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Your Mexico Packing List: What to Pack for Mexico + What NOT to Pack!

Your Mexico Packing List: What to Pack for Mexico + What NOT to Pack!

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After being in and out of the country for years, I think I know something about what to pack for Mexico! While there are plenty of things that should be on your Mexico packing list, some things are better left at home.

We will go over everything one would need to bring to Mexico, no matter the season or what you’re doing there. Mexico is a relatively easy country to pack for and most things are available on the ground as well if you happen to forget something!

Your Mexico Packing List


While you’re on the right track with looking into what should be on your Mexico packing list, how about “packing” some Mexico tips and must-visit destinations? Here are all my in-depth guides to traveling Mexico:

Mexico City:

Sayulita:

Around Mexico:

Waterfall adventures:

Clothing to Pack for Mexico

Rashguard

If you’re planning on being anywhere near the water, and out in the sun, a rashguard is a good idea! Paddleboarding? Surfing? You’ll definitely need one! It’s cooling and will help you reduce the use of sunscreen. If you’re planning on hitting the waves, a rashguard is a must! I was happy to have one when I was surfing in Sayulita!

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Swimsuit Cover-Up

You’re likely going to be on the coast at some point, and definitely in a swimsuit! A cute and light swimsuit coverup is a must on your Mexico packing list, so you’re not stuck sitting in soggy jean shorts. If you’re at a beach bar or walk-up restaurant, you’ll be happy to have one of these, so you don’t need to fully put your clothes on!

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Light Dresses

This is my favorite thing to pack for Mexico because I can live in dresses. There is no need to match anything or think too hard about what to wear. I throw a dress on, and I’m out the door. It’s a great outfit to keep cool in as well. Just make sure it’s not TOO tight, short, or revealing. I usually go for comfy and loose.

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Cool and Light Shorts

For the guys and the gals, you’ll be living in these! Any loose shorts or even a swimming type of short can be worn anywhere. You want something that’s not too tight or thick. Jean shorts are OK, I’d certainly bring a pair, but I bet you’ll be living in these types of shorts more often!

Women’s | Men’s

Swimsuits and Trunks

You can’t leave these off your Mexico packing list! I’d bring around two pairs, and better yet, for the ladies, bring reversible swimwear if you find some! I love mixing and matching and having more options without bringing anything extra. I found a cute reversible one in Sayulita actually!

Women’s | Men’s

Warmer Items

Yeah, you’ll need some warmer items on your Mexico packing list. The flight over, bus rides, hiking in the mountains, a brisk morning… While you might not think of cold weather in Mexico, it can get cold! This will depend on where you’re going. I remember being cold as soon as the sun dropped in Mexico City, and it was chilly in the morning in Sayulita for me too!

So with all this said, you don’t need to pack winter stuff! But definitely bring a few items to layer and keep warm. A pair of jeans would work, or maybe some hiking pants depending on whether you’re in the mountains.

Rain Jacket

When are you coming? Where are you going? Umbrellas are cumbersome and annoying, so if you’re coming and there’s a chance of rain (it could definitely happen!) I’d recommend grabbing a rain jacket instead of an umbrella; they are pretty smashable and weigh nothing.

Women’s | Men’s

Shoes

A walking shoe and some sandals and flip-flops. This is all I ever pack for Mexico. And I end up living in my sandals and flip-flops half the time! Of course, I also don’t spend too much time in cities either; if I did, I’d probably use my walking shoes more often.

Don’t forget hiking shoes if you’re coming here for some treks and if you’re spending tons of time at the beach exploring, water shoes could come in handy too!

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Electronics to Pack for Mexico

Underwater Camera

Whether you want to spring for a GoPro or get an off-brand underwater camera, this might be the best camera you can bring with you. You can easily throw it in your day bag, it’s small and takes no space, and you can use it for pictures anywhere. Snorkeling underwater or exploring ruins, if you’re not a photographer, grab one of these for some great pictures literally anywhere in Mexico!

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Headphones

Long bus rides, flights, staying in a dorm? Headphones are a must for any packing list! You don’t need anything fancy, but I would recommend a Bluetooth set, so you don’t get wires all twisted.

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Kindle

Books are fun, and I know some people love being able to flip through the pages, but it’s an unnecessary item to lug around a country. Grab yourself a Kindle; they aren’t much. It will save you so much space, and it will be a welcomed item to read by the beach or when you’re winding down at night.

