Traveling to Mexico and need to work out what to pack? Mexico is diverse and your Mexico packing list is really going to depend on where in Mexico you will be traveling to.
In this Mexico packing list, I’ve covered what you should pack depending on where you are traveling to. Mexico does have seasons. So if you are visiting during the winter you will need to take this into account. Even the Caribbean side where you find Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum get chilly in the winter.
Feel free to use the links below to skip to the relevant sections you need.
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What to wear inMexico
It’s pretty impossible to tell you exactly what you should and shouldn’t wear in Mexico. But what I can do if offer you some first-hand observations and share with you how I pack and dress in these particular areas that you will be traveling to.
In general, outside of the coastal areas of Mexico, you will find people dress more conservatively. This means that even though it can be super hot you may feel more comfortable dressing in lightweight trousers and tops than denim hotpants and a crop top. You will stand out a lot less doing this. In the coastal areas though it’s totally normal to be wearing short shorts and a bikini top.
As someone who lives here, I wouldn’t personally walk down the street in my shorts and a bikini top. However, it’s very normal to see tourists dressed like this. They often just wander the streets in a bikini and cover-up. As I said, it’s normal to see, but you will look like a tourist and us locals don’t do this generally.
Also at the end of the day, dress how YOU feel comfortable, just because I choose not to wear hotpants and a crop top in Chapas doesn’t mean you shouldn’t if you are comfortable doing so.
What to wear in Cancun and Playa del Carmen
Normal rules don’t really apply here in the Riviera Maya. You can pretty much wear what you want. Obviously, if you are planning to spend al your time in an all-inclusive resort in Cancun then you are going to need to pack lots of more formal outfits as you are expected to ‘dress for dinner’.
But for everyone else, wear what you like! I pretty much live in denim hotpants and cute t-shirts or crop tops. In the evenings I generally wear dresses with shorts underneath for salsa dancing. But during the winter I will wear my jeans out in the evening.
Flip flops are a staple here and dressed up shoes are normally just a nicer pair of flip flops or some cute sandals. If you are planning on doing some activities then you might want to include some travel sneakers like these, which are perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and exploring Mayan ruins.
Pack for heat here! Cool cotton and quick-drying fabrics as it is very humid! Pack plenty of bikinis and coverups!
There are lots of mosquitos so do bring long cotton trousers to wear in the evenings to protect yourself a bit.
Outside of the resorts, there is no dress code here in the Riviera Maya. Anything goes on a night out here. If I’m with a group of friends we will all be dressed very differently. One in denim hotpants and a T with sneakers, one is a cute dress with make-up on, and another wearing jeans and heels. Wear whatever you like so long as you feel good!
If you don’t want to look like a tourist and prefer to blend it, then don’t wander down the street wearing just your bikini.
What to wear in Tulum
Tulum has slightly different rules than the rest of the Riviera Maya… should you choose to play by them of course!
Personally I don’t really, but sometimes it’s nice to play dress up. Tulum attracts a slightly different crowd (we like to call them the Tuluminati) and it has a much more boho-chic hippy vibe. I’ve put together a couple of Tulum style outfits so you can see what I’m talking about.
Of course, like I said you can dress how you want here but if you plan on going to the electronic beach parties then you might want to pack a couple of cute Tulum outfits.
What to wear in Mexico City (CDMX)
In Mexico City, most people will be wearing jeans and a T-shirt in the summer and a jumper in the winter. If you want to blend in packing a mix of jeans and trousers with a couple of cute dresses and a skirt. Sandles are ok in the summer, but cute sneakers are more normal in summer and winter.
What to wear in Pueblos
In general, Mexico is pretty warm so you are going to want to pack cool, lightweight clothing that travels well. Pack a mix of colors, patterns and neutral clothing. Personally I always go for more colors in Mexico, it’s just that kind of place.
What To Wear In Beach Towns
In Mexican beach towns, you can pretty much wear the same as in the Riviera Maya. Anything goes!
That said some of them are more conservative away from the beach, so put on a beach coverup when you are wandering around the town.
What To Pack For Activities In Mexico
I wanted to add in a little extra info for you if you are planning to do some more adventurous things while in Mexico.
You will need some good hiking boots or quick-dry shoes like these. I would also strongly advise you to take a dry bag to protect all of your things from the water if you are heading to the coast. You are also going to need a lot of good bug spray and quick-drying clothing.
There is great surf in Mexico, check out my surfing packing list for the extra things you should pack for surfing.
I have also written many guides on scuba diving in Mexico as well as this scuba diving packing list so you know what extras to pack.
Mexico Travel essentials
First things first, you are going to need some solid insurance. If you don’t believe me then read this. I personally use SafetyWing Digital Nomads Insurance which is an ongoing policy that just renews each month. But before that, I used World Nomads who are the company I would highly recommend if you are backpacking.
Does anyone actually leave home without sunglasses? I personally always travel with 2 pairs. One for day to day use that I normally just throw in my bag. Then a second pair that are a bit nicer which I wear when I want to take some nice pics for the gram. I always get my sunglasses from Glassesshop or Knockaround as they are good quality, have UV protection, and are really reasonably priced.
Reusable Water Bottle
In most cities in Mexico, it is not possible to drink tap water. Most places will have big bottles of water though so having a good reusable water bottle is essential in Mexico so you can just fill up. If you do want to drink the tap water then get a water bottle with a filter like this for peace of mind
Not so essential in Mexico City, but travel to Holbox, or anywhere in the Riviera Maya and you will need a bucket full!
