Travel packing tips

What to pack for Mexico: tips for a smart packing list

In BEACHES IN MEXICO, MEXICO, TRAVEL HACKS by Isabella BiavaLeave a Comment

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I hear you girl! Your vacation to Mexico is getting close and you can’t wait to land in paradise and enjoy your time in Mexico.

But you are not sure what’s the best things to pack, what to wear or what you will need.

I am so with you, girlfriend! This is how I feel when I am packing for a new destination. I get so frustrated and I ended up bringing my whole house with me, because you know, just in case!

This is why after living in Mexico for more than 8 years as an Italian expatriate I feel I can help you to pack your bag not only with practical stuff but also with tips on outfit and accessory.

I will tell you E.V.E.R.Y.T.I.H.I.N.G. you need to know about packing for Mexico.

You just have to read through this amazing Mexico packing list that I have thought out for you and follow the lines and then you can print this simplified version of your checklist that you can use in real time while packing.

Disclosure: this is thought just for beach destinations, such as Tulum, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, Baja California to name a few.

It doesn’t apply for colder areas, such as Mexico city in winter for example.

So sit back, buckle up and read on.

Mexico Packing list

If you are also concern about Safety in Mexico check out my recently updated post Is Mexico safe?

TRAVEL ESSENTIAL CHECK LIST

Let’s start from the practical stuff which is also the most essential and we tend to forget.

You might also be interested to know also What happens when you arrive at Cancun airport.

PASSPORT

Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date you travel. They have these rules because the maximum time you are allowed to stay in Mexico is  6 months.

Make a photocopy to take with you when you explore around while leaving your original in your safety box, just in case.

DRIVING LICENSE

Driving in Mexico is easier than you might think. I have written a few travel itineraries that you can follow and a guide on driving in Mexico.

Even if you are not intentioned to rent a car, I would suggest you bring your driving license. You never know, you might get inspired and change your mind. 🙂

CASH

If you are staying in an all-inclusive with everything already paid for you won’t need so much cash, but it’s always advisable to take some with you for markets or souvenir or even if it was just water and snacks or taxi.

In case you are up for an adventure and you are planning to travel around Mexico, and you want to bring more cash I would suggest you should invest a few bucks and grab this money belt so that you can safely keep your money around your waste.

You can still withdraw almost anywhere in Mexico. However, just consider that if you withdraw USD it’s going to cost you a fortune in commissions. So just get what you need in Mexican Pesos and pay by card when you can.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

This is to me adamant! You never know what can happen, no matter how healthy you eat or cautious you are. And Private Hospitals in Mexico are outrageously expensive. I use World Nomad because I was suggested so and I used once. I was happy and feel safe. Remember that they have a deductible of 100 USD and you need to include your plane or bus ticket to the destination to make a claim.

CHECK THE LUGGAGE POLICY OF THE AIRLINE YOU ARE TRAVELING WITH

Don’t make my mistakes. Once, a long time ago, before becoming smarter, I booked an extremely cheap flight without checking the airline policy and I didn’t see that the price was for carry-on only. Once at the airport I had to pay an outrageous amount just to check the bag in.

So, make sure you browse through your airline site and check the baggage policy. Also, make sure to check also the handbags accepted weight and size and that your bags match.

Here are some lovely options if you are in need to purchase a new  carry-on

And on this page, you can purchase a very useful weight scale for bags.

If you want to use your normal scale, you will need to weight yourself (Oh well…) and then do it again while holding your bag.

Then it’s just simple math.

BRING YOUR OWN MEDICINE AND THE PRESCRIPTION ITSELF

This is just for those who are under prescription drugs, it’s safer to take them with you, and considering some extra ones in case your return flight gets delayed. It’s important to bring the prescription itself along, in case of explanation requests at custom.

IF YOU WEAR PRESCRIPTION GLASSES…

Oh, this one is too important, I broke my favorite glasses just like that and if I didn’t have an extra pair I would have had to stay blind for a long time. It doesn’t take a day to make a new pair.

BE READY FOR TSA Check

The TSA is very strict. So, it is less of a hassle to be prepared and know what you can carry and what no through security.

Instead, here is the official TSA page for you to read and make sure you have everything in order.

SUITCASE LOCK

Always advisable to lock your suitcase but make sure it’s TSA approved, for the above reasons.

