Wondering what to pack for your Mexico vacation?
Sunshine, beaches and adventure comes to mind when most think of Mexico – indeed, it’s got incredible beaches with crystal clear waters, the most exotic wildlife, mind-blowing food, and unique cenotes (underground rivers) that you’ll find nowhere else on the planet.
But there is much more to Mexico than that! The incredible diversity of Mexico’s landscapes and culture, and being the world’s 14th largest country, means there’s totally different weather conditions, terrain, and even altitudes across the country, depending on which part you visit. There is everything from arid deserts to tropical rainforests, and chilly mountains to sunny beaches. With such a diverse landscape, there are plenty of resorts in Mexico to choose from.
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So you may be wondering what to pack for Mexico trip?
From my experiences of traveling the country, with trial and error I’ve figured out the essentials of my backpack, what was useful, and what was actually useless. In this post, I’ve compiled together all the things you need to travel to Mexico: for the cities, rugged countrysides, jungles, and beach vacations.
And at the bottom of the post I’ve included what NOT to bring to Mexico, to spare any dead weight, and to ensure you have safe and risk-free experience. Plus, near the end of this post you can get hold of your FREE printable packing list for Mexico PDF too!
Mexico Packing List: Ultimate Guide
Here’s my complete guide to all the must-have things you need to travel to Mexico, what can you bring to Mexico on a plane, and more (2023 Edition).
Here’s a list of important documents you absolutely must bring on your Mexico travels, regardless of which region of the country you go to.
Passport and Itineraries
Take a photo of the photo page (2nd page) of your passport and save it on your camera roll. Get a photocopy made and bring it with you. Store this and all your important travel documents in one secure place, such as this travel wallet for women | men which will hold your passport and all your documents.
Travel Debit Cards
Bring at least a couple of travel-friendly debit or credit cards so that you always have access to cash. Remember, in Mexico, cash is king. I always bring 3 cards just to be safe, they are:
The above three come with super useful banking apps that are very user-friendly and easy to use, as well as packed with features, as well as being extremely secure.
If you’re planning to rent a car in Mexico, you can use your driver license (if you’re from the US, UK, EU or have an international license). It also doubles as a valid ID, so you can leave your passport at your hotel/Airbnb.
For added security and peace of mind, don’t leave home without good travel insurance by SafetyWing. Take it from me – what’s the worst that could happen? Well, on my first trip to Mexico I got electrocuted in a hostel (yes, seriously). I flicked a light switch in a dark bathroom and felt a sharp burn travel from my finger all the way up my arm, as if it caught fire (you can read about that in this post).
Think I just had a freak accident? What happens if you’re out in Mexico and your appendix suddenly bursts? I cannot stress enough how important travel insurance is.
Travel Gadgets & Electronics
These are more travel essentials to ensure you’re connected to power and have access to the internet and to contacts during your trip, as well as gadgets to keep you entertained on long journeys – you won’t want to leave home without these:
TelCel Pre-paid SIM Card
TelCel is the largest network provider in Mexico, so I highly recommend you go for them to ensure you have the best reception in the country. What size package should you get? To be safe, you should have plenty enough data with a 4GB SIM card for a 1 week trip, even if you watch videos. For those on a longer trip, or plan to use their phones more, an 8GB SIM card will have you covered.
👉 Travel tip: be sure to keep your original SIM card in a secure place such as the Passport Travel Wallet (it has a SIM card pocket designed specifically for this purpose).
Multi Plug Outlet / Universal Travel Plug
Mexico uses the same plug type as the US, so if you’re traveling from the States, the Keplug PowerStrip with 5-foot Extension Cord is ideal.
If you’re traveling from the UK or elsewhere, this All-In-One Universal Travel Plug is super useful. Both of these have USB ports with plenty of space to charge all your travel gadgets.
10-Foot Charging Cable
In my experience many places I’ve stayed at had power outlets that were a little too far from the bed. So it’s always best to bring an extra long charging cable, like this one for iPhone, or this one for Android.
