packing list for mexico

Ultimate Packing List for Mexico 2021 + Free PDF Checklist


Wondering what to take to mexico?

You’ve come to the right place, because I’ve been living and traveling solo all over Mexico since 2018! In fact, I did so for about a year straight with just one suitcase — so you might say I know a thing or two (or 11!) about a packing list for Mexico!

While many consider Mexico as one giant beach with tropical climates year-round, this country is so much more than that. In the weather department, there’s everything from deserts to rainforests, and of course, all those beautiful Mexico beaches.

OUR PICK

water bottles

The #1 Mexico packing list essential? A Water-To-Go Bottle which both keeps you hydrated and filters your drinking water!

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What I mean by the statement above is that your Mexico City packing list will look different than your Tulum packing list, and your Oaxaca packing list will be very different than your Cancun packing list.

Before getting overwhelmed, know that this article covers all the top Mexico travel destinations and what to pack for each. From Mexico beach vacations and what you’d want to have for all inclusive resort packing, to what to pack for Mexico cities and colder climates — it’s all here.

🚨 BONUS! This article also covers what NOT to bring to Mexico! Grab your FREE Printable packing list for Mexico travel below for all the best Mexico packing tips in one place.

Packing List for Mexico

3 Packing for Mexico Quick Tips

1. Mexico is big

Before getting into the specifics of packing lists for Mexico travel, first consider the size of Mexico. It might not look that way in your mind’s eye, but in fact, Mexico is the 14th largest country on Earth.

For perspective, imagine you’re giving a European friend advice on packing for the U.S. Your first questions would be Where in the U.S. are you headed? and What time of year are you going? because you’d pack very differently for Miami in summer than you would for Wyoming in winter.

The same is true of Mexico; and coastal Mexico has a very different climate than central or northern Mexico. For this reason, make sure to do your research on Mexico weather before packing.

2. Mexicans dress conservatively

Mexicans are relatively modest and conservative dressers. In big cities and pueblos (small, rural towns), even when it’s hot outside, jeans and long sleeve shirts are the norm. If you’re headed to the beach, don’t be surprised to see both Mexican men and women swimming in a T-shirt and shorts.

If you want to blend in, you might want to skip the shorts in Mexico and opt for leggings instead. That’s not to say don’t wear shorts; only that if you do, you may draw more attention to yourself than you intend to. In popular beach towns like Tulum, Cancun and Sayulita, shorts will blend in more than in cities.

3. Leave your designer labels at home

This conservatism in dress also extends to something most U.S. visitors won’t even think about: Designer labels. While a sweater with Gucci written across the front in huge letters might carry little weight in the U.S., in Mexico it could draw unwanted attention.

This same logic also applies to everything from purses and shoes, to sunglasses and high end electronic gadgets. To be on the safe side, leave everything flashy at home… and check out all these other great tips on What NOT to Take to Mexico.

Packing List for Mexico

General Packing List for Mexico

Travel Documents & Cards

Below is a list of what everyone will want to pack for Mexico, regardless of where in the country you’re traveling to. Think of these 35 things as your general Mexico packing list must haves.

1. Passport & Copies

This one goes without saying, but don’t forget your passport or you won’t be able to travel to Mexico at all! For many travelers, losing a passport is one of their worst travel fears.

According to the U.S. State Department, an astonishing 300,000 Americans report a lost or stolen passport each year! So what can you do before you even travel to handle losing your passport in Mexico? Check out the four tips below ⤵

What to do before you travel:
  • Take a photo of page 2 — the page of your passport with your photo and info on it — and email it to yourself and save it as a photo on your phone.
  • Have a few color copies of your passport made; bring one of those with you and leave another with a trusted family member or friend.
  • For those who leave nothing to chance, bring two additional regulation-size passport photos with you. You can get these made at most Walgreens for $15.
  • Store all of these things, and all your important travel documents in one secure place, like this travel wallet, which will hold a passport and all your important documents.

2. No-Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card

Check with your credit card companies to see if you have one that has no foreign transaction fees. If not, you may consider getting one, or see what options you have with your using your debit card, or simply plan to only use the credit card with the lowest fees.

The Avianca LifeMiles Credit Card is a great option for foreign travel, especially travel to Latin America. Enjoy foreign transaction fees, coverage for accidents, no unauthorized charges, 0% APR for your first year, and a variable rate after that.