Get your lock on Amazon.com

DAY CARE AND PRACTICAL ACCESSORIES

Let’s get more into the items you will need once you arrive at the destination.

Life straw bottle

Anywhere in Mexico and mostly all over South America water is not drinkable, and even where they say it is, it’s still not recommendable for foreigners who are not accustomed to local bacterias.

I know by experience. There are many water purifier bottles around. Life straw is not the most complete like you cannot drink water from the lakes after having been filtered with life straw. But it will do with tap water.

Purchase yours on Amazon.com

Portable charger

Always with you to make sure you have your phone always charged, especially with iPhone. I switched to Huawei because I was so tired to have my iPhone battery dead after a few hours, and I love it.

Besides it last more than one day.

But of course, the iPhone is always the iPhone, unbeatable style, no question about that. So you will need a battery charger, if it’s a lipstick-size, even better.

Purchase yours on Amazon.com

Deet-free Mosquito repellent bracelets

Or simply a spray. Mosquito is an issue in tropical countries.  I wrote a post on safety in Mexico where I talk more extensively about health and zika situation in Mexico and other related topics.

In general, protecting you from mosquito bites is always a good move.

Purchase your deet-free spray and bracelets on Amazon.com

Female urination device

I have just found out about this tool, and I still have to try it myself, but I believe that in many of the situations where I have been, it would have been super handy for sure. Especially if you travel around and don’t stay put in your own fancy hotel, this is really a lifesaver.

Purchase yours on Amazon.com

Travel first aid kit

Well, you never know, even a simple cut can catch you unprepared. Not if you have your first aid kit.

Purchase your Travel first aid kit on Amazon.com

Small backpack or day bag

I am sure, and I hope, you won’t stay all the time in your beautiful hotel, if you are going to take day trips, a nice small day bag is what you need, even better if it’s foldable.

This is similar to the one I have purchased on Amazon, just a little more stylish.

Purchase yours on Amazon.com

Contact lens case and solution

If you are wearing contact lenses, a portable case and solution would really be a nice comfortable gadget to bring with you.

I found this cute one on Amazon.com

Earplugs

Well, that depends where you are staying and if hearing noises that are different from your own would annoy you.

If that’s the case you can purchase yours on Amazon.com

Eye Masks

Either on the plane or in your hotel you want to make sure you can find the right ambiance to sleep comfortably, or at least trying to.

Here is a very cute, fancy and very girly one I have found on Amazon.com

Kindle & Kindle Cover

I don’t go anywhere without my kindle. I know what you are thinking, I love books and I prefer to read a “real” book a thousand times more.

But when I travel I just can’t bring my library with me.

Therefore the Kindle is my perfect option.

Besides, I love the fact that I can highlight parts of the book and then have them sent to my email altogether. And that I can read at night without the need to turn the light on. See? there are some perks from using the Kindle as well.  Oh, I was forgetting, the new version is even waterproof.

Purchase yours on Amazon.com

Purchase your Kindle Cover as well on Amazon.com

Journal

I realize how much I love to write a journal, in the morning or evening, maybe not every day, but it’s a great way to organize your thoughts. And even if I have been writing all day at my computer, handwriting my own stream of thoughts is just liberating and relaxing. It doesn’t necessarily apply to travel, but it’s probably easier to start when you are traveling as you are already more relax and you have more time to start a routine that will stick with you when you are home.

I have started writing on a little notebook that a friend of mine gave me when  my journey across South America begun. However, I love the Moleskine, although you can really just grab any book note and start scribbling. That’s what matters.

Grab your Moleskine on Amazon.com

Headphones

Well, if you love to hear your own music or podcast on the beach or on the plane or anywhere you want, it’s nice not to bother your neighbors, who might not be interested. 😉

Grab your headphones on  Amazon.com

Toothbrush cover

Your favorite toothbrush, better if made of bamboo, needs to be protected from external agents, during transport.

Get your toothbrush cover on Amazon.com

Hair and skin care: my secret

Ok now I am going to reveal my beauty secret. As you know I love to go as much natural as possible and I try to avoid chemicals when I know I have a natural substitute.

My secret ingredient here is nothing less than COCONUT OIL. When I found out about it, I never go away without my bottle or vase. What do I use it for?

