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We love going on holidays, and we always try to travel as much as possible. But that also means that we know how stressful travel preparations can be.

Especially the packing. What if you forget something? What if you bring too much and your luggage is so heavy you need to pay extra at the airport? How do you even know what you need?

If you’re packing for Mexico, this list can help you find answers to all of the above questions and help you avoid common packing mistakes. You can find many packing lists for Mexico out there, but we have actually been to the country multiple times and have tried and tested this list.

Whether you need a Cancun packing list, a packing list for Mexico City or a packing list for an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, we have you covered. Mexico is a highly diverse country, but we will help you pack so you can explore all climate zones.

And if you’re only staying in one region? Then we’ll let you know what you can leave at home.

So keep reading to find out exactly what to bring on vacation to Mexico.

Mexico Packing List

The pyramid at Chichen Itza

Bags

#1 Daypack

When you’re putting together a list of what to pack for Mexico, you’re probably thinking about all of the items you need to put inside your luggage.

But what about the luggage itself? The first question you need to answer is what kind of bags you want to take to Mexico. Depending on your needs, you’ll have to choose between a suitcase and a backpack, travelling with hand luggage only or checking in your bags.

Are you wondering what to take on the plane? Then check out our long-haul flight essentials that should be in everyone’s hand luggage!

No matter what you decide, you need to remember to take a daypack.

If you’re travelling all-inclusive, your packing list for Mexico doesn’t necessarily need to include a fancy daypack. You can opt to bring your handbag, a beach tote bag or a foldable backpack.

But if you’re planning on exploring the country, then make sure to bring a good daypack. Daniel and I both travel with an Osprey Talon 22. It’s a backpack for men, but since I’m pretty tall, it fits me better than most daypacks for female travellers.

Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

For women, Osprey has a similar model called the Tempest 20. Both are pretty much the same, except that the Tempest is a bit smaller.

What we both love about our Osprey daypack is the excellent net at the back. Temperatures in Mexico can get pretty hot during the day, so if you wear a backpack, your back will get sweaty. The Osprey Talon improves air circulation at your back with a net, so you will keep cool even on the hottest days.

Click here to get your daypack now!

#2 Packing cubes

The second item on this list that relates to packing for Mexico is a set of good packing cubes.

I have to admit that I always thought they weren’t necessary – until I bought a set for Daniel. Packing cubes are amazing for keeping your luggage organised. You can sort your clothes into multiple cubes to keep your dirty laundry away from everything else.

You can store your electronics together, and you don’t have to search through your luggage for ages if you need your phone charger or fresh socks.

Packing cubes can really make a difference, especially for longer trips.

Street in Campeche

A good set of packing cubes has cubes of different sizes, ideally with a mesh so you can see what’s inside the cube. Packing cubes should also be light, so they don’t add to the weight of your luggage.

The eBags light packing cubes fulfil all those requirements, which is why we use them and highly recommend them.

Take a look at them now on Amazon!

Essentials & documents

#3 Passport

The most essential item that you have to add to your pack list for Mexico is your passport. You likely won’t be able to enter the country without it.

Double-check your passport’s validity a few weeks before your trip to make sure it’s not expired. For many nationalities, Mexico requires a passport that is valid for at least six months after entry into the country.

Also, depending on your nationality, you might need a visa for Mexico. Many countries don’t, but before your trip, you should double-check if you need to apply for one in advance. The easiest way to do so is by going to the website of the Mexican embassy/consulate in your country.

#4 Credit/debit card and emergency money

Out of all the things to pack for Mexico, your credit card is one of those items that is almost as essential as your passport.

Just like with the passport, you should double-check that your card is still valid. Also, double-check with your bank to let them know that you’re travelling abroad. Otherwise, they might block your card when you try to use it in Mexico.

Zipline in Yucatan

In addition to your credit (or debit) card, make sure to carry some emergency money with you. We like to take US dollars in a mint condition, as those are accepted almost anywhere in the world. If you ever have problems with your card, you can always use that emergency cash to pay while you sort out your problems.

For storing my emergency cash, I use my Eagle Creek money belt. It’s silk, so it’s very smooth, and if you only put a few notes in there, you can barely notice it underneath the clothing.

Also, unless we’re moving from one place to another, we leave any cash we don’t need in our hotel safe. That way, we don’t need to worry about it while we’re out and exploring Mexico.