3. Debit Card

It’s smart to have two cards, or even two credit cards and one debit card — but you will want to bring a card that gives you access to cash. In Mexico, cash is king, and widely used everywhere.

4. Driver’s License

For those planning to rent a car, you can use your U.S. driver’s license to drive in Mexico. You can also use it as a valid ID (pretty much) anywhere you go in Mexico, so you can leave your passport back at the hotel, hostel or Airbnb.

5. Mexico Travel Insurance

Want an added level of security and peace of mind during these strange travel times? Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health on a trip. After years of solo travel, I can say with certainty: Something will go wrong!

For this reason, I have a whole article dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important. If Mexico travel safety is on your mind, get your FREE quote below ⤵ from World Nomads and SafetyWing, two of the biggest names in travel insurance.

  • World Nomads: Ideal for general travel and adventure travelers
  • SafetyWing: Ideal for Mexico digital nomads and long-term travelers
Packing List for Mexico

Travel Gadgets & Electronics

1. TELCEL Prepaid SIM Card

While in some countries, you can get away with just using WiFi — for now, Mexico simply isn’t there, and you’ll want a TELCEL SIM card.

For those who won’t have free cell phone service in Mexico, the easiest and most inexpensive way for your phone to work is to buy a prepaid SIM card. TELCEL is the largest cell service provider in Mexico, so using this brand ensures you have reception in as many places in Mexico as possible.

What size Mexico SIM Card to buy

This will depend on how much data you plan to use. To be on the safe side, you should have more than enough data with 4gb size for a one-week trip, and for those who plan to be on their phone a lot, go for the 8gb size.

How to change a SIM Card

Once you buy your TELCEL SIM Card, check out this video on how to swap it out with your current SIM card. With the new card, you will have a Mexican phone number beginning with the +52 country code, but as soon as you put your original SIM back, you’ll have your U.S. number again.

📲 Mexico Travel Tips: Make sure you keep your original SIM card in a secure place, like this Passport Travel Wallet, which has a specific SIM card pocket, as they are tiny and super easy to lose.

2. Multi-Plug Outlet Extender

Similarly, you never know how many outlets your accommodation will have. In Mexico, you won’t have to buy any plug converters, as Mexico uses the same plug types as the U.S. 🔌 PowerPort Cube with USB & 5-foot Extension Cord

3. Extra Long 10-Foot Charging Cable

You never know how far the outlet will be from the bed in your Airbnb or hotel, so make sure you bring your extra-long charging cable. 📲 Cable for iPhone 📲 Cable for Android

4. VPN (Virtual private network)

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is fast becoming a travel essential. VPNs basically allow you to create a secure connection over a shared connection. When you’re using free coffee shop WiFi, for example, you’re digitally connected to all the other people in that cafe on that same network.

Being on the same open network means others have relatively easy access to your information. In a worse case scenario, they can steal your login and credit card info, and other private things on the device you connect from, whether that’s your phone, laptop or tablet.

This is where the VPN comes in. The VPN disguises your connection, so your information is essentially invisible to anyone looking to do anything nefarious. 🔐 NordVPN

5. External Battery (Power Bank)

When traveling, you tend to be on your phone doing high battery-usage activities like using a map app to get around, more so than in your everyday life. Similarly, you’re also not always in places with access to an outlet to re-charge it. 🔋 Anker 20000mAh Power Bank

So what do you do? The solution is to have an external battery, also called a power bank, portable battery charger or portable charger.

6. Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds

If you don’t have wireless headphones, traveling is the time to upgrade. For comfort on plane rides alone, you’ll want noise cancelling headphones. 🎧 Noise Canceling, Stereo Earbuds w/Bluetooth

🎧 Mexico Travel Tips: Mexico is a festive, but loud, country. If you’re not bringing noise canceling earbuds, do consider noise canceling ear plugs, so you’ll get a peaceful night’s sleep.

7. Space Saver Packing Cubes

These Space Saver Packing Cubes are the travel packing game changers you need in your life! Not only do they compress down your clothes to a fraction of the size, thus taking up less space in your suitcase, they help keep you organized while packing.

These great sets come with three different sizes, so you can put shirts in one, pants in the other, etc. The double zipper design shrinks everything down to its smallest possible size, so you can bring back all those colorful Mexico souvenirs and new clothes.

