What to Pack for a Vacation to Mexico: Your Complete Planning Guide

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Planning ahead for what to pack for a vacation to Mexico can make the difference between an OK vacation and a fantastic vacation. You definitely don’t want to skip this step! Even if you book an all-inclusive trip to Mexico, where all your food and entertainment are provided for you, knowing what to pack for your trip is a must!

I consider myself a pretty strategic packer, but on a recent trip we took, I left a sun hat off my list when I was packing for Mexico. Duh!

Believe me, it’s much easier to relax and enjoy your time in a beautiful pool if you’re not blinded by the very same sunshine you came to enjoy!

What to Pack for a Vacation to Mexico

I’ve put together the ultimate packing list for a vacation to Mexico, which will make your trip much more enjoyable. You don’t have to spend much money, but you do want to go prepared.

Many of these items can be used on other trips, too. So, while you’re working on your list for this vacation, you’ll be setting yourself up for better travels in the future!

Mexico: What to Wear on Your Vacation

Let’s start with the basics of what to pack. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a world traveler or taking your first trip to Mexico, packing lists are what’s going to keep you from forgetting even the most obvious things you’ll need. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience!)

What Should Women Wear in Mexico?

Let’s start this list with some of the main clothing items most women pack.

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1. Summer Dresses

When you’re planning your outfits for a beach vacation, pack one or two lightweight summer dresses. Not only will these keep you cool during the day, but some restaurants (especially at resorts) have a dress code for dinner. Go for wrinkle-resistant fabrics because honestly, who’s going to iron anything when they’re on vacation in Mexico? (Definitely not me!)

A floral summer dress showing what women wear in Mexico

2. Skort

The skort has made a comeback, and I honestly couldn’t be happier! I’ve been a fan of these for years and was happy to see them in stores again. When you’re planning what to wear in warm-weather destinations, put at least one pair of skorts on your list. They are fabulous for adding a bit more style to your wardrobe by looking like a cute mini skirt, but because of the shorts underneath, you can still be active without worrying about showing what’s underneath. Perfect.

blue floral skort with shorts underneath are great for wearing on vacation in Mexico

3. Travel Scarf

I love scarves to begin with, but there’s only one kind I’ll travel with, and I always travel with it. It’s lightweight enough that it doesn’t feel bulky, which is important when you’re already carrying so much while traveling. It can double as a small pillow on the plane and can add style to your wardrobe, but more importantly, it has a zipper with a pocket! This is perfect for stashing your ID and boarding pass to keep your hands free while going through security. You can also use it to hold your hotel room key and some cash if you don’t want to carry your purse around.

Infinity travel scarf is great for carrying personal items on vacation

4. Light Sweater

You might expect Mexico to be warm at all times, but when evening comes, temperatures can dip down to where it’s a bit chilly. Some restaurants may have their air conditioning on, and having a lightweight sweater or a light jacket to slip on will make your evening much more comfortable. Look for a wrinkle-resistant fabric because, again, who’s going to iron while they’re on vacation? (I always pack a travel-sized bottle of Febreeze, just in case I need to spray some wrinkles out of our clothes.)

We included a light sweater on our list of what should women wear in Mexico

What Kind of Purse and Wallet Are Best?

5. Cross Body Purse

If you’re going to carry a purse on vacation, make it a cross-body style. That way, you never have to set it down anywhere, and it’s much harder for anyone to grab and run. I only travel with my cross-body purse and make sure it’s small enough to fit inside my backpack. That way, it doesn’t count as a personal item when I’m boarding a plane with my carry-on and backpack. (Your purse and your backpack each count as a personal item, and you’re only allowed one, so make sure your purse is small enough to put inside your bag or backpack!)

A cross body purse makes it easier to keep your things safe when traveling

6. RDIF Blocking Wallet or Card Holder

Most new wallets come with this ability, but I wouldn’t travel internationally without having some sort of safeguard in place for your cards. Criminals are just so darn tricky nowadays, and your credit card information can even be stolen from inside your own wallet. Keep them safely tucked in an RDIF blocking wallet or card holder, and you won’t have to worry about that happening.

Keep your credit cards safely tucked in an RDIF blocking wallet when vacationing in Mexico

7. Neck Wallet

This is a good choice if you’re going to be out and about with cash on you and either don’t want to carry a purse or want the added security of keeping it out of sight. We’ve used neck wallets as well as the kind that goes around your waist, but I much prefer these. (I once had the buckle come undone on one I was wearing around my waist. Talk about awkward to fix without announcing to the world you’re wearing it!)

