Last Updated on: 26th July 2023, 10:05 pm
Wondering what to pack for Mexico? Use this Mexico packing list to decide what you will take with you plus what to wear in Mexico including vacation outfit inspiration!
Here are over one hundred things to take on vacation to Mexico (and when to leave them behind), so you can have a fabulous time in Mexico.
I also include what not to bring to Mexico so you can avoid Mexico packing mistakes! The goal is to pack light but be prepared with all the important Mexico travel essentials.
So if you’re wondering what to bring to Mexico or what to wear in Mexico, here’s my ultimate Mexico packing list so you have an awesome and safe trip!
Good to Know: I have this list split up into a general Mexico packing list of items for everyone, separate sections for what to wear in Mexico for women and men, packing tips for Mexico for plus-size travelers like myself, what technology to bring to Mexico, Mexico guidebooks (including the two I used), and what you need to pack for backpacking Mexico hostels.
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My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2023
These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.
Protect Your Trip via Safety Wing
Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com.
For English-speaking private airport transfers, book through Welcome Pickups.
For road trips and independent travel, rent a car through Discover Cars.
Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.
For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.
5 Most Popular Tours in Mexico
Heading to Mexico? There are so many great things to see and do here! These are the five most popular Mexican tours and day trips to help you get started planning your trip!
What to Bring to Mexico: the Ultimate Packing List Items for Every Traveler
Mexico is a pretty straightforward place to pack for if you’ve traveled in Latin America, but if this will be one of your first trips to the region then you might be surprised at some of the items on this list!
Luggage Options: What Backpacks or Suitcases to Use to Pack for Mexico
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of luggage you plan on taking with you, and this will be dictated by your travel style.
Only you can decide if you’re going to take a roller bag-style suitcase or if you’re going to backpack.
If you plan on traveling with only a carry-on, then you will need a minimalist packing style.
However, if you are going to check a bag, then you can choose a larger suitcase that will hold a few more items.
Some things to consider when deciding between taking a roller bag or a backpack as your main piece of luggage:
Will you be staying in hotels or shared hostel dorms in Mexico?
Are you staying in an independent hotel or an all-inclusive resort?
Will you be traveling by driver or using public buses?
Do you want to travel carry-on only or are you comfortable checking a bag?
Will you be staying in one or two locations, or will you be moving from place to place often?
Best Backpacks for Mexico
I use a Bergans Skarstind 48, which I bought in 2018 to backpack the Caucasus, and its survived many trips over the years, including to Latin America.
This style of backpack holds more than enough clothes to get through a week without having to do laundry, just with a little mixing and matching.
I can fit a week’s worth of clothing, two pairs of shoes (plus wearing a third on the plane), makeup, toiletries, a travel hairdryer, etc. all in this bag.
Note: Not all backpacks are carry-on sized. To make sure you can use your backpack as a carry-on, check the dimensions of the bags.
Best Roller Bags for Mexico
I have used an Osprey Sojourn 80L roller bag as my main suitcase in Mexico before.
However, it’s no longer in production. I also travel lighter than I did all those years ago. If I had to buy a new roller suitcase now, I’d go with the Osprey Rolling Transporter 40 Duffel Bag if I wanted something durable that will last for multiple trips.
About a year ago, I started using a Ricardo spinner suitcase similar to the Ricardo Beverly Hills Malibu Bay as my go-to for domestic travel, and it’s also the suitcase I used for packing for Mexico this year.
So which is the best roller bag for packing for a Mexican vacation?
Well, it depends!
If you plan on traveling extensively around Mexico and Central America, I would go with the Osprey Rolling Transporter 40 Duffel Bag. This way you have a bag that can stand extensive wear-and-tear.
If you plan on going to Mexico as a stand-alone trip, I would get something chicer that you can use for all your trips in the future – not just Mexico.
The Ricardo Beverly Hills Malibu Bay is a great option for this.
Best Day Packs for Mexico
I have two go-to day packs for all my trips, and both are perfect for use as Mexico day bags.
The Pacsafe Citysafe is great for cities and Mexico beach towns because it has many anti-theft features designed to deter pickpockets, like wire mesh sewn into the lining and an RFID pocket.
It also transitions to a night bag easily and won’t embarrass you if you go to dinner directly after sightseeing all day.
It also has a laptop sleeve if you need to travel with your laptop.
For my most recent trip to Mexico, I used my Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack. This is my favorite budget day bag.
