What to Pack for Mexico: The Essential List

Planning a trip to Mexico but can’t decide what to bring? Mexico has a wide range of climate zones, including deserts, steppes, and tropical rainforests. The country was divided into three different regions (tropical, subtropical and temperate), and the Tropic of Cancer divides the country into two parts: temperate and tropical. Therefore, knowing what to bring and what to leave behind can be tricky. Mexico’s climates vary. The north has cooler temperatures during the winter, while more southerly regions see temperatures remain constant year-round. So, it is usually necessary to keep the varying weather in mind when packing, especially if you plan on travelling around the country. With this in mind, we’ve put together a handy guide covering what to pack for Mexico: the essential list.

What to Pack for Mexico: The Essential List

Mexico’s dry season runs from December to April, and the rainy season runs from May to November. The temperature will usually depend on the elevation and other geographical factors; for instance, temperatures in coastal regions are slightly higher while temperatures in mountain ranges are colder. What you should pack depends on when and where you plan to go.

What toiletries to pack for Mexico

Reef safe suncream

No matter when you visit, you need to pack sun protection. To protect the oceans and marine life, you really ought to consider buying reef-safe suncream. This means looking for a non-nano mineral sunscreen. You should also opt for a high SFP 30-50 and bring some after-sun lotion, especially if you are prone to burning.

Mosquito repellent

Mosquitoes are most prevalent in Mexico between April and November, and their numbers swell during the rainy season. Therefore, you should pack some sort of mosquito repellant, especially if you plan on visiting the coastal regions. Mosquito repellent with 30-50 per cent DEET (diethyltoluamide) active ingredient should be strong enough to keep most of the mozzies at bay. Products with DEET are hard to come by in Mexico, so best to buy some before you arrive.

Snorkeling in Florida near Orlando

Miscellaneous items

Microfiber towel

Microfiber towels pack up really small and are quick drying. Because they aren’t bulky, they take up very little room in day bags, so are perfect for hiking. They are also perfect for wiping away the sweat from the humidity, for using after swimming and make ideal picnic blankets. They also double as throws when the air con gets a bit too cold on long-haul bus journeys.

Small backpack or day bag

When you are biking, trekking and walking the trails, you’ll want to be as hands-free as possible and keep all your valuables safe and secure. A small, comfortable, waterproof backpack or day bag is ideal. You just need something that will fit your microfiber towel, a bottle of water, suncream, your phone and camera, wallet/purse and, of course, snacks. A 20-litre backpack should be big enough for short day hikes and tours.

Plug adaptors and power converters

Mexico operates on a 127V supply voltage and 60Hz. There are two types of plugs in Mexico. Type A has two flat prongs, while Type B has two flat prongs and a rounded ground pin. Type A and B plugs are mostly used in the USA, Canada, Central America, China and Japan. Depending on where your appliances are from, you may need travel plug adaptors. You’ll also need a travel power converter if your electrical items are not dual voltage.

What shoes to pack for Mexico

Flip-flops and sandals are ideal for wearing to the beach and around the pool. Another great option is slip-on mesh water shoes. These are great for boat rides, and if you want to explore the cenotes of the Yucatán.

For jungle treks and exploration, you need sturdy but comfortable walking shoes. Sneakers will do at a push, but trail runners are better. However, waterproof hiking boots are the best option as they offer the best grip and will keep your feet dry.

You’ll need a pair of comfortable walking shoes for when you are exploring the cities. Closed-toe shoes are best. A pair of comfortable sneakers is ideal. Avoid heels as the pavements are often uneven and difficult to manage in stilettos.

If you plan on going to clubs, bars and restaurants at night, loafers for men and flat sandals or pumps will do for women. Pack a pair of heels if you have space in your luggage, but you’ll probably get more wear out of flat shoes.

What clothing to pack for Mexico


Shorts, t-shirts and sundresses are ideal for the beach. When it comes to bathing suits, one-pieces and bikinis are fine, board shorts and trunks too. Whatever you feel most comfortable wearing.

Pack a UV rash vest if you plan on doing lots of water sports and snorkelling. These protect your skin from sun exposure and reduce chafing caused by surfboards and bodyboards. A long sleeve one is best.


The dress code in Mexico is laidback and casual. To plan what to pack for Mexico, work around the season and the humidity. Pack breathable, light clothing made from quick-drying material. Shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, sundresses and loose-fitting trousers are all ideal. You’ll need a light sweater or jacket too. If you are travelling to high elevation areas, pack a pair of long pants, a long-sleeved top and a light jacket too. In the rainy season, pack a very light, breathable rain jacket. Mexico is a great place for an adventure, so pack comfortable clothes that you can move around in and that don’t chafe.

Nighttime dress code

Even at nighttime, the dress code is still casual. Of course, you can get dressed up if you like. For fancy restaurants and bars, a pair of slacks and a shirt are fine for men. For women, sandals, a sundress, a nice top, and jeans are perfect.  When heading to the clubs, just smarten up a bit. Don’t wear athletic clothes or sports shoes or flip-flops. Wear shoes you can dance in.

Mexico reading material

Get a feel for the country with a good book set in Mexico or one that covers the history and culture. For non-fiction fans, pack The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande. Fiction lovers should pick up a copy of I’ll Sell You a Dog by Juan Pablo Villalobos, translated by Rosalind Harvey.

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

View stories