A neck wallet keeps your money and ID hidden while traveling to Mexico

What to Pack for Swimming

8. Bathing Suit

Actually, you’ll want to take at least two swimsuits on your packing list. That way, one can be drying while you wear the other one. (There’s nothing worse than trying to wriggle back into a wet swimsuit!) If you’re going to get a massage on the beach, you’ll want to go for a two-piece. Not a fan of bikinis? No worries, there are plenty of modest tankinis to choose from!

9. Swim Suit Cover Up

With all the time you’re going to be spending at the pool or down by the beach, you’re going to want something quick and easy to slip on to walk around in. While pretty much any style swimsuit is accepted in the water, it’s appropriate to wear a cover-up when you’re walking around the resort or stopping by a market. Besides, they come in some super cute styles!

it's appropriate to wear something like this pink swimsuit cover up when at the pool or a beach vacation

10. Sun Hat

As I mentioned before, having a sun hat to wear at the beach or in the pool can make all the difference in how much you enjoy your time there. Even with sun glasses on, the sun can be so bright you’ll be constantly shading your eyes to be able to see. If you’re not normally a hat person, there are so many styles to choose from, and remember, you’re on vacation, right? Step out of your comfort zone for your own comfort’s sake. You’ll be glad you did!

A floppy sunhat like this one is a must for any Mexico pack list

11. Sun Glasses

This really goes without saying, but if you don’t put it on your list, you might just forget them. (Especially for those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest and can go months during the winter without needing them!) Whether you grab them from your car or treat yourself to a new pair, be sure you pack them. I promise you will want them!

Add these rose gold sunglasses to your list of what to pack for vacation to Mexico

12. Flip Flops

If you go to Mexico without flip flops, are you even doing it right? I think not. I rank them right up there with remembering to pack your swim suit! Even if you don’t normally wear flip flops, you’ll want to pack a pair to wear around the pool or to the beach. They are so easy to slip off and on and light enough to carry in your beach bag if needed. Don’t like the way flip flops feel between your toes? Opt for a pair of slide sandals instead. Either way, make sure one of them is on your list of things to pack for Mexico!

Black flip flops with floral design would be great to add to your Mexico packing list

What to Pack for the Beach

13. Rash Guard Long Sleeve Shirt

Listen friends, take it from someone who has fried her lily-white skin more times than she cares to count. You don’t want a sunburn when you’re on vacation! Sunscreen is great (you need that, too!), but if you’re spending more than a few hours in the sun, love your skin enough to cover it up. You’ll still get plenty of sunshine while you’re there without overexposing yourself to the sun’s harmful rays!.

When taking an all inclusive vacation to Mexico, take a long sleeve rash guard shirt to wear

14. Sarong

While a sarong can be used as a swim suit cover up, it can also be used in quite a few other ways. Tie it around your waist like a long skirt, or fold it over and tie it for a short skirt. Use it as a light bed sheet, fold it up to use as a small pillow, or even tie the corners to carry things in like a hobo bag or purse. They take up so little space in your luggage that you really can’t go wrong adding them to your packing list when you head to Mexico.

This pink and white sarong takes up very little space to pack and is what women wear in Mexico around the pool

15. Beach Bag

Be sure to take some sort of beach bag with you. A large, open style tote can carry everything you need to the pool or beach and can also double as a shopping bag when needed. The best beach bag is made of mesh fabric that’s water-resistant and lets the sand fall out. Depending on how big yours is, you can even use it as your carry on bag.

Blue mesh fabric beach bag can carry everything you need on your beach vacation
This is our favorite beach bag! It folds up small enough to pack in our luggage and goes on every beach trip with us!

16. Water Shoes

A good pair of water shoes can double for hiking shoes and will come in super handy if hikes are on your agenda. You can get through the muddy sections without worrying about ruining your shoes, plus they’re lightweight and easy to pack. Use them if you’re going boating, doing water sports, or any place your regular shoes would get ruined or weigh you down.

These black and teal water shoes are a great choice for what to pack for Mexico vacation and wear to the beach or on hikes

17. Kühls Shorts

Although they may seem pricey at first glance, don’t let that stop you from making these your go-to shorts for traveling. They are made to move with you, stretchy yet contoured. Most of all, they are made to last. Don’t like this style? They have plenty of others to choose from with multiple color options. I feel I should warn you, though. Once you wear a pair of Kühls shorts, nothing else will do for you!

