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What to Pack for Mexico

Find out what to take and what to leave behind.


Deciding what items to take with you on your vacation (and what to leave behind), is an important part of good travel planning. The climate of your destination, the activities you plan to participate in, and the duration of your trip will determine what you should pack. Resist the temptation to pack non-essential items. You will probably be able to find any things you may need in Mexico, though perhaps not the brand names you are used to.

If you're traveling by air keep in mind there are some things you may not be able to bring in your carry on. Check the airline regulations about your luggage allowance and the TSA regulations for what's allowed in carry-on.

Consider the climate of your destination. Many people assume that the weather in Mexico is hot all the time, but this is not the case. Locations at high altitudes such as Mexico City, Toluca and San Cristobal de las Casas can be quite chilly at certain times of the year.

At beach destinations casual clothing is generally acceptable whereas in Mexico's colonial cities somewhat more formal dress is the norm. Avoid short shorts and halter tops in Mexico's inland destinations.

Here is a list of things you may consider taking with you. This packing list should be used only as a general guide. Don't take every item on this list; determine what you will need based on the considerations mentioned.

Besides your suitcase or backpack/duffel bag, you should also have a day pack or shoulder bag to carry snacks, bottled water, maps, a camera, and anything else you may need on your excursions. A money belt is a good idea to keep your documents and money on you while traveling, but do make use of your hotel safe when you can. Pack an extra light-weight bag if there's a chance you may purchase handicrafts or other souvenirs.

Money and Documents:

  • Cash
  • Credit and/or debit cards
  • Passport or other form of WHTI-compliant ID (if traveling by land)
  • Drivers license
  • Airline tickets, hotel reservation and car rental info
  • Health and travel insurance documents
  • Travel itinerary (also leave a copy with someone at home)

Depending on the length of your trip, either bring an outfit for each day, or plan to do laundry. It's easy to find laundromats and dry cleaning service in Mexico.

  • Bathing suit(s)
  • Pants, jeans and shorts
  • T-shirts, tops and blouses or dress shirts
  • Skirts or dresses
  • Belts, scarves and accessories
  • Underwear, bras and socks
  • Pyjamas

No matter your destination you should take comfortable walking shoes or sandals. Other shoes you may consider taking depending on your destination and planned activities include:

  • Sneakers
  • Dress shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • Water shoes

Protection from the elements:

  • Sweater (even if you're traveling to a hot destination, you'll probably want a sweater for air-conditioned spaces)
  • Light windbreaker or jacket
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain gear if traveling during rainy season

Toiletries, Medication and Personal Items:
If traveling by air you may take three-ounce bottles of liquids and gels in carry-on, the rest should go in your checked luggage.

  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Makeup
  • Nail file/clippers
  • Razors/shaving cream
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Glasses or contact lenses and solution
  • Tampons or sanitary napkins
  • Contraceptives
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Vitamins and prescription medication (in original containers)

Electronics and Books:

  • Camera, batteries, sufficient memory
  • Recreational reading material
  • Maps and guide books
  • Phrase book and Spanish dictionary
  • Travel alarm clock
  • A notebook and pen
  • Cellular phone and laptop (don't forget chargers, extra batteries and necessary cords)

First aid kit:

  • Band-Aids
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Motion sickness tablets
  • Diarrhea tablets
  • Aspirin or acetominophen
  • Small sewing kit

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