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  • Writer's pictureRachel Olsen

What to Bring on Your Mexican Vacation

Are you a person who packs the night before leaving on vacation, or are you the type that packs little by little for weeks beforehand? I, myself, am of the latter group, and my husband is of the prior group.

I like to pick a few bathing suits or sun dresses that I know I won't be using in the -30C weather at home, and place them in my suitcase, ready to go. Then I will wait...sometimes hours, sometimes a whole day...and I will pick-out a few more chosen items to bring along. But what do you really need? That my friends is a difficult question to answer, but an important one non-the-less. With airline baggage restrictions limiting the number of pieces you can bring as well as the weight of each piece, good packing can make all the difference.

Size of Your Suitcase: When packing for a trip of 1 - 2 weeks, I would personally recommend a medium-sized suitcase, usually around the 25 inch mark. Anything bigger often means that you are bringing more clothes than you will be able to wear. I would say to use a bigger bag if you are planning to do some snorkelling (and are bringing your own gear), or are bringing items down for charities, or are planning on doing a lot of shopping while you are in Mexico, and bringing it all back home with you. If you do bring a 29 inch bag, be sure to weigh it first. You can get a lot of stuff into a big bag, but it often ends up being overweight...and the extra charges can be brutal!

Necessary Items: I usually make a checklist of the important items I CANNOT forget to bring on my vacation. On my list for visiting Mexico are:

- valid passport

- credit card / travelers cheques / pesos (purchased from the bank, ahead of time)

- travelers insurance card / policy

- printout of flight itinerary (there and back) / printout of hotel or vacation rental confirmation and contact info.

- bathing suits

- sunscreen and tanning lotion

- after sun lotion

- sandals and sunglasses

- Pepto Bismol and/or Immodium

- shorts / t-shirts / tank tops / sun dresses

- a book to read by the pool / at the beach

- camera

A lot of people are also surprised when I tell them that if coming to Mexico between November and March, it is also a good idea to bring:

- a sweater / shawl / or light scarf

- jeans or pants for the evening

The nights can be cool in Mexico, and if you are near the ocean, you will likely want to cover-up with something a little more than just your beach sarong.

For women, shoes are often a big deal. We think we will need 10 pairs of shoes for a week long vacaition...some sandals, some flats, some pumps, some wedges... The truth is, you are really likely only going to wear 1 pair of sandals to the pool, beach or shopping during the day, and 2, max. 3 pairs of shoes for going out at night. Bring shoes that are versatile...that you can wear during the day or night, and that go with more than one outfit. This way, you won't weigh your suitcase down with shoes you never even use. Who knows, you might even find a pair of shoes in Mexico that you can't live without!

If you stay at a hotel, most of them will have special towels for you to use at the beach, so that you can be identified as a patron. If you are staying in an apartment or vacation rental, you might want to bring your own beach towel. Some properties supply them, and some do not.

Other than this, with a small bag of mini personal items, including shampoo and conditioner, razor and shave gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, nail clippers, any prescription medication you are on, and a small amount of make-up (remember that with sun-kissed skin you will have a natural glow), you should be set!

Carry-On Baggage: This is one of the most important things to consider, as it can cause a lot of stress for travelers who do not comply with airline requirements.

- NO LIQUID containers over 3.4 oz (100 mg) are permitted, and must be presented in a 1 quart clear plastic bag. The plastic bags are one per passenger, and in themselves, limit the quantity of liquids you can bring on board.

- NO SHARP OBJECTS: sissors, nail clippers, swiss army knives,

- NO SPORTS EQUIPMENT: bow and arrow, ski poles, skates, pool cues, baseball bats, golf clubs, etc.


- NO TOOLS: hammer, axe, saw, crowbar, drill and/or drill bits, nails, screwdriver, wrench, etc.


- NO MARTIAL ARTS OR SELF DEFENSE ITEMS: billy clubs, nunchucks, throwing stars, self-defense sprays, etc.

I would say, that it is a good idea to pack in your carry-on, a change of clothes (shorts/shirt/sandals), a bathing suit, a book, maybe a pillow, and all of your important travel documentation.

Tips: When you go to Mexico, you are going to want to do some shopping and bring home some souvenirs. Make sure to leave room (space and weight allowance) in your suitcase for things you might buy, like Tequila, Mexican blankets, pottery, hammocks, etc.

Packing for Mexico shouldn't be hard or stressful...make your list, check your airlines specific regulations, mix a little tequila and 7-up, and start getting in the mood! See you in Mexico!

Rachel Olsen

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