Next stop: Mexico City! Your plane is booked and your bag is packed… or, not quite.
Where to start?! First things first, remember that the weather is pretty dry and temperate with just occasional predictable showers (aka some of the best weather on the planet, in my opinion – check it out if you don’t believe me), and the altitude is likely higher than you’re used to (over 2200m). So…. what should you pack? I’ve put together the ultimate, totally inclusive list of
almost absolutely everything you could need below.
Don’t stress, if you forget ANYTHING you can find it just fine in Mexico City. Mexico’s capital is modern, and with lots of American stores (even Walmart, if thats your thing).
Even if you’re an obsessive perfectionist packer (like me, no shame), have no fears – I’ve got you covered in this Ultimate Mexico City packing list!
What to Pack for Mexico City
First: What to Pack for Mexico City
Things You Might Not Think Of
While Mexico City is much safer than anyone would have you believe (especially the media, and retirees who spend one week a year in Cabo and think they know ALL about the whole country), petty crime isn’t uncommon. Protect yourself from opportunistic crime by carrying a slashproof bag. I love the Travelon line because they are also tamperproof (little zipper clasps make it impossible for anyone to sneakily slide a hand inside) and lockable, making them the perfect choice for any journey on public transport.
I have the Anti-Theft Classic Light Slim Waist Pack (above), which I’ve converted into a cross-body bag, and I LOVE it! It’s just big enough for my mirrorless camera. I’m eyeing a slightly bigger bag though, like the cross-body bucket bag (pictured below).
I’m a BIG fan of this natural, organic version, as I’m trying to reduce or eliminate the amount of potentially harmful chemicals I put on my skin – the largest organ in my body. Sunscreen is necessary (especially if you’re pale), because even when the weather is cool, the sun is intense. I get a sunburn if I’m walking around unprotected, even for an hour or two.
Mexico City is pretty dry, especially when compared to my native state of Michigan, but every now and then a serious shower will strike. You don’t want to be left unprepared, and for some reason umbrellas seem to be especially difficult to find. Save yourself the sorrow, and wet dripping clothes, and pack a little travel umbrella.
Mexico City can be noisy at night and into the wee hours of the morning, mainly due to intense traffic. Long, drawn out honks are not unusual at 4am, and if you’re lucky enough to be around during a holiday, you’ll be blessed by the booms of a cannon. All. Night. Long.
Especially if ear plugs aren’t your thing (I actually don’t really enjoy them, and use them only in crazy noisy circumstances), try using soothing music to squelch the exterior noises instead. I’ve heard these Bose noise-canceling headphones are the bomb, but I haven’t been able to justify the expense yet (they’re like the cost of a domestic flight ticket!!). The bluetooth ones pictured below are especially good for sleeping with – no wires yanking out of your phone.
Unless you’re entirely fluent in Mexican Spanish, you’ll want a dictionary (preferably a Mexico-specific version to include local slang). Many college-educated Mexicans speak at least a bit of English, though many people I’ve come across are too shy to do so. Most service workers (bus station attendants, Uber drivers, grocery store checkout clerks) do NOT speak any English. Brushing up on your Spanish will improve your experience.
Mexico City is really, really dry. Never in my life have I needed lip balm so badly and so regularly. Pack your favorite, most moisturizing type. I personally always choose Lush.
Even if you’re the kind of person who NEVER needs moisturizer on your face or lotion on your body, Mexico City will probably be a first for you. My hands and cuticles crack, and my face dries up and even peels, if I don’t regularly apply a good quality moisturizer (again, I choose Lush Celestial for the face, and Lush Charity – which supports awesome causes – for the body).
Because of the high altitude and also the dry air, you’ll need to stop on top of hydration. Public drinking fountains aren’t a thing in Mexico City, even in malls or at the airport, so you’ll want to bring your own water bottle. Rather than hurt the environment (and your wallet) by buying individual bottles, try buying one big jug, and leaving it in your hotel room to fill up your water bottle each time before you go out. Sometimes restaurants will fill it up as well, for a small fee (or maybe even free if you ask extra nicely). My favorite water bottle is the kind that collapses and packs flat – no more bulky bottle!
Avoid buying the aforementioned jugs of water altogether, and get your water from the tap! While water in most Mexican cities is SUPPOSEDLY potable, I definitely wouldn’t drink it without purifying/sterilizing it first (and neither do most Mexicans). This is my favorite purifier, and it can charge via USB.
Whether you’re locking up your cash and camera in your room (I don’t always trust the provided safe, and sometimes one isn’t even provided), or removing the combo lock to use on your backpack zippers to prevent pickpocketing, this handy device will be SO useful and provide priceless peace of mind. I use the pictured version of the Travelsafe, which is big enough for my camera and money and passport (and could also fit a small ipad). You’ll want a bigger one (like this) or an entire backpack/bag protector (like this) if you plan to put your laptop inside.
This handy device is perfect if you’re traveling alone and worried about someone illicitly entering your room at night – not every room will have a slide lock or deadbolt. Whenever I travel alone, and without my dogs (which is my usual travel setup), I worry about this, sometimes even jumping up in the middle of the night due to a creepy sensation that someone is in my room. I use the model pictured, and I bought it for just $10.
Next: What to Pack for Mexico City
Wondering what to wear in Mexico City?
You NEED layers. The mornings (and nights) are so much cooler than the afternoons. You could do a complete outfit change if you’re not prepared with a stashable sweater, and maybe even a scarf and gloves (depending on the season of your visit).
