Wondering what to put on your packing list for 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 this one suitcase… so you might say I know a thing or two (or 11!) about Mexico packing.
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. What I mean here is that your Mexico City packing list will look different than your Tulum or Cancun packing list or even your Oaxaca 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!! We’re even covering what NOT to bring to Mexico… and there’s a FREE Printable packing list for Mexico travel at the end of the article (but here’s the link if you can’t wait).
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3 Things to Know Before Packing for Mexico
Packing List for Mexico
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. General Mexico Dress Code
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. Designer Labels (And Why You Shouldn’t Wear Them)
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.
General Packing List for Mexico
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! 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 ⬇
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.
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 might want to consider getting one, or seeing what options you have with your using your debit card, or simply planning to only use the credit card with the lowest fees.
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. 🚗💨 Head to this article for 12 practical Mexico Driving Tips that will help you with how to drive in Mexico.
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 while traveling. After years of solo travel, I will say there is one certainty with travel: Something will go wrong!
For this reason, I have a whole page of this website 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, one of the biggest names in travel insurance.
Packing List for Mexico
Travel Gadgets & Electronics
1. TELCEL Prepaid 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.
Keep in mind that in some countries, you can get away with just using WiFi. For now, Mexico simply isn’t there yet, and you will want a SIM card.
📲 Pro tip: Double check with your cell phone provider before buying a SIM card, as you might have Mexico coverage.
Think you’ll need more, or less, gigs?
How to change a SIM Card
Once you buy your TELCEL SIM Card, check out the video below 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.
💡Pro tip: 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. 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
3. 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. 🔌 Multi Plug Outlet Extender with USB
4. VPN: A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, 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: When traveling, you tend to be on your phone doing high battery-usage activities like using a maps app to get around, more than in everyday life. You’re also not always in places with access to an outlet.
The solution is to have an external battery, sometimes called a power bank 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
🎧 Pro tip: 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. Windproof Travel Umbrella: A travel umbrella will come in handy for, of course, the rain… but also somewhere less obvious. Mexico’s famous 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
8. 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
9. Space Saver Packing Cubes: These 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.
RELATED BLOG 📸 How to Get Awesome Solo Travel Photos + 5 Free Presets
9. Octopus 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. 🐙 GorillaPod Stand – Flexible Tripod and Mount for Smartphones
Packing List for Mexico
Mexico Travel Safety Items
1. Anti-Theft Purse: This 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: Prefer a travel backpack to a purse? Anti-theft backpacks have the same (or similar) features to anti-theft purses, but can clearly store more items. For an added security measure, wear the book bag in the front if your intuition feels the situation calls for that. 🎒 Anti-Theft Travel Backpack
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 scarf also 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
Eco-Travel Packing Essentials
1. LifeStraw Reusable Water Bottle: This amazing water bottle serves two purposes. The first, of course, is to eliminate single-use plastics with disposable water bottles.
The second is that Mexico is quite hot in most places, and you’ll want to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
Finally, this reusable water bottle provides an added layer of Mexico water filtration. Unfortunately, the tap water isn’t safe to drink, however, with the LifeStraw you can.
Q: Can you drink the water in Mexico?
A: NO! Mexico tap water isn’t safe to drink.
...Not unless you boil it for at least five minutes, or use a LifeStraw, which removes 99.999999% of bacteria, parasites and microplastics, according to their site.
2. Reef-Safe Sunscreen: Planning to snorkel at Xel-Ha Park near Cancun, check out the coral reefs in Cozumel Island by Playa del Carmen, or swim in the Tulum cenotes? Do your part to help maintain Mexico’s natural beauty by only wearing environmentally-friendly sunscreen. 🐬 Seven Minerals Ocean Friendly Sunscreen (SPF 30/Face & Body)
3. Eco-Friendly Bug Spray: If you’re headed to the beaches of Mexico, you’ll definitely want (and need!) mosquito repellent. This eco-friendly brand is DEET-free and plant based, with a pleasant lemon and eucalyptus scent. 🚫🦟 REPEL Insect Repellent
4. 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)
5. 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
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 bags that folds 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 from small craft mercados (markets).
Packing List for Mexico
Toiletries & Meds to Pack
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 make sure you’re not hungover the next day, and missing out on precious travel time.
2. General Medications: Meds are honestly something you can easily get in Mexico, so you don’t have to 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.