  • hair – especially if you have crispy hair coconut oil is your best friend. Right after washing your hair, when it’s still wet, just put some oil on your hands and rub your hands for a second then put it gently on your hair especially on the tips. Mind if you put it too close to the skin your hair will appear a little oily when dry. So try to stay closer to the tips. You will see the amazing shiny look and it will smell so good as well.
  • face skin – apply coconut oil during on the skin and massage a few seconds. Leave the oil for at least 10 minutes and pull it off with cotton and warm water. You will see right away how soft the skin gets, but if you do it for at least 2 weeks, you will see the skin brightening up and becoming cleaner and cleaner.
  • body skin – right after showering, rinse your body with hot water so as to facilitate the pores opening up, then just apply coconut oil all over your body, rub as much as you can and then rinse it, better with cold water this time. Dry as usual. You will immediately notice how soft your skin it gets and you won’t need to apply any other creams afterward. I just love it

Grab your coconut oil here on Amazon.com, but make sure it’s raw, not refined.

THE BEACH IS CALLING

BEACH ACCESSORIES

WATERPROOF PHONE CASE

Always useful either if you don’t have a go pro and you like to take pictures under the water or just to protect your phone from water sprinkles during a boat tour of from the sand.

Purchase yours on Amazon.com

SARONG

I always travel with one or two pareos or sarong, I find it super practical and multifunctional. I can use it as a cover-up on the beach, or if I am chilly at a restaurant or on the plane, and more. I would really suggest you should get one or two as well that combine with your swimsuit or your general outfit. I mean, choose the patterns or colors that resonate with you the most.

Here some shopping ideas on Amazon.com

SUNSCREEN

Guys, I cannot stress enough how important is to use sunscreen, pick your favorite brand and put it on your face, shoulder, and body. You will be in the Caribbean or, if you are heading to the Pacific coast, it’s the still in the tropics and THE SUN BURNS! and it ain’t funny when your skin is so red that it hurts, trust me I know.

So here I found on Amazon a product that is 70% organic, they say. I have never heard about this brand and I cannot guarantee, but I am just suggesting. Otherwise, pick your favorite but bring one with you. Even if you are not on the beach, but you are exploring, the sun is still there. Oh, even when it’s cloudy, that’s the best way to get burned.

HAT

Wear a hat. I love hats they can give you such a  fancy look and at the same time, they will protect you from the sun.

Pick your favorite hat here on Amazon.com, or shop some baseball hats, on South Moon Under, one of my favorite online shops.

BEACH BAG

I know I have suggested you in the first chapter to get a foldable backpack for the beach or a day tour. However if you wish to get fancy, and keep a girly look when you hit the beach, I love to use straw beach bags. They have such a rustic boho chic feeling.

Or I also love multicolored big soft bags like this one that I found on Amazon.com that you can use either on the beach but also regularly.

CHECK LIST MEXICO

SUNGLASSES

Important! I have always loved the classic Ray Ban with colored shades like this one, but they are not very protective for your eyes, I reckon. So here you can find more options on South Moon Under website

SNORKEL AND MASK

You will always find mask and snorkel for rent but I have to be honest I am a little picky on this. You never know if they have been washed properly after use. When I can I would rather use my own.

You can certainly buy one in one of the closest diving shops. However, if you wish to go prepared, here is one of my favorite brands, Cressi. It’s a little expensive but you are sure you have good quality.

If you are not into snorkeling and you don’t want to splurge, I have found this cheaper version that includes also a Carry bag, very convenient.

MICROFIBER BEACH TOWEL

If you are staying in a fancy hotel probably they provide you with a top quality beach towel that you can carry with you on a tour, or if you visit a nearby beach. However, it’s not very convenient to carry around a 3 kilos towel, no matter how fancy it is. I find these microfiber beach towels very convenient, cute and super light. And you can use them in many different occasions.

SWIMSUITS

This is the part of the post that I loved writing the most. Looking for my favorite pieces of beach wear made me feel like I am shopping for my own vacation right now. Instead I am getting ready for a hiking trip. The irony! Right?

I am really jealous about your trip to Cancun anywhere on the beautiful Mexican coasts.

For swim suite online shopping I am partnering with South Moon Under as I love their pastel color beach wear, so boho, so romantic.

Here I have picked some of my favorite swim suites for you but there are many more and you can browse them here.

