What to Pack for a Mexico Beach Vacation

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Spending a few weeks on the coast in Mexico during the winter is undoubtedly a good idea. There’s lots of daylight, beautiful white sand to sink your toes in, and tons of delicious, healthy foods available. Whether you want to explore Mayan ruins, swim in a cenote, go diving, or bar hopping, there’s something for everyone to chase away the winter blues.

Packing for a Mexican beach vacation can either seem like the simplest task or a daunting one, depending on which type of traveller you are. Mexico is diverse and your Mexico packing list is really going to depend on where in Mexico you will be traveling to. I’m going to help you figure out a capsule wardrobe and other travel essentials for a trip that is super popular with Canadians this time of year: the Mexico beach vacation.

You may think, “I just need a few swimsuits, a cover-up, some flip flops and I’m good to go!” but even if you’re doing a one-week all-inclusive resort you’ll still need a few more outfits to round it all out. I can help.

It may surprise you to learn that Mexico has a fairly conservative culture overall so when you’re going to be exploring somewhere other than the beach or pool, make an effort to look put together. A lightweight pair of pants or a sundress will help you blend in better off the beach.

Using my 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 packing list method, I’ve put together a capsule wardrobe that will take you from Tulum to Playa del Carmen to Cozumel and back again.

Mexico Packing Essentials

Mix ‘n Match Neutrals

The easiest way to get the most out of a small vacation wardrobe is to pick a single colour palette so that you can mix ‘n match all week. For this capsule wardrobe I stuck with neutrals with a pop of mustard yellow as an accent. If you find yourself reaching for a top that only goes with a single pair of bottoms, stop and put it back. You only have so much room in your suitcase. The other side of sticking with neutrals and playing with texture instead, is that it can often come across as a more luxe look. Bonus.

Timeless Jewelry

Gold jewellery is having a moment right now. Pick out one set of gold accessories and you can wear it with just about any outfit. Whether you want to layer a paperclip chain with a pendant necklace, go for big hoop earrings or more understated buggies, you can’t go wrong with gold right now. And you don’t need to splash out big bucks on 10k or 18k either. Gold vermeil is a more affordable option that won’t turn your skin green like cheap costume jewelry can.

Mesh Beach Bag

What’s more annoying after a trip to the beach than emptying out your beach bag and dumping a pile of sand on your hotel room floor? With a bag like the Beis one above, the mesh material makes sure that whatever sand comes in, also finds its way out. The round handles and chic shape make it worthy of post-beach drinks and the hat clip and extra wet/dry bag are there to safely secure your favourite beach accessories. It just might be the perfect beach bag.

Beyond the Clothes

While I love talking about clothes and travel fashion, we all know there’s more that needs to be packed for any successful trip. 

Reef-safe Sunscreen and Aloe Vera Gel

We all know that sunscreen is a must-have when travelling to a sunny tropical destination. It’s a no-brainer. You might think, “I don’t want to travel with another liquid, I’ll just buy it when I get there,” but why chance resort prices or spend your precious time taking a bus to Walmart? Another important thing to remember when you’re sunscreen shopping is to look for one that’s safe for coral reefs. Two main ingredients in many big name sunscreens have been shown to contribute to coral bleaching. While you’re small and the ocean is big, sunscreen washes off and all those tourists add up.

No matter how careful you are, getting a bit too much sun is always a possibility so pack a small tube of aloe vera gel to give you some comfort and relief. After accumulating a small collection of gels around the world I now save myself the trouble and just bring it with me. When your back starts turning pink after that awesome snorkel session you’ll be glad you packed the aloe vera.

Waterproof Phone Case

Whether you’re snorkelling, diving, or exploring by speedboat, having a waterproof case for your phone makes good sense. You can go advanced with something like a Lifeproof case or you can go basic with a waterproof pouch, but you don’t want to leave your phone completely unprotected. Bonus: a waterproof case will also keep out dust and beach sand. No one wants their vacation ruined by a busted phone.

Water Bottle with Filter

I wouldn’t recommend drinking tap water in Mexico but continuously buying bottled water can add up and also create a lot of plastic waste. So what’s a girl to do? Bring along a reusable water bottle that will filter the water at the same time! I really like the LifeStraw Flex for this. The filter is so good you could even drink directly from streams or waterfalls without fear of getting sick. Since staying hydrated is so important in hot climates, I would put this high up on your Mexico packing list.

Wet Bag

In the case that your wet clothes don’t dry before you have to pack up, having a dedicated wet bag will keep them from making anything else in your bag damp. A repurposed plastic shopping bag is a breeding ground for mold and mildew so I’d recommend a bag designed to hold wet items. Tip: check the baby aisle for pouches designed to hold wet cloth diapers. Works just as well for your wet bikini.

Travel Towel

Whether you need to dry offer after a dip in a cenote or just want something to sit on on the beach, a travel towel is key. While hotels will provide you with towels for your shower, they really don’t want you taking them off the property and getting them full of beach sand. Plus, a regular towel is bulky to pack in your day bag. If you don’t like the traditional microfibre travel towel, try a lightweight Turkish towel instead.

In addition to all these physical items definitely make sure to bring: an open heart & mind, patience, a balanced sense of humour, and an adventurous spirit!

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