8. Travel Neck Pillow

These are game changers on the plane, and also if you’re doing any travel within Mexico. For those who have any long bus or car travel planned for Mexico, the neck pillow will help make journeys more relaxing, as roads in Mexico aren’t always smooth. 😴 Memory Foam Neck Pillow & Travel Kit

9. Windproof Travel Umbrella

A travel umbrella will come in handy for, of course, the rain… but also somewhere less obvious. Mexico ruins, like Chichen Itza near Cancun and Tulum, and Teotihuacan near Mexico City, are fully open sites with very little shade.

In a very sunny, hot country like Mexico, getting caught in the sun can sometimes be as bad as getting caught in the rain! ☔️ Windproof Travel Umbrella

Phone camera tripod wrapped around a tree

RELATED BLOG 📸 How to Get Awesome Solo Travel Photos + 5 Free Presets

10. Bendable Tripod Phone Holder

Planning to take some epic Mexico travel photos? This bendable phone holder tripod is the easiest way to capture the best shots. It’s small and light-weight enough to carry around all day and won’t take up much suitcase space.

For photographers and solo travelers, this is the best way to get Instagram worthy solo travel photos of your Mexico trip.

Packing List for Mexico

Mexico Travel Safety Items

1. Anti-Theft Purse

A Mexico travel guide friend turned me on to these purses, and they really do seem about as theft-proof as it can get! The Anti-Theft Travel Purse has five measures to prevent against theft:

  • Lockdown Straps: Strap lock secures bag to a stationary object or chair, to prevent against grab-and-go thieves.
  • Locking Compartments: Prevent pickpockets from getting into your bag with locking zipper pulls.
  • Slash-Resistant Fabric: The bag has a slash-resistant mesh barrier for two layers of protection.
  • Slash-Resistant Straps: Straps have a stainless steel wire inside, to prevent against grab-and-go thieves.
  • RFID Blocking Pockets: Prevents against electronic identity theft with RFID blocking card slots and pockets.

2. Anti-Theft Book Bag

Anti-Theft Backpacks have the same (or similar) features to anti-theft purses, and also, the main zipper to open it is in the back, making them impossible to open when you have them on your back. For an added security measure, wear your book bag in the front if your intuition feels the situation calls for that.

3. Security Door Stopper & Alarm

As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry. While this is a rare occurrence, the reality with hotels, hostels and Airbnbs is that several other people do have the key to get inside your room.

These security door stoppers also have a sound alarm on them, so if anyone tries to enter, you’ll be alerted with a loud 120-decibel sound, and the stopper itself will prevent entry. 🚨 Wedge Door Stop Security Alarm with Siren

4. Fake Wedding Ring

For solo travelers not looking to mingle while traveling, opt for wearing a fake wedding ring. These comfortable silicone rings are popular even with married travelers, who prefer not to travel without their valuables. 💍 Silicone Wedding Bands

5. Security Travel Scarf

This stylish Security Scarf has a hidden zipper and pocket for added security.

It’s always a good idea to keep your valuables in a few locations, rather than in one location. With this security scarf, you can store half your money, one credit card, your cell phone and even your wireless noise-canceling earbuds right inside the hidden pocket on the scarf.

Packing List for Mexico

Mexico Packing Essentials for Eco-Travel

1. Water-to-go Go Reusable Water Bottle

Wondering, Can you drink the water in Mexico? Unfortunately, no — Unfiltered Mexico tap water isn’t safe for human consumption. One of my Mexico travel essentials is the Water-To-Go Bottle, an amazing, reusable water bottle. Here’s all the reasons you’ll want to get a bottle for Mexico:

  • It eliminates single-use plastics with disposable water bottles.
  • Mexico is quite hot in most places, and you’ll want to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
  • This reusable water bottle provides an added layer of Mexico water filtration — so you don’t get sick in Mexico. Unfortunately, the tap water isn’t safe to drink in the country, but with a Water-To-Go Bottle Go you can.
  • The three-stage filter removes removes 99.999999% of bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins, microplastics and more, according to their site.
water bottles

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2. Menstrual Cup

These are a travel game changer, as you can safely leave them in for up to 24-hours. Menstrual Cups are also good for the planet as you’re not creating tampon or pad waste. For some, there’s a learning curve to using them, so do practice before your trip. 💃 Lena Menstrual Cup

3. Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Planning to snorkel at Xel-Ha Park near Cancun, explore the coral reefs in Cozumel by Playa del Carmen, or swim in the Tulum cenotes? Do your part to maintain Mexico’s natural beauty with eco-friendly sunscreen. ☀️ Badger Anti-Bug Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 34)