Mexico City feels fairly conservative in terms of clothing, with most people dressing quite modestly and in dark colors. Neon pink tops (unless you’re looking at me), cleavage, and short-shorts are rare in public. Actually, shorts in general are pretty uncommon. Especially if you’ll be visiting churches and public buildings, you’ll want to dress respectfully, both for your own comfort and out of consideration for the local culture.
My 3 Day Weekend What to Wear in Mexico City Packing List (double or decrease as needed)
1 or 2 dark blouses (one should be sleeveless and dress-up-able if possible)
1 or 2 dark t-shirts or tunics (that can be dressed up)
Leggings (to wear with a longer tshirt or blouse)
1 or 2 dresses (I’m really loving my maxi dress)
Light silk scarf
Stud earrings (the pictured ones are cruelty-free crystal pearls from Swarovski, and less than $20!)
Day bag (the pictured Travelon bag is anti-theft and slash-proof)
*I’m not advising that you change your own personal style. However, when I travel somewhere, I like to adapt a bit to the local fashion flavor – not only does it challenge me to be creative, but I feel like less of a tourist and more of a local. I already stand out most places I go, with pale eyes and white-blonde hair.. I like to do all that I can to blend in a bit more*
Then: What to Pack for Mexico City
When I take a trip, ESPECIALLY a short or weekend trip, I try to travel as light as possible. That goes double for electronics. I don’t bring my computer, I only bring one camera (either my mirrorless or my GoPro), and I try do as little work-work as possible (and by that I mean emails).
iPhone (or other phone with offline maps)
No matter what phone you bring, please don’t go waiving it around at night in a dark alley, leave it sticking out of your backpocket on the subway, or set it on the edge of the table in a busy restaurant. I’ve always felt fine to use my phone for navigation or text on it in public during the day, but don’t go tempting fate or being totally clueless… unless you want to get parted from it, real fast. I always choose a certified refurbished phone (like the one shown) to save a TON of cash and get the same quality.
I am OBSESSED with my Nikon 1 AW1, which I got about 2 years ago now. It’s waterproof (you can even take it snorkeling) and shockproof, and works with 1 Nikkor lenses. Love. Love. Love. This thing is also super light and compact.
I got this one from my sister for my wedding and I LOVE it! I always like to keep a few memory cards with me on a trip. I’ll use a different one each day… hedging my bets just in case my camera gets stolen. It’s never happened, but you never know!
If you’re from the US, you do NOT need an adapter! Yay, one less thing to pack! If you’re not from the US, you’ll likely need an adapter. I just keep this universal one in my pack – it’s good for all the countries (and I got it for under $10)!
I will not go anywhere, even the grocery store, without my Kindle. The charge lasts forever, it’s lighter than a “real” book, and it has revolutionized the way I feel about waiting. Now, I love long lines (okay that’s a bit facetious) because it gives me the opportunity to catch up on a good read. I thought I’d miss the heft of a book in my hand, the feel of the pages… but honestly, the convenience is SO worth any sacrifice. I read voraciously, and even more now that I have the world’s library at my fingertips. Literally.
Finally: What to Pack for Mexico City
Why are toiletries last? Well, because they’re so easy to replace in Mexico City if you forget your stash. There are even a few Lush stores scattered around town!
I ONLY travel with carry-on luggage as a serious rule. It saves money, it saves a ton of time (no waiting at the baggage carousel, so you can hightail it to immigration and beat the pack by a long shot), and it keeps me from overpacking. If I travel with any liquid toiletries, though, I always make sure to put them in a carry-on sized tube. These ones are leak proof and cute.
At home, I always use I Love Juicy by Lush. Conveniently, the 100ml bottles are TSA travel approved, so I also bring them for trips. If I’m packing super light or super tight (and I’m worried about a spill), I’ll throw in a solid shampoo bar instead. I also like Lush for this, especially the Godiva bar. If you haven’t tried solid shampoo, you need to. Life changing.
I’ve switched back and forth between Veganese (I love it, but my husband thinks it smells like dog shampoo) and American Cream. When I travel, I usually bring a solid conditioner bar (I like the Big Solid Conditioner from Lush), because I used to go through so much conditioner (before I chopped my hair for Locks of Love), and it tends to leak more than shampoo. Don’t know why.
I could never justify the expense of shaving cream. You’ll know I’ve hit it big and am straight up balling out when you find a can of shaving cream in my shower (it’ll never happen). I’m a regular ol’ bar soap kinda girl, but I do splurge every now and then on body wash, but only if it is Lush Yuzu and Cocoa body wash. Seriously, ANYTHING in that scent, I’d buy it.
I literally have nothing to say and no opinion on this. I like to go with the higher end of the cheap side of the spectrum. That’s all.
Have you considered going cruelty-free? It’s really not as hard as you might think, and more companies are making the switch to cruelty-free with increased pressure from consumers. Join us, and choose mascara that hasn’t been plunged into the eye of a puppy, lipstick that hasn’t been forced down the throat of a mouse, for no good reason.
I used to use NYX, which is cruelty free, but I found out they’re owned by L’oreal, which definitely isn’t. Any recommendations on a cruelty free brand? PLEASE let me know! Until then, I have zero specific recommendations for you. In general, I travel with waterproof eyeliner and mascara, a bit of eyeshadow, and maybe blush. That’s it.
**This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing from one of the links, JoyAndJourney will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.**
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Wondering what to DO in Mexico City? Check out my top recommendations for an amazing visit here
Anything I forgot to pack? What is your must-have packing item?