It was a steal for the price, and in the past six months, it has survived seventeen US national parks as well as my trips to Mexico and El Salvador!
It won’t last as long as my Citysafe (which is already in year five!), but it has more than proved its worth so far.
Organization (Bags within Bags)
If you aren’t a bags within bags person, you need to become one, at least when you travel. This will help tremendously when you’re traveling, whether you’re backpacking around Mexico or staying at one luxury hotel.
I divide my stuff up into these bags and then organize these in my suitcase:
1-2 large packing cubes for clothes, bathing suits, and bathing suit covers
1-2 medium packing cubes for underwear, socks, pajamas
I have them split up like this: wet toiletry bag, dry toiletry bag, prescriptions and medications, small tech like cords and chargers, hair essentials, and makeup.
1 laundry bag that comes with the packing cubes to separate dirty laundry during the trip.
1 Canvas Tote Bag that can be used as a beach bag for beach days, for groceries, and as a go-to day bag for any day where you’re going to be taking it easy and don’t need a ton of stuff.
After 56 countries and 45 US states, I have settled on a system that works for me. I tweak it for the specifics of each trip, but generally, this system serves me quite well!
Toiletries & Skincare
You will want to take good care of your skin while you are in Mexico! This starts with sun protection, but it doesn’t end there.
This list also includes travel eye care items, hair care, cosmetics, dental care, and more!
A small hairbrush. I use one like this, but get one that is right for your hair type.
Travel-sized hairdryer for those who need a hairdryer and are not staying in a hotel that provides one. (Many hotels in Mexico don’t!).
Seriously, no one loves their travel towel as much as I do. The fun stripes also make it perfect for enjoying a beach trip without feeling like you’re using a travel towel.
Hair products that are specific to your hair type.
Even if you will buy bug spray there, bring some to start your trip!
Tissues, Toilet Paper, or Kleenex (We used baby wipes since we were traveling with a toddler!).
Your Prefered Moisturizer, Night Cream, and Lotions since travel is brutal on your skin.
A Pair of Tweezers
Eye Care items: Everyone should have sunglasses or prescription sunglasses. If you wear contacts, bring your case and solutions, as well as a backup pair if you have one.
If you wear glasses, bring a hard case for storing them. I travel with two pairs of prescription glasses and two pairs of prescription sunglasses.
This is because I’ve lost pairs of glasses twice while traveling, and not having a backup pair is asking for a disaster.
If you will be diving or snorkeling, you can’t wear glasses in the masks so bring disposable contact lenses. You might be able to buy one or two disposable pairs just for this purpose without investing in a complete contact lens routine.
Laundry Detergent Powder if you will be traveling long enough to need to wash clothes in your sink. For me, this is usually if I’ll be gone more than a week. I put some in a ziplock bag to avoid bringing too much.
Something to deal with that special time of the month. If you have to deal with a period on the road, pack whatever you need depending on your preferences.
A Reusable Water Bottle with a Filter if you want to be able to drink the tap water safely.
Do not drink tap water in Mexico unless you use a filtered water bottle! Always use bottled water if you don’t have your own filter.
My entire family got traveler’s belly on our last trip, so be very cautious!
First Aid Kit & Medications
Over-the-counter medication from pharmacies is pretty easy to find, so you don’t need to lug around everything you could need. Just make sure to bring a few basic items.
A basic medicine kit will include:
Your prescriptions, medications, contraception needs, and regular vitamins. (Unless you plan on buying them at Mexican pharmacies).
Anything you take weekly (for me this would be things like antacids).
Your OTC pain medicine of choice. I brought a small bottle of Ibuprofen.
After Bite for mosquito bites (even being extremely careful, you may end up with some if you have to go somewhere at dusk).
Small Baby Oil for sandfly bites. Hopefully, you don’t get sandfly bites (they are the worst!), but if you do you will be so happy you can pull this out ASAP.
A travel-sized First Aid Kit
Bandaids which I used to stave off blisters in Mexico.
Luckily I had them with me! After accidentally stabbing my thumb with my razor in the Lisbon airport and having to pretend like I wasn’t bleeding to death while eating a steak, I vow to never leave home without bandaids.
Sleep aids if you anticipate sleep issues from any time changes, I love having melatonin with me on every trip.
Sea-Band Wristbands if you get motion sickness and will be on boats, golf carts, or winding roads.
What Travel Documents to Bring to Mexico
You won’t need that many items, but there are a few documents you need to bring with you to Mexico.