I also love NORDSTROM.COM as they have an ever bigger choice of beach outfit. I especially love their Maxi dresses.

BEACH WEAR AND SUMMER OUTFIT

Traveling to a beach destination you will spend most of your time on the beach or exploring cenotes,if you  go to the Riviera Maya or Cancun I found a couple of websites that match with my boho chic taste: romantic long tunic, or pastel color dresses, or natural linen cover-ups. I am including here a few of my pick but you can browse their shop: South Moon Under, Naked Zebra, Nordstrom.com

You can also find some lovely shoes and flip-flops on South Moon Under shoes page.

ADVENTURE OUTFIT AND ACCESSORIES

But Mexico is not only beautiful beaches, sun, and cocktails by the pool, it’s also adventure, a lot of it. You should make time for at least a couple of visits to the refreshing cenotes and the overwhelming Mayan sites.

Here I am recommending a few items that you will need for the occasion.


Keen – Women’s EVOFIT ONE Water Sandal for Outdoor Adventures

This is my favorite item, if you walk in river or swim in Cenotes and caves where you can’t see the bottom.

Buy yours on Amazon.com


Fulton Cuffed end Denim Short on South Moon Under

Ladies it’s freaking hot there, summer and winter alike, and shorts like this keep you comfortable and fresh. Remember mosquito repellent and sunscreen as well, though.


Get your gym shoes at Nordstrom.com

If you are a sport person you have your own gym shoes which will work perfect with your shorts on a day out exploring the country. In case you need to buy one, I have found a great selection on Nordstorm.com a site that I like for the variety of options you can find. Here is the Athletic shoes page of the shop for you to browse and find your own style.


Ultra Lightweight Packable Backpack Water Resistant Hiking 

A small back pack for your water and valuables is always a convenient item to have. I found this cheap and neat one on Amazon.com, similar to the one I bought, but a little fancier 😉 . I love it because you can fold it when you are not using it and it saves lots of space.

Buy yours on Amazon.com


Columbia Women’s  Adjustable Waterproof Rain Jacket

Even if you are not traveling in the rainy season, it can still rain. So if you are going out exploring on a day trip it’s always advisable to take one of this rain jackets with you. I have chosen this one for you, practical, light, waterproof and you can chose your favorite color.

Buy yours on Amazon.com


WHAT NOT TO TAKE TO MEXICO

LOTS OF CASH

As I mentioned before, it is advisable to bring some cash with you, even if you have booked an all-inclusive and you intend to buy your excursion and pay by credit card.

However, do not carry too much cash. it’s not worth taking the risk. Many shops and restaurants accept credit cards and if in need you can still withdraw some money.

It’s always advisable in this case to get local cash instead of USD because those USD machines will charge you up to 50USD.

In case you are planning to trip around and need more cash, you can grab this awesome money belt for just 11USD

EXPENSIVE JEWELRY

You are beautiful as you are and don’t need all these precious jewelry to call for attention. It won’t be the right kind of attention anyway. Trust me on this. Even if almost every hotel has a safe box in the room, still, it is not advisable to show off your wealth.

HEAVY BOOKS

Yes I know, I love to read real books, much more than on a kindle. But it’s so convenient when you travel that I couldn’t do without it and now it’s my faithful friend.

Although I am carrying a couple of books with me, they are very small and light. Trust me on this.  Now the Kindle is even waterproof.

OMG, I can wait to get the newest version myself.

Grab your kindle here for 149.99$

BULKY CLOTHING

You will need just one warm piece of clothing, for the air conditioning and airplanes where its always freezing.  Or you can get away with a warm shawl that can be used on multiple occasions. And a raincoat, because the rain comes always unexpected, even in the dry season. You don’t need anything heavier than that.

FRUITS AND VEGGIES

You cannot carry any organic product with you. If you wish to carry some for your flight it’s fine, but make sure you are not carrying anything while going through custom in Mexico. It might cost you a huge fine.
SWIMM SUITE

Ok, my friend! I believe I have covered it all. If you think I forgot anything or you have any question please feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Journey on!!

If you are concerned about Safety in Mexico , you can read my comprehensive post “Is it safe to travel to Mexico?” where I cover many different topics, including health and other practical tips.

DON’T MISS MY LATEST ARTICLES, CLICK HERE  TO  SUBSCRIBE TO MY MONTHLY NEWSLETTER. 

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