What to Pack for Mexico: Full Mexico Packing List
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If you’re planning a trip to Mexico, whether that be a backpacking extravaganza around the entire country or a visit to one of the country’s many beach towns, you’ll no doubt be wondering what to pack for Mexico. Many of the items on your Mexico packing list will be the same as things you’ll need for any holiday or vacation, but there are also some particular items to think about taking which are particularly perfect for travel to Mexico.
While most people visiting Mexico are doing so for hot weather, there are quite a few spots in the country where you’ll need warmer clothes. The capital, Mexico City, is at 2,250 metres/ 7,382 feet altitude – meaning warm garments are definitely required in the winter and sometimes in the summer as well. Cities like Oaxaca and Puebla have similar climates.
However, if you’re just visiting the beaches, like those in the Yucatan Peninsula (Cancun, Tulum or Playa del Carmen) or beaches on the South Pacific Coast (Puerto Escondid or Huatulco), you’ll be needing mainly summer ware. If you’re heading to Baja California in the winter, you might want to think about warmer clothes for the night time as well.
It all sounds a bit confusing, but don’t worry, I’m going to break it down step by step and region by region.
Let’s get started with this list of things to pack for Mexico by looking at general travel products.
What to Pack for Mexico: Sustainable Travel Gear
These items might not be the first that spring to mind when you’re compiling your Mexico packing list, but please don’t forget reusable products. Using single-use plastics by the seaside really harms oceanic wildlife, and it still ends up there when they’re used further inland as well. Plastics don’t decompose. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if we love the world enough to travel it, we need to be protecting it!
- Metal reusable straws (to say ‘no straw’ in Spanish, use sin popote)
- A water to go bottle – this filters water, meaning that you can drink the tap water in Mexico!
- A reusable coffee cup if you find yourself purchasing takeaway coffee a lot
- Bamboo cutlery to avoid using plastic knives and forks
- Tupperware that can be used instead of plastic bags and to transport leftovers
- Cotton produce bags if you think you will be going to the markets (spoiler: you will, they’re awesome).
Gadgets for Mexico
If you’re only in Mexico for a short time and do not work on the road, your list of things to pack for Mexico may only include minimal gadgets. While I have never felt in an unsafe situation in Mexico or Central America, I do always feel quite vulnerable when I carry around lots of electronics – which, as I’m a blogger, is all the time.
Muggings and hotels being broken into aren’t unheard of in Mexico – although in reality they are a lot less common than you may think, and there are similar incidents all over the world.
If you are planning on taking a lot of valuables with you, don’t lose too much sleep over it, but just make sure wherever you are staying is secure, you always know how to reach your accommodation when you arrive at a new destination (I always avoid arriving at somewhere new in the dark) and you have adequate insurance.
That being said, here are some ideas for gadgets you may find useful when travelling in Mexico:
- Unlocked smartphone – I use the BLU Vivo which is fantastic value – click here to purchase. SIM cards in Mexico are easy to purchase and are relatively cheap.
- Good quality camera – I use and recommend the Fujifilm X-A3 – the Fujifilm X-A5 is the most recent model.
- GoPro – these are especially useful if you are doing lots of activities or filming things. Click here to purchase the Go Pro Hero 6.
- Power Bank that can charge your phone and other devices. This one can last for up to six charges.
- Kindle – great for travelling if you’re a bookworm!
- Adaptor – Mexico uses the same plugs as the US, so if you have gadgets with plugs from other countries (I somehow have chargers with UK, US and AUS plugs…) grab a universal adaptor.
Toiletries for Mexico
- Shampoo bar – using one of these is a great way to reduce your usage of plastic, and they last forever and are much lighter so are perfect for travelling! You can buy them from LUSH orpurchase from Amazon by using this link.
- Soap – again, this is purchasable from LUSH or by clicking here.
- Face Wash
- Make up
- Face wipes
- Suncream – don’t underestimate the Mexican sun, especially in the mountains. It may not feel as hot there but trust me, the sun will get you.
- Hand sanitizer – they have huge bottles of these at most street food stalls, but you’ll be grateful for one of your own.
- Packs of tissues – some places don’t have loo roll. Be prepared.
- Earplugs and an eye mask– if you value your sleep, you might want to think about using both of these. Mexico is a noisy and a lot of places like leaving external lights on at night. I actually ended up using both the entire time I was living in my own apartment at Oaxaca. It also goes without saying that you might need these if you’re planning on staying in hostels or taking night buses.
Medicine for Mexico
Stomach bugs/ traveller’s diahorrea is probably the most common illness reported by travellers to Mexico, especially if you are eating street food. So don’t forget your:
- Immodium – pretty essential if you end up with a case of
- Rehydration sachets– another essential
- Paracetamol – I struggled finding painkillers strong enough for my headaches in Mexico, so it’s a good idea to stock up before you go
- Tiger balm– I just love this stuff, and it’s not available at all in Mexico so grab some on Amazon before you go!