Luggage for Mexico
It’s totally up to you if you prefer a backpack or a suitcase. Personally when traveling in Mexico I opt for a suitcase these days, but if you are planning on doing a lot of bus travel and planning on visiting some of the smaller pueblos or beach towns, then you might want to opt for a backpack instead.
For example, Holbox is somewhere that I would never travel to with a suitcase as the roads are terrible;e and even worse when it rains. My things are much safer on my back, and you can’t pull a suitcase there anyway.
If you plan on covering a lot of ground then I would personally suggest a 65L backpack and a dry bag backpack as your main two bags. Then have a small daypack that can easily be packed when traveling. I’ve added images and links for the luggage I have tried and tested in Mexico bellow.
If security is a concern for you then I highly recommend getting in Pacsafe backpack for added security and peace of mind. I also wrote this blog post on the best digital nomad backpacks and this one about carry on luggage, just in case they are useful to you.
You are also going to need some packing cubes to help keep all of you things organized (and squeeze in a few extra items of clothing). Plus a good laundry bag, toiletry bag, and of course a shopping bag.
Other Useful Things to Pack for Mexico
Over the years backpacking the world I’ve got packing down to a fine art and I have some essential items in my backpack that you might not think of. So here are some things you are going to need that you might not think of!
Laundry Soap and a Nail Brush – Unless you want to be doing laundry every few days, it’s best to just wash out your underwater in the shower each night. To do this I always travel with a bar of laundry soap and a nail brush. It also comes in handy to clean off marks and stains from clothes you are washing.
A Travel Washing Line – I love mine, it’s so handy and takes up no room at all.
A Sewing Kit – When you are traveling sometimes you need to make-do-and-mend.
Carabiner clips – So useful for attaching things to your backpack!
Head torch – Equally as useful for camping as it is for reading in bed, or trying to find your way home in the dark.
Ear Plugs – If you are planning on staying in hostels you are going to need these!
A Whistle – I know many people worry about safety and want to protect themselves. I like to carry a whistle just in case I need to pull attention. It might not be as effective as pepper spray, but as that is illegal to fly with too many countries, this is a good alternative.
Silk Sleeping Bag Liner – Another thing that doesn’t take up so much room, but will give you a lot of peace of mind if you need it. Sometimes you might either find yourself chilly or just not wanting to sleep in the bedsheets. So hopping inside a sleeping bag liner helps you get a good night’s sleep, wherever you are…
Umbrella – If you are traveling somewhere tropical it’s likely to rain, but still be hot. Having an umbrella in your bag will keep you dry without making you feel like you will collapse from heat exhaustion!
A padlock – I recommend getting one of these locks so you don’t need to worry about keys. They are TSA approved so you can use them to lock your luggage when flying as well as using it to lock your locker at the hostel.
USD – I always keep an emergency $50 USD hidden somewhere, just in case. USD is the most widely accepted currency, but you will need to ensure the notes are clean and crisp. Many places won’t accept them if they are marked at all.
A sarong – I never travel anywhere without at lease 2 sarongs. I use them to replace my towel, hang over my bed in a hostel for privacy. Wrap around my hair when it’s wet, sunbathe on… I could go on and on. I even make a dress out of mine when I’m at the beach.
Spice Bag – If you are planning to do some cooking then I recommend making a spice bag so you don’t end up wasting lots of money or herbs and spices, or eating bland food for the whole of your trip. I put my spices into ziplock bags and then keep them in one of these clear bags.
Ziplock Bags – I know, I know, more plastic. But they do come in really handy when traveling and you can wash and reuse them so you aren’t throwing them away.
Coffee Flask – Great for keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. It also saves you having to use disposable cups when you buy a takeaway coffee.
Clothing to Pack for Mexico
You can see my full Mexico packing list here on Amazon, and you can also download my free Mexico packing list here. So I’m going to try and keep this section brief.
For the pueblos – You will need cool clothing for the summer, and layers for the winter. Pack clothing suitable for hiking and horseback riding like these leggings and this t-shirt. Hiking boots are great if you plan of hiking, but I got by with these travel shoes (which I’m obsessed with). You will need a coat here, something like this one.
If you are planning on doing some scuba diving then check out this essential diving gear to pack list.
For salsa dancing I recommend these shoes as they are lightweight, go with everything, and they look cute,
Toiletries to Pack for Mexico
You can very all of the travel toiletries I recommend here on this Amazon list. Many things you can actually buy in Mexico easily, so I wouldn’t stress too much about buying a lot of toiletries to travel with. But there are some things that are harder to get hold of and expensive in Mexico, so I always try and travel with my own.
Technology to take to Mexico
If you are stressing about taking your smartphone to Mexico, don’t. Most Mexicans do have smartphones, so you aren’t going to stand out having one too.
Here are some digital things I’d recommend packing for Mexico.
Smart Phone – If you don’t want to take your fancy iPhone traveling, then this is a great phone with a very good camera for under $300. It’s what I personally have and shoot a lot of my vlogs on.
Camera and Tripod – I travel with this DSLR but I also have this mirrorless camera which I often take if I want to use something more discreet. I also love this tripod as I can use it with all of my cameras (even my phone), plus it’s small and light enough to fit in my daypack.
Books to Read in Mexico
Book your trip now
Are you ready to book your trip? To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.
- Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
- Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
- Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
- Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
- Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
- Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
- Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
- RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
- Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
- World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
- SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
- Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
- Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.