Are you traveling to Mexico and are not sure about what to wear in Mexico, and even less so what to bring with you? Let me start by saying that Mexico has different climates and that there are seasons in Mexico too (though perhaps without the dramatic changes known in other places). This means that your Mexico packing list should vary depending on the region you will be visiting, and should be based on when you are actually traveling.
What if you are going on a road trip that crosses several states and climates, though? Don’t worry, I have been to Mexico three times – each time crossing the country from north to south – and I will share the best packing list of Mexico you will find. Follow my instructions carefully and your will be sure to pack whatever you need for your trip.
The Best Packing List For Mexico
What luggage to use in Mexico
Let’s start this packing list for Mexico with the essential! What should you use when traveling to Mexico? Here are a few ideas.
Planning on traveling around Mexico when you’re there? Then the luggage you’ll want is a backpack. Opting for a comfortable, durable backpack (perhaps from the likes of Osprey) is a great way to transport you and your gear from one destination to the next. Try 40 liter capacity backpacks for shorter trips, 50 or more liters for a month or more of backpacking.
I am a fan of Osprey Ariel as it is really comfortable and makes packing super easy. You can check it out here.
If you’re not backpacking around Mexico, or if you are driving and won’t have to drag your luggage around, and even if you’re staying put instead, then chances are you’ll only need a suitcase. Something with wheels that allows for easy transition through transport hubs is preferable, obviously!
The most durable suitcases are the Samsonite ones. I have had one since graduation and I still use it!
You can get your suitcase here.
Having a comfortable daypack is crucial in Mexico. No matter where you’re staying, there’s ample opportunity to explore further afield and head out on a day trip. For that you’ll need a daypack with enough room to fit snacks, your camera and anything else you feel like taking along for the ride.
There are all sorts of daypacks for sale online. Once again, my go-to brand is Osprey. I am a fan of the Stratos ones as they have pockets to fit everything, including water bottles on the side. You can get yours here.
Beach bag / dry bag
If you’re traveling by yourself, you probably won’t want to leave your stuff lying around unattended when you take a visit to the beach. Having a dry bag allows you to take essentials – money, phone, ID, keys – into the sea while keeping them bone dry.
Check out the best dry bags here.
Clothes to Pack for Mexico
Beach cover up
Your packing list for Mexico should definitely include some beach-friendly items. After all, nothing says “beach” like Mexico, but if you’re going to spend time at any one of Mexico’s beautiful beaches you’re going to need a beach cover-up. Choose a flowing kaftan or sarong that you can fold up and stash in your bag and quickly throw on when you head for lunch at a beachside cafe.
One essential item you definitely won’t want to leave behind. If you’re traveling light then just one bathing suit should do. But if you’re booking into a swanky resort then you may want to bring a selection of swimwear options with you – why not!
I am a fan of super-minimal bikinis – that’s what we like here in Italy. However, for something more classic check out what’s one sale on REI here.
Pack a handful of colourful summer dresses that you can wear anytime on your trip. Easy to fold up to a compact size, and perfect for when you don’t know what to wear, a dress means you have a whole outfit ready to go at any time. Loose, breezy dresses are a good idea for the scorching summer temperatures.
I am absolutely in love with the Lucie Dress on Kuhl – in fact, I have it in various colors. You can check it out here.
Consider taking a couple of pairs of shorts with you. These will be good for when you go to the beach. When visiting sites or exploring cities, I recommend wearing a longer skirt or dress, or light pants.
Kuhl makes some super-fun shorts. You can check them out here.
In some parts of the country, a long skirt is a good idea. You will feel protected from the heat and also feel covered up when exploring cities and religious buildings, such as cathedrals.
You can get a nice long skirt here.
Trousers or jeans
Jeans are a good idea if you’re traveling to chillier parts of Mexico and they also work well for days when you may be traveling. If your trip is taking you to warm, coastal regions a pair of cotton or linen trousers will feel much cooler and are lighter to pack too.
Consider taking with you three to five T-shirts so that you can have the option of changing if they get dirty and have one to wear while you do laundry. T-shirts can work well as a cover up from the sunshine but also something that is quickly thrown on for a trip to a cenote. Men may also want to pack some loose-fit smart shirts for the evening or for days exploring cities.
Kuhl makes the best t-shirts. You can check them out here.
Sweaters and a light jacket
It can get cold in Mexico, so if you are planning a trip that will take you across the country, you may want to include a few sweaters and outer layers in your packing list for Mexico. Make sure to also bring a light rain jacket, as depending on the season and the region there are higher chances of rain – it certainly rained a lot when I visited Agua Azul once!
My favorite sweater is Stria Pullover Hoodie by Kuhl – you can check it out here. For something a bit more heavy duty, you should consider Ascendyr by Kuhl. Finally, Deflektr Hybrid Shell is by far the best rain and wind proof jacket around.