If you do fall ill in Mexico, it is pretty easy to see a doctor (although it will most likely be in Spanish unless you are prepared to pay!) and the pharmacies are well-stocked. Many pharmacies offer free consultations with a doctor who can recommend what medicine to ask for.
You might also want to think about having some travel jabs for your trip to Mexico. There are no required jabs but hepatitis A, tetanus, and potentially some others are recommended. Check here to learn more.
Items to keep you safe in Mexico
Ahh, the age-old question – is Mexico safe for travel? With stories in the media springing up frequently about cartels and kidnappings, it’s easy to see why many people are spooked. But don’t let that stop you – Mexico is a lot safer than it’s made out to be as long as you use your common sense.
I’ve travelled Mexico at several different occasions with different people: I’ve visited with a friend, I’ve backpacked solo, I lived there with my family and I lived there alone, and I’ve never ran into any problems.
But by that, I’m not saying that no traveler ever runs into any problems. Some areas of Mexico can be dodgy (not generally the ones that tourists visit though) – but with common sense and taking necessary precautions, you can avert danger pretty easily.
Here are some ideas of things to pack to keep yourself extra safe during your time in Mexico.
- Money belt – in a lot of places in Mexico (ie. the Mexico City metro) the biggest risk you face is pickpocketing or bag snatching. Keeping your valuables underneath your clothes in a money belt is a great way to avoid this. Click here to purchase one.
- Padlock – I know that the jury is out on whether bag locking is good or bad; it obviously protects items but does also suggest that there is something to hide. I never used one on my actual bag, but people might like to think about it. Padlocks are also essential for using on lockers in hostels and are good for locking bags in a hotel room with no safe. Click here to purchase a combination padlock.
- Bike lock – similarly, if your hotel room has no safe, you might want to lock a bag to something in a room. Most decent hotels shouldn’t have security problems – none that I (or my dad, who lived there for 3 years) have stayed in have ever felt dodgy – but we clearly haven’t been to every hotel in Mexico so we can’t speak for them all! Click through to buy a bike chain.
- Spanish phrasebook – probably my top tip for staying safe in Mexico is to speak Spanish. I have a moderatley fluent level of Spanish and I know I would have found travelling in Latin America a lot more overwhelming without it. Take some classes before you go, or at least teach yourself some with a Spanish phrasebook – click here to purchase.
What to pack for the beach in Mexico
Many people visit Mexico on a beach holiday, so here are some extra things you should think about bringing for visiting the beach in Mexico. Click through to purchase each item.
- More suncream
- Flip flops
- Bikini/ swimsuit/ trunks
- Sunhat – although these can be easily purchased in Mexico
- Snorkel and mask
What to pack for the mountains in Mexico
If you’re spending more times in mountains than by the coast, you’ll want to pack accordingly. Some ideas include (click through to see the items on Amazon):
- Layers for cold evenings
- Hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Work out/ hiking gear
- Waterproof coat
- A 1.5 litre bottle for water (hydration is key)
- A first aid kit
- A flashlight or head torch
- A compass
What to pack for the cities in Mexico
There are lots of great cities to explore in Mexico. Mexico City is the obvious one, but Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Merida, Monterrey and many more places are well worth visiting. In the cities, it’s important to be extra-aware of your possessions and keep them close to your person.
- Bumbag – this is a great way to keep valuables close to your person. Make sure you are aware of it though and keep a hand on it if on a busy subway. Here’s a great bumbag.
- Smartphone with apps – Maps Me is a great map application that works offline and can get you around city centres (generally it is safe to use your phone in Mexican cities in the daytime, but make sure you know the area you are in before you get too distracted pouring over one!). Uber is also great to use in the larger cities, as it is unsafe to hail taxis in many of them, including Mexico City. Uber is a secure alternative.
- Comfy shoes that will protect your feet.
- Hiking clothes for any day trips from the city, like Teotihuacan which are great ruins close to Mexico City.
Clothes to pack for Mexico by climate
You don’t need me to tell you to pack seven t-shirts for a week’s holiday in Mexico (you especially don’t need that from me, who would probably take 2-3 t-shirts for double that time… my bad), but some extra hints about the climate in different spots in the country might be helpful. Because, believe it all not, not all of Mexico is scorching hot all the time.
Baja has a pretty nice temperature all year round. Tijuana, just over the border from San Diego, reaches the late 20s/ early 80s in the summer and sits at around 20 celcuis or around 67 farenheight in the winter. Night time temperatures can be chilly in the winter, with lows of 8 degrees celcius/ 46 farenheight, but they stay mild at 18 celcius/ 64 farenheight in the summer.