In addition to a credit card and some emergency cash, I like to carry an emergency credit card. I never had to use it so far, but I think it’s very reassuring to have it with me if my primary card doesn’t work anymore or gets lost.

I usually carry that card in a bra stash. The bra stash is a tiny pocket that you can attach to your bra. It’s just big enough to hold a credit card, and it’s invisible underneath your clothes.

Even though I never felt unsafe in Mexico, I find it reassuring to know that no matter what happens, I have this emergency credit card safely stored on me.

Click here to take a look at the bra stash and get your own!

#5 Travel documents

Before you leave on your Mexico vacation, make sure you have all of your travel documents easily accessible. This includes your plane tickets, hotel reservations, reservations for any tours, buses or ferries etc.

colourful Merida sign

Usually, it’s enough to have those documents electronically. Make sure to download them, so you have access even if you don’t have internet!

We also like to print the most essential documents, so we don’t run into any problems if we ever run out of battery or have a problem with our phones.

#6 Travel insurance

While it’s not a physical object, travel insurance is another essential item to add to your list if you’re wondering what to bring to Mexico.

We were lucky so far and never got sick in Mexico. However, Daniel had appendicitis while we travelled through Japan. He needed emergency surgery and spent 11 days in the hospital while having a few complications along the way.

Ilona sitting on a swing in the water in Isla Holbox, Mexico

If we hadn’t bought travel insurance, we would have needed to pay around $20,000 to the hospital, preferably in cash. Fortunately, our insurance took care of everything. They even refunded the international calls I had to make to contact them, plus the taxi we had to take to go to the hospital.

And this was just appendicitis. Now imagine how much you might have to pay if something more serious happens to you on your vacation.

Travel insurance, therefore, needs to be on everyone’s checklist for travelling to Mexico.

Depending on your policy, travel insurance might cover much more than just medical expenses. It can help you out if you lose your luggage or if you break your equipment. Popular insurance companies include WorldNomads, Safety Wings and Allianz Travel, but make sure to compare policies to find the best one that fits your needs.

#7 Prescription medication

Do you regularly take any prescription medication? Then make sure to add it to your packing list for Mexico.

Buying prescription medication abroad can be complicated. You might need to see a doctor to get your prescription. The drugs you usually take might not be available in Mexico.

Before you leave your home country, it is best to double-check with your doctor at home. They can let you know how much medication you should take (and also tell you if you need any special forms for customs), and they can also help you put together a small kit with emergency medication.

Street art on Isla Holbox Mexico

Plus, your doctor is your first point of contact to find out if you require any special vaccination for travelling to Mexico.

Clothes

#8 T-shirts

Now that we have the most important Mexico travel essentials out of the way let’s talk about which clothes you should take.

No matter if you’re packing for Cancun or for a trip to Mexico City, you will need to bring along some t-shirts.

As Mexico is a large country, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the climate varies, and you need to adapt your packing list. Cancun is pleasantly warm all year long, while Mexico City can get colder in winter, especially at night.

The best way to deal with these temperature differences is to carry layers. Take a few t-shirts that combine well with other layers.

Ilona enjoying the view in Uxmal

Ideally, your shirts are also breathable and light, so you don’t get too hot in Mexico’s south. We also usually take clothes that dry quickly, so we can wash them when needed. No matter how long we travel, we like to keep our luggage light, and doing laundry along the way helps us achieve this.

#9 Trousers / skirts

Besides t-shirts, you also need to pack trousers. Here, what to take to Mexico depends on your trip.

Are you flying to Yucatan and want to spend your days in an all-inclusive resort? Then take some shorts and maybe a skirt or two.

On the other hand, if you’re planning to travel across the country and visit Mexico City, especially in winter, you will need to pack long trousers.

To keep your luggage light, we recommend not taking any jeans. They are heavy, dry very slowly, and you won’t need them. Instead, go for any light trousers that you own.

The sea at Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Two pairs of long trousers are usually enough, as you can wash them along the way. Plus, in many parts of Mexico, the weather is warm enough that you can get away with wearing shorts.

#10 Light jacket

Remember how we talked about wearing layers? The next item to add to your Mexico pack list is a light jacket or a jumper.

Make sure it has a colour that combines well with the rest of your clothes. If you’re going in winter and plan to spend a lot of time in colder regions, you could also consider taking two or three light jackets.

In the warmer regions, stick to just one jacket if you want to keep your luggage light.

#11 Rainjacket

Depending on when you travel to Mexico, you will experience rain. It might last for an hour or two, or you could be unlucky and have a few days of rain in a row.