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Camera

A photographer like me? Nerd out with me for a sec… My first DSLR was a Canon Rebel T6i, and loved it so much; they are pretty affordable now too! If you’re looking for an upgrade and take photography a bit more seriously, my mirrorless Canon EOS R is on me at all times now! I can’t live without it, and it takes incredible photos! Maybe Mexico will inspire the photographer in you!?

Canon Rebel T6i | Canon EOS R

Portable Power Bank

Aside from this Mexico packing list, this is ALWAYS in my bag. My phone never dies because I have this thing on me at all times. It’s also awesome for those days on the beach or those long hikes because it’s a solar charger, too which means your portable battery won’t run out of battery either if you don’t have access to plug it in.

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Surge Protector Power Cord

If you work online, use a few electronics, want to protect them, or are tired of dealing with ill-placed outlets, these extension cords are the BEST. It’s a hub to charge literally everything and it’s a long enough cord that you can place your charging station where you want! It also protects everything in case of a surge.

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Accessories and Toiletries to Pack for Mexico

Sarong or Travel Towel

I feel like most people are team travel towels, and I get it; they serve a good purpose. BUT I’m totally team sarong! I love it way more than a towel because I can use it for more things. It’s a blanket on a cold bus, it’s something I can wrap around my swimsuit, it’s a beach blanket, and I think it dries way quicker than the “quick dry” travel towels anyway. Oh, and it never gets that weird moldy smell either!

Towel | Sarong

Filter Water Bottle

You can’t drink the water in Mexico! Well, I guess you technically can, but you don’t want to. If you want to cut down on plastic waste and never have to buy a stupid water bottle again, grab yourself a Grayl. This water bottle has saved me and provided me with clean water worldwide, and I’ve significantly reduced my water bottle purchases to practically nothing now!

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Mosquito Repellent

Mozzies are here and they want to suck your blood! Unfortunately. So grab some mosquito repellent and pack it in your bag. This way you can choose the kind you want (perhaps the kind I use? Which I like a lot because it’s a bit more “natural” than some others).

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Dry Bag 15L Mexico packing list

Dry Bag

I never travel without a dry bag! This is my rainy day purse, my beach bag, and my “extra” bag for literally anything like souvenirs to take home, and groceries, and I even use it as a wash bucket to hand wash clothes. This one is a must for your Mexico packing list!

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Makeup and Cosmetic Bag

This is a must-bring thing to pack for Mexico; you don’t want to go makeup shopping here. Just bring what you have but keep it simple. You’re not likely going to need crazy clubbing makeup, so keep it nice and light. You’ll also want a nice cosmetic bag to keep everything together and a bit padded, so you don’t break any eye shadows or tubs of anything!

Toiletries, Toiletry Bottles, and Bag

Whatever toiletries you use you can bring but don’t bring the full bottles! I love these silicone bottles because they squeeze up to nothing when they are empty and won’t crack like plastic ones. So squeeze your stuff into this bottle, the type of stuff you don’t think Mexico will have. If you’re not picky with shampoo, for example, then leave that at home and purchase it when you get here. You can pack all of these in this handy bag to keep them together.

Bottles | Bag

Your Mexico Packing List Travel Essentials

Passport and Immigration Card

I know, I know, a bit obvious, but sometimes the most obvious things get forgotten so don’t forget your passport when packing for Mexico! You will also receive an immigration card when arriving in Mexico, and you’ll get the departure slip returned to you—DON’T LOSE IT! So many people throw it out or lose it, and you’ll be fined when exiting, so I’m just reminding you here.

Chase Sapphire Cards

Banking and Credit Cards

Don’t show up to Mexico with the wrong cards! You’ll need to go to the ATM to get cash and you want to avoid any and all fees. You also don’t want to miss out on some great travel rewards you could get through your credit card. See my article on the best travel cards to avoid fees and get some extra perks too!

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Safety Wing is excellent for long stay travel insurance

Travel Insurance

DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT IT! I don’t travel without travel insurance, you never know when you’ll have an emergency arise, and while it sucks, it sucks, even more, to pay A LOT on top of the injury. So get yourself covered. Safety Wing is what I use, it’s super affordable, and they cover all the important stuff!

Safety Wing

A travel safety tip that you should follow is to use a VPN to keep all of your data secure.

VPN

Sketchy wifi? No worries! I like using VPNs when I’m traveling as it keeps my mind at ease, knowing nobody can hack and grab my essential information, especially on those random open wifi networks and when you’re dealing with touchy sites like checking your bank. It’s also great to access different shows on Netflix and use Hulu and other sites!