External Battery (Power Bank)
One of the most essential travel gadgets, an external battery (also called a power bank, portable battery charger or portable charger), can be a lifesaver when you cell phone battery is about to die on a long flight.
Plus, there’s no guarantee you’ll find an outlet in a lot of places (or at least a reliable outlet). This 26,800mAh Conxwan PowerBank is reliable and affordable whilst packing a lot of power. If you prefer a smaller model, the Keymox PowerBank is lighter and more compact whilst still packing plenty of juice.
Wireless Noise-canceling Earbuds
For comfort and convenience, you’ll want to grab yourself a pair of these Wireless Noise-Canceling Earbuds w/Bluetooth for traveling by air or on the road. Not only are they pretty decent with rave reviews on Amazon, they’re quite affordable too. Bonus!
Trtl Travel Neck Pillow
One of my favorite carry on essential items, these are not only perfect for flights, but for traveling around Mexico too. Those car and bus journeys in Mexico will be a lot more relaxing when wearing the Trtl neck pillow, as the roads can be quite bumpy and journeys tend to be quite long.
Windproof Travel Umbrella
Whilst very handy for the rain (and Mexico does experience some unexpected and powerful showers), a windproof travel umbrella is actually really useful for Mexico when visiting Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, or Teotihuacan near Mexico City for example, due to these places being open to the scorching sun with scarcely any shade. It’s not unusual to see lots of tourists with umbrellas at the Chechen Itza for this reason. The RainMate Compact Umbrella is a very lightweight option that will keep you dry in the rain and protected in the sun.
Bendy Tripod Phone Holder
No doubt you’ll be planning to take some fantastic photos on your Mexico trip, and this bendable tripod phone holder is the easiest way to capture stunning and insta-worthy snaps. It’s small and compact, lightweight enough to carry around all day, and fits into your daypack neatly with minimal space.
A Compact Digital Camera
For the avid photographer and those looking to take superb quality pics, a decent compact digital camera is an absolute must. My favorite over the years is the Ricoh GRIII ultracompact camera, which features 24MP, 28mm F2.8 Lens and a touch-screen LCD display. It has remarkable image-stabilization which makes it perfect for whipping out and snapping pics while on the go. You can even attach external lenses for zooming in, as well as an external flash gun.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A Virtual Private Network (aka VPN) is quickly becoming an important travel essential these days. What are they? VPNs allow you to establish a secure connection over a shared connection. So when you’re using free WiFi (eg. in a coffee shop), you’re connected to all the other people in that cafe, on that same network.
The problem with being on the same open network as others is that you’re exposed to potential hackers who have easy access to your information – such as your login credentials, bank card info, and other private things on the device you connect from – whether that’s your phone, tablet or laptop. Enter the NordVPN – it disguises your connection, so your precious information is invisible to anyone looking to hack an unsuspecting user’s device.
Mexico Travel Safety Items
A question many people ask is: Is Mexico safe? The answer to that is, Mexico is no more dangerous than most other places, as long as you avoid getting involved in drugs or gangs. Indeed, your main concern when traveling anywhere, is pickpockets and theft of valuable belongings. The following list has everything you need to ensure you don’t encounter those situations:
Travel Money Belt
This is super handy when you’re walking around larger cities with cash and other small valuables – I recommend keeping these either stashed away in your hotel/airbnb, or stored securely on your body in a money belt.
Anti-Theft Book Bag
These have similar features as the anti-theft purses, the main zipper on these is in the back, making them impossible to open when you wear it on your back. Whether you decide on the cross-body bag or the backpack, it makes your daypack in the city slash-proof. This is really an extra-precautionary option, but will deter pickpockets and is great for peace of mind.
Anti-Theft Travel Purse
If you’re after the ultimate theft-proof purse, I highly recommend the Anti-Theft Travel Purse – it consists of five measures of theft prevention including:
- Slash-resistant straps: straps with stainless steel wire inside, protects against grab-and-go thieves
- Slash resistant fabric: the whole bag is made with a slash-resistant mesh barrier inside for extra layers of protection
- Lockdown straps: the strap lock secures bag to a stationary object, protecting against grab-and-go thieves
- Locking compartments: locking zipper pulls that prevent pickpockets from getting into your bag
- RFID blocking pockets: protects against electronic identity theft with RFID blocking card slots and pockets
4. Small Lock
Be sure to bring a small lock for any hostel stays in Mexico, so you can securely store your valuables in the lockers provided.
