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.
So you may be wondering what to take to Mexico?
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 everything you need for Mexico’s 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 travel too!
Scroll on to read: What to pack for Mexico (+ FREE travel checklist)
Table of Contents
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What to Pack for Mexico (+ FREE Travel Checklist)
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.
1. Passport and Itineraries
2. Travel Debit Cards
3. Driver License
4. Travel Insurance
For added security and peace of mind, don’t leave home without good travel insurance by World Nomads. 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).
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:
1. TelCel Pre-paid SIM Card
2. 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.
4. External Battery (Power Bank)
5. Wireless Noise-canceling Earbuds
6. Trtl Travel Neck Pillow
7. Windproof Travel Umbrella
8. Bendy Tripod Phone Holder
9. Compact Digital Camera
10. VPN (Virtual Private Network)
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:
1. 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.
2. Anti-Theft Book Bag
3. 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
5. Portable Door Lock
6. Security Travel Scarf
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.
1. Lifestraw Filter Waterbottle
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.
4. Anti-Mosquito Bracelet
5. Reusable Shopping Bag
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.
1. Dry Shampoo
2. Dry Conditioner
3. Hand Sanitizer & Pouch
4. Small Pack of Tissues
5. Facial Oil Blotting Rice Paper
6. Hangover Cure Tablets
7. General Medications
8. Massaging Shoe Gel Inserts
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:
1. Beach Bag
2. Waterproof Phone Case
3. Microfiber Towel
5. Underwater Camera
6. Beach Coverup
7. Other Beach Accessories
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.
1. Hiking Boots
4. Light Jacket
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.
2. Hardside Suitcase (if not the backpack)
4. Travel Laundry Bag
5. 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 Mexico souvenirs and new attire.
6. Hanging Toiletry Bag
7. Travel Medicine Kit
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
Commonly Asked Questions
- 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:
- 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
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.
Book Your Trip: Budget Tips & Tricks
SIM cards: DrimSim is a universal SIM card that isn’t tied to an operator and works in any country/region.
Travel Insurance: Stay protected from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.
Need to store your luggage in a locker? Use Radical Storage to store your stuff in a locker in any city for just $5 per day.
Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.