva’s are comfortable and will last you for years. I wore them all the time in Mexico.

For Men – If you travel to any of the hotter destinations in Mexico, you’ll be living in your sandals, making them one of the most important things to bring to Mexico. These ones have a sturdy sole and are easy on the wallet.

Our Pick
Need a Rental in Mexico? Use Discover Cars!

Mexico is absolutely notorious for car rental scams and hidden costs. With the Discover Cars search engine, you can search & compare the best prices from dozens of rental agencies, see reviews, and book with confidence.

Mexico Packing Tips

Dress Codes and Customs

What to pack for cenotes in Mexico
Sunbeams penetrating at Ik-Kil cenote inlet opening, Mexico
  • 🎨 Museums – Mexican museums tend to be casual, so visiting them in your usual garb is just fine. Just keep in mind that they’re often air-conditioned; so if you tend to get chilly, wear a heavier shirt and long pants.
  • 👙 Beaches and Pools – While walking around town in a bathing suit tends to be frowned upon in most areas of Mexico, you can wear your usual swimsuit from home while at the beach or pool.
  • 🍅 Markets – The main tip for visiting markets in Mexico is to leave anything expensive or flashy back at your hotel. Markets in Mexico tend to be crowded and overwhelming, so you might be aware if a pickpocket sets their sights on you.
  • ✝️ Historic and Religious Sites – While not a steadfast rule in Mexico, it’s always smart to dress a little more modestly while visiting historic or religious sites in Mexico. You won’t get shunned if you don’t, but it just shows respect.

What Not to Take to Mexico

Hierve el Agua
Hierve el Agua, natural rock formations in the Mexican state of Oaxaca

Flashy Jewelry – In general, the dress code is very casual in Mexico. While, for the most part, you won’t have to worry about anyone stealing your jewelry off the street, flashing it around will only make you stand out as a tourist and subject you to some sales pitches.

Too Many Warm Clothes – Especially if you visit Mexico in the summer, bringing warm clothes will just be a burden in your backpack.

Take it from someone who brought a pair of jeans to the Yucatan in August – you won’t wear them.

How to Pack for Mexico’s Climates and Seasons

Kukulkan pyramid in Chichen Itza at sunset, Mexico

Due to the Tropic of Cancer dividing Mexico into Temperate and Tropical zones, the climate of Mexico is quite varied across the board. In fact, they have seven unique climates – so your precise packing list for Mexico is definitely going to depend a bit on where in Mexico you plan to travel!

For the sake of brevity, I’ve lumped the climates into three main groups, based on the uniqueness of each. Packing for the specific climate and season in which you visit Mexico is essential in keeping you comfortable and prepared on your trip. In fact, adjusting to the climate is one of our most important travel tips for Mexico.

The Yucatan and Pacific Coast

Scuba diving in Mexico

Mexico has several different coastlines. In the East, you have beautiful peaceful destinations like Tulum’s beaches, plus a strip of coast along the Gulf (though fewer people travel there). The western Pacific coast is a bit more rugged.

Rainy Season (May – October)

Whether you head east or west, you can expect the Mexican coast to be hot and humid. However, visiting between May and October means you’ll be traveling in the rainy season, during which time you can expect higher humidity and temperatures than in the winter. That can make exploring Mayan ruins in Tulum or Chichen Itza a bit of a challenge if you’re not dressed properly.

While daily rains are normal during this season, they usually only last for a short amount of time. It’s important to remember that the rainy season also means hurricane season. While the chance of encountering a hurricane is slim, it’s still something to keep in mind if you travel to the coast in summer.

How to pack for Mexico

In this season, pack light clothing so that you don’t overheat. And don’t forget your travel umbrella!

Dry Season (November – April)

On the opposite end of the stick to Mexico’s rainy season is the dry season, which creates a different challenge for packing for Mexico. The dry season runs from November through April and generally coincides with tourism high time. The temperatures during this season tend to still be warm, but with less humidity.

Mexico’s Northern Deserts

Much of Northern Mexico, consisting of areas such as Baja California, Western Sonora, and Central Plateau, experience a desert climate.

This climate can further be classified into arid and semi-arid. In this climate, there is often sweltering dry heat during the day and chilly temperatures at night. If you experience this area during the winter, you can even expect frost.

Mexico City & The Mountains

Due to the high elevation, mountainous inland regions tend to be much more temperate than their coastal and desert counterparts. In areas such as Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende, it’s even common to experience freezing temperatures in the winter.

***

That’s it for our ultimate packing list for Mexico! Correctly choosing what you pack for Mexico will be essential in keeping you safe and comfortable on the road. If you have any questions, ask away in the comments below!

If you’re going to be traveling in Mexico, check out our free travel tips:

Safe travels in Mexico!

Oh, and if you’re on Pinterest, be sure to pin this post for later here:

Looking for the ultimate #PackingList for your most anticipated trip to Mexico? This guide breaks down what you need to bring for different places you can visit—beautiful beaches, Mexico’s wonderful cities, the desert and even the gorgeous mountains. There are also several extra tips included to make sure you’re well prepared for your vacation!
Pin it on Pinterest!

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