4. Eco-Friendly Bug Spray

If you’re headed to the beaches of Mexico, you’ll definitely want (likely even need!) mosquito repellent. This eco-friendly brand is DEET-free and plant based, with a pleasant lemon and eucalyptus scent. 🚫🦟 REPEL Insect Repellent

5. Anti-Mosquito Bracelet

Not into the idea of using an insect spray? Or want an added layer of protection? Opt for this mosquito-repelling bracelet to keep those pesky critters away. 🚫🦟 Mosquito Repellent Bracelets (DEET-Free, Waterproof)

6. Reusable Shopping Bag

In 2020, Mexico cracked down in major cities and popular tourism destinations with a ban on single use plastic bags. As more and more pueblos (small towns) in Mexico fall in line, reusable shopping bags that fold down into a tiny pouch, are ideal for travel.

Once folded down into their smallest size, you can clip the bag onto the side of your purse so it’s always ready to fill with Mexico souvenirs and local craft from the mercados (markets). While these use to be options, they now feel like one of those packing essentials for Mexico.

Packing List for Mexico

Toiletries & Meds to Pack

1. Hangover Meds

There are all kinds of yummy adult beverages and Mexico drinks — from mezcal in Oaxaca City, to red wine in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s wine country in Baja California state. If you’re planning to go hard at all, bring these hangover cure pills with you and take one before going out.

The antioxidants, herbs and homeopathic ingredients in Liquid I.V. make sure you’re not hungover the next day, and missing out on precious travel time. ⭐️ Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier has more than 71,000 positive reviews on Amazon, and is a best seller!

2. General Medications

You can easily get in Mexico, so don’t pack the whole medicine cabinet — but don’t forget to take anything prescribed that you need. Beyond your prescriptions, you might want to bring headache, cramps, allergy, antidiarrheal, and upset stomach meds, like Tums or Pepto.

🏔 Mexico Travel Tips: Mexico City is at a high elevation of almost 7,500-feet — nearly 1.5 miles above sea level! If this isn’t something you’re used to, you can get altitude sickness, which feels like the flu. For Mexico City packing, consider an altitude sickness bracelet and altitude sickness meds.

3. Ear Plugs

Mexico is a fun, festive country, which also means it can be loud! This goes for all parts of the country, but especially in big cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara.

It’s not uncommon for tamale vendors to walk up and down the streets starting at 7am screaming to anyone who’s hungry. Beyond food vendors, there’s usually a holiday at least once or twice a month, and with holidays, come fireworks.

You probably get the idea by now, but if not check out the video below and know that if you’re a light (or even medium) sleeper, you’ll want some good ear plugs. 👂 Noise Reduction Ear Plugs for Sleeping

4. Hand Sanitizer

This used to be a suggestion, but now feels like a mandatory travel item. To make sure you’re using it throughout the day, get a sanitizer pouch that will clip on to the outside of your purse, so you’re constantly seeing it, and constantly using it. 🧴 Sanitizer Bottle Keychain Holder

5. Tampons

In Mexico’s larger cities, tampons are common — though you won’t always find the same brands and size options as in the U.S. In smaller, rural areas and Mexico off the beaten path destinations, tampons aren’t always available. 🌸 Besides tampons, a reusable Lena Menstrual Cup is great option for travel.

6. Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is great for those who don’t want to wash their hair on vacation, or want to save space in your suitcase by just packing one dry shampoo instead of a bottle of both shampoo and conditioner. 💆‍♀️ Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo

7. Small Pack of Tissues

In pueblos (small towns), rural areas, gas stations and mercado (market) bathrooms, toilet paper is sometimes missing in action. It’s always a smart travel tip to carry around a small pack of tissues, as they come in handy for many things. 🧻 Travel Tissues

8. Facial Oil Blotting Rice Paper

Mexico is a warmer country, and some parts, like the Yucatan Peninsula, are hot pretty much all year long. These blotting papers are a quick way to dry sweat, and make you feel refreshed and look shine-free in an instant. 😥 Face Blotting Sheets with Natural Rice Powder

9. Massaging Shoe Gel Inserts

While traveling, you’ll walk much more than in regular life. In fact, a common travel mistake many make is they will walk for many miles on day one of the trip, and then have to suffer through pain for the rest of the days of the trip.

Be kind to your feet with massaging gel inserts! With these, you’ll avoid painful blisters on your feet, and even muscle pain and cramping in your legs.

