Beautiful resort area in Cancun - essential for a Packing List for Mexico

Packing List for Mexico – Quick & Easy Guide for 2020

Are you headed south for a blue-sky holiday? You need a packing list for Mexico for 2020! Find all the most essential gear, clothing and more!

Hooray! We went to Mexico!

I’ve finalized my packing list for Mexico only after doing an epic amount of research 🙂  I probably spent too much time making sure that I knew the most essential items on my Mexico vacation packing list.

What better way to make sure that I can provide the best Cancun packing list 2020 for you?  

When thinking about what to pack for Mexico, consider that Mexico is relatively close to home but is still a country with conditions unlike we normally experience.  It’s important to make sure you’re prepared with the best packing list for a Mexican vacation! 

However, you need to also make sure that you’re packing light enough so you don’t incur extra fees at the airport!  Avoid costly mistakes by taking exactly what you need, and nothing else.  Whether you’re going to Cancun, need to know what to pack for a Cancun all inclusive resort in 2020, or a hotel in Tulum, these travel tips will be helpful for you!  

Going to London or Paris? Check out Kelly’s great tips for packing for Europe’s great cities!

Travel Packing List for Mexico – Quick Reference

Use this table as a handy reference guide for your packing list for a vacation in Mexico.  See below for more information about each item.

Men's quick dry shirtCHECKSilicone Distilling BottlesCHECK
Women's quick dry t-shirtCHECKWater ShoesCHECK
Women's Swim SuitCHECK Portable power bankCHECK
Swim Suit Cover UpCHECKUniversal waterproof phone caseCHECK
SleepwearCHECKGreat UV Protective SunglassesCHECK
Versatile t-shirt dressCHECKPanama Sun HatCHECK
Reef Safe SunscreenCHECKAnti-Theft Travel PurseCHECK
Good moisturizerCHECKPacking CubesCHECK
Deodorant for humid conditionsCHECKThe Perfect Carry-On BagCHECK
Safe insect repellentCHECKGreat Travel InsuranceWorld nomads logoCHECK
Filtered Water BottleCHECK

Vacation Packing List for Mexico – Clothing

No matter when you’re visiting, the temperatures in Mexico are usually above 70F, or 23C.   Humidity may be high, depending on whether it’s rainy season (May-early October) or dry season (late October to May).  Your packing list for a Mexico all-inclusive needs to consider these varying temperatures. 

When thinking about things to bring to Mexico, you’ll need beach vacation clothes, Mexico attire, Mexico outfits, and must have travel items. When considering how to pack for a vacation, think about beach vacation outfits, Cancun outfits, and what to pack on vacation.  You’ll definitely need a packing vacation checklist!

When thinking about what to bring when traveling to Mexico, Shorts and t-shirts are great for both women and men in either season and should be added to your packing list for Mexico vacation.   When it’s humid, I really appreciate having moisture-wicking clothing that doesn’t get damp and stay damp all day!  Athletic-style clothing (Dry-fit is an example) works well for us as it pulls sweat away from the body and then wicks it away on the outside of the clothing where it evaporates.  As a bonus, it’s really quick to dry too.   These are great for your travel checklist for Mexico.

I recommend t-shirts and tops that serve double-duty for your packing checklist for Mexico.  If you bring collared shirts, you’ll be able to use them as both casual wear during your Mexico day-trips and resort-wear in the evenings.  You won’t have to worry about being denied entry to that great bar or restaurant you’ve got your eye on!  Make sure you’re prepared with your Mexico travel packing list.

For a men’s packing list for Mexico resort, these are great options: 

Ross really loves these!  They’re a hot weather staple for him and a must-have for his packing list for a Mexico all-inclusive.

For women’s Cancun packing list in 2020, I like these:

These are available in multiple colours too and combined with pretty shorts and skirts make great Cancun vacation outfits!  These are also great for a Mexico trip packing list!

Other Essentials

  • Swim Suits for the beach – at least 2, so one bathing suit can dry while the other is in use.  Ideal when considering what to pack for a Mexico all inclusive.
  • swim suit cover-up – 1 or 2, great things to pack for Mexico
  • undergarments
  • pajamas
  • accessories:  belt, scarves, modest jewelery
  • appropriate footwear:  wear your bulkiest shoes (walking shoes probably) on the plane, pack sandals and flip-flops in carry-on.
  • a great travel pursea essential item on list of what to bring to Mexico
  • a light jacket for those more chilly nights and a rain jacket for sudden storms

Packing Tips Mexico & More Recommendations

Mexico can get cool at night, so make sure that when you’re planning what to take to Mexico to bring a warmer sweater you can layer over your t-shirts.  You may also want to think about comfortable pants to wear while you’re lounging around in your room – a great addition for your packing list for a trip to Mexico.