Your Passport as well as hard and soft passport copies. You need the passport to enter and exit the country, and copies in case you need to work with your embassy in the event your passport is lost or stolen.
Put a hard copy in your luggage and email yourself and someone you trust a soft copy.
I also had a dry bag waterproof passport and cell phone holder that I used to protect my passport at pools, beaches, and hot springs.
Good to Know: If your passport gets wet, you can be refused boarding on your plane.
Your Driver’s License if you plan on renting a car or golf cart.
Vaccination records if you come from a country with a requirement for vaccines like yellow fever. I brought my COVID-19 vaccination card with me just in case.
Scuba Certification if going to scuba dive.
Your Travel Insurance Policy information. For my trip to Mexico, I purchased travel insurance and emailed the policy information to my mother and husband in case they needed to access it on my behalf.
I’ve had several broken phones, a nearly stolen wallet, car rental accidents, etc, so I always prefer to pay for travel insurance just in case I need to use it.
It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be in destinations that are considered more dangerous, like some areas of Mexico (but not all!), or doing outdoor activities like hiking, scuba diving, and swimming.
Money: Cash and Credit Cards
Whenever you travel abroad, money can be one of the biggest concerns. Here’s what you need to bring with you to be able to access your money in Mexico.
Credit Cards & ATM Cards
Bring your credit cards and bank cards as well as a hard copy in case they are lost or stolen, plus email yourself a soft copy just in case.
Your cards have the international toll number for you to call your company if there’s an issue.
You can give your companies a travel notice so they don’t suspect fraud and shut your cards off.
Make sure you bring at least two cards. Never travel with only one account or one card. You never know what can happen on the road.
Make sure your cards don’t have foreign transaction fees. Since I travel so often, I don’t use any credit cards that have this kind of fee. Ask your bank and credit card companies if you are unsure.
I also use Charles Schwab, which reimburses me for ATM fees I pay to other banks. This helped me save money in Mexico because we had to use cash for many things in Holbox!
Since Mexico uses the Mexican Peso (MXN) as its official currency, it’s better to get cash in Mexico from an ATM than bring USD.
Many places take credit cards, but having access to cash is important. Try to take out enough for your first few days before you leave the airport.
I used cash to pay for many expenses where I couldn’t use a credit card, especially in places like Holbox.
I used credit cards at our hotels, many restaurants, and some shops.
You can access ATMs in many towns – but not all towns. Starting with some cash at the beginning will make life easier.
Good to Know: If you do get quoted in USD for prices and have USD on you, you can use it. Just know that things tend to be more expensive when quoted in dollars rather than pesos.
The conversion should be 1 dollar to about 20 pesos, but this is only helpful if you know the price in both currencies!
Many times prices quoted in USD are actually a bad conversion rate, so beware!
Storing Your Money
Alternatively, you can use any wallet if your bag is something like the Pacsafe Citysafe since you can keep your money, passport, and credit cards in the inner pocket that has RFIDsafe technology.
I put a few small bills in the bag’s front pocket to use so I never flashed my cash in public.
I also don’t use a full decoy wallet, but you can make yourself one if you feel more comfortable.
What to Wear in Mexico: Clothing, Shoes, & Accessories
Use this packing list for a week in Mexico and make adjustments as needed. This is what we used, and we stayed in Mexico for two weeks this year.
I’ll admit that I made some Mexico packing mistakes by underestimating how hot the weather would be on the Yucatan Peninsula in February.
The weather in most of Mexico is hot, even oppressive at times, so you will want to plan accordingly.
Average highs are always in the mid-to-high eighties, with temperatures exceeding this often throughout the year.
If you aren’t used to the heat, you might be surprised at how many locals are wearing heavy items of clothing like jeans.
However, unless you grew up in a very hot climate, you’ll be happier in light clothing that breathes.
You also need to plan for the season you are visiting. Mexico has two main seasons – the rainy season from May through October and the dry season from November through April.
The main exception to this is that the northern part of the country is colder than the rest, and experiences almost a full four seasons (similar to southern Texas).
Another thing to consider is that a lot of what you will want for clothing in Mexico depends on the parts of the country you will be visiting.
For example, what to wear in Puerto Vallarta , Playa del Carmen, and Los Cabos is different than what to wear in Mexico City, Merida, and Oaxaca.
So I have recommendations for every kind of trip, and then you can select only the items and amounts that make sense for your ultimate destinations and trip length.