🏔 Pro tip: 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 bringing a nausea/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, and especially in big cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara. It’s not uncommon for tamale and camote vendors to walk up and down the streets starting at 7am screaming to anyone who’s hungry. Beyond food vendors, there’s 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. 🧴 Travel Bottle Keychain Holder
5. 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.
6. Tampons: In Mexico’s larger cities, tampons are common. However, in smaller, rural areas and off the beaten path destinations, they aren’t always available. 🌸 Better yet, switch to a reusable menstrual cup like the Lena Menstrual Cup.
7. 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 dry shampoo instead of shampoo and conditioner. 💆♀️ Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo
8. Facial Oil Blotting Rice Paper: For the most part, Mexico is a hotter 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, most people walk much more than in regular life.
In fact, a common “mistake” made is walking many miles on day one of the trip, and then suffering through pain for the rest of the days of your trip.
Be kind to your feet with massaging gel inserts and avoid painful blisters on your feet, and even muscle pain in your legs.
Packing List for Mexico: Cities
All items listed above cover general Mexico packing, but this is all about packing for Mexico’s cities, including Oaxaca City, and the areas around Mexico City, known as Central Mexico. Central Mexico includes some of the biggest tourism destinations — San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Hidalgo, Jalisco, and of course, Mexico City.
This part of the country is often colder than what most associate with Mexico weather. 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.
Packing List for Mexico
Mexico’s Cities Packing List: Clothes
As you can see, temperatures do dip into the 40°Fs during the winter, and climb to the 80°Fs during the spring/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, 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.
• Spring/Summer Packing: 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, an infinity/security scarf, cute flats or sneakers, and a cardigan at night.
• Fall/Winter Packing: 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 City Spring/Summer Packing List: Sundresses with pockets!, Comfy T-shirts, Leggings, Jeans, Cardigan, Dressy tops, Jumper, Security scarf, Flat shoes
Packing List for Mexico
Mexico City Packing List: Accessories
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.
🚗💨 Pro tip: Take Uber over Mexico City public transportation! They are much cheaper than in the U.S., and the easiest, safest way to get around.
For those concerned about safety in Mexico City, here are a few extra things you’ll want to pack for your trip.
• Anti-Theft Purse: These provide five extra added levels of protection, including slash-resistant fabric and straps, locking compartments, and lockdown straps that secure the purse to a stationary object or chair, preventing grab-and-go thieves. 👜 Anti-Theft Classic Essential Messenger Bag
Prefer an Anti-Theft Book Bag? Those are a similar, equally great, alternative to the purse. 🎒 Anti-Theft Travel Backpack
• Travel Security Scarf: Mexico City’s weather is cool enough that you’ll want a scarf anyway, and these security scarves have a hidden zipper and hidden pocket so you can hide your things while walking around and seeing the sites. 🧣 Secret Hidden Pocket Travel Scarf
• Security Door Stopper & Alarm: 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 both prevent the door from opening and also have a sound alarm, so if anyone tries to enter, you’ll be alerted with a loud 120-decibel noise. 🚨 Wedge Door Stop Security Alarm with Siren
RELATED BLOG 🇲🇽 11 Best Things to Do in Centro Historico Mexico City + Free Map
Packing List for Mexico
What you should really be concerned about in Mexico City…
Want to know what you should really be worried 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.
You should not drink the water in Mexico, but this is easy to avoid because no one drinks tap water in Mexico. 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, and do as much as possible to not feel the wrath of Montezuma’s Revenge, a LifeStraw Refillable Water Bottle is the way to go. According to their site, LifeStraws filters 99.999999% of bacteria, parasites and microplastics, meaning you have virtually no chance of getting sick in Mexico from drinking the water!
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.
Mexico City is about 1.5 miles above sea level, and if you’re not used to high altitude you can get altitude sickness, which is like the flu. Many have great success with an Anti-Altitude Sickness Acupressure Bracelet, while others have to take Anti-Altitude Sickness meds.
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 more attention to the ground when you’re walking than normal. It is wise to opt for cute flats and sneakers with massaging gel shoe inserts, over wedges and heels. If you’re going out in wedges and heels, just plan to use Uber instead of walking.
Packing List for Mexico: Beaches
Mexico has some of the top beach destinations in the world, like Cancun, Tulum, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido and Playa del Carmen. 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.
The chart below will give you an idea of Yucatan Peninsula weather, which is what you can expect from all the best Mexico beach destinations. Do keep in mind that because of humidity, temperatures often feel 5-10°F hotter.
