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You guys have been asking me what I packed for my recent Mexico girls trip, so I’m excited to finally share with you my Ultimate Carry-On Mexico Packing List! Huzzah!!
You know I am the most impatient person in the WHOLE world so waisting all the hours I could be spending at the pool waiting for luggage filled with a bunch of crap I’m not even going to wear does NOT sound like my idea of a great vacation.
There is no reason you can’t get away with packing a carry-on for Mexico–even if you’re staying for several days. (In all honesty I brought a lot more stuff than this because my suitcase can fit so much, but today I’m sharing with you what I actually wore and some of my other favorite must-haves!) I’ve been to Mexico several times so I’ve got the packing down to a science. The good news is–when it’s hot, you don’t need much! Warm weather clothing also takes up zero space, so you don’t need to have an overflowing bag, either!
Ready? Let’s get started!
Packing list for Mexico:
I have the 21″ Delsey Paris Chatalet Spinner Suitcase. (WHEW that’s a mouthful!) It is hands down THE BEST suitcase I have ever owned, probably one of my top 10 things I own in life, and I honestly might just go ahead and buy another one as a back up just in case they stop making them, because I never want to run out!
It holds so much stuff (if you are a strategic packer, that is) that I got by with it going to Paris for 10 days. I also plan to use it for Italy because there is nothing worse than being late for a train, dragging tons of bags behind you across narrow cobblestone streets.
It also comes in brown, which Neal recently purchased. He held out for a long time, not wanting to be THAT couple with matching his and hers luggage, but it’s just that good of a suitcase–there really is no better alternative.
(Note: FYI, some airlines are reducing their carry-on size limits to less than 21″ but I’ve been traveling with this bag for two years and have never had any problems!)
Okay, you get it, I love this suitcase. Here’s what to put in it for your Mexico trip!
I brought this floral wrap dress to wear out to dinner on our first night! It was perfect for the occasion. It’s low-cut, so I wore these pasties instead of a bra–they’re my favorite and I wear them nonstop in the summer! I also brought this adorable floral dress but didn’t end up wearing it–it would be another great nighttime option!
These aren’t on the collage above, but I wore my new Abercrombie jeans on the plane to and from Mexico! They’re so comfortable and this sounds so strange, but my biggest pet peeve is wearing hot clothing when you get off a plane to a warm destination–these are very lightweight when it comes to jeans, so they didn’t give me the heebie jeebies like most denim does when I travel. (So weird, I know.)
I brought my new jean shorts (Abercrombie. What else? They really should start paying me to be their brand ambassador, don’t you think? ?) and they were perfect for wearing to walk along the beach, to and from the pool, etc. They are so comfortable and have a lot of stretch, so they won’t cut into you after several tacos and rounds of margs ?
I wore this lightweight linen dress when we went out on the sunset boat cruise along with my espadrille wedges (below!)–it was perfect for the occasion because it’s not flowy like other dresses so I didn’t have to worry about it flying up! I’m definitely taking it to Italy with me and it looks just as cute with sneakers as it does heels or sandals!
I always bring a long sleeved linen shirt with me whenever I’m going to be in the sun because I can get burned easily, so I like to have the extra protection of the sleeves if I feel like I’m getting too toasty! It’s so cute thrown on over a bikini, or you can dress it up for dinner, too!
I’m OBSESSED with these linen pants. They are so, so comfortable and come in so many colors! (I actually have them in pink but also plan to order the olive. ?) They are really cute dressed up with heels, or with flats or sneakers!
I live in slinky camisoles all year round, they’re the perfect barely-there layer to throw on regardless of what activities you’re doing–from shopping to a nice dinner out. This one is on sale for $35 and comes in several colors! I also got this peplum satin one that I paired with my pink linen pants for dinner one night at Flora Farms!
Depending on when you go to Mexico, the nights can still get cool, plus, you’ll want one for the plane! I brought my J.crew jean jacket and it was the perfect extra layer.
I can’t stand rubber flip flops! They give me horrible blisters! (Not to mention, it’s hard to find a non-tacky pair of rubber ones!) I prefer a pair of minimalistic leather flip flops, like these! They take up virtually no room and are so easy to throw in your pool bag! Also available in other colors here
I recently got these “Grecian” sandals and they are SO. COMFORTABLE. They look like a million bucks and you’ll want them in every color! No break in required!
You really only need one pair of heels for Mexico, and these should be them! Espadrilles are so cute and perfect for vacation, but the best part is that they give you some height without sacrificing comfort! I wore these all night on the boat and then out afterword and never had one thought about my feet! Size down, they run big.
This is another pair of sandals I thought for sure would give me blisters, but a Splendid shoe has never given me one blister, and these stick true to their brand. They make the most comfortable shoes out there, and these are no exception. I absolutely love the way they look, and they make your outfit so much more interesting–a hard thing to accomplish with flats!
