If you spend any time on this site, you know how much I love Mexico. So much so that I bought a house near Cabo San Lucas and spend 6-8 weeks a year there. My love of Mexico goes much deeper than that, though. I lived in a small state called Colima on the Pacific coast for a year, drove much of the country, and even got married in Mexico. Needless to say, I’m an expert on what to wear in Mexico and Mexico vacation outfit ideas!
Whether you’re planning your first trip to this beautiful country or you vacation yearly, you’ll want to make sure you are prepared for the weather. Luckily, it isn’t too difficult to pack for Mexico, once you know what to bring, and you have come to the right place for the perfect packing list on what to wear in Mexico!
Carry On vs Checked Bag
I’m a proud member of Team Carry On and have been since I massively overpacked for my honeymoon in Italy. In the Cabo San Lucas airport in particular, the baggage comes incredibly slowly, and makes for an annoying start to your vacation. Immigration moves pretty quickly, and then you stand around for 30-45 minutes waiting for your bags to come out. I haven’t flown through the PVR airport in a while and I’m unfamiliar with the Yucatan, but in Cabo at least, you will save massive time by not checking a bag.
However, if you’re on the fence, there are reasons that checking a bag can be beneficial in Mexico. You can purchase all the toiletries you need when you arrive, including sunscreen, at a supermarket or pharmacy. However, prices on everyday goods are higher in Mexico than in the US, and while I can get away with travel size toothpaste, I can never get away with travel size sunscreen. It’s just not enough for a trip of more than a couple of days. If you’re looking to minimize mundane errands on vacation or can’t stomach paying an extra $2 for a bottle of sunscreen, you may be better off checking a bag and bringing your own.
Hotel rooms in Mexico are generally pretty sizeable, especially in popular tourist destinations, and you should not have the same issues you might have in a European hotel room with a full size suitcase.
Does the Time of Year Affect What I Should Pack?
Well, in short, yes. Mexico’s climate does fluctuate somewhat throughout the year. If your plan, like many of us, is to catch ideal, sunny weather on your Mexican vacation, the best time of year to travel there is usually between November and April. The rainy season begins in July and lasts until October or November, depending on the area.
On the Pacific side, which includes destinations such as Cabo San Lucas in Baja California and Puerto Vallarta further south, the rainy season lasts until around the middle of October. The Yucatan Peninsula, which includes destinations such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, often has rainy weather well into November. As a general rule, the coastal areas of Mexico will be dry from November to June, with an average temperature of 28 degrees celsius/82 degrees fahrenheit.
On the other hand, if your trip includes Northern or Central Mexico, you will want to ensure you pack warmer layers. Mexico City sits at a higher elevation, and so it will warm up during the day, but evenings and mornings will be much cooler. Colonial cities like San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato get downright cold in winter, though still sunny and beautiful.
Should I Worry About Dressing Conservatively in Mexico?
Mexico is not known to be a conservatively dressed country, despite having a strong Catholic influence. As long as you are sticking to the tourist areas, do not not worry about a certain dress code and you will see plenty of skin from visitors and locals alike. However, as a general rule, if you do venture out into historical or religious sites, such as a church, it is always seen as respectful to dress more conservatively. This is as easy as wearing a cardigan or jean jacket to cover your shoulders and arms, and/or wearing a longer dress.
Attire for All-Inclusive Resorts Versus Boutique Hotels
As a general rule, staying at an all-inclusive resort allows you plenty of opportunities to dress a little more formally more often for dinners and nightly entertainment. If you are staying at a smaller hotel, you may go out for a couple of nice dinners or experiences, but in general, you will probably be comfortable dressing in more casual wear. Keep this in mind as you are packing! For example, I might bring five or six nice dresses for an all-inclusive, and just two or three if our trip includes more exploring than wining and dining.
In the touristy beach destinations like Los Cabos and Tulum, resortwear has become a sport in itself. You can go as fanciful as you’d like, with bright colors, daring silhouettes, and statement jewelry and hats.
Anywhere outside the main tourist hubs, people will dress noticeably more casual, with jeans being the uniform of most locals. When dressing up, women may wear form-fitting trousers or a short dress and heels.
For more information and travel recommendations for your Mexico trip, see our review of the the best luxury hotels in Los Cabos.
The Ultimate Packing List for Mexico
A Secure, Lightweight Bag that is Practical and Easy to Carry
Although I have never felt unsafe while vacationing in Mexico, petty theft can happen anywhere, and it is always better to be safe than sorry. A proper bag for carrying your most important belongings is the most important thing to remember on your Mexico packing list, because if you are not feeling comfortable or safe carrying these around while vacationing, you might be constantly checking to see if you still have your travel documents, travel insurance, phone, and other important items.