18. Sand Free Beach Blanket

This is the coolest thing! It has super tiny holes that allow the sand to sift right through the blanket so it doesn’t stay on top with you. The corners stay down, so it stays just how you put it, and even has a little zipper pocket to put things in, like your keys or wallet. It folds very flat and weighs very little, so it’s easy to pack and enjoy on the beach in Mexico.

Take a sand free beach blanket on your vacation to Mexico beach to stay more comfortable and keep the sand off your things
This 9×10 blanket is perfect for any beach vacation!

19. Waterproof Phone Case

If you’re planning a vacation in Mexico, you’re most likely going to be in or near the water. I’m always shocked when I see people taking selfies in the pool with no cover on their phones at all. I’m definitely not that brave! Assuming you’re going to want to protect your phone from getting wet and potentially ruined, you can either go with an inexpensive pouch or get an actual case like this. I have the pouch but am still very hesitant to actually get water on it, so I think I’ll get the case for next time.

Travel Accessories to Pack for Mexico

You may be wondering how to pack light for a trip to Mexico. It can be done! We usually try to fly with just our carry on luggage, but if you’re taking a family vacation, you may need to check an extra bag or two.

Sometimes it’s just not worth trying to fit everything you need into your carry ons. (Find out why we love Southwest Airlines and how they can save you money on checked baggage!) If you can make room, here are some more things I recommend adding to your list of things to take on vacation:

19. Travel clothes line

The weather in Mexico can be pretty muggy, and sometimes it takes a while for clothes to dry. Having a way to hang swim suits or things you’ve laundered makes it much easier than hanging them over balcony chairs, shower doors, and anyplace else you can find. (Been there? We have!) This one takes up very little packing space, which is, of course, important.

20. Neck Fan

Call me a wimp, but I hate feeling muggy and getting all sweaty when I’m just walking around. I got one of these neck fans when I was on vacation in Texas one summer, and it made all the difference in staying comfortable being outside for hours. I take this baby everywhere I go if I know it’s going to be hot!

21. Chill Pal Cooling Towel

Another option to keep from overheating is a cooling towel. I also have one of these that I take on hikes and places where the neck fan isn’t a good option. It really does help keep from getting overheated, which is so important when the temperatures start rising.

A cooling towel can keep you from overheating when on vacation in Mexico in the summer

22. Collapsable Water Bottle

Unless you know for certain the water is safe to drink, don’t drink the water in Mexico. So what’s a person to do to make sure they stay hydrated? Take your own reusable water bottle and fill it whenever you’re somewhere you know it’s safe to drink. If you’re staying at a resort or hotel, fill your water bottle with purified water before heading to the beach or use a LifeStraw to filter the water yourself.

A collapsable water bottle makes it easy to get clean water since you don't always know if the water is safe to drink in Mexico

23. Lifestraw Personal Water Filter

If you don’t have access to bottled water and know you’re not going to be around filtered water to refill your own bottle, you can take a personal water filter. This LifeStraw removes parasites and bacteria, so you can be sure it’s safe to drink the water in Mexico. That’s important to me, so I’ve added it to this travel checklist.

A Lifestraw personal water filter removes parasites and bacteria if you don't know if the water is safe to drink in Mexico

24. Portable Power Charger

This is a must for me! I love taking photos when I travel, and on days we’re up to catch a sunrise and still out after sundown, my phone doesn’t always stay charged that long. There’s nothing worse than missing a once-in-a-lifetime photo because my phone was dead and I didn’t have a way to charge it! These are small enough to stash in my purse, and I don’t travel without one.

25. Travel Power Strip

Some hotels have plenty of outlets available and even lamps with USB ports on the nightstand. That’s super convenient for charging your phone at night! Other hotels barely have enough outlets available for the basic necessities, let alone all the things you need to plug in. Having a power strip with a few extra outlets and USB ports makes it so much easier when you’re traveling.

Having a travel power strip with a few extra outlets and USB ports makes it easy to plug in while traveling

Toiletries Worth Packing

We’ve talked about a lot of basics, but your travel checklist isn’t complete without a few more basics. You can get away with small amounts of each (think travel-sized), but you’re going to want to consider each of them. These don’t take up much space, and I never travel without them!

26. – 37.

Make Up WipesReef Safe SunscreenAloe Vera
Deet Free Bug SprayBug Bite ThingⓇActivated Charcoal
Laundry DetergentFebreezePoopouri Toilet Spray
First Aid KitQuick Dry TowelSpace Saving Liquids Dispenser

This part of the checklist may be obvious, but as I mentioned before, it’s the obvious things that often get overlooked. You don’t want to get to Mexico and realize you forgot these packing list essentials!