For a vacation packing list for Mexico for women, I recommend bringing a nice sundress you can wear during the day or at night.  I’ve ordered this sleeveless swing t-shirt dress in a pretty green print.  I think it will be great for day or evening, and I’ll even be using it as a secondary swimsuit cover-up.  It also comes in multiple colours and prints and is super soft and comfortable.  I’m looking forward to checking this one off my Mexico resort packing list.

Packing Essentials for Mexico – Health and Beauty

The first item in my suitcase for any Mexico travel list is always sunscreen and lots of it.  I’m very fair and burn easily, so I’ve tried a myriad of different sunscreens over the years.   The latest and greatest sunscreen for my face that I’ve been using for the last couple of years is Australian Gold Mineral Sunscreen.  It’s number one on my Mexico all inclusive packing list.

It goes on easily under make-up, is reef safe and hypo-allergenic and can even be used on kids.  To be honest, I use this on my body too as the price is right.  I get this from my local drugstore so it should be widely available, bu you can also use my Amazon link.  Don’t forget this essential item when packing for a Mexico vacation.  I used this sunscreen when we toured Chichen Itza and didn’t burn a bit.

My other essential is this Cera Ve moisturizer with SPF 30 for a Mexico vacation checklist.   I also recommend this for a Mexico City packing list.

As a fair-skinned person my packing list for all inclusive resort Mexico has to have enough sunscreen to use every day and I use this moisturizer just in case I forget to put on sunscreen or if I happen to miss a spot.  This is a great, reasonably-priced product that I have used for years.   This is an essential addition to a travel packing list for Mexico.

Beach Trip Packing List – Other Essentials

I don’t bring shampoo, conditioner or body wash when I think about what to pack for Mexico vacation, as those are always available at the hotel.  You don’t need these items for a Mexico packing checklist.

If you’re traveling to Europe, check out this great post on essential items to pack for Europe.

Packing List Mexico – Electronics

It’s best not to include  anything obviously expensive or flashy on your Mexico trip checklist, but you still need your gear!  We’ll be bringing our iPhones (of course!) with several charging cables, essential for what to pack for a trip to Mexico.  I use my iPhone as a camera, but this results in my iPhone battery always running low at the worst possible time.  Phones always need to be recharged but its not always convenient so I have a portable charger in my bag.   I don’t want to miss out on incredible photo opportunities, after all!   This is definitely one of your travel essentials for Mexico!

I actually have a couple of portable chargers, one of which I include in my travel accessories in Cancun.

The 24800 mAh charger is the one I use at home but I don’t usually take it with me because it’s quite large and heavy.  It does a great job at home because it can charge a phone about 8x and an iPad about 4x.  It’s also great insurance during a power outage.  But, when I’m traveling I like to have a lighter charger with me, which is why I include it in my vacation checklist Mexico.  The smaller chargers are quite lightweight at just over 6 ounces so they won’t weigh your bag down.  They have dual inputs and will charge an iPhone twice.  Works for me!  Definitely a must-have on your Mexico travel checklist.    

One of the most important items for us when making our packing list for Mexico all inclusive was to get waterproof cases for our iPhones.  We wanted to get some underwater shots of the amazing Mexican sea life and didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a dedicated underwater camera.  There are quite a few different waterproof cases available so I did a lot of reading to see what features were available and what I should expect to pay.   

I settled on this one –  Its certified as waterproof to 100 feet – not too bad!  This is a great addition for your travel packing list for Mexico.

If you want excellent underwater shots, Thomas has great recommendations on the best cameras for diving.  Check it out!  A lot of people travel to Cancun just to photograph the sea life.

Also important for me is that my phone is drop proof.  Strangely, I drop my phone  A LOT so I’ve learned to always have a drop-proof case on it.  I’ve used Otterbox cases for years and I’ve never had an iPhone break, despite dropping it on the regular ;-).  A case is essential for your packing list for all inclusive resorts in Mexico or a packing list for Mexico City.

This case is a bit tricky to install correctly,  so make sure you watch the accompanying video.

Pro business traveler Jeremy has a great list of travel essentials – check it out!

Travel Insurance – An Essential Item when Packing for a Trip to Mexico

We always buy our insurance from World Nomads when we travel.  You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. This is the only travel insurance I know of where that is possible! 

