After a year or two 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.
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
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Waterproof Phone Case
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
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!
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).
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)!
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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) at this nifty site.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Winner of our test of 5 travel pillows.
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.
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.
Want to avoid checked bag fees in Mexico? The Tortuga Travel Backpack is perfect. It maximizes the space you can carry in your bag, while also offering excellent comfort and padding.
For other backpacks for Mexico to consider, see our full list of the best travel backpacks.
Travel Laundry Bag
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.
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!
Travel Medicine Kit
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.
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!
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.
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.
Though masks are no longer mandatory in many places, it’s still good practice to keep some in your bag with you. You never know when an establishment is going to require them, or in a worst-case scenario, you get sick. 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.
For any hostel stays in Mexico, remember to bring a small lock so you can securely store your stuff in the provided lockers.
I pack a headlamp every time I go on a trip for nighttime or caving activities. Don’t forget batteries!
Other Mexico Essentials to Pack
- Ear plugs
- Eye mask
- Phone charger
- Hand sanitizer
- Charcoal Tablets
- Contact Lens Solution
Clothing to Pack For Mexico
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For Women – These 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.
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Mexico Packing Tips
Dress Codes and Customs
- 🎨 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
💠 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
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
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.
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.
👉 Read Next: The Best Hotels in San Miguel de Allende
That’s it for our ultimate packing list for Mexico! If you’re going to be traveling in Mexico, check out our free travel tips: Valladolid Mexico: Best Things to Do, Celestun Mexico: Best Things to Do, Best Things to Do in Mexico.
Safe travels in Mexico!
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