My feet are always freezing, so I usually like to wear close-toed shoes on the plane! I love these because they slide right off your feet in 2 seconds–so they’re ideal for security! They’re warm enough for the plane, but cool enough to wear in Mexico, and they still have that springy, vacation vibe!
You may want to bring comfortable walking shoes if you plan to do any day trips or exploring! I highly, highly recommend Allbirds runners! They’ll give you plenty of support but are so dang cute–plus, they’re made of 100% wool, which means they’re naturally cooling and moisture-wicking. Plus, they’re machine washable!
I’m in LOVE with the look of this straw cross-body. I don’t actually own this one (I brought an old crossbody that is sold out now) but this would be perfect for going out at night–you want something small but secure that can strap across your body for safe-keeping!
I just ordered this bag (sadly it did NOT make it in time for Mexico) but its perfect for vacation because it’s packable, but super roomy, so it holds all your beach essentials!
Optional: Day pack
If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing or exploring while in Mexico, you might want some kind of day pack or backpack that can hold water, essentials, etc! I love Madewell’s bags and they make the cutest leather backpack that would be perfect for the occasion.
Tips for first time travelers to Mexico:
Is it safe?
This is probably the most common question I get asked whenever I tell someone I’m heading to Mexico. With so much violence in the news, it’s easy to get scared off! The truth is, unless you’re looking for trouble, you will be completely fine. I.E. probably not a good idea to be buying cocaine or roaming around a bad area at night after too much to drink–but hey, that’s probably a rule of thumb I’d stick to for, you know, life in general?
I know that some parts of Mexico are safer than others, and I’ve been to a few different cities in Mexico, but Cabo is the one city I’m pretty familiar with, so that is what I will speak to. I can say that I’ve always felt very safe, even when going out at night with a small group of girlfriends. Pretty much everyone speaks English–I’ve never had a problem getting by with my limited Spanish. Also, the resorts keep meticulous records of their guests–when they are coming and going, how many are in their group, and the license plates of the cabs they leave and return in–if you’re staying somewhere decent, you will not feel at risk at all.
Bring plenty of cash (in American dollars!)
If you’re traveling to a main city in Mexico, in my experience, you do not need pesos. Even the smaller cities across the border from Arizona I used to frequent when I was younger (Rocky Point and San Felipe) all took U.S. dollars. You will find that almost all prices are still listed in pesos, but I’ve never run into a situation that refused U.S. Dollars. Just like in the states, most restaurants take credit cards.
Don’t lose your traveler’s visa
Upon entering Mexico you’ll need to fill out a customs form just like any other country–the bottom portion will be ripped off and given to you to keep. Do not lose your traveler’s visa, or you could be find up to $50. Don’t worry, they’ll remind you about 75 times to not lose it throughout customs, but they will ask for this upon your return.
Get a shuttle to and from the airport
There are plenty of ways to book shuttles to and from the airport (I’d recommend B&B and Amstar)–they are a bit more expensive than cabs, but the SUV’s are very nice black cars that supply you with free bottled water and beers. (The drinking and driving laws are different there–there is no such thing as an open container law in Mexico–passengers can drink, but the drivers, however, are not allowed any trace of alcohol in their system, which is also a nice reassurance.)
The shuttle from the airport to our resort in Cabo San Lucas was about $80 for a 35 minute ride, which isn’t bad split per person. Our friend Leia took a later flight so she took a cab, and she said it came out to about $70, so it’s roughly the same–but personally, I think it’s worth the extra few bucks for the security of a driver service (and the Cerveza, ?)
Activate your phone plan prior to leaving the country (it likely won’t cost any extra)
I didn’t know this before I went to Cancun last year, but most U.S. phone plans actually cover Mexico! All you need to do is call ahead and they’ll give you instructions on how to activate it!
Get off the resort!
Mexico has so much to offer in terms of culture, cuisine, shopping, and sightseeing! I know it can be tempting to stay on the resort the whole time, but the coolest experiences always lie outside of your hotel.
If you’re worried about safety, there are tons of guided group tours available during the day, which you can always book through a travel agent or hotel concierge. If you’re going to Cabo San Lucas, I highly recommend Cabo Rentals By Jane, who is our family friend! She can help you with both hotel/condo rentals as well as activity bookings! For other parts of Mexico, I’ve had great experience with Apple Vacations and Amstar, which we used when going to Cancun.
Don’t underestimate the sun
The sun down in Mexico is REAL. Even if you don’t typically sunburn, the sun is MUCH stronger and it’s so easy to get burned. Make sure to re-apply your sunscreen every hour or so–I love Supergoop’s sunscreen–especially their Unseen version (which is clear and goes on so smoothly with no residue or scent) and their Sunscreen Facial Mist (which is great for re-applying over makeup!) This little kit is great and comes with both travel sized versions as well as their sunscreen mousse!