Travel insurance from is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travelers with coverage for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

If you’re a Canadian senior, your insurance needs are a bit different but you still need excellent travel medical insurance.  Learn more about the best travel insurance options for Canadian seniors here. 

For all your Canadian travel insurance questions, see my complete article here.

Mexico Checklist – Sunglasses

Sunglasses are really important on your list of things to take to Mexico!  Not just for the non-squinting factor (they improve the view too!) but also because too much sun exposure can cause cataracts and cancer. You need good sunglasses with UV protective coating.  Good sunglasses enhance colour, clarity and detail too.  Definitely an excellent addition to a packing list for Cancun Mexico!

I’ve worn this pair for years and love them.  I always include them on my holiday packing list.

My current favourite are these.  Super comfortable to wear and a nice size for my face.  Fashionable too!

I’ve had really excellent service from Maui Jim over the years.  They’re very responsive to requests for repair (see previous comments about frequently dropping things…) and most of the time they’ll send a new pair to you free of charge instead of repairing them.  Seriously, I’ve had this experience twice!   I’ll be adding my two favourites to my Mexico pack list for sure.

Trip To Mexico Packing List – Hats

I have a long, sad history with hats as Cancun travel accessories.   Friends and family can attest to the frustration I’ve experienced when hat shopping over the years, and being repeatedly told that my melon was too big for their beautiful hats!  Seriously, who has this problem but me?

I continued on my merry hat-less way until last summer, when I stumbled into the Hat Shop on Granville Island in Vancouver.  When I did my usual lament about there being no hats to fit me, the very kind sales clerk overheard me and made it her personal mission to find me a hat that I would not only love, but that would fit me.  Enter the Panama Hat!  

Lesley in a Panama hat - an essential item for your Packing List for Mexico

Look, it’s the Maui Jim sunglasses, too!

This hat will be on my head all the time in Mexico and is definitely on my pack list for Mexico.  It’s the perfect hat when thinking about what to pack for Mexico all inclusive because as a traditional Panama hat, it’s handwoven of straw and therefore quite breathable and light.  There’s even a band inside the hat where I can stash a few dollars.   The brim is large enough to keep off the sun, but not large enough to be obtrusive.  A panama hat is also a great addition to a packing list for Mexico City!

This one is very similar, if you’re not close to shop at the Hat Shop on Granville Island!

We  were so excited to visit Chichen Itza on our trip!  It was very hot there and this hat came in very handy.

If you’re going on a yoga retreat, Aine has written a comprehensive post about the most essential things to bring.  Check it out!

Travel List for Mexico – Bags

I never bring my usual handbag when I travel.  It’s too big and I don’t need all of the things I normally carry.  Instead, I use a bag I keep specifically for traveling that I can wear across my body with the weight more evenly distributed.  This leaves my hands free for taking photos and carrying other items.  It’s great for travel days and touring days too. 

A bag like this is truly one your Mexico travel essentials.

This is the one I use and I love it.  I love that it’s an anti-theft bag so that I don’t have to worry as much about pickpockets cutting my bag or getting into it when I’m not paying attention.

The Amazon price is A LOT lower than I paid for it locally!  It has compartments for a smart phone and is designed so your earplugs don’t get tangled up.  My iPad mini fits too and it’s got RFID blocking so your cards are safe.  There’s even reflective strips on this on so you’re visible at night.

I’ve found it to be very comfortable to use all day.  You can wear it front or back, although I’ve always worn it on the front.  I like to have my items easily available to me.  

For a more complete review of a wide variety of travel purses, check out my extensive reviews here.  

Pack list for Mexico – Travel Cubes

Have you used travel cubes?  I’m a travel cubes evangelist to anyone who will listen!  They’re such a lifesaver for convenience, ease of use and organization and are great to include when packing for Mexico all inclusive. 

I have a set that I use every time I travel and I love them and find them one of my Mexico packing essentials.  I use them for sorting my clothing into categories for easy packing and unpacking.  They are also useful for keeping clean and dirty items apart, and for storing shoes apart from clothing.  They’re a definite must when considering what to pack to Mexico.

This is the set that we use and love.

Packing cubes are also the secret to how to pack for Mexico to save space to and use carry-on luggage only.  You could use ziplock bags to almost the same effect if you can find them in variable sizes.  I actually got started with packing cubes that way.  But, I found that the ziplocks didn’t last long and there was always that frustration of trying to zip them closed.  Packing cubes are an essential part of my vacation to Mexico packing list.

Sets of packing cubes usually come in a variety of sizes from large to small.   I’ve had mine about 5 years, and they’re still going strong.  I got Ross his own set of packing cubes for Christmas last year 😉.  Maybe now he won’t try to borrow mine!  Here’s a great post on the best packing cubes to buy.