Obviously, you do not want to forget your underwear in your packing list for Mexico! Bring enough pants for a week (you should be able to easily wash them on the go), and keep a pair of two in your hand luggage in case your suitcase goes missing in transit. Packing a few different bras is also a good idea, as well as a couple of sports bras for hikes and yoga classes.
A pair of flip flops are lightweight and easy to slip into your case or backpack. Essential for days at the beach, chilling out at a cenote or hangin out around the pool, they are also a must-have in case you are staying at a hostel, to get into the common showers. Definitely add a pair into your packing list for Mexico.
The most popular brand for flip-flops is Havaianas – get a pair here. However, I have recently switched to Crocs and I find them way more comfortable and lighter – even inside my backpack. Check them out here.
Sandals or walking shoes
Bring along a pair of comfortable but stylish sandals and you can wear them for day trips in your rental car, and also pair them with a smart outfit for evenings out. If you are traveling to colder climates, you will however need a pair of good walking shoes.
Check out REI here for a selection of sandals and walking shoes – they have anything for any style and price range.
If you want to get out and do some hiking during your Mexico trip, then I recommend including some hiking shoes in your packing list for Mexico. The best option is a pair of lightweight walking shoes that have good grip. You will be able to wear them when hiking in remote mountains, discovering ancient Mayan ruins in the jungle and even on the plane.
Salomon makes some excellent lightweight hiking shoes. You can see them here.
Toiletries to pack for Mexico
Toothpaste / toothbrush
This should be something you never forget to pack anywhere! You may want to invest in a dedicated travel toothbrush. An electric toothbrush may just take up too much room in your suitcase, and you may not always have access to an easy way to keep it charged.
If you feel like purchasing something eco-friendly, then you could opt to get a bamboo toothbrush such as this one.
Shampoo / conditioner
Save space and opt for solid shampoo and conditioner. These last longer and are better for the environment than buying plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Plus they slot into your bag really easily (and without the worry of them leaking or exploding in transit).
Lush and HiBar make the best solid shampoo – you can get yours here. In terms of conditioner, it’s really a difficult choice – I never really found a solid one that works on my thick, long hair so I can’t easily recommend one.
It’s obvious why you’d want to pack this for your trip to Mexico, let’s be honest. The best kind of deodorant is either roll-on or, better yet, a more eco-friendly deodorant bar (plus you won’t have to worry about how much liquid is in your carry-on luggage). Spray-on deodorant can be both tricky to travel on planes with, and it’s not good for the planet.
It’s best to opt for something eco-friendly, and whatever you do, definitely avoid buying exfoliating face wash that features beads and microplastics: these are terrible for the environment. The issue with most face wash sold in pharmacies is that they come in huge bottles, but you can get yourself an empty travel size one and pack the amount necessary just for the trip.
Toiletries bag and cosmetics bag
A toiletry bag is what you’ll need to keep all your shampoo, moisturizer, and other personal hygiene products in place.
Get one with multiple pockets and that you can hang easily in the bathroom, such as this one.
For the girls reading this: if you plan on taking any makeup with you, you won’t want it rolling around inside your toiletries bag – it can damage your products and just make them plain hard to find. In this instance, having a dedicated cosmetics bag is the best way to go.
It doesn’t need to be some huge make-up artist affair – just something small that holds everything you need will do. For example, check out this one.
Travel essentials for Mexico
Sunglasses / sunhat
Keep your head and neck protected from the harmful rays of the sun. Not only you will need a good pair of sunglasses, but a hat is also a must when exploring the Mayan ruins in Mexico.
Think about packing a sun hat that folds down and can be stashed in your daypack such as this one.
Reusable water bottle
Help save the planet and keep yourself hydrated too. A reusable water bottle is definitely something to keep in your backpack at all times, especially on hot days.
To make sure the water you’re drinking is totally safe, purchase a reusable bottle with a built in filter such as a Lifestraw.
More essential than ever before, hand sanitizer has become something that most of us now use on the daily and it can’t be missing from your packing list for Mexico.
Pack up a small tube of sanitizer and keep it in your bag so you can keep your hands germ free before you eat, on a bus journey or after you use the bathroom. You can get it here.
There’s a whole lot of nature in Mexico and with that comes a lot of insects. Keep those pesky mosquitos at bay by protecting your skin with insect repellent. You will need this if you’re staying close to mangroves and lakeside destinations, as well as when you’re spending the day at Maya sites such as Coba.
Get yours here.
Make sure you have a trusted brand of sunscreen in your bag and that the SPF is higher than 30. For a number of places in Mexico, swimmers are required to use reef-safe sunscreen including some of the beaches and cenetoes.
It’s best to purchase a brand that is certified as environmentally friendly. Sun Bum makes excellent sunscreen that is reef friendly and vegan. You can get it here.