5. Portable Door Lock
While Mexico is much safer than the news would have you believe, there is no denying the fact that parts of the country – including tourist hotspots like Cancun and Mexico City – do encounter their fair share of petty crime targeted at tourists. You may find you sleep easier in your hotel/airbnb when you have a portable door lock providing you that added peace of mind.
Security Travel Scarf
This stylish Security Scarf features a hidden zipper and pocket for that extra layer of security. With this security scarf, you can store some cash, a credit card, your cell phone, and even your wireless earbuds inside the hidden compartment of the scarf and nobody would be any the wiser!
PacSafe Bag Protector
Another great security option for wherever you travel, the PacSafe bag protector will store all your valuables and secure it to a stationary item in your hotel/airbnb.
Eco-Friendly Travel Packing Essentials
These days most of us try to do our bit for the world around us, and with air travel, we become more conscious of our carbon footprint. So with the items below, you’ll be making a difference in protecting wildlife, nature and the environment.
Water-to-Go Filter Water Bottle
Since the water in Mexico is not safe to drink, your only option is to buy bottled water (which wastes a lot of plastic), or bring a reusable water bottle that has a filter so you can fill up from a tap or river and drink perfectly-clean, fresh water. I always bring my trusty Water-to-Go Filter Bottle with me for this reason.
All bottles are BPA-free, and for every bottle sold, they donate to several charities, this is another reason I use a Water-to-Go bottle. Get 15% off your order using the code at checkout: GIVEME15
3. Eco-friendly Bug Spray
There’s loads of bugs in Mexico, so you’ll also definitely want to cover up this eco-friendly REPEL Insect Repellent, and not only ‘cause it’s environmentally friendly, but avoid getting a blown-up arm from a Mexican mosquito infection, as that’s what happened to me on my second trip to Mexico! The bug spray is plant-based, DEET free, and smells of lemon and eucalyptus.
👉 Travel Tip: Mexico’s popular OXXO convenience stores stock bug sprays, but they are quite expensive because they know tourists will be forced to buy it if they don’t bring their own.
Don’t fancy covering up in mosquito spray? Or looking to double up on protection? You can get yourself one of these mosquito-repelling bracelets which also does the job. (They are also DEET free and water-proof.)
Reusable Shopping Bag
Like with many places worldwide, Mexico banned single-use plastic bags in all major cities since 2020 and the smaller, rural pueblos are following suit. As such, you’ll want to make sure you have a couple of these reusable tote shopping bags that you can fold up into a tiny pouch, perfect for travel. Once folded, you can clip these little pouches onto the side of your purse or daypack, so it’s there ready to be filled with Mexican souvenirs, groceries and/or crafts.
Toiletries & Medicines
This list features a cool travel hack as well as important travel essentials that you can’t leave home without. A popular question asked is: do I need medicine for Mexico? Well, there are extreme climates around Mexico including tropical jungles and high altitude terrain, and many parts of the country are hot year round, hitting 45C (113F) in the summer.
Dry Shampoo & Conditioner
For those who don’t want to wash their hair on vacation, or looking to save luggage space, the Baptiste Dry Shampoo works a treat.
And those with long hair will understand the inconvenience of getting sea salt in your hair. The Moroccan All-In-One Leave In Conditioner can be easily applied to your hair straight after a swim, plus it’s compact and convenient to carry around in your beach bag.
Hand Sanitizer & Pouch
This feels more like a mandatory essential item these days. To ensure you use it throughout the day, get a sanitizer pouch that clips onto the outside of your purse or day bag, so it’s within easy reach. Sanitizer Bottle Keychain Holder
Small Pack of Tissues
When traveling around Mexico’s rural areas, pueblos (towns), gas stations and mercados (markets), you may notice that toilet paper isn’t readily available in the bathrooms. It’s always a smart tip to carry a small pack of Travel Tissues with you on your person, and they’re handy for numerous things.