What to Pack for Cancun All Inclusive 2020 – Luggage

Speaking of carry-on only, are you part of the carry-on only crowd?  I thank Rick Steves for my conversion to using carry-on only.  He is very convincing in his argument, and I am a complete convert despite that several of my credit cards have perks that include free checked bags.   

If you’re asking yourself – what should I pack for Cancun – packing light saves money as more and more airlines are charging increasing fees to check luggage.  You’ll have more mobility and freedom and won’t stick out as a tourist if you’re not dragging enormous luggage behind you.  If you don’t check a bag, it can’t get lost or stolen! 

You can skip the long line to pick up luggage and head straight to the taxi queue.  My favourite reason:  if you don’t check your luggage, you can take advantage of last-minute flight changes at the airport!

My new favourite carry-on bag is the one I got Ross for Christmas to go with his new packing cubes.  It’s ultra-lightweight so you can maximize the contents without worrying about how much the bag weighs.  I find it really well-built and it’s expandable, just in case you find something you must bring home with you ;-).   

It’s super-easy to roll.  The handle telescopes to two lengths so both Ross and I can pull it easily.  It’s 20 inches high and will definitely fit all North American carry-on limits.  It also fits most international carry-on limits, although there are a few airlines that still require under 20 inches for carry-on.  This is the perfect bag to include on your Mexico holiday checklist.

I got Ross the black one, but I prefer a different colour, and luckily it comes in light blue, rose and brown too.  This kind of bag is a great thing to add to your packing list for a trip to Mexico.  I also love my wheeled backpack when traveling to Mexico.

Mexico Packing Checklist for All Inclusive – Cash and credit card usage

This was a big question in my mind when we were deciding on Mexico for our trip.  My research has shown that generally, you will find it more convenient if you use Pesos rather than American dollars when you travel to Mexico.  You’ll stand out less as a tourist and will benefit from a better exchange rate too. 

We’ll be using credit cards whenever we can of course but we’ll also bring Pesos to use when we need to.  The best exchange rate I’ve found is the one from our local currency exchange, Vancouver Bullion & Currency Exchange.  Exchanging money in Mexico will be quite a bit more costly.

When you’re using credit cards in Mexico, make sure you use a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.  The majority of credit cards in Canada (and a lot in the US) charge 2.5% for every transaction in a foreign currency.  That can add up to a lot!

The two Canadian credit cards I know and trust that don’t charge foreign transaction fees are the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite and the HSBC World Elite Mastercard.  The Prince of Travel has a comprehensive post about the benefits of these cards.  I recommend you check it out if you’re interested in not paying foreign transaction fees.

Mexico Holiday Checklist – What Not to Bring To Mexico

Don’t bring your expensive electronics or jewelry.  I think it’s wise to leave at home anything you’d hate to lose or damage.  This is one of the great packing tips for Mexico.

Don’t bring hair styling items like blow dryers, flat irons or curling wands.  Hotels will have hair dryers available.  The humidity in Mexico will inevitably straighten any hair you want to curl and curl any hair you want to straighten, so don’t waste your time!  Go natural and wear a hat 🙂  You don’t need to add styling items to your checklist for traveling to Mexico.

Don’t bring printed books!  Download anything you want to read while you’re in Mexico onto your smart phone or tablet.

You don’t need to bring any special converters or plugs if you’re from North America!  Mexico electrical outlets use the same voltage and the Mexican power plug is the same as the US and Canada.  You will not need a Mexican adaptor.

Last Words

Make sure your passport is up to date and has enough time left on it!  If you’re renting a car in Mexico, make sure you bring your driver’s license.  Don’t forget your travel accessories, especially your filtered water bottle!

Most importantly, have fun and make memories!  That’s what travel is all about!  

Are you going on a trip to Mexico?  What are your  packing list to Mexico essentials?

p.s. If you need a printable packing list for Mexico for children, make sure to respond to the pop-up when you see it!

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9 thoughts on “Packing List for Mexico – Quick & Easy Guide for 2020

  1. Great tips! I didn’t know about that brand of sunscreen that you use. I usually recommend that people buy sunscreen once they arrive in Mexico to make sure its reef safe. And yes, the humidity is ridiculous! Ponytails were my usual hairstyle while visiting the Yucatan!

    1. It’s so hard to find a good mineral sunscreen so I was so glad to find that one 🙂 My hat will definitely be on my head so that my wild hair won’t be as visible!

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