38. – 43.

Travel Hair Brush w/ mirrorSatin Hair ScrunchiesLeave-In Conditioner
On the Go ShaverContact Solution (plus extra set of glasses)Travel Toothbrush Kit

Essentials for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep on Vacation

These things can make all the difference in getting a good night’s sleep when you’re away from home! They are high on my list when I’m reviewing my packing checklist. (I’m betting they are yours, too.)

44. – 49.

Travel Night LightNoise Canceling Ear PlugsEye Mask (with bluetooth ear buds)
Travel FanWhite Noise MakerMelatonin Gummies

Non-tangible Items for Your Trip to Mexico

When you’re asking yourself “what do I need to pack for a trip to Mexico,” don’t overlook non-tangible necessities.

50. Travel Insurance

I never used to buy travel insurance, but nowadays, I wouldn’t even consider traveling internationally without it. With everything we’ve been through since 2020, you’d have to be a pretty big gambler not to consider it. If you get sick in a foreign country, your normal health insurance most likely isn’t going to cover all the things travel insurance will.

Plus, they have plans for pre-existing health conditions, travelers over age 70, specific plans for cruises, and more. It’s based on the cost and length of your trip and usually isn’t very expensive, yet it’s so worth it to know you’ll have peace of mind on your vacation. Don’t skip this step!

51. VPN (Virtual Private Network)

If you’ve never been out of the country, you may not be familiar with this. However, without a reliable VPN, you leave yourself open to internet pirates. A VPN will provide privacy protection as well as unblock sites you otherwise won’t have access to once you cross the border.

If you have plans to travel internationally, your best bet is to buy an annual plan and save on the monthly cost. Otherwise, you may be able to do the free trial and cancel it when you get back home. I also appreciate how much it speeds up my internet, which, honestly, is worth it right there. I put this on my list of Mexico travel essentials!

Here are some things that are worth considering for what to bring on vacation simply because they’ll make your trip much more enjoyable!

If you don’t have these things, consider adding one new item to your list each time you take a vacation. If you invest slowly, in time you’ll have everything you need no matter where you’re traveling to.

Luggage Accessories to Make Packing a Cinch

You may be wondering how to pack light when this list just keeps getting longer. I hear ya! Everybody has their own comfort level for what they feel is important and what doesn’t fit their needs.

If you do it right, though, what to pack for a 5-day trip really isn’t any different than what to pack for a 2-week trip.

Don’t just think about the things to bring to Mexico; think about how you’re going to get them there.

52. Softside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

If you haven’t updated your luggage in a while, you may not know there’s a world of difference between the old style with two wheels and the newer luggage with four spinner wheels. I’ll never go back to two wheels again! I’m also not a fan of the hard case (we’ve had holes punched in two of our checked suitcases so far), so it’s a soft case all the way for me.

53. Luggage Cover

Ever stand at a luggage carousel and see nothing but black suitcases coming down the ramp? How do you know which one is yours, and (better question) how can you easily spot if someone (accidentally) grabs yours? Easy! Slip a luggage protector over your suitcase, and not only will you be able to easily spot yours at the baggage claim, but no one’s going to want to steal something so easy to spot.

A fun luggage cover makes it much easier to tell your suitcase apart from others

54. Packing Cubes

By now, I’m sure most people have heard of packing cubes. Maybe you have, but you’re thinking you can pack just as well without them. Maybe, but I doubt it. That was me before I tried them. I even tried packing individual outfits in gallon ziplock bags once, thinking I could do the same as packing cubes without spending the money. That lasted about half a trip and was not worth the effort! When I did buy them, I bought a cheap set, and the zippers broke pretty quickly. They lasted long enough for me to know they made a huge difference in how I packed, though, so I upgraded to a nicer set and am not kidding when I say they’re worth a little extra money!

Once you decide what to wear on vacation to Mexico, use packing cubes in your suitcase

55. Luggage closet/Organizer

I’m already a fan of packing cubes, but this takes things to a whole new level! I don’t have one yet, but I’ve definitely got my eye on this one and plan to get it before our next trip. What a great idea to be able to pack like this and just lift it out to hang in your hotel closet. Super smart idea!