Express VPN

Which Bags to Use for Your Mexico Packing List

Crossbody Bag

I only wear crossbody purses when I travel—no matter where I’m going or what I’m doing. I often love wearing this fanny pack crossbody style, or if I need something bigger, I wear this anti-theft crossbody purse. Don’t bother bringing those “open-style” tote over the shoulder type of bags.

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Pacsafe day bag Mexico packing list

Day Bag

You’ll need a day backpack if you’re toting around your camera, extra clothing, are out for the day on a day trip, and need space for snacks, your water bottle, etc. You won’t catch me with anything else but my anti-theft day backpack! It’s perfect for literally everything and anything and holds everything I’d need for my day trip around Mexico-SAFELY!

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Packing Cubes

Regardless if you’re using a suitcase or backpack—You’ll NEED these for your Mexico packing list! Shove all your clothes in these packing cubes and watch how everything shrinks just like magic. Seriously, it’s crazy home much you can fit in these things, and they will compress it all, so you have room for your other stuff!

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Suitcase or Backpack?

When thinking about what to pack for Mexico, you need to decide which bag is best for you. Packing everything in a suitcase or a backpack? I’ve done both on my many trips to Mexico, and it really depends on the trip. If I’m moving quickly, using cheap modes of transport, lots of buses, etc.—I’m choosing a backpack.

If I’m going to chill and live in Mexico for a bit, travel slower, and perhaps use other forms of transport that are a bit more comfortable, then I’ll grab my hard-shell suitcase and shove everything in there. It’s totally up to you, but these are my recommendations for both situations:

Hardcase (DISCOUNT CODE: LEVEL8NINA10) | Backpack

What To Pack for Mexico Depending on The Seasons

When people head to Mexico, they most often think of summertime, bikinis, and hot weather, and if that’s exactly what your visit to Mexico is going to be about then, great! But if you’re exploring beyond the shores (and even then weather can vary) then you’ll need to keep some of these tips in mind when thinking about what to pack for Mexico!

Below you’ll find the overall weather patterns for Mexico but it’s a good idea to double-check the area you’re going to and see what it’s like there.

Rainy Season

The rainy months are typically around May through October.

Hurricane season is often around June to November.

While this is technically the rainy season for Mexico, don’t think that’s downpouring all day every day. And part of the countries can certainly still be dry! Many places will be lush and verdant but the rainfall often comes around a bit later in the afternoon.

Nina standing on rock in waterfall pool looking at Minas Viejas waterfall in front of her on one of the Huasteca Potosina tours
Minas Viejas Waterfall in May, which is the start of the rainy season. Waterfalls are perfect to visit during this time!

You’ll definitely want a breathable rain jacket to keep yourself dry but not humid and sweaty.

This is certainly going to be the warmer months of Mexico, and you can expect temperatures to be around 70-85°F (21°C-29°C), but some areas may get into the high 90’s (32°C).

Dry Season

The drier months in Mexico are from October to April.

You’ll get hot; you’ll need sun protection and to make sure you’re staying hydrated. There are some pretty dry plains covering Mexico, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t any occasional rain showers. They are shorter and don’t come through dramatically, drenching the land.

You can expect temperatures anywhere from 48-80°F (9-26°C)

Again, it’s essential to check the specific areas you’re going to answer what to pack for Mexico. Depending on the regions and times you’re visiting, you may be bringing bikinis, gloves, and a rain jacket all in one bag!

What Should NOT Be on Your Mexico Packing List

❌ Lots of cash

Mexican peso notes Mexico packing list
You don’t need piles of cash on you in Mexico

Just don’t! There’s no need to carry a large amount of cash on you; you can freely use ATMs. Check up on the best cards to use for travel to learn how you can avoid ATMs fees and get better deals when using your credit cards abroad. Carrying large amounts of cash is just screaming for theft!

❌ Jewelry

Honestly, leave it all at home. Wear something easy, simple, and something you wouldn’t care to lose. There’s no need to flash that stuff around anyway; it makes you a shiny target.

❌ Everyday items

Toiletry products Mexico packing list
 All the major brands can be found in Mexico if you don’t have room in your bag to bring them.

There are TONS of stores around Mexico; make sure you’re not packing everyday items that they have. They even have Walmarts here! So make sure you’re only packing the items you know they won’t have/particular items you’re picky about.

Of course, this is if you’re trying to save some space. If you want to bring these items, feel free to but just know you can pick things up easily if you forget.