Therefore, you should always take either a rain jacket or a rain poncho with you.

Tulum ruins

What kind of rain jacket is right for you will depend on your budget. We love to travel light, so I bought an expensive but very light jacket from Tierra Backup. Daniel used to own an Outdoor’s Research rain jacket, which he absolutely loved until someone stole it.

As an alternative to a rain jacket, you could also take a rain poncho. You can get the cheapest models on Amazon for a few dollars, though most of them are disposable.

If you want to help protect Mexico’s beautiful nature, consider getting a reusable rain poncho instead. It’s more durable and even looks more stylish than the one-time-use ones.

Click here to get your reusable rain poncho now!

#12 Nice clothes

With the above items, you already have a few things to bring to Mexico. We recommend adding one nice outfit to your list.

It’s ok to wear functional clothes while exploring the ruins of Chichen Itza. However, if you go out to a nice restaurant in the evening, you might want to wear something nice.

This could be a smart-looking shirt, a nice dress or whatever else you prefer wearing.

Cenote Ik Kil

On that note, if you’re a woman, consider not just taking a nice dress but also a light dress to wear at the beach. It’s one of the best things to pack for Cancun, especially if you’re planning on staying at the beach multiple days. But light dresses are also great in any other part of the country, whether you’re exploring historic sites or Mexican pueblos.

#13 Underwear

It goes without saying that underwear needs to be on your packing list for a vacation to Mexico.

Remember that you can always wash your underwear along the way. We always do so when we travel for longer than a week.

Also, packing cubes come in very handy for separating your used from your fresh underwear, so if you don’t have any, consider buying some.

#14 Nightwear

One of the items I forget the most often are my pyjamas. I don’t even know why, but I always forget to add them to my luggage.

Don’t make the same mistake as me. What kind of pyjamas you want to take depends on your preferences, though we recommend something light, so you don’t get too hot at night.

The sea and the lagoon on Cozumel Island, Mexico

#15 Flip flops or sandals

Make sure to add a pair of flip flops or sandals to your packing list for your Mexico vacation. They don’t need to be fancy or anything special, just make sure you’re comfortable in them.

#16 Walking shoes

In addition to a pair of flip flops, Daniel and I always carry a pair of good walking shoes. They are amongst the important packing essentials for Mexico, especially if you’re planning to explore some of the country’s ancient ruins.

I have climbed up the stairs of Teotihuacan in flip flops before, so I know it’s doable. I also know it’s much easier and much more comfortable with a pair of good walking shoes.

When I travelled to Mexico, I used to own a pair of Nike sneakers. They were perfect for all activities, no matter if I was walking through Mexico city, hiking or exploring Chichen Itza.

Signpost on Cozumel Island in Mexico

In fact, they were so good that I travelled with them for 13 months all around the world.

Eventually, I had to swap them out and now own a pair of Sketchers trainers that I love. Once again, the shoes are comfortable and perfect for walking.

Click here to buy your own Sketchers for your trip to Mexico!

Also, don’t forget the socks. You don’t need anything fancy here, just a few socks to wear in your sneakers.

#17 Swimsuit

Your swimsuit is one of the most important things to bring to Cancun and any other area where you can find a beach.

Beach on Cozumel Island, Mexico, seen from the water

Consider taking two if you know you’re going to spend a lot of time at the beach. That way, you can wear one pair while the other one dries.

Toiletries

#18 Daily essentials

Remember to add all of your daily-used toiletries to your packing checklist for Mexico. You’ll need a toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, razor, deodorant and any other cleaning and care products you use on a daily basis.

We like to refill our liquids into travel-sized bottles. That way, they’re easier and less heavy to carry.

Plus, buying bottles of the correct size is essential if you’re only taking hand luggage. Therefore, make sure to buy your travel-sized bottles now.

#19 Insect repellent

When you’re thinking about what to take on vacation to Mexico, don’t forget to add insect repellent to your list.

Mosquito bites are not just annoying, they can also become dangerous. Both malaria and dengue fever are endemic to some regions of Mexico, and if you don’t protect yourself against mosquitos, you risk catching those diseases.

Some of the most powerful insect repellents contain DEET. The higher the DEET content, the more effective the spray gets.

Ilona sitting on the stairs of a temple in Uxmal

But be aware that DEET in high concentration is not very good for your skin, and it can also melt away plastic. I once touched my GoPro after applying insect repellent, and I can still see my fingerprints on my casing. Therefore, for Mexico, we recommend buying a spray with 30% DEET, like this one.