What to Wear in Mexico for Women
This list covers what to bring to Mexico for a week.
Take items off if you’re going for less time than that. Going for more time? You’ll want to do laundry while there.
Women in Mexican villages dress more conservatively than in the cities and beach towns, so you may find that flowy maxi dresses and fuller-coverage swimsuits are more comfortable to travel in so you don’t stand out too much.
However, if you will only be at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, then you don’t need to worry about blending since these resorts are usually removed from the neighboring towns.
Clothing for Mexico
3-4 dresses if you primarily wear dresses when traveling (like me). I was happy in light sundresses that were loose and didn’t stick on me when I was sweaty from the heat.
I brought two tank tops for sleeping in since I wore dresses out every day. If you plan on wearing short sleeve shirts during the day, I would get ones that have a loose fit.
1 light cardigan, jean jacket, or kimono for layering during the day, covering up your arms when visiting churches, and staying warm at night. (You need to have your arms and knees covered when going inside churches).
Even if you’re outside in warm weather, the air-conditioned buildings can get cool at night, so a light jacket is always a good idea!
I brought a cropped denim jacket and it was a great option for on the ground as well as on the plane – which was freezing.
1 rain jacket if traveling during the rainy season
2-3 swimsuits for beach destinations, cenotes, or pools. Pack a swimming suit even if you’re going to be mostly in towns because many hotels have pools.
I felt comfortable in a high-waisted bikini.
If surf lessons are a part of your travel plans, you can ask the surfers at your company if they have any special requirements for what they want you to wear to the beach for your lesson.
1-2 swim cover-ups for the beach, pool, or cenotes. This can be anything from a sarong to a specialized beach cover-up to a regular dress.
I have a black t-shirt racerback dress that doubles as my favorite cover-up during beach vacations!
Shoes for Mexico
You don’t want to overload yourself with shoes in Mexico.
I like to have three options. Two get packed in my suitcase/backpack and one extra can be worn on the plane.
Hiking Shoes with traction for going on waterfall hikes, walking in the jungle to Mayan ruins, volcanoes hikes, or other adventures that require close-toed shoes. I like Columbia for my hiking shoes, but there are several sturdy brands.
Optional: Water Shoes if you will be swimming at rocky beaches.
Pro Tip: for hiking shoes and Birkenstocks, make sure you get them early and break them in. I learned this the hard way. Blister city.
Underwear and Socks
2-4 Bras, Bralettes, or Sports Bra depending on your planned activities
8 pairs of underwear or however many days you will be there plus one extra. Keep the extra pair in your carry-on luggage if you will be checking your suitcase – just in case!
2-3 pairs of bicycle shorts for wearing under dresses and skirts to stop chaffing
2-4 pairs of quick-dry socks for hiking days or days when you need to wear closed-toe shoes
Jewelry and Accessories
You should avoid taking important jewelry with you to Mexico. I don’t travel with expensive jewelry, and I would avoid taking any sentimental irreplaceable jewelry with you.
(I actually lost a wedding band in Cozumel once, and I never found it!).
(I actually left a set behind on the Olympic Peninsula a few months later and I already replaced them).
I also wore two rings from James Avery that I wear every day, but I didn’t take any real jewels or anything expensive.
During my time in Mexico, I bought some locally made jewelry and wore it with the jewelry I brought.
I also wore my old Fitbit watch, which I accidentally lost on my Holbox Bioluminescence tour! I really do lose a lot of jewelry in Mexico.
I wouldn’t take a watch that looks expensive, but maybe something cute like this that won’t be an issue if it doesn’t make it home.
What to Wear in Mexico for Men
Here’s a list for men for packing for a week in Mexico.
If you’re going to be there longer, plan to do laundry. If you’re going to be there for less than a week, take less of each item.
Clothing for Mexico
7-8 lightweight shirts (think tank tops, quick-dry t-shirts, and fabrics that wick)
1 pair of long, breathable pants if you’re going to be hiking
1 tee shirt and shorts for sleeping
Shoes for Mexico
Comfortable Closed-Toed Walking Shoes for hiking and walking around cities and towns.
Optional: Water Shoes if you will be swimming at rocky beaches.
Pro Tip: for hiking shoes and Birkenstocks, make sure you get them early and break them in before your trip.
Underwear and Socks
Jewelry and Accessories
Just like in the section above for women, I would caution you to not take valuable or irreplaceable sentimental jewelry to Mexico.