❌ Valuables

Like jewelry, yes, but unnecessary electronics or anything else fancy. Again, you don’t want to stick out, and if you lose it or it gets taken, it will bring you down on your trip when you could have just left it at home!

On a similar note, if you need to bring anything of value, make sure it’s hidden in your hotel room and always in your carry-on. Don’t check in your valuables in your big bag at the airport OR when you’re on buses that store things underneath.

❌ Fancy bags and off the shoulder bags

Woman with eco tote bag Mexico packing list
This is OK for groceries but not your everyday around town bag – it’s easy to steal off your shoulder.

I mentioned this already, but it begs repeating. No fancy expensive bags and no bags that simply drape over your shoulder for your day bag. It’s an easy target for theft. If it’s also an “open style” type of bag, it’s screaming, “take whatever you want from me.” Make sure it zips up!

❌ Mega touristy stuff

Massive sombreros, Hawaiian t-shirts, and neon clothing SCREAM “hey, I’m a tourist!” and honestly, it’s just nothing you want to do. You will likely stick out anyway, don’t make a spectacle of yourself and make yourself any more of a target.

The Best Apps for Your Trip to Mexico

  • Google Translate – Download this app, then download the Spanish language to use it offline. Don’t forget the handy camera feature if you’re trying to read a sign or a menu in Spanish too!
  • Uber – Major cities use Uber, too, so have this ready so that you can use it instead of haggling with taxis.
  • Maps.Me – I always have this downloaded for access to offline maps anywhere in the world! This offline map is better for showing more walking paths.
  • Google Maps – I always have two versions of maps because each one offers different info. You can download sections of Google Maps to use offline too! Google Maps is better for driving and recommendations.

Other Tips To “Pack” For Mexico

Will They Speak English?

It depends on where you’re going, but plenty of people speak English in Mexico. In the tourist areas, you’ll find people at your hotel and at restaurants that can speak English, and you’ll be able to book tours that are in English as well.

Of course, like anywhere else in the world, you should certainly learn some words in the local language. Learning a few words in Spanish is pretty easy, and it makes locals happy to see you’re at least trying.

If you’re a bit further out from the tourist areas, it’s less likely you’ll encounter anyone who speaks English, so keep this in mind. However, in all of my experiences in Mexico and worldwide, people are always willing to help!

What Currency Should I Bring?

ATM in Mexico packing list
No need to add money to your Mexico packing list; just hit the ATM on arrival.

I’d say to bring a few bucks in USD to hide in random places amongst your bags, and that’s it. Don’t bring anything else. Instead, simply hit up an ATM at the airport and grab your pesos there once you land. I never use currency exchanges either; they charge you fees and can be rife with scams.

Is Mexico Safe?

This is a general question that can’t be answered in its entirety—about anywhere. Relatively speaking, a good chunk of Mexico is safe. Of course, there are some areas you should avoid. No matter where you are, I’d recommend avoiding going out at night.

As we’ve discussed, you’ll minimize your chances of being targeted if you’re not flaunting anything expensive and aren’t being an obnoxious tourist. Usually, the main tourist spots, where you’ll likely be going, are pretty safe.

Use your common sense, don’t stray from the main hubs, don’t be out alone at night, and just do a bit of Googling on the particular areas you’re heading to, and you’ll be fine.

READ MORE: Travel Safety Tips—No Matter Where In The World You’re Going

What About the Water?

Drinking the water is a no-no, and you’ll be stuck buying water bottles. Sometimes hotels will provide some water fountains that are drinkable or sometimes just a couple of water bottles that won’t last you more than half a day.

Woman on beach with coconut Mexico packing list
Coconuts are good too, but you’ll still need a water bottle

So that’s why I loved traveling with my filter water bottle, which makes pretty much any water safe to drink. It’s free and reduces plastic waste!

How Do I Get Around Mexico?

Mexico is well connected and is pretty easy to get around. You can take domestic flights easily from almost anywhere.

The bus system is pretty damn good too! ETN, ACN, ADO… There are tons of buses to choose from, ranging from luxury to simple. Even if you get a midrange bus, you’ll probably get a comfortable seat that reclines, a personal TV, and even some snacks!

Taxis are a bit of a pain if you have to haggle, but just get the price before heading out, and you’ll be fine. Uber is used in the major cities in Mexico, making the haggling part of taxi usage a bit easier.

Do double check before booking a bus if a flight would be easier, cheaper, and faster! Mexico is bigger than you may think, and with reasonable flights, you could be paying similar prices but arriving in less than half the time.

I hope this list helped you with what to pack for Mexico!

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