Mexico is still one of the top options if you want a cheap vacation in a sunny destination that’s not too difficult to get to. Once you’ve bought your tickets, the big question is: what should you pack? The answer depends on where in Mexico you’re going, but the items on this packing list will come in handy no matter what your Mexican destination.
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It might sound obvious that you’ll need your passport, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget this most important of travel documents. The Government of Canada recommends that you travel with a passport that is still valid for at least six months after the date of your arrival in Mexico.
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Your kids’ travel documents
If you’re travelling with children, you’ll need a valid passport for each child. You’ll also need a copy of each child’s long-form birth certificate and if both parents aren’t travelling with them, you should have a letter of authorization signed by the absent parent or parents.
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Your travel insurance documents
Healthcare in Mexico is good and generally affordable, but usually not free for foreigners. Getting travel insurance is one of the most important things to do before any trip, since it will cover you in case of health mishaps. Remember to bring the documentation with you.
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In the larger Mexican cities and towns you’ll be able to find generic equivalents of most prescription medications and you probably won’t even need a prescription to buy them. If you’re going to travel to remote areas or want a specific brand of meds, however, bring your own and pack enough for the duration of your trip.
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Earplugs are one of those things you should always travel with and you’ll find them especially useful in Mexico. Things can get noisy here with everything from firecrackers to traffic to roosters potentially keeping you up at night.
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Even though switching off is always a good idea when you’re on vacation, a smartphone comes in handy for looking up directions, booking accommodation or transport and of course for posting your best vacation pics on Instagram. Avoid expensive roaming charges by packing an unlocked smartphone.
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A sarong is so much more than just a cover-up for the beach. You can wear it as a skirt, dress or shawl. It can double up as a towel – which is one of those bulky items most travellers pack but never use anyway – and if you tie it to some sticks planted in the sand, you have an instant shady canopy.
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Sweater and socks
The nights in Mexico can be chilly, especially in the high-lying regions. You probably won’t need a heavy coat or jacket, but when temperatures drop, you’ll be very happy about having packed that sweater and pair of socks.
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Mesh laundry bag
A mesh laundry bag is one of the smartest travel hacks you can invest in. Use it to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones. When you take your laundry to be washed, you can simply use your laundry bag for carrying it in.
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Even if you’re not planning on spending time on the beach, a swimsuit is essential for a trip to Mexico. The country boasts some of the world’s best swimming holes, after all.
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Feminine hygiene products
Of course feminine hygiene products are available throughout Mexico, but in most cases your choices will be limited to sanitary pads and tampons with applicators. If you prefer tampons without applicators, bring your own. Better yet, invest in a menstrual cup that will save you money over time.
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Unfortunately, Mexico isn’t immune to mosquito-borne diseases like chikungunya and Zika. Bug repellents are readily available but most contain DEET, so if you prefer a good DEET-free insect repellent, bring your own and bring more than you think you’ll need.
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Since you’ll need sunscreen anyway, make it a reef-friendly version. Many destinations in Mexico, particularly those in the Yucatan, require visitors to use biodegradable sunscreen to help protect the coral reefs and the underground freshwater system.
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You don’t need to pack hiking boots unless you’re planning on actually hiking. However, many of Mexico’s towns have cobblestone streets that can be hell on your feet. Pack a pair of comfortable shoes for all the walking you’ll be doing. If you choose comfy shoes that are trendy too, such as gladiator sandals, you have a winner.
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Flip flops are essential for the beach and you can pick up a cheap pair almost anywhere. However, these usually don’t have great tread and can be slippery, so bring a good pair from home for wearing in shared bathrooms.
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Light summer dress
A cute summer dress – not too informal, but not too fancy either – will be comfortable during warm Mexican days. At night, add some smart accessories and you’re ready to paint the town red. Choose your design wisely and you can still rock your dress come fall.
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US dollars and a credit card
It’s more difficult to change Canadian dollars in Mexico, so bring some US dollars which are accepted at most places. Also pack your credit card – remember to notify your bank that you’ll be travelling – but use it wisely so you won’t have too much holiday debt to pay off.
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You probably don’t need to wear lipstick to the beach, but for a night out on the town, it’s always nice to put on a little makeup. You might not recognize many of the cosmetics brands available in Mexico, so it’s best to pack your favourites and not buy at duty free.
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Book or e-reader
A good book or e-reader is a great standby for whiling away the time on the beach or waiting for your transport connections. Most tourist towns in Mexico have a second-hand bookstore or book exchange where you can get some titles in English or French but if you’re a discerning reader and don’t read Spanish, your best bet is to bring your own reading material.
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A bandana is one of those handy travel items you can pick up at the dollar store. It can be a lifesaver on bad hair days, is great for wiping off sweat and keeping you cool and will perk up any boring travel outfit.