Facial Oil Blotting Rice Paper
Mexico has a tropical climate, and places like the Yucatan are hot all year round. These sustainable Face Blotting Sheets with Natural Rice Powder are a quick and convenient way to dry sweat and oil, whilst making you feel instantly refreshed and looking shine-free.
Hangover Cure Tablets
Planning to party hard? Bring some hangover cure pills with you and take one before you hit the bars. The Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier contains antioxidants, herbs and homeopathic ingredients that ensure you won’t be hungover the following day, and missing out on precious vacation time. And don’t take my word for it either – it’s a bestseller on Amazon with over 96,000 positive reviews.
7. General Medications
You can easily get hold of medicine in Mexico so don’t feel you have to pack the whole medicine cabinet. However its well worth bringing meds for headaches, cramps, allergies, as well as upset stomach meds like anti-diarrheal, Tums, and Pepto. Something else to consider: Mexico City is a high-altitude region, sitting at an elevation of almost 7,500 feet – nearly 1.5 miles above sea level! If you’re not used to that, you may want to bring an altitude sickness bracelet as well as altitude sickness meds.
Massaging Shoe Gel Inserts
This is more of a travel hack – if your vacation will involve lots of walking and hiking like mine do, you may risk suffering aches and pains during your trip, especially if you do a lot of walking on day one of your trip. These super handy massaging gel inserts will keep your feet comfortable and protected from blisters, as well as from muscle pains and cramps in your legs.
Mexico Beach Packing Accessories
Now for a list of items specifically for the beach, but also useful for the following: watersports activities, and outdoor tours/excursions:
A good beach bag is perfect for storing all your beach essentials for days spent sunbathing by the sea. It also neatly folds away into your backpack.
Waterproof Phone Case
Who knew a cheap waterproof phone case could be such a great investment? My favorite is this one – not only does it protect your prized possession in the water, it’s easy to use and doesn’t steam up/blur the camera lens, and it can fit almost every popular phone model.
Perfect for the beach or poolside, the Rainleaf Microfiber Towel is an absolute must for any Mexico packing list. While they do feel a bit weird, they are lightweight and dry super fast, so you’ll never have to worry about stuffing a soggy towel in your bag.
The good news about underwater cameras is that they are not as expensive as they used to be, which is brilliant for budget travelers. In fact, you can buy a pretty good one like this one by Akaso – not only does it have rave reviews, it’s actually quite cheap! I seriously recommend bringing one of these if you plan to go snorkeling.
For the ladies (or indeed anyone feeling particularly stylish) – a Beach Coverup is a great item to add into your packing list for that extra protection from sunburn when not in the water.
Other Beach Accessories
Finally, don’t forget to bring beach flip flops, a decent sun hat, a headband, and a snorkel. Plus, it’s wise to bring inexpensive polarized sunglasses – seriously, the amount of times I’ve lost my sunglasses over the years, and bringing designer sunglasses sets yourself up as a target for thieves. And lastly, if you’re going on excursions like Xel-Ha waterpark, you’re gonna need a pair of water shoes and a dry bag.
🍺 Check Out the Best Beer & Brewery Tours in Mexico
- If you are in Cancun, then don’t miss an opportunity to take this 5-Stop Cancun Taco Tour, Local Beer and Night Market with Transportation
- Sample up to 15 artisan-produced microbrews in Puerto Vallarta via the Craft Brew and Bites Tour with an expert guide
- Explore Mexico City’s most unique nightlife locations and try classic and innovative drinks on this Mexico City Bar Crawl
Clothing / Attire for Mexico
For the image conscious and those looking to save packing space, it’s well worth having a capsule wardrobe for your Mexico vacation so that you can interchange and mix up items of clothing, in order to wear a different look each day.
A strong and reliable pair of hiking boots will serve you well for all your trekking and walking activities in Mexico and everywhere else, for years to come. These Columbia men’s and women’s hiking boots are some of the best around, though if you’re on a budget and don’t want to compromise on quality, you can get a pair of Quechua hiking shoes for men / women.