Are you going to spend a lot of time in Mexico’s jungle? Then you should consider buying a spray with higher DEET content. Also, make sure to check out our jungle packing list!

A great alternative to DEET is a spray with picaridin. Those sprays are very popular in Germany, so I used them often during my travels and was always happy with how well they worked.

Unfortunately, I developed an allergy and now have to use sprays with DEET. If I still had a choice, though, I would always go for one with picaridin. Click here to check it out on Amazon and buy it for your next trip.

#20 Sunscreen and sunglasses

Another essential item for your Mexico packing checklist is sunscreen.

When buying sunscreen, make sure that you get a brand that is reef-safe. Some destinations in Mexico have already banned non-biodegradable sunscreens, and I’m sure that many places around the world will follow.

Especially if you’re planning on spending a few days at the beach, you’re going to need sunscreen with a high protection factor. Make sure it’s also water-resistant, so it doesn’t wash off the moment you go into the sea.

Street in Merida

This sunscreen ticks all of the boxes if you’re looking for SPF 30, and this sunscreen is perfect if you want SPF 50.

We think that higher protection is better to protect you from sunburns and to keep your skin from ageing, so click here to get your reef-safe SPF 50 sunscreen now!

#21 Laundry detergent

We already mentioned above that we sometimes wash a few items on our trips. It’s so much easier to travel with light luggage and rinse a few t-shirts in the sink than haul around a heavy suitcase.

To keep our clothes clean, we always carry a small bottle of laundry detergent. The Sea to Summit laundry wash is perfect for this purpose. It’s a concentrate, so it lasts forever. It’s also biodegradable, so it doesn’t harm the environment.

Click here and buy a bottle for your trip to Mexico!

Electronics

#22 Chargers and adapters

Whether you’re packing for Cancun, Mexico City or anywhere else in the country, make sure not to forget your chargers. You’ll likely need a phone charger, but you also need to remember to pack chargers for any other electronic devices you carry, like a camera, a portable charger etc.

A sea turtle at Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Mexico uses the same outlets as the US and Canada, so you likely won’t need to carry an adapter if you come from any of those countries. Be aware, though, that three-pronged outlets are difficult to find, so you will still need to take an adapter for any plugs with three pins.

If you come from a country that uses different plugs or are unsure whether yours will fit, you need to take an adapter. Fortunately, you can easily buy an international adapter that works no matter where you go.

Good models even have the option to plug in USB cables, so go and buy one now!

#23 Camera

You are travelling to a beautiful country, so one of the most important things to take to Mexico is a camera.

Depending on your preferences, this could be your phone camera. Most phones have very decent cameras these days, so you don’t necessarily have to take anything else.

Ruins in Chichen Itza

If you want to invest in a better camera, you have lots of options. You can buy a compact camera, a mirrorless camera or a DSLR camera.

I shot most of the pictures you see in this post with a Sony Cybershot RX100. It’s a fantastic compact camera, and I love it for being very light.

Daniel and I also both own Sony mirrorless cameras. The quality of the pictures is superb, and I love that we can exchange the lens. That way, we can take whichever one fits our needs best.

Are you interested in the Sony A7III mirrorless camera, which we use? Then check out our favourite lenses for this camera.

#24 Portable charger

When you’re making a list of what to take to Mexico for vacation, don’t forget to add spare batteries and a portable charger.

If you’re taking a camera, we always recommend that you pack a pair of spare batteries. If you’re taking your phone, we suggest getting a power bank.

Cenote in Valladolid

There’s nothing more annoying than standing in front of the giant pyramid of Chichen Itza and missing out on the photo opportunity because you ran out of battery.

Daniel and I always carry a tiny portable charger. It’s light and fits into any pocket. Plus, it lasts long enough to charge both of our phones.

In addition, we also have a larger power bank. It’s a bit more heavy, but it lasts much longer than the tiny one, and we can charge our phones many times before we have to recharge. This is especially great if you’ll be out the whole day and your phone’s battery is already a bit weak.

Be prepared and buy a portable charge now for your trip!

#25 E-reader

While it’s fun to explore an unknown country or region, it’s also great to relax on your holidays.

That’s why I love taking an e-reader with me. I own a Kindle, which I carry on all of my trips. It works well even at the beach, and I couldn’t imagine my holidays without it. Click here to take a look at the latest Kindle and buy it!