A luggage closet organizer makes it really easy to stay organized

56. Dry Bag

If you’re going to be doing any activities where your things could get wet, put them in a waterproof dry bag. Think kayaking, hiking on a rainy day, or even sitting by the pool where kids are doing cannonballs. Stuff your extra clothes, a quick dry towel, your phone, and anything else you don’t want to get wet, and you’re all set!

Use a dry bag to keep your things from getting wet at the beach or doing water sports

57. TSA Approved Padlock

These are not theft-proof for someone who’s willing to cut the cable or has a TSA universal key to pick the lock. However, they are a great deterrent for someone who might otherwise have quick, easy access to what’s inside your luggage. Keep these on your luggage while you’re traveling or when you leave your things in your hotel room, and you’ll have at least some level of security for your things.

Use TSA approved padlocks to keep your luggage safe

Camera Accessories to Pack for Your Beach Vacation

58. Spare SD Card

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to take photos with your camera and realized you left your SD card in your computer. (Raising mine multiple times.) If you’re only using your phone when you take pictures, no problem, but if you’re packing another camera, do yourself a favor and always make sure you have an extra card in your bag!

Take an extra SC card for taking pictures on your vacation to Mexico

59. Camera Backpack

For our trip to the Grand Canyon, I finally bought myself this backpack that holds my Nikon camera. It was hard to give up my trusty backpack that I usually travel with, but it was so nice to be able to bring my camera without having to stuff the case in one of our backpacks while we boarded! (Edit: I have had this for three years now, and it’s held up very well!)

A camera backpack makes it easy to travel with a bigger camera

60. Underwater Camera

If snorkeling is on your list, you’re definitely going to want an underwater camera! There’s a whole world of colorful, amazing life, and your phone isn’t going to be a good option here, even with a waterproof pouch. Unless you’re going to be content with postcards, you need to get an underwater camera to take your own amazing underwater photos!

Under water camera for snorkeling in Mexico

61. Selfie Stick

You may have a love-hate relationship with selfie sticks. Believe me, I understand. I saw so many people using them on our recent vacation that I wish I had remembered to pack ours. It makes it so much easier to take selfies with more of the beautiful background in the photo, and isn’t that what you’re there for? If you don’t have one yet, they’re cheap enough to get one even if you only use it every now and then. One awesome sunset selfie is worth it!

Selfie sticks make it easy to get the background in your photos

62. Phone Gimbal

This little gadget is really cool! If you’re going to be making any videos, you are going to want to get one of these. It makes everything so much smoother and takes your videos to a whole new level! Doing videos for YouTube, TikTok, or Reels? Use your new gimbal to show off your vacation with super smooth videos that look so much more professional.

Serious photographers use this phone gimbal for making videos on their phone

What Should You Keep In Your Travel Backpack?

Speaking of backpacks, there are certain things that stay in mine all the time. I really only use my backpack when I’m traveling, so this works for me. If you use a backpack for more than just traveling, I have another tip for you. (Read on.)

By keeping these things in my backpack, I don’t even have to think about them when I’m planning what to bring on any trip.

63. – 68.

Travel/Safety FlashlightEar PlugsNotepad & Paper
Headphone/EarbudsTums/IbuprofenT-shirt/Socks/Undies (in a ziplock)

69. Airplane Foot Rest

One thing I highly recommend for pretty much any length of flight is this footrest you can get on Amazon. Especially if you have any back or leg pain, this little gadget can make a huge difference in how comfortable you are on the flight and is really easy to use!

Using a foot rest can make an airplane flight much more comfortable

How to Pack a Carry On for the Flight

It took me a few years of flying to get a good system down, but I finally have it!

Now, part of my packing process includes putting everything I need in two small zipper bags. One is for organizing electronics and contains my accessories like headphones, power cords, portable power chargers, etc., that I might need while traveling. It’s small enough I can easily pull it out of my backpack and put it in the seat pocket before I sit down.

The second small bag is for everything else like chapstick, gum, protein bar, tissues, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes (I always wipe down the tray and anything I’ll touch), and anything else I want close at hand on the flight.

Having those two bags ready to go makes the process of getting seated and settled so much easier! I grab them and the footrest I keep ready to go in my travel backpack, and I’m all set!

Many people also travel with a neck pillow and a travel blanket. I’m about 50-50 with these, depending on how long my trip is, but honestly, they do make traveling so much more comfortable if you bring them. You can usually snap your pillow on the handle of your backpack so it’s hands-free while you’re on the move. Pick a blanket that folds up super small and can also snap onto your backpack, and there’s really no reason not to take it everywhere!

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Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.