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 vacation to Mexico where all your food and entertainment are provided for you, knowing what to pack for Mexico 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!
Table of Contents
What to pack for a vacation to Mexico?
I’ve put together the ultimate packing list for vacation to Mexico that 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 vacation packing list for Mexico, you’ll be setting yourself up for better travels in the future!
Packing list for Mexico: What to Wear on Your Vacation
Let’s start with the basics of what to pack on a trip to Mexico. 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 of what to bring on vacation to Mexico with some of the main clothing items most women pack.
1. Summer Dresses
When you’re planning your outfits for Mexico, 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!)
The skort has made a come-back 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 to Mexico, 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.
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.
4. Light Sweater
You may be planning your Mexico vacation to be warm and in the sun, 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 in Mexico? (I always pack a travel sized bottle of Febreeze, just in case I need to spray some wrinkles out of our clothes.)
What kind of purse and wallet are best for Mexico vacation
5. Cross Body Purse
If you’re going to carry a purse on vacation to Mexico, 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 made 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!)
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.
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!)
What to pack for a vacation to Mexico for swimming
8. Bathing Suit
Actually, you’ll want to take at least two swim suits on your list of things to pack for Mexico. 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 swim suit is accepted by 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!
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!
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 that 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!
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!
What to pack for a vacation to Mexico 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!
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 Mexico packing list.
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.
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 light weight 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.
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.
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 phone 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 in Mexico, 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 to Mexico 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.
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.
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 Mexico travel checklist.
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.
You may also find these articles helpful:
- Heading to Puerto Vallarta? Find out how to use Uber and save half the cost of a taxi at the airport!
- Find out how you can get the Southwest Airline’s Companion Pass and start getting free flights.
Toiletries to pack for vacation to Mexico
We’ve talked about a lot of basics, but your travel checklist for Mexico 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 Wipes||Reef Safe Sunscreen||Aloe Vera|
|Deet Free Bug Spray||Bug Bite ThingⓇ||Activated Charcoal|
|Laundry Detergent||Febreeze||Poopouri Toilet Spray|
|First Aid Kit||Quick Dry Towel||Space Saving Liquids Dispenser|
This part of the checklist for traveling to Mexico 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! Make sure these are on your Mexico packing list.
38. – 43.
|Travel Hair Brush w/ mirror||Satin Hair Scrunchies||Leave-In Conditioner|
|On the Go Shaver||Contact Solution (plus extra set of glasses)||Travel Toothbrush Kit|
Essentials for getting a good night’s sleep on vacation in Mexico
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 for Mexico. (I’m betting they are yours, too.)
44. – 49.
|Travel Night Light||Noise Canceling Ear Plugs||Eye Mask (with bluetooth ear buds)|
|Travel Fan||White Noise Maker||Melatonin 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 to not 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 best 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 to Mexico 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 for Mexico a cinch
You may be wondering how to pack light for a trip to Mexico 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 7 day trip to Mexico really isn’t any different than what to pack for a 2 week holiday to Mexico.
|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 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 your 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, no one’s going to want to steal something so easy to spot.
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!
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!
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 cannon balls. Stuff your extra clothes, a quick dry towel, your phone and anything else you don’t want getting wet and you’re all set!
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 in Mexico and you’ll have at least some level of security for your things.
Camera accessories to pack for your beach vacation to Mexico
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!
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 this for two years now and it’s held up very well!)
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 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 to Mexico 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!
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, TikTock, or Reels? Use your new gimbal to show off your vacation to Mexico with super smooth videos that look so much more professional!
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 to Mexico.
63. – 68.
|Travel/Safety Flashlight||Ear Plugs||Notepad & Paper|
|Headphone/Earbuds||Tums/Ibuprofen||T-shirt/Socks/Undies (in a ziplock)|
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 charger, 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 foot rest 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!
➡️ You may also be interested in reading our review of this All Inclusive Resort in Mexico
Best places to vacation in Mexico
Now that we’ve put together your what to pack for vacation to Mexico checklist, let’s talk about where to stay. Some lucky ducks get to take a family vacation to Mexico every year, while others are planning a once in a lifetime trip.
We get it! No matter what your plans are, you’ll want to know the best places to vacation Mexico has to offer for your needs.
