Packing tips for a summer vacation in Mexico

While we are still vacationing in SE Asia, the following post has been contributed by Seb, you can check out more of his insightful tips and travel stories at Aspiring Backpacker.

Mexico is one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet and it is a country that has so much to offer. There are lush jungles, white sand beaches and arid regions to go along with that. It is therefore interesting to consider what to pack before you go. It doesn’t matter if you are staying in one of the houses for rent in Mexico or camping somewhere to save some money, Mexico is a place that everyone will enjoy. So read on to find out some useful tips for packing when heading to Mexico.


Documents are your number one priority when visiting any country, so having your passport, travel itinerary, tickets, and your IDs with you is going to be at the top of your packing list. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, bring the papers related to it as well. Do not forget to have your identification (like your driver’s license) and a photocopy of your passport with you when you go out.


If you are flying to Mexico, you should convert your money to Mexican pesos before leaving the airport, especially because a number of restaurants and other shops won’t accept cards in Mexico. Ideally, you would get enough money to get by at the airport and then withdraw from an ATM somewhere else, especially because currency conversions can be extremely expensive from the airport or from a money changer. You could always use an ATM at the airport too if you have time. Small denominations are great, especially because you will be tipping a fair amount in Mexico (don’t forget to do this too!).

A hat

A hat can be one of the most useful things you can have in your bag. It doesn’t matter if it is  a baseball cap, sun hat or even a sombrero, a hat is going to protect from the hot Mexican summer sun. When climbing up the steep steps of the pyramid in Chichen, it can shield your face and your scalp from the sun and you will certainly enjoy a much nicer trip because of this. Having sunburn on holiday is one of the worst things that I can possibly think of whilst traveling.

Chichen Itza by Arian Zwegers via flickr

Reef-safe sunscreen

When you’re out on the beach or just taking a walk in town, you absolutely have to put some sunscreen on. Choose something with a high sun protection factor (SPF) to ensure that you get the protection that you need. I would go for a minimum of 30, but ideally you could go even higher to be on the safe side. In addition, you should choose a sunscreen that does not contain oxybenzone as it can be deadly to coral reefs. Don’t forget your lip balm too to protect your lips!

For her

Loose and flowing tops are always welcome no matter where you are in Mexico and if you’re going to the Yucatan peninsula, you can wear that sort of top all year round, even during winter,  because it’s warmer there than in other parts of Mexico.

In Tulum, for example, and other seaside towns, you can wear shorts and sleeveless shirts, though tank tops are not smiled upon in this area nor in other parts of Mexico. Sundresses are also welcome here, along with maxi skirts, which give you protection from the sun, whilst allowing your skin to breathe.

If you plan on heading  to the north, south or west, it is a good idea to pack a couple of long sleeved shirts and jeans as the weather there tends to be cooler than in other parts.

For him

Cotton shirts are a traveler’s best friend and Mexico is no exception to this rule. On the Yucatan Peninsula, short-sleeved shirts that are a little bit more relaxed in fit, will be the best option. Don’t be afraid to have something colourful on hand too!

As with the clothing for women, when you are heading to the north, west or south, warmer clothing like long-sleeved shirts will be a good thing to have, as well as a pair of pants, jeans or chinos.

When it comes to seaside towns, T-shirts will most likely be your go to option, along with polo shirts. You can opt to wear shorts or three quarter pants too.

Natural fibers, such as cotton, are going to be the best option for your clothing. This is especially the case in the warmer parts of Mexico, where you will be praising the comfort and breathability that a nice cotton T-shirt brings. Some synthetic materials are also good, such as rayon, because they are lighter and much more breathable than other types of synthetic materials.


No summer vacation would be complete without a dip in the amazing waters of the aqua coloured waters of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. It is the best way to beat the heat and refresh yourself so that you are ready for your next adventure. It is always a good idea to bring along at least two sets of swimwear, so that one set can dry whilst you are using the other.

Beaches of Tulum, Mexico by Stefano Ravalli via flickr

Cover up

When on a beach, you can definitely wear your bikini or swimming trunks, but you shouldn’t take this as a sign that you can do it everywhere. Mexicans are relaxed, but they can also be a little bit conservative, so it is a good idea to respect this and cover up when necessary. Something live a wrap or sarong will be perfect for this.

Walking shoes

Planning on visiting somewhere like Teotihuacan during your stay? Then you had better bring a pair of good, sturdy, walking shoes because you will be walking a lot exploring jungles, ancient cities and much more. Good walking shoes should not be left out of any bag when traveling and your feet will thank you after the trip.

Teotihuacan by Steve Boland via flickr

Water shoes

Something to consider when heading to Mexico is a pair of water shoes, especially because not every beach has a sandy bottom. Also, if you decide to go caving in one of the numerous caves, it is definitely a wise decision to protect your feet from any sharp rocks.


Sandals are something that go without saying for a warm weather holiday destination, so don’t forget to bring them along! These are absolutely perfect if you plan to spend a lot of your time at the beach.


Bring a foldable bag, like a drawstring or sling bag which you can stuff with your essentials like your travel documents, cash, ID, and handkerchief. Always keep your travel documents in front of you, so do wear your backpack in front if you are in crowded areas, where you may be the target of pickpockets.


A light jacket or cardigan is always a good idea in a warm country, because you never know when you might need it. This is also important to remember if you want to head to a restaurant that may have a dress code. Copper Canyon is a great example of a place where you also may need a jacket, especially due to the cooler temperatures on the plains.

Copper Canyon Mexico by Justin Vidamo via Flickr


A laptop is a great thing to have, but depending on the size, you may decide to leave it at home. I am a big fan of traveling light and Mexico is a good place to have only the things you need. It can get very painful worrying about and carrying your electronics around everywhere. This is especially true because smartphones are so good and can definitely replace your laptop for a shorter trip. A powerbank is a great compliment to this and naturally you should bring your camera too, to get some amazing shots of one of the most amazing countries. Don’t forget to bring your cables and cords too!

The other stuff

Pack a small bottle of bug spray to shoo away any mosquitoes and other insects. You’ll also want to bring Ziploc bags for all your toiletries, cosmetics and wet things. Don’t forget to bring a small first aid kit, as it may be extremely useful in case of emergencies, especially if you are traveling with children. Some essential medication are things like paracetamol, anti-diarrhea tablets, and aspirin. If you’re taking any medication, bring more than enough, as it may not be so easy to find it in Mexico.  A small sewing kit is also a good idea, as you’ll never know when you’ll encounter a loose button or torn shorts.

Keep in mind that anything you forgot at home, you can purchase in Mexico. Most of all, make a list of your most important things and remember that any room left in your suitcase or bag is room to add a souvenir! Enjoy your travels in Mexico and don’t forget to check out other swoon-worthy destinations here!

Photography by Bencito the traveller via flickr


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