If you do have personal jewelry that you love, I would take pieces that are replaceable.
A hat for staying out of the sun.
An inexpensive watch (optional).
Mexico Packing Tips for Plus Size Travelers
It’s hard to find Mexican clothing for plus-size bodies in typical shops in Mexico, which is something I have found to be true across Latin America.
I always pack a little more than my peers, because I know I can’t replace my wardrobe mid-trip.
This makes what clothes to bring to Mexico that much more important – because whatever I take is what I’m stuck with for the whole trip!
Our clothing also takes up more room in our bags, so I tend to look like I pack more even when I am packing lighter than other travelers.
I shop Snag Tights for my chub rub shorts (and keep vaseline handy just in case!).
I don’t have recommendations for men’s plus-size travel clothing for Mexico, but beware that they don’t see larger sizes often – even for men.
If you have questions about what to wear in Mexico for plus-size travelers, drop them in the comments and I’ll add my two cents!
Mexico Packing Tips for LGTBQ Travelers
Where I have recommendations for what to wear in Mexico these are organized by gender so that I can link out to specific items, rather than a prescription for how one should dress for gender expression.
I hope you purchase the clothes for your trip that makes you the happiest and most comfortable, regardless of gender and expectations.
I am not an expert on LGTBQ travel in Latin America, so I cannot comment on how safe or unsafe travel is for LGTBQ travelers in Mexico regarding clothing selection or any other matters.
This post from Queer in the World details LGTBQ travel in Mexico in better detail than I can!
What Technology to Bring to Mexico
Here’s the tech that I brought with me to Mexico.
I sometimes travel with a Nikon DSLR, but the combo of my iPhone12 and Sony ZV-1 are more than enough for my needs when I want to travel light.
I don’t travel with extra camera batteries, but if you want your camera to be your go-to and not your phone, it’s a good idea to pack extra batteries.
Computers & Tablets
I didn’t bring a Kindle since I used the Kindle app on my iPad.
We brought my son’s tablet, which was a lifesaver on the plane!
Since I was traveling from the US, and Mexico and the US both use the same electrical outlets, I didn’t need to bring an adaptor.
If you are coming from a country that uses different outlets, you will want to bring a universal adapter.
There are some apps that you will want to have downloaded onto your phone before you leave for your trip.
Google Maps: Download the map for the areas of Mexico that you will be visiting before you leave. This is important for peace of mind in case you can’t access the internet after you arrive.
Skype: Great for calling to get your bank cards unblocked
Facebook Messenger: This is ninety percent of how I communicate these days
Instagram: Because aren’t we all basic at heart?
Adobe Lightroom Mobile: for photo editing
Podcast Addict or other Podcatcher: Looking for travel podcasts to inspire you? These are my favorite travel podcasts
Dropbox Mobile: for backing up cell phone photos
Your Airline’s Mobile App: so you can check in to your flight and check your flight’s status
Your Bank’s App: so you can check if there are issues while you’re out of the country
Guidebooks for Mexico
Lonely Planet Mexico and Lonely Planet Cancun, Cozumel, & the Yucatan are available as paper copies or in a Kindle edition. You typically won’t find major guidebooks once you land, so get yours ahead of time.
I used both of these to plan my last trip to the Yucatan, and I read them cover to cover!
Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary 9 for those traveling to Mexico without a background in Spanish.
Packing Travel Tips for Mexican Hostels
Hostel life can save you money, especially in some of the pricier areas, but make sure you pack everything you need to stay in Mexican backpacker hostels comfortably.
Flip-flops or shower shoes are a necessity. I can’t imagine going to Mexico without flip-flops, but it’s extra important if you’re in hostels using shared showers.
A Quick-Dry Towel because hostels (and even some Airbnbs) don’t provide towels.
A headlamp for accessing your stuff in shared dorms after lights-out.
What Not to Pack for Mexico
Irreplaceable sentimental items
Agricultural products like fruits and vegetables
More than you can comfortably fit in your suitcase/backpack and day bag
Mexico Travel Resources
Central America Travel Guides
Will you be exploring Central America after your trip to Mexico? Check out these Central America travel guides:
Belize Country Guides
Before Your Trip to Mexico – Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
Make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road.
I use Safety Wing on international trips, and I happily recommend them.
It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’ll be enjoying water activities, spending time on beaches, or in towns and cities where petty theft occurs.
If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.