One option is this super reasonable anti-theft crossbody shoulder bag. With an adjustable shoulder strap, this compact sling bag worn over the chest has multiple compartments, is water resistant, and also includes an RFID blocking compartment. What is an RFID blocking compartment? Well, basically, it blocks electromagnetic signals from being emitted from your bag, preventing any personal identification, debit or credit card information from being fraudulently used. Whether or not you think this is necessary, it is becoming more and more common, and this low-profile, comfortable bag is definitely worth the great price.
The Travelon Anti-theft Classic Cross Body Bag is also a great choice for its slim design, locking straps and compartments, a slash-resistant shoulder strap, RFID blocking compartments, and an interior key clip with an LED light. I have this one and it has stood up well across multiple countries.
Finally, the Pacsafe brand has a great reputation for quality-made products. This Unisex 7 Liter Crossbody Bag is large enough to fit your camera or iPad mini, a small water bottle on either side, and can be worn across the chest or as a backpack. The only downside to this bag is that you need to purchase locks separately to lock the compartments.
Backpack for Hiking/Day Trips
If you will be going on a day tour or hike, bring along a comfortable but lightweight backpack to carry all of your essentials. This Deuter Speed Lite 25 backpack is a great option, and comes with a three-liter drinking bag. A backpack like this could also double as a carry-on bag, and you would be surprised how much you can fit in them!
Flowy Dresses and Skirts
Mexico’s culture is bright and fun, and so it is the perfect destination to include some brightly-colored tropical pieces to wear to the beach and on your nights out.
If you want to know a little secret, Amazon has a hidden fashion section called Tropical Punch, which is your one-stop shop for fun, bright pieces of clothing, just perfect for a tropical destination such as Mexico!
Take a look at this stunning floral-printed maxi-dress – the ruched design around the midsection makes it super flattering on just about any body shape. It comes in a variety of different colors, so this would be perfect to include in your Mexico vacation outfits. This flattering A-line off the shoulder tropical maxi dress would also be great for a nice dinner out.
For a shorter dress that has long sleeves but is nice and flowy, check out this very cute summer tunic dress that could be worn to the market or as evening wear.
For a men’s shirt with all the tropical vibes, check out this floral button down short-sleeve shirt.
If floral is not your thing, another great option for men’s shirts that still says Mexico and gives off Barbie and Ken vibes, is this fun white and pink striped shirt. It comes in many different color patterns if this color scheme doesn’t do it for you.
Cute Tops, Shorts and Flowy Pants that can be Mixed and Matched
Consider this your ‘capsule’ type wardrobe. It is great having some interchangeable pieces to choose from, to put together cute outfits depending on the weather and activity. One or two linen shirts are nice and breathable for the warm weather, and pair well with shorts, skirts or flowy pants. A Free People vacation top or Crochet eyelet top would pair really well with this pair of beige linen pants, light enough to wear in warm weather, but also providing more coverage for those cooler days or nights.
For a nice pair of denim shorts that aren’t skin tight, this pair is perfect for strolling the streets or beaches of Mexico. I have (and love!) these because they go with everything. Add a couple of cute tank tops and you have a number of cute, casual outfits to put together.
Swimwear and Cover Ups
I always suggest packing more than one bathing suit on your Mexico beach vacation, and hey, they don’t take up much room, so why not pack three or four!
I have recently fallen in love with Sea Level Swim and I now have 3 of their bikinis. They are super high quality, flattering, and not too revealing for a mom in my late 30’s, yet still sexy. If you’re wondering what swim suits to wear in Mexico, this is my top recommendation.
I also have a large rotation of one-piece swimsuits that I take to Mexico, all of which I found on Amazon. My favorites are:
- This super-flattering crossover one piece
- This sexy suit with mesh panels that converts to a one-shoulder
- This long-sleeve rash guard suit for my budding surf career
- This preppy one-shoulder tankini
- This stunning one piece with cutouts
I own and love all of those!
A staple in your beach bag is a cute bikini wrap perfect for beach days, so you can quickly cover up on your way back to grab another pina colada! This sheer chiffon wrap will fit in any sized beach bag and is colorful and fun, with all the Mexico vibes.
Many Destinations on the Pacific Coast have ideal conditions for surfing, such as the beaches of Puerto Escondito. If surfing is part of your itinerary, this Roxy Rash Guard long-sleeve UPF 50 top would be a great choice, or this beautifully printed one-piece rash guard (the one I have).
Men, check out these quick-dry swim trunks with a compression lining that keeps your shorts from sticking to you, two pockets on the outside, as well as one on the inside lining! This way, you can be sure not to miss a picture perfect moment while wading in the waves or catching some sun on the shore. (That being said, check out this two-pack waterproof phone case that you might want to use- it floats too!)
Comfortable Clothing for Hiking
If you will be going off the beaten path for a hike, some quick-dry clothing will be essential in the warm weather. Check out this basic Dry Fit t-shirt for running or hiking, and pack some breathable shorts or pants to go with it.