Packing List for Mexico City & All Cities in Mexico

All items listed above cover general Mexico packing, but this is all about packing for Mexico’s cities. While most Mexico weather is on the warm side, cities are often colder than what most associate with average yearly weather in Mexico.

All info below applies to Oaxaca City, and the areas around Mexico City, known as Central Mexico. The Central Mexico area includes some of the biggest tourism destinations — San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, and of course, Mexico City.

Central Mexico has what’s known as an “Eternal Spring” climate, meaning you can expect cooler, springtime temperatures nearly all year. The chart below will give you an idea of Mexico City weather, which is what you can expect from most of Central Mexico.

Central mexico & Mexico City Weather

packing for mexico list

What to Wear in Mexico City: Spring & Summer Months

As you can see, temperatures do dip into the 40°Fs during the winter, and climb to the 80°Fs during the spring and summer months. Depending on what you’re visiting, you’ll want to pack accordingly.

Keep in mind that on the whole, Mexicans are modest dressers, and even in warmer months, long pants, jeans and long sleeve shirts are the norm. Mexico’s sidewalks aren’t the easiest to walk on, and most opt for flats over heels.

In the warmer months, you’ll want sneakers with gel inserts during the day, and cute ballet flats or boots at night. By and large, you can go most places in the same outfit from day to night, if you wanted to.

Unless you’re heading to fancy dinner or special night out, a cute dress with pockets, with optional leggings, a security scarf, cute flats or sneakers, and a cardigan at night.

What to Wear in Mexico City: Fall & Winter Months

In the colder months, you’ll want sneakers with gel inserts during the day, and fuzzy boots at night. A cardigan or chunky sweater and this thin, security scarf will work during the day, but you’ll want a coat or puffer jacket at night.

For both day and night, jeans and thick leggings will do nicely. Don’t forget the warm weather socks, beanie hat and comfy PJs.

mexico pack list

Mexico City Packing List: Safety Items

While Mexico is much more safe than most would imagine — Mexico City is a big city, with all the same characteristics of most big cities.

These include: 1) that there are parts you should avoid, like Tepito and Doctores, both near Centro Historico (Historic Downtown), and 2) that petty crimes like cell phone pickpocketing do happen, especially on the bus or Metro. 💡Mexico City Travel Tip: Take Uber over public transportation!

For those concerned about safety in Mexico City, here are a few extra things to pack for your trip: 👜 Anti-Theft Purse, 🎒 Anti-Theft Backpack, 🧣 Secret Hidden Pocket Travel Scarf and 🚨 Wedge Door Stop Security Alarm with Siren.

What you should really be concerned about in Mexico City…

While personal safety needs to be your top priority, the majority of Mexico City’s best neighborhoods (like Roma, Condesa, Polanco, Coyoacan, Reforma) are as safe as most of the world’s big cities. The real “dangers” in Mexico City are the ones most people don’t think about.

1. Water

Mexico’s tap water is unsafe to drink, and even locals don’t drink it. In Mexico City, and all of Mexico, filtered water is the norm — but that’s not to say all filtered water is created equal! For those who’d rather be safe than sorry in the fight against Montezuma’s Revenge, a filterable water bottle is the way to go.

water bottles

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2. Noise

Mexico City is quite loud, especially for light sleepers, and not sleeping means not enjoying your trip. You’ll want to either sleep with Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds or even just ear plugs to get a comfortable and peaceful night’s sleep.

3. Altitude

Mexico City is about 1.5 miles above sea level, and if you’re not used to high altitude you can get altitude sickness in Mexico Citywhich feels like the flu. Many have great success with an Anti-Altitude Sickness Acupressure Bracelet, while others have to take Anti-Altitude Sickness meds.

4. Sidewalks

Mexico City is located in what’s called the Ring of Fire, on some of the Earth’s largest fault lines. There have been several major earthquakes in the last 50 or so years, with the most recent in 2017.

As the ground lifts and lowers, so do the sidewalks — meaning you’ll want to pay a lot of attention to the ground when you’re walking. It is wise to opt for cute flats and sneakers with massaging gel shoe inserts, over wedges and heels. With uneven sidewalks, a travel first aid kit is always a good idea.

packing list for mexico resorts & Beaches

Packing List for Mexico Beaches

Wondering what to pack for your Mexico all inclusive vacation at the beach? Mexico has some of the top beach destinations in the world, like Cancun, Tulum, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido and Playa del Carmen, but packing for your trip does require a bit of forethought.