We took an all inclusive vacation in Mexico for our anniversary and stayed at the Riu Palace Pacifico in Puerto Vallarta. I’d give it two thumbs up for being one of the best vacation spots in Mexico! If you’re wondering what to pack when going to Mexico all-inclusive resorts, this list if for you, too!
If you’re planning a Thanksgiving or Christmas vacation in Mexico, you’re going to want to book many months ahead. You can start by checking sites like Hotels.com, but don’t rule out staying in a Vrbo. Some hotels charge for more than four people, so if your family is larger than that (ours is!), staying in a nice Vrbo may turn out to be the cheapest place to vacation in Mexico!
What are the best cities to vacation in Mexico?
Here are ten of the best vacation spots in Mexico:
- 1. Cancun
- 2. Los Cabos
- 4. Cozumel
- 5. Puerto Escondido
- 6. Playa del Carmen
- 7. Puerto Vallarta
- 8. Acapulco
- 9. Mazatlan
- 10. Playa Moroma
We’ve only been to three of these and they each had their own flavor. Honestly though, if you’re looking for one of the best vacation spots Mexico has, search any of these cities and you won’t go wrong!
What is the best place for family vacation in Mexico?
If you’re planning a family vacation to Mexico, you really can’t go wrong with any of the cities listed above, but Tulum and Puerto Vallarta are often at the top of the list for the best place to vacation in Mexico with a family.
Where can you take the cheapest vacation to Mexico?
If you just want a chance to get away and are looking for the cheap vacation spots in Mexico, check out Puerto Escondido and Mazatlan.
You can search here for the kinds of hotels you’ll find so you can start planning your Mexico vacation asap.
How to plan a cheap vacation to Mexico
- Consider booking an all inclusive resort that includes food, drinks and entertainment.
- Book a hotel or Vrbo that has a kitchen so you can cook at least some of your own meals.
- Learn how to use Uber to get to and from the airport and save up to half the cost of shuttles and taxis.
- Travel during the off season (May through September) to find cheap vacation spots in Mexico.
- Use shopping portals like Southwest Vacations to find great prices on bundle vacations.
Start your search for cheap vacation packages to Mexico early on in your vacation planning. You can also find some of the best last minute vacation deals Mexico has available by searching sites like Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak and Hotwire. Use these as a travel guide to get ideas for where you want to go in Mexico.
August through September are considered the rainy season in Mexico. If you’re willing to take a chance, you can find some great deals. Be sure to add some light rain jacket to your travel gear if you decide to travel during these months.
Use Points and Miles to book your vacation to Mexico
My favorite way to plan any vacation anywhere is to use points and miles to “pay” for them. There are some fantastic deals to be had by using credit card sign up bonuses to earn points. You can then use them to book flights and hotels!
We used Chase ultimate reward points to book four nights in the Jacuzzi Suite with a balcony overlooking the ocean in beautiful Puerto Vallarta. It was amazing! Since it was an all inclusive, we literally paid nothing for our vacation there!
Not only that, we used points to book my flight on Southwest Airlines and my Companion Pass to book Rodney’s flight. If you’re not familiar with the Companion Pass, it means anywhere you fly on Southwest, you can bring a buddy with you and all you pay are the taxes!
There are things you need to know about using credit cards to collect miles and points (like never spend more on your card than you can pay off each month), but if your credit is good and you manage your money responsibly, the points are there for the taking! That means you can rack up a steady stream of free vacations and travel more for less money.
Is it safe to vacation in Mexico?
Yes, it is safe to vacation in Mexico, but you’ll want to stick to popular tourist destinations. Even there, petty crime can be a problem, but it’s not as dangerous as going someplace like Mexico City. Puerto Vallarta is considered one of the safest places to travel in Mexico.
Things to know before traveling to Mexico
At the time of this writing, Mexico is open to travelers, but there are testing requirements to return to the U.S. Many hotels and resorts are providing testing for free (the Riu Palace Pacifico handled this in a very seamless, professional manner,) so consider that when deciding where to stay. It’s important to find out about any Mexico travel restrictions before you go, so be sure to do your homework.
What would you add to your Mexico vacation packing list?
I’ve covered all the basics of what to pack for vacation in Mexico, plus a few things you might not have thought of. I want to hear from you, though! Are there other packing tips, travel tips, or things to take to Mexico you think should be added?
Share it with me in the comments. We want to hear about it!
Till next time,
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