Chance are you’ll need a swimsuit if you’re heading to the beach, staying at an all-inclusive resort, or visiting Mexico’s cenotes and waterparks. Bring at least a couple so that you always have a dry one ready. This women’s suit and these men’s trunks are tried and tested bestsellers.
While Mexico is known for its tropical climate and hot temperatures, you should definitely pack a jacket if you’re heading to the cities or the mountains. As mentioned before, the Mexican desert and hilly regions can get chilly in the evenings. My favorite jacket is the trusted Columbia light jacket (mens / womens) which is comfy, light and always keeps me warm.
A Pair of Sandals
Sandals are an essential item for Mexico so you’ll want to make sure you have a decent pair that last many years. For women, these Tevas are comfortable and fashionable and have great reviews. For men, these sandals are affordable and have a strong and sturdy sole.
👉 Travel Tip: Mexicans are modest and dress conservatively – in the cities and pueblos (small towns), as well as on the beaches, it’s not unusual to see Mexicans dressed in jeans and long-sleeve shirts, in fact this is the norm. Shorts are much more commonplace in beach spots like Tulum and Cancun. You can wear shorts in the cities, but bear in mind that you’ll draw more attention if you do. If you want to blend in, opt for leggings/full length pants instead.
Luggage/Baggage and Packing Items for Mexico
Finally, here’s a list of the packing items and baggage that I use to encase and carry all my stuff when I go on a backpacker type of trip. It’s well worth investing in a trusted brand to ensure you have reliable gear that will last you years of travel.
In 9 years of travel I find the clamshell type of backpacks the most convenient for quick access to everything inside your bag. The Tortuga Setup Backpack (mens / womens) is one of the best out there. Not only is it affordable, its also very durable, weather-resistant, and comes in either 35L or 45L sizes.
Hardside Suitcase (if not the backpack)
Prefer to wheel around a suitcase instead of wearing a backpack? Worry not – Amazon Basics does a 30-inch Hardside Spinner that fits neatly into the overhead and it’s got 36,000 reviews to boot. A suitcase is perfect if you plan to spend most of your trip in 1-2 places or on a resort.
The daypack is super useful day-to-day on your vacation as you don’t really want to be wearing your larger backpack other than for flight days and traveling between cities and regions. You can’t go wrong with the Osprey Daylite Daypack, that comes in a range of colors, it’s a hugely popular option loved by backpackers and travel bloggers alike.
Travel Laundry Bag
This is a must-have item for keeping your packing organized and reducing risk of lost clothing on your travels. It’s always wise to keep your dirty laundry separate from your clean laundry, plus, you’ll need a laundry bag to hand over to the laundrette when you get your laundry done during your trip.
Space Saver Packing Cubes
Another must-have packing essential, these packing cubes are a smart way of keeping your clothes well organized in your backpack whilst also saving tons of space, and giving you peace of mind. The Space Save Packing Cubes come in three different sizes, so you can put your pants in one, and shirts in another etc. The double zipper design ensures the pack shrinks down as small as possible when filled, leaving you with plenty more bag space for all your Mexican souvenirs and new attire.
Travel Tip: if you really want to save space in your backpack, use these compression bags. They suck the air out like a shrink-wrap, and you’ll be amazed by how much space is left!
Hanging Toiletry Bag
Another one of my fave travel hacks is this hanging toiletry bag. It’s really useful for storing your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo and conditioner, face wash, trimmer, bug spray and sunscreen, and it saves space in your backpack.
Travel Medicine Kit
Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry on your travels by planning ahead and bringing along basic medicines like paracetamol or ibuprofen, motion sickness pills and sleep aids. However, if you don’t want to buy those, the travel medicine kit packs them together neatly.
What to pack for Mexico City
Visiting Mexico City? You can follow the guide above and just ensure you include warm attire in your luggage as it gets cold after sunset. Plus, you may not necessarily need to bring beach accessories since Mexico City is inland.