Street art on Isla Holbox, Mexico

Another great addition to your Mexico trip packing list is a simple deck of playing cards. They are entertaining, you can play lots of games with them, and they’re always great if you meet other travellers. Nothing’s better than bonding over a few rounds of cards!

#26 Underwater camera (optional)

If you’re planning to spend a lot of time at the beach or enjoy snorkelling and scuba diving, you should consider investing in an underwater action camera.

I own a GoPro, and even though my model is already a few years old, it still takes great photos. The latest GoPro version is even better, and it has lots of useful features and insanely high resolution for photos and videos.

If you think that the GoPro is too expensive, you’re in luck. Fortunately, lots of affordable models have come out in the past years. The Akaso Brave 4, for example, receives excellent reviews and is much cheaper than a GoPro.

Click here if you want to check it out yourself!

Other

#27 Towel

Are you planning on staying in a beach resort and don’t want to explore any other beaches in the country? Then you won’t need this item.

Everyone else should add a towel to their packing list for a Mexico trip. The best ones to take are microfibre towels because they pack up very small and are light and easy to carry.

I love my Lifeventure microfibre towel because it’s one of the best microfibre towels I’ve ever had. It still doesn’t feel like a real towel (microfibre ones never do), but it comes closest. Unfortunately, it is so popular that it runs out of stock from time to time and is not always available.

Flamingos in Mexico

In that case, the Rainleaf microfibre towels provide a decent alternative. We haven’t tried them ourselves, but they receive excellent ratings and come in many sizes and colours. They’re very absorbent and dry quickly. Perfect for a day at the beach!

Click here to get your microfibre towel now on Amazon!

#28 Water bottle

We always carry a reusable water bottle with us when we travel, and we think you should also add one to your travel list for Mexico. You can then buy large canisters of water to refill your bottle and don’t have to rely on buying lots and lots of small plastic bottles.

We love our collapsible Platypus bottle. It shrinks as we drink from it, so it never takes more space than it needs to. Platypus bottles come in many different sizes, so it’s up to you to decide whether you prefer a 1-litre or 2-litre bottle.

Click here to buy your Platypus bottle now!

#29 Waterproof bag

Are you travelling to Mexico during the rainy season? Are you planning on taking any expensive electronics that you wouldn’t want to lose?

View of the Central Square and Cathedral in Merida

Then we recommend taking a waterproof bag. I lost a camera in the jungle before when heavy tropical rain surprised me. Even though I had hidden my camera at the bottom of my (waterproof) backpack, it got soaked.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to carry a dry bag. You can also look into rain covers for your daypack. They are not quite as safe as a dry bag but nevertheless prevent most water from getting in.

Click here to buy your dry bag now!

#30 Steripen (optional)

We don’t recommend drinking tap water in Mexico. Instead, as we said above, buy a large canister of water and refill your bottle with it.

If you are ever unsure about the quality of the water, though, or if you prefer to treat the tap water to avoid plastic waste, you should look into a Steripen. It uses UV light to sterilise the water, and it’s super simple to use.

You stick it into the water, press a button, slightly stir the water and wait until the timer goes off. Done.

Click here to buy your Steripen now!

#31 Snorkelling gear (optional)

Are you planning on spending a lot of time at the beach? Do you love exploring the underwater world? Then you should consider bringing your own snorkelling gear.

Snorkelling gear isn’t one of the Mexico vacation essentials, as you can also rent it. It’s nice to have, though, if you primarily came for the beaches or if the thought of renting a snorkel doesn’t appeal to you.

Swimming in the waters at Isla Cozumel, Mexico

You can easily buy a mask and a snorkel and bring them with you. In theory, you could even take your own fins, though they are so bulky and heavy that we don’t recommend this. Swim without them for a bit or try to rent them instead.

Click here to buy your own snorkelling gear now!


With the list above, you should now know exactly what to take on a trip to Mexico. Even if it seems like a lot at first, keep in mind that we listed all the small items, so you don’t forget about them.

Have we forgotten anything that you think is essential? Then please leave us a comment below!

Otherwise, make sure to check out our other Mexico content. We have a few posts about Mexico and Central America that you’ll find helpful for planning your trip.

Until your next adventure!

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Author

Ilona is a world traveller passionate about sharing her experiences and giving advice to fellow travellers. Having visited over 70 countries, she is always excited about her next trip.

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