If there’s one blanket statement to make about Mexico weather on the beaches — they tend to be very hot and humid during the summer, and hotter but not-so-humid in the winter. With tropical climates like this, you can also expect bugs.

Mexico Beach Packing: Clothes

Wondering what clothing you should pack for Mexico’s beaches?

As Mexico’s warmer beach temperatures don’t fluctuate too much, sundresses, shorts, tank tops and sandals work pretty much all year-long. In the winter months, you might throw on a cardigan at night, but other than that, it’s bathing suits and warm weather wear throughout the year.

Beach towns tend to be less conservative than cities, and in some of the most bohemian beach towns like Tulum, Sayulita, and Todos Santos — anything goes.

If you want to walk around in a bathing suit, it might turn heads, but that doesn’t mean it’s not done. As mentioned, Mexicans dress conservative, and expats often end up adapting. In short, the more you’re extra with your clothing, the more you’ll stand out.

Mexico Beach Packing: Accessories

Wondering what accessories you should pack for Mexico’s beaches?

Some accessories to pack for Mexico include a good beach bag, headbands for up-dos, sun hat, sarongs, flip flops, waterproof phone case, and sunglasses. While the beaches of Mexico are generally safe, it’s a good idea to buy some inexpensive sunglasses, and leave your designer sunglasses at home.

As a general rule about Mexico beach packing, don’t bring anything you don’t want to lose — because let’s face it, sun + fun + margaritas = lost stuff.

If you’re going to be doing any beach excursion, like visiting Xel-Ha Park near Cancun, snorkeling the coral reefs in Cozumel Island by Playa del Carmen, or swimming in the Tulum cenotes? Then you’ll also want to pack water shoes, a waterproof phone holder and a dry bag.

PACKING LIST MEXICO

Mexico Beach Packing: Toiletries, Etc.

While Mexico is much safer than most would imagine — the things you really need protection from on Mexico beaches are the elements, especially the sun and the bugs.

🦟 Mexico travel tips: Bugs are especially abundant and active in the summer months. If you’re able to, avoid being outdoors for about 30 minutes just after sunset. Take in the nice views, but then head inside for a bit, as this is their most active time.

Given the heat and humidity, you’ll need to stay hydrated more than normal, and keep your skin protected. This is especially important for those who plan to drink a lot, as alcohol will further dehydrate you.

what to pack to mexico

What NOT to Bring to Mexico

Now that you know what to bring to Mexico, equally as important is knowing what not to pack for Mexico. Below is a list of some items you’ll want to fight the urge to take with you on your Mexico trip.

Dollars

While some places in Mexico will take dollars, they do it at lower rates than the actual conversion, since they have to then pay to convert them back to pesos.

There is always going to be some fee for money conversation, though some U.S. banks will order pesos for you, so at least you arrive in Mexico with some pesos. If your bank doesn’t, just withdraw pesos from an ATM when you get to the airport in Mexico.

Too Much Cash

For those who don’t want to show up in Mexico without some cash/pesos on them, remember not to bring up with too much. A safe amount that’s not too crazy might be $1,000 pesos ($50USD), which should cover anything you’d need until you get to your accommodation and settle in.

Your Laptop (If you don’t need it)

This goes for any electronic gadgets, but definitely high dollar items like your laptop and expensive DSLR camera. Unless you know exactly what you’re bringing it for, don’t bring something you only might use.

man cutting meat for a taco

RELATED ARTICLE 🌮 31 Amazing Tacos from Mexico Every Taco Addict Must Try

Food

Leave all the snacks at home! Mexico has some of the best, and most inexpensive, food in the entire world, so don’t bring any packaged snacks or foods from home.

Let this trip be a time to experience authentic tacos al pastor in Mexico City, tamales in Oaxaca, and cochinita pibil in the Yucatan Peninsula… because if you come to Mexico and don’t eat way-too-many-tacos, did you even come to Mexico?! (Answer: No!)

Expensive Jewelry & Clothing

A Mexico vacation is great and amazing and all that — but travel is also hectic and things get easily lost and accidentally left behind.