Packing List for Mexico
Mexico Beach Packing: Clothes
Wondering what clothing you should pack for Mexico’s beaches?
As you can see above, Mexico’s warmer beach temperatures don’t fluctuate too much; so 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 and Sayulita, 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 locals often end up adapting, so the more you’re “extra” with your clothing, the more you’ll stand out.
🧳 Mexico Beach Clothes Packing List: Sundresses, Bathing suits, Flowy maxi dresses, Kimonos, Shorts, Jumpers, Cover-ups, Sandals
Packing List for Mexico
Mexico Beach Packing: Accessories
Wondering what accessories you should pack for Mexico’s beaches?
Some of the accessories you’ll want to pack for Mexico include a good beach bag, stylish headbands for up-dos, sarongs, a sun hat, and sunglasses. Keep in mind that the beaches of Mexico are known to be quite safe, but you’ll want to avoid calling unnecessary attention to yourself via things like designer sunglasses.
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 and a waterproof phone holder.
🧳 Mexico Beach Accessories Packing List: Cover-up, Beach bag, Sun hat, Sunglasses, Sarong, Headbands, Anti-sand microfiber beach blanket, Water shoes, Waterproof phone holder
Packing List for 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.
Given the heat and humidity, you’ll need to stay hydrated more than normal, and keep your skin protected. You’ll also want protection from bugs and mosquitoes.
🦟 Pro tip: 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, as this is their most active time.
🧳 Mexico Beach Toiletries Packing List: LifeStraw reusable water bottle, Eco-friendly bug spray, Anti-mosquito bracelets, Reef-safe eco sunscreen, Anti-frizz hair product, After sun cream, Rice paper facial blotting pads, Personal misting fan, Anti-hangover meds
What NOT to Bring to Mexico
Now that you know what to bring, 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.
RELATED BLOG 🌮 50 of the Best Tacos in Mexico City + Free Map
• 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?!
• Expensive Jewelry & Clothing: Travel is great and amazing and all that, but it’s also hectic and things get easily lost, or accidentally left behind. For expensive or even sentimental pieces of jewelry, leave them at home while you travel, so you don’t risk never seeing them again. In fact, many even opt for “temporary” wedding rings made of silicone to wear while traveling.
• The Whole Medicine Cabinet: Definitely 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 that you can in the U.S. There are farmacias (pharmacies) everywhere, even in off the beaten path places, so don’t over-pack meds.
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 two-week quarantine period for visiting Americans.
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.
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 to hold on to so you can 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 ($30) to replace it.
💡Pro tip: Keep track of your FMM by storing it in a secure place like this travel wallet, along with all your other important travel documents.
RELATED BLOG ✈️ Is Playa del Carmen, Mexico Open for Travel Right Now?
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.
Is Mexico safe for travel?
Short answer: Yes!
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 larger country, Mexico has plenty of good and bad parts. As tourism is the country’s biggest industry, the Mexican government takes measures to make sure the parts tourists want to visit are as safe as possible.
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
- When walking home alone at night stick to 5th Avenue, the main street in Playa del Carmen, as it’s well-lit and monitored by police.
- Always listen to your intuition because your intuition is always right.
- 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.
- Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
- 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.
- 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.
- Speaking of bar neighbors, don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended with one.
- Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
- Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
- 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 — which happens to be the Consular Agency in Playa del Carmen.
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?
Is it safe to drive in Mexico?
Short answer: Yes!
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, ask the agent at your car rental company for advice, and head to this article for 12 practical Mexico Driving Tips that will help you with how to drive in Mexico.
🚗💨 Need a rental car in Mexico? Book with Discover Cars!
🎧 Want more Mexico solo travel tips? This is the podcast for you!
FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico
FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico
Need more Mexico packing tips? Everything covered in this article, and more, is all here in this 10-page Mexico packing checklist. It covers everything you’ll want to bring, from clothing and accessories, to toiletries and travel documents, in a handy printable checklist, so you can check things off and make sure you’re not forgetting anything when packing for Mexico.
Download your FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico below — it has everything you need for your Mexico beach vacation packing list, Mexico city packing list, and general Mexico travel 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 make coming up with your Mexico packing list a breeze!
Any Mexico packing list items we missed?
Please join the conversation and comment below with your packing list for Mexico must-haves!
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