What not to bring to Mexico
Here’s a list of items that are prohibited from bringing into Mexico:
- Electronic cigarettes
- Narcotic drugs
- Used clothing that isn’t part of your personal luggage
- Certain over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the US and elsewhere, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications
- Firearms and knives
Packing List for Mexico Checklist
Download your FREE printable, Mexico Travel Checklist PDF here:
You can print it out and use it to tick off the boxes while packing for your Mexico vacation!
PS: this can also be used as a packing list for Mexico City.
Mexico packing list FAQs:
Below are some commonly-asked questions about traveling in Mexico.
Travel Documents, Itineraries and Passport
Travel gadgets and electronics (SIM card, earphones, power bank, travel plug)
Safety and security items (locks, anti-theft bag, money belt)
Eco-friendly packing essentials (Lifestraw water filter bottle, reusable bag, eco-friendly bug spray, eco-friendly sunscreen)
Toiletries and medicines
Beach accessories (flip flops, sun hat, underwater camera, rash guard, swim suit)
Clothing/attire suitable for hot, tropical and high altitude climates
Luggage items (backpack, daypack, packing cubes, toiletry bag)
Here’s a list of items that are prohibited from bringing into Mexico:
Used clothing that isn’t part of your personal luggage
Certain over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the US and elsewhere, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications
Firearms and knives
Here’s the do’s and don’t for Mexico travel:
DO some research on your destination before you go.
DON’T overpack. Only bring travel essentials like the ones listed in this post.
DON’T bring your own food. This is Mexico! Famous for it’s world-class delicious and cheap street food.
DO learn a few phrases in Spanish before you depart.
DON’T bring too much cash. As a guide, $50 is safe to carry around.
DON’T drink water from the tap. Use a water filter bottle to fill up.
DO use reef-safe sunscreen.
DON’T bring dollars. Convert them into Mexican pesos (MXN) before you go.
DON’T bring jewelry and designer label clothing – you will stand out in a crowd and become a potential target for thieves
Mexico’s resorts are in very tropical climates with hot weather. Therefore shorts, t-shirts, vest, light linen shirts, sundresses, and sandals are the norm here. In some instances, your resort may expect more formal clothing to dine in some restaurants.
Here’s how to avoid getting sick in Mexico:
Don’t drink tap water – use a water filter bottle or buy bottled water
Avoid eating from street vendors that don’t have a queue of people
Look for the crowds – the best taco stands have lots of locals eating from them
Ensure your meals are cooked properly and served hot
Be cautious with fruits and vegetables, be sure to wash them before eating
Avoid eating in the markets
On a backpacker budget, expect to spend anywhere between USD30-60 (MXN600-1200) daily, and for mid-range, the average is USD60-110 (MXN1200-2,200) daily. This will account for 3 meals a day plus drinks, transportation, and one activity (tours, excursions etc). Add an extra USD10 (MXN200) if including alcohol.
Yes – you can bring ibuprofen to Mexico but only enough for the time period you are there for. If you must bring an unusually high quantity of medicine, make sure you bring a doctor’s prescription in case you need to prove the medicine is for your own consumption.
Essential Yucatan & Mexico Travel Resources:
For more useful travel information on the Yucatan, check out these articles:
✪ Ultimate Yucatan Travel Guide (+ FREE Cheatsheet)
✪ The Perfect Yucatan 1 Week Itinerary
✪ Complete Guide to Driving from Cancun to Tulum
✪ How to Travel Yucatan on a Budget (+ FREE Cheatsheet)
✪ Where to Stay in Tulum in 2023
✪ Interesting Facts about Mexico
So there you have it – the ultimate travel packing list for Mexico.
Take it from my 9+ years of travel around 47 countries, this list was created from trial and error, discovering the most reliable and trustworthy items that have served me well on my travels, as well as thousands of positive reviews that makes them reputable.
- Going abroad soon? Check out my post: How To Plan For A Vacation (and download my FREE printable travel checklist)
- Read up on my Top 10 Ways To Save Money For Travel to learn how I saved over $1K in one month
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