I highly recommend you leave expensive and sentimental pieces of jewelry at home while you travel, so you don’t risk never seeing them again. In fact, many even opt for a fake wedding ring made of silicone to wear while traveling, and leave the real one back home.

your Whole Medicine Cabinet

Do bring your prescriptions, and anything you take regularly, but for the most part, you can buy the same over the counter medicine in Mexico you can in the U.S. There are farmacias (pharmacies) everywhere, even in off the beaten path places, so don’t over-pack meds.

packing list for mexico vacation

Mexico Travel FAQ

Can Americans travel to Mexico right now?

Yes, travel between the U.S. and Mexico is open.

As you’ll see below, there are no virtually no travel restrictions for Americans traveling to Mexico right now. Because of this, many Americans are flocking to Mexico for a respite in these tough times — as for many, travel is a coping mechanism of how to fight Covid-19 fatigue.

Do I need a negative Covid test to travel to Mexico?

You do not need to arrive in Mexico with a negative Covid test.

However, once you arrive, authorities in the airport will likely take your temperature and not let you enter the country with an elevated temperature. After leaving the airport, masks and temperature checks are still required to enter the majority of indoor spaces.

Will I be quarantined if I travel to Mexico?

There is no required quarantine period upon arrival in Mexico. It is one of only a handful of countries that allows U.S. travelers in, and/or don’t require a quarantine period for visiting Americans.

Do I need a negative Covid test to return to the U.S.?

Yes, as of January 26, 2021, you are required to have a negative Covid test to return to the U.S. from any country.

The negative test results must be dated within three days or 72 hours of your flight. For now, you only need to have results from an Antigen Test (NAAT Test) under CDC regulations; though that could change at any time.

pack list for mexico

Do Americans need a visa for Mexico?

No, U.S. Passport holders don’t need a visa to travel to anywhere in Mexico. This no-visa-necessary rule is another reason why Mexico is one of the best travel destinations from the U.S.

Don’t lose your FMM!

When you arrive in Mexico and go through the Customs and Immigration line, you’ll receive a 180-day (6 month) FMM tourist visa. This is a small piece of paper that you need with you at all time, and also give it back to Immigration at the airport when you leave the country.

There is no charge for the FMM, but if you lose yours, there is a charge of about $600 pesos ($30USD) to replace it. Keep track of your FMM by storing it in a secure place like this travel wallet, along with all your other important travel documents.

mexico travel checklist

Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?

This answer depends on who you ask!

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s global travel safety program, Safe Travels, has certified all of Mexico’s big travel destinations, including Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, as safe for travel. To qualify for this program, countries must follow rigorous cleaning and hygiene protocols.

However, the U.S. State Department and the CDC say to reconsider travel to Mexico, for now.

Is Mexico safe for travel?

Short answer: Yes, for the vast majority of travelers, Mexico is safe for travel.

Longer answer: Safety is a tricky subject because safety is a feeling, not a fact, and no place on Earth is 100% safe. As a large country, Mexico has good and bad parts. With tourism as the country’s biggest industry, the government takes measures to make sure the parts tourists want to visit are safe.

The reality is though, that no place on Earth is totally safe! Answers on Mexico safety vary greatly based on if someone felt safe while traveling or not… meaning those answers are based on the person, and not the country. However, as a general rule, all popular Mexico destinations are, for the most part, safe.

While traveling to Mexico, and really anywhere else, you’ll want to follow the 10 General Travel Safety Tips below, and register your trip with the U.S. STEP Program.

10 General Travel Safety Tips
  1. Don’t walk home alone at night — Take an Uber or a taxi.
  2. Always listen to your intuition because your intuition is always right.
  3. If you get a sketchy or uneasy feeling about a person or place, get away from that person or place asap. Don’t worry about making a kind, nice or politically correct exit from a creepy person or bad situation — Just get away fast.
  4. Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
  5. Learn some basic Spanish. If you can’t learn it, save this infographic as an image on your phone so you have something to use even if you’re off-WiFi.
  6. Take all of your belongings into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe/bar neighbor to watch your things. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
  7. Speaking of bar neighbors, don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended with one.
  8. Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
  9. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  10. This should be a no brainer since you’re traveling during a pandemic, but get Travel Insurance!
Register for the STEP Program

Make sure you enroll in the FREE STEP Program before your trip. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

After you’ve registered, a U.S. Embassy or Consulate can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, etc. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home in the event of an emergency while abroad.

Is it safe to drive in Mexico?

Short answer: Yes — For the majority of travelers, it is.

