Rimmed with white-sand beaches, bustling with cosmopolitan cities, and teeming with green jungles and lush lagoons, Mexico’s terrain is as varied as its people.
Its diversity makes the country a dream destination for beach vacationers, thrill seekers, luxury travelers, backpackers, and just about everyone in between. But Mexico’s varied climate combined with its abundance of activities can make packing for your trip a challenge.
While packing essentials may vary depending on destination, planned activities, and trip length, there are basics that should accompany you on any journey down South.
To help prepare you for a viaje increíble, we bring you the complete packing list for a vacation to Mexico:
Many visitors are surprised to learn that the clothing in Mexico is fairly conservative compared to fashion in Canada. Shorts and short skirts aren’t as common among Mexican women and may appear out of place in areas within inland Mexico. Men can be well-dressed, but many find themselves in flip-flops and casual wear.
So what can you pack to respect your host country’s traditions while remaining comfortable? We recommend lightweight pants and/or long skirts, in addition to light, breathable shirts.
On the other hand, in coastal destinations, such as Cancun and South Pacific coast, apparel can be a bit more casual. In beach towns shorts, sundresses, and tank tops are more acceptable – casual shorts and tees are perfectly acceptable.
In many parts of Mexico, such as Mexico City, San Cristóbal de las Casas, and Oaxaca, high altitudes translate to chilly nights, particularly during the winter. Layers are a smart strategy – bring plenty of cotton t-shirts to use as a base that you can layer with warmer sweaters and windbreakers. As the day grows sunnier, you can shed layers and walk around comfortably.
Regardless of where you are headed, comfortable shoes or sandals are indispensable. Many Mexican towns are paved with cobblestones, which can be painful when wearing unprotected toes. If hiking through nature or up pyramids, sneakers and hiking boots are a must. You may also want to bring at least one pair of closed-toed dress shoes for going out to more upscale restaurants and clubs, particularly if you plan on spending time in a city.
Headed to the beach? Consider flip-flops for lounging, slip-ons for activities like taking tours in Cancun, and water shoes for aquatic activities like boating, fishing, or hiking on wet terrain.
For colder nights in highland regions, warm, comfy socks are key. Central and southern Mexico typically see a “rainy season” during May through November, when it’s a good idea to bring along an umbrella, a windbreaker, and other rain gear (the rainy season typically skips northern Mexico and the Baja Peninsula). At any time of year across all of Mexico, a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap and sunglasses are recommended.
If you’re planning on hitting up the beaches, a sarong is a wonderfully versatile accessory that functions as a towel for sunbathing or as a women’s skirt, dress, or shawl (guys can use it too if they want). You’ll naturally want to bring a bathing suit – ideally two to give the other swimsuit an opportunity to dry between dips.
Remember, if you aren’t checking a suitcase, all your liquids and gels must be confined to 3.4-ounce bottles, especially if you’re traveling through U.S. borders. You can purchase travel-size shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, and the like at most pharmacies. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray, which can be more expensive to purchase on arrival in smaller towns and rural areas in Mexico. Bring a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer to carry on your person during the trip.
Medications and First Aid
Most medications can be purchased at pharmacies in Mexico. However, it’s always a good idea to have basics – like Pepto-Bismol, Dramamine for motion sickness, and Ibuprofen – on hand. Activated charcoal tablets are also helpful as your stomach gets used to new foods, ingredients, and spices. And of course, be sure to bring a sufficient supply of any prescribed medications you may need on your trip.
Fortune favors the prepared, and a first aid kit is often worth the extra luggage space. Band-aids, water purification tablets, and antiseptic sprays or swabs may come in handy.
Much like a first aid kit, travel insurance is invaluable in the rare event that an unexpected injury should occur during your Mexico trip. The best travel insurance can cover a wide variety of scenarios, from illness and medical evaluations to missed connections and delayed luggage mishaps.
Different carriers offer international plans and rates. It’s worth checking what yours provides in terms of international calling, texting, and internet usage to avoid accidentally spending a fortune on data during your time in Mexico.
To have the freedom of using Google Maps, calling Ubers, and sending updates to the folks back home, consider investing in a local SIM card. A Mexican SIM card shouldn’t set you back too much more than 100 pesos (around $5 USD), and you can add data to your plan at the many 7-Eleven and OXXO convenience stores around the country as needed.
Extra Travel Essentials
Don’t close your suitcase just yet. In addition to clothing, toiletries, and medications, there are certain essentials you don’t want to forget before heading abroad. Here’s a quick checklist:
- Passport and copies of it
- Book or e-reader
- Day pack
- Water bottle
- Money belt to keep cash, a passport, a debit card, or other items of value safe
- Language phrasebook (or a language app on your phone)
- Backup phone charger
In the end, you can’t prepare for every surprise you’ll encounter on your vacation to Mexico — that’s part of the adventure! You can, however, set yourself up for a fun, memorable, and stress-free trip with proper planning.
Have we forgotten anything? Let us know packing essentials you wouldn’t travel to Mexico without in the comments below!
Featured Image by tookapic on Pixabay