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What to bring — México


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Contents


Luggage


Regular suitcases and trunks work fine when visiting a resort, or maybe a single location or two, but they're too cumbersome, even when they have wheels, for the mobile traveler. Experienced travelers who plan on moving around a lot pare their luggage down until it's small enough for airline carry on. Either way, not checking luggage relieves the physical burden of excess baggage, removes the possibility of lost luggage by airlines, and avoids time-consuming check-in lines, making for a simpler trip. Their rules change, but airlines currently restrict carry on to a single bag, not to exceed 45" (114 cm) in combined length, width, and height, and one small personal item, such as a purse, shoulder bag, or small day backpack.

For the small bag, choose something that can double as a day bag. When in transit, carry all valuables and essentials in it, such as cash, travelers checks, cameras, film, memory cards, credits cards, passports, prescription drugs, and tickets, and at all times keep it within arms reach. As for the larger bag, choose something that can be stowed in the overhead bins on airplanes and easily hauled around, like a sturdy internal-frame backpack, and in it pack everything else. Bus overhead bins are often smaller than airline. In these cases, stow the larger bag in the bus cargo holds, and make sure to always get a receipt.

What to wear


Clothing usually constitutes the bulk of travelers' luggage. Most of it is redundant and can be eliminated by packing the bare minimum of everyday clothes, say, three items each of pants, socks, underwear, dresses, skirts, and shirts. Moreover, only bring clothes that can be hand washed in the bathroom sink and will dry overnight, eliminating the hassle of sending clothes out to be cleaned or, heaven forbid, schlepping down to the laundromat.

In winter and fall overnight temperatures in the mountains and higher elevations can be downright cold, making a warm coat essential, even in the farthest southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. And spring and summer nights can still be cool, making a light sweater often necessary. What's also often necessary is a sweater on first-class or executive buses. More often than not, the A/C is blasting and way too cold, even when its scorching outside.

Other important items are a raincoat, preferably one that breathes, made out of Gore-Tex® or similar material that can double as a windbreaker; walking shoes or hiking boots; and a good pair of hiking socks. For going out at nights pack at least one nice outfit and pair of shoes to match, though just putting on a nice shirt or blouse is often enough. A sturdy pair of flip flops or waterproof sandals, like Tevas or Chacos, are a must for the beach or shower stalls of questionable cleanliness.

It's almost a right of passage for novice travelers to find out the hard way that they've overpacked. Lay out everything that you think you are going need. If an item, especially clothing, is not absolutely necessary, don't pack it. In the end, you'll be thankful that you did.

Lastly, Mexicans dress neatly and cleanly, especially when going out to restaurants, churches, festivals, and other special events. Except in beach towns, Méxican men and women never wear shorts, and swimsuits are only worn at the beach. When visiting religious or cultural sites, visitors