Longer answer: As a general rule, driving in Mexico is considered safe, however, there’s the obvious caveat to that…

Since you will be driving in another country, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with Mexico driving laws and customs. Head to Renting A Car in Mexico: Everything You Need to Know, for 10 Useful Mexico Driving Tips that will help you with how to drive in Mexico.

🚗💨 Need a rental car in Mexico? Book with Discover Cars!

travel checklist mexico

FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico

Need more Mexico packing tips? Everything covered in this article, and more, is on this 10-page Mexico packing checklist. ⤵ Just enter your email below, click “Yes, Please!” and grab the FREE packing list for Mexico pdf!

This checklist for traveling to Mexico covers everything you’ll want to bring, from clothing and accessories, to toiletries and travel documents. There is a travel checklist for Mexico, so you can check things off as you go to make sure you’re not forgetting anything when packing for Mexico.

mexico vacation packing list

Final Thoughts: Packing List for Mexico

The main things to consider when making a packing list for Mexico are weather, what you’re doing in Mexico, your personal comfort needs, and travel safety. Meaning you’ll pack very differently for a hiking trip in the mountains of Central Mexico vs packing for an all inclusive in Cancun.

As some generalizations, the beaches of Mexico are very hot, and you also need to be prepared for bugs and mosquitoes. Central Mexico tends to be colder than many think Mexico to be. The northwestern Baja California states have a desert climate, so hot days and cool (even cold 🥶) nights.

Beyond the weather, think of everything you’re going to need for any special events or outings.

Planning to go surfing in Mexico? You might want to consider reef-safe sunscreen and rash guard cream. Visiting Las Grutas Tolantongo from Mexico City on a day trip? You’ll want some water shoes and a waterproof phone holder. Sleep better with melatonin pills? Bring them!

Taking into consideration your itinerary, the local weather where you’re headed, your creature comforts, and Mexico travel safety items — will makes coming a list of what things to pack for Mexico a breeze!

Have questions about this Mexico packing?

I’d love to hear from you! Please join the conversation and comment below, and I’ll do my best to get you the help you need.

🎧 Prefer Mexico podcasts? This blog is now available in audio form!

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15 Comments

  1. Wow! This is a seriously comprehensive post! Especially love the tips for travel insurance and eco-friendly packing items. (I would have been lost without my life straw and aqua tabs when walking the Camino in Spain.) Thanks for all of the info. Saving this for the next time I wander south!

  2. Sarah Camp | In Search of Sarah says:

    What an informative post! I love the idea of the Octopus tripod holder – I’m going to have to look into getting one of those. Great tips for packing for Mexico – NOT just the beach vacations either! Pinning this for later for when we get get back and explore more of this amazing country!

  3. Love the detail in this post! feel so prepared to take on a trip to Mexico. Pinning this for later

  4. I LOVE how thorough this post is! Especially the inclusion of what NOT to bring, and FAQ! I think I’ve mentioned to you before I’m dying to go to Tulum and hoping to make it there soon!

  5. While I’ve traveled frequently to Mexico, I still get packing anxiety. So am loving all these curated packing lists customized on where you’re going on Mexico.

  6. This post has so much detail — it is so helpful! We have loved our trips to Mexico and hope to get to explore more places in Mexico soon!!

  7. This is the best packing list for Mexico I’ve seen! I often forget how big the country really is, and it’s so useful that you broke down the climate by region.

  8. Nice list. Certainly includes items that hadn’t occurred to me.

  9. Such a comprehensive list. You gave a lot of useful advice in this post which I enjoyed reading. I totally agree with you not wearing expensive and flashy clothing. You don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself.

  10. I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to Mexico yet, so this guide will be very useful for me as I never know what to pack when I’m travelling to new places.

  11. Such an extensive detailed sits. I love that you added not to being designer clothes and how you categorized by climate . These items are great for Mexico and other countries as well. Next time I go , I will consider bringing a few items.

  12. This is a comprehensive list! You’ve introduced me to some new products … fake silicone wedding band? What a great idea, and a safer alternative to leaving the cherished versions at home. Thank you.

  13. This is a really great list with so many valuable tips. I love to carry a packable tote on trips…saves space but so helpful when you visit the markets. I’m saving this post for my trip to Mexico in 2022!

  14. simplyjolayne says:

    You suggest so many great ideas and options for traveling to Mexico safely and in style.

  15. Stephen dorn says:

    Going to Merida for 12 days then puerta Vallarta for 8 days dec 30 to Jan 12 2022