Cabo San Lucas, however, has hotter summers in the mid-early 30s/ 90s and pretty warm winters in the mid 20s/ late 70s. Night temperatures are still warm.
Summer – You’ll be wanting shorts, t-shirts, dresses, skirts, and sandals everywhere on the peninsula. You probably won’t need any warmer clothes for the evenings – maybe a thin shirt just in case.
Winter – If you’re in the north, you’ll be mainly wearing summer clothes and maybe something with a bit more coverage for exceptionally cold days and the evenings. If you’re based closer to Cabo San Lucas, you probably will only be wearing summer clothes. You might want a pullover for colder evenings in the winter, but it’s not essential.
The north is a biiiiig place, but it all shares a pretty similar climate – scorching summers which cool off during the night and mild winters with chilly nights. Because of the arid climate, it doesn’t rain all that much in this region – with the rainiest months (meaning, it will rain about a quarter of days a month) being July – September.
Summer – You’re going to want to wear the coolest clothes possible. A t-shirt and light hippy pants are probably your best bet. Pack a rain jacket for the occasional showers as well. It doesn’t really cool down in the hottest months of the year, but if you’re visiting in the shoulder season you might want a pullover for the evenings.
Winter – It’s still pretty warm in the day so think summery clothes still – although you might want a cover-up for the coldest days – and you’ll need some layers for the night times, where the weather can get down to 10 degrees!
The Central Highlands
It reaches high 20s/ low 30s (late 80s/ low 90s) in the Central Highlands in the summer and hovers around the teens at night. In the winter, temperatures are typically low/ mid 20s (late 60s) and night temperatures can see single figures (less than 50 farenheight). June – September are the rainiest months.
Summer – you’ll need summer gear but do be aware that these areas are quite conservative, so it’s best to not wear anything too revealing. It can sometimes feel a lot colder when it rains and at night, so take some warmer clothes as well. And a rain mac is essential for this time of the year.
Winter – you’ll want both summer and winter gear for this time – it can be warm on some days, but the temperature drops off a lot on cloudy days and at night.
Mexico City and surroundings
Mexico City’s altitude gives it a pretty pleasant daytime temperature year-round. It is nearly always in the 20s (70s-80s Fahrenheit) during the daytime and drops off to 6-12 degrees Celcius (43- 54 Fahrenheit) at night.
Summer – you’ll want summery clothes and a couple of warmer bits. Like many big cities, locals in Mexico City tend to wear jeans and quite often jumpers; but it’s fine to wear shorts. You might want warmer clothes for the evenings.
Winter – warmer clothes are necessary, although you may still get some summery days. Make sure you have layers for night time.
The Yucatan is a hot place. With highs of 35-37 (mid 90s) in the summer and highs of erm… 30-32 (80s) in the winter in Merida, you won’t be needing your woolies here. It gets slightly cooler in the coastal towns of Quintina Roo (like Cancun and Tulum), but I’m talking like night lows of 20 Celsius/ 68 Fahrenheit.
Summer – with sticky and humid weather, you won’t want much more than skirts, shorts, t-shirts and a rain mac. Because of the proximity to the beach, wearing shorts and shorter skirts is fine. Oh and pack a rain mac – it’s pretty wet during this season.
Winter – pack as you would for the summer, but ditch the rain mac.
The South West Mountainous Region
Comprising of the city and state of Oaxaca and the very mountainous Chiapas state, this area has rainy, warm summers and dry, cooler winters. Some things that you’ll want to remember are:
Summer – loose clothes, light trousers/ pants, longer shorts, t-shirts, rain gear, warmer clothes as rainy nights can be cool. This area is also quite traditional compared to other areas of Mexico, so do be mindful when thinking about your wardrobe, especially if you are heading to the communities in the mountains (in Oaxaca City it’s fine to wear shorts).
Winter – pack a few warmer bits, especially if you’re heading up to the high mountains where it can sometimes snow. Days are often still t-shirt weather, so it’s all about the layers. Night times can be very chilly.
The Pacific Coast
The Pacific Coast of Oaxaca and Chiapas have two seasons: hot and wet and hot and dry. So pack as follows:
Summer – shorts, t-shirts, loose clothes, rain gear
Winter – shorts, t-shirts, loose clothes
Your Mexico Packing List
I hope this Mexico packing list has given you a good idea of what to take to Mexico, whatever area you happen to be visiting! Mexico is an absolutely fascinating country, so whether you’re on a backpacking extravaganza or a 2 week holiday, you’ll have a blast – even more so now you’re fully prepared! 😉
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Pinning the night away…