If you are traveling during the rainy season, weather can be unpredictable, and it is good to be prepared. Check out this men’s waterproof, breathable Columbia rain jacket that comes in a variety of colors. A similar women’s rain jacket that is waterproof, breathable, and super compact for fitting easily into your suitcase is this Columbia Women’s Arcadia jacket.
Natural, lightweight fabrics like cotton, linen and silk for your layers in Mexico will be breathable and comfortable even in the humid temperatures. A long, neutral colored cardigan that can be worn open and thrown over anything from denim shorts to dressy pants would be a great piece to pack for those cooler nights.
Another solid option is a jean jacket, which pairs perfectly with shorts and dresses.
A cute beach bag is essential for any beach trip. This hand woven straw shoulder bag is a great choice. Another good option is this large tote bag that can also easily carry a straw hat in the straps.
Footwear for Walking, the Beach and Nights Out
Taking at least two pairs of flip flops on your trip is always a good idea. These Olukai Ohana beach sandals are the perfect choice for a good-quality pair of flip flops. They are water-resistant and have gripped and cushioned soles. I have this pair in black and what I love most is that they have arch support, which keeps my feet comfortable all day.
I love to bring a pair of versatile sandals that can be either dressed up or down. These chunky, waterproof sandals from Reef are perfect for just about everything…they fit today’s style of chunky platform sandals with sundresses, and they would be equally perfect scrambling over beach rocks. They come in a variety of colors. If you prefer high heels for those nights out, these Steve Madden wedge heels would be a great choice, and their neutral color pairs them well with any outfit.
If your trip is going to include excursions or long city or market strolls, you will want to make sure you also have comfortable walking shoes. A breathable, lightweight shoe such as these Skechers Women’s Go Walk Sneakers would be an excellent choice for the hot weather. Also keep in mind that many places can be dusty, such as the Chichen Itza’s ruins and some of the markets, so to avoid dry, dusty feet a closed shoe would be best!
For a comfortable shoe for men that comes in a fun, bright print, check out these Merrell Alpine Sneakers. These would also be great if you are going on excursions such as visiting the Mayan Ruins. Another fun option would be these colorful and cushioned Asics running shoes.
A pair of Men’s sandals that would be perfect for the beach are these Reef flip flops, which are cushioned, waterproof, and don’t need a break-in period, so go ahead and grab them last minute for your trip!
Hats don’t have to be awkward to travel with. This foldable straw sun hat is super cute, and will protect your head and face from those UV rays. I love that you can pair this with denim shorts during an excursion, and then with your floral maxi dress when you go out to dinner.
Your favorite luxury brands can all be found right here, with quick delivery to most places in the US or Canada. I love these Costa Del Mar Aviators– the rose-gold color and copper colored polarized frames will look great on tanned skin!
A high SPF, waterproof sunscreen would be a good idea, such as this non-greasy Blue Lizard Duo Pack, which comes with a larger bottle as well as a travel-sized stick. This brand is also great because it is reef-friendly, paraben free, and scent-free.
What to Pack for Winter in Mexico
In addition to what we’ve listed above, in the winter months, I make sure to also pack:
- A light jacket – when the sun goes down, even on the beach, the temperature drops quickly and you will be grateful for a jacket. I pack a jean jacket because they go so well with dresses.
- A wet suit – if you’re planning to surf, the water temperature in winter is low enough (at least on the Pacific) that you’ll want a full-body wetsuit.
- Lightweight long pants – Whether it’s enjoying coffee in the early mornings on the balcony or covering up after the pool, a pair of neutral, lightweight pants comes in handy.
What to Pack for Summer in Mexico
When summer rolls around, it will be HOT. That said, in desert climates like Cabo San Lucas, it still gets chilly in the evenings and you will use a jacket. Other things I always pack for the summer months in Mexico are:
- Extra underwear – glamorous? No. Practical? Very much so. Here’s the deal…Mexico in summer is hot, which means you will get sweaty. Sweaty underwear is nobody’s idea of a fun vacation, so pack enough that you can change mid-day, especially if you are out sightseeing rather than beach lounging.
- A hat – if you breezed past that recommendation above, pause here and hear me out. Sunglasses are not enough in the Mexican summer heat. You need a hat to protect your face and shoulders from the sun, so grab this cute foldable hat or do like I watched a lady in the Cabo airport do and wear multiple large floppy hats as part of your travel outfit.
Other Things To Make Your Life Easier
Laundry Soap Bar
This laundry soap bar can be a life saver during your travels, as it allows you to wash that pesky stain out of your clothing right in your hotel room bathtub.
These little storage bags are the best way to keep organized, and make small items so much easier to find amongst your luggage.
Printable Mexico Packing List
More Great Mexico Content
Check out more travel tips, reviews of Mexico resorts, and been-there-done-that tips on how to buy a vacation home in Mexico.