First aid kit
You never know when you might need a band-aid or a bandage so it’s a good idea to keep a well stocked first aid kit in your bag. Think about bringing along some pain killers, diarrhea medicine and rehydration sachets too.
You can get your first aid kit here.
These are amazing. No doubt your accommodation will have towels to use, but even if they do, having a microfiber towel is perfect for a day trip to a beach or cenote in Mexico. Microfiber towels dry super quickly, and that means you won’t have to lug around a damp, heavy towel in your daypack (which will also end up smelling not so nice). And they are super light to put in your backpack.
Get your microfiber towel here.
Electronics to take to Mexico
Smartphone / tablet
Most people have a smartphone, so this is a no-brainer really! You should make sure that you have a protective case for your smartphone, if you don’t already, just in case you drop it while you’re in Mexico (or anywhere else, like I do!). The same goes for a tablet, if you’re bringing one on your trip, that is.
There’s a lot of beautiful things to see in Mexico, and sometimes a smartphone just won’t cut it when it comes to doing justice to picturesque scenes. So taking along a pocket sized digital camera, SLR or whatever you like to use, makes total sense. Make sure you don’t forget extra memory cards, lenses, a case and any other accessories you’ll need.
It’s not essential by any means, but if you’re a remote worker and you don’t feel like taking too much time off during your trip to Mexico, you can always put in a few days of work here and there by taking your laptop. Having a durable case or backpack for a laptop is key, of course.
If you’re traveling to Mexico from the US, you won’t need a travel adapter. But if you’re traveling from elsewhere – from the UK, for example – then you’ll need a travel adapter to actually connect your technology and charge it when necessary. (By the way, plugs in Mexico feature two flat parallel pins; sometimes with a third grounding pin).
You can get a travel adapter here.
Chargers and a powerbank
The last thing you’ll want to do is forget any of the crucial chargers you’ll need for your phone, laptop or camera! Make sure to also take a power bank, just in case you need to charge on the go.
Get yours here.
Other things you should pack for Mexico
Books to read
Whether it’s a Lonely Planet guide for Mexico, or a novel like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road or Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, having something inspiring and informative to read about Mexico while you’re actually in Mexico is a great way to add depth to your journey through the country.
If you want to keep your money safe when in Mexico, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a money belt. Having a money belt means keeping your cash safely hidden on your person – out of your main bag, and out of your pockets, and away from potential pickpocketing when moving from place to place.
You can get one here.
A head lamp is a good thing to include in your packing list for Mexico. If there’s a power outage, or if you just happen to find yourself in the dark at any point, then a head lamp is going to come in real handy! I also like to have it in case I am camping, or staying at a super budget hostel where dorms have no personal light.
You can get yours here.
Depending on how long your trip is, you may want to bring along some detergent. If you’re staying in a hostel, or your accommodation happens to have laundry facilities, then you’ll probably want to wash your clothes at some point. Bringing along a small amount of your own stuff saves having to buy it in Mexico – simple!
Alternatively, a good bar of eco-friendly soap such as this one is perfect for washing your underwear in the sink.
Travel washing line
It’s not exactly essential, but if you plan on doing any laundry when you’re in Mexico, having one of these would really help. You can string it up in your room, or in your bathroom (maybe after doing some DIY laundry in the bath!) and save on having to use a dryer.
Final Considerations For Your Mexico Packing List
Decide what to wear in Mexico
Telling you exactly what to wear in Mexico without knowing where you are going isn’t exactly easy – as I have said before, this is a big country with various climates. However, when putting together any packing list for Mexico, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind.
Mexicans in general tend to dress a bit more conservatively than in other countries, and this is certainly the case outside of coastal areas – for example in Chiapas. You will not see many Mexican women going around in denim shorts and tight tank tops in the interior areas of Mexico.
Move to the Yucatan Peninsula, and wearing shorts is definitely more common. Tourists certainly do that – I did that myself, and had no issues at all. What you wear in Mexico is ultimately your decision and you should do whatever makes you feel comfortable.
Avoid flashy jewelry
One thing you may want to avoid bringing and wearing while in Mexico is flashy jewelry. That will easily make you stand out as a tourist and in bigger cities you may become a target for pickpockets, touts and sale pitches.
Get a good travel insurance
Last but not least, make sure to get a good travel insurance for your trip to Mexico – in fact, I recommend to get one for any trip, long or short, you may be going on. Not convinced travel insurance is needed? Just read this post. Then, go ahead and get our insurance with Heymondo here – it’s super budget friendly while offering extensive coverage.
These posts may come in handy when planning your trip to Mexico:
- How To Pack Light
- How To Make The Most Of A Long Haul Flight
- The Best Packing List For Long Term Travel
- The Best Itinerary For A Road Trip To Mexico
- The Best Time To Visit Mexico
- How Not To Get Sick In Mexico