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Mexico packing list: a beginner’s guide

Mexico

Part of the appeal of Mexico as a destination is the sheer variety the country offers. Mountain hikes to pristine lakes, lazy beach days under the basking sun, and bustling cities that thrum with life all exist within the country’s borders, and can all be explored on a trip here. While this all makes for a phenomenal place to visit, it does mean putting together the perfect Mexico packing list is a lot harder said than done. 

Luckily for you, we’ve put in the effort and cobbled together a list of all the travel essentials you need, so that you can focus on enjoying your Mexico trip rather than worrying about what you might have forgotten. 

1. Important documents

When it comes down to it, if you’re travelling to Mexico the only items you really need are your passport, travel insurance documents, and tickets — after all, you can buy clothes anywhere. If you prebook any tours or overland travel, also ensure those tickets are available to you, whether they be printed out or available offline on some kind of device.

2. Filtering water bottle

Whether you’re in Mexico City or Playa del Carmen, the tap water in Mexico isn’t safe to drink. As a result, single-use plastic water bottles are cheap and prevalent, but obviously have a huge environmental impact.

Thankfully, you can save cash and be ecologically conscious by packing a filtering water bottle. Many of the top brands, like Lifestraw, make tap water accessible as they get rid of the most dangerous impurities and bacteria. A Mexico packing list essential, especially when paired with iodine tablets. 

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3. Reef safe sunscreen

Mexico gets hot, and even in the mountainous central regions (home to some of the best places to visit in Mexico) where temperatures do drop, it remains stunningly sunny for much of the year. This means that sunscreen is a must include on your packing list for Mexico.

Reef safe sunscreen is made from chemicals that won’t damage the gorgeous marine ecosystems that surround the Mexican coast, so you can frolic in the sea guilt free.

4. Sun hat or cap

We don’t want to sound like overcautious parents, but you really cannot underestimate how important it is to be prepared for the sun when putting together your Mexico packing list. A big hat or cap to keep the rays away will not only allow you to wander around in the baking heat for longer, but could also stop you from getting burned.  

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5. Bathing suit

Sure, you might be heading to Mexico for its architectural treasures like San Miguel de Allende rather than to explore the underwater museums of Cancun, but it’s always helpful to have a bathing suit around. Much of the country has warm weather for most of the year, and pools are common in accommodation, even in budget hostels! 

6. Rain jacket

Even if you’re not planning on visiting Mexico during the rainy season, you should still bring a rain jacket with you as the downpours here are something else. Skies can go from sunny and clear to completely overcast in just a couple of hours, and when the rain is unleashed upon the landscape it doesn’t relent. Without this, you will be soaked through, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

7. Credit cards or debit cards

While many smaller establishments and stores in Mexico are still cash only, card use is very common in tourist-heavy areas like Oaxaca City, Mexico City, and Puerto Escondido. It’s always good to carry a little cash for emergencies, but there are also ATMs available across the country, so the cards are more useful and safer to have on your person. 

If you’re heading on our Yucutan Highlights tour, you might even be able to get away without spending any hard cash, as the stops are all well developed for tourists, including a widespread ability to pay by card. 

Image source:Contiki

8. A Mexican SIM card

Even if you have a global phone plan, adding a Mexican SIM card to your Mexico packing list is a good idea as they tend to get much better signal and a higher quality internet connection than international cards. This makes planning routes or looking up restaurants much easier (and translating too!). 

9. Flip flops or sandals

Useful for the beach and pool, this type of footwear is needed if you don’t want to be traipsing through the sand in heavy shoes. The warm weather of Mexico allows for plenty of these opportunities, and you don’t want to miss them because of having the wrong footwear.  

This is also a great reason to pack tank tops and other warm weather clothing. With that said, you should keep in mind that some areas of Mexico are more conservative, so ensure you have some light trousers and long-sleeved tops so you can stay cool without drawing attention to yourself. 

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10. Walking shoes

Whether you’re exploring Mexico City, hiking in some gorgeous mountains, or checking out the world’s largest pyramid, you’ll want to avoid sore feet or painful blisters. Good hiking shoes mean you can explore in comfort, so ensure you add them to your Mexico packing list. 

11. Camera or smartphone

It doesn’t matter if you’re heading to Mexico for a short stop or going on a bigger journey like our Mexico Grande tour, the country is full of countless photo moments.  

This is true whether you prefer to snap idyllic waterfalls or crazy parades that are bursting with colour, because you’ll have the opportunity to do both here. You just need to be ready!  

12. Insect repellent

This suggestion might seem laughable if you’re in Mexico City, but if you head to the beach or some of the more rugged parts of the country, your trip could be ruined by the sheer number of bugs and creepy crawlies that call this country home.  

While biodiversity is a wonderful thing, you don’t want to wake up to a mosquito nibbling on you, so pack the repellent and you’ll be better off for it. 

hot air balloon trip over Mexico City

Image source:Contiki

13. Crossbody bag

If you’re heading on a whistle stop tour of the country’s highlights like our Mexican Fiesta trip, there’s no more handy companion than one of these small bags.  

They’re perfect for carrying the essentials without being as bulky or easy to open as a backpack, meaning you can explore freely and without having to look over your shoulder constantly. It also helps to keep your valuables safe. 

14. Basic medical kit

Accidents can happen to even the most cautious traveller, so a basic medical kit that includes things like painkillers, medical tape, bandages, plasters, and antiseptic cream is a vital addition to any Mexican packing list. You never know when a little nick might end up becoming infected, so stopping that possibility at source is important for peace of mind. 

15. Medication and relevant paperwork

On a similar note to the above, if you have any specialist medication ensure that you have all the right paperwork to bring it with you. Mexican pharmacies are well stocked, but it’s better to have your medication in a language that you know. 

16. Headphones

Mexico is a big country, and getting from one place to the other requires a fair amount of journey time. While it’s a sociable nation and travelling is a great way to meet like-minded people, sometimes you just want to sit back, take in the heavenly views, and listen to some music or an audiobook.  

17. Power bank

As mentioned above, some journeys in the country can be incredibly long, so a power bank is a vital addition to your Mexico packing list. This isn’t just so you’re always entertained during epic bus rides or dull flights, but also because having a fully charged device can be the difference between arriving at your accommodation with ease and spending hours trying to figure out directions with limited Spanish. 

18. Microfiber towel

Many accommodation options in Mexico offer towels as part of the package, but you never want to be caught short without one, as there’s nothing worse than having to drip dry in a strange place. A microfiber towel is both convenient and easily stored, making it an ideal item to pack for Mexico. 

19. Travel lock

You can never be too safe when it comes to your belongings while travelling, so a lock of some kind is a must add to any Mexico packing list. This means you can use lockers without having to rent out a lock, and can even ensure your baggage zips remain closed when you fly, giving you complete peace of mind.  

Ready to start planning your first Mexico visit? Check out Contiki’s Mexico tours, exclusively for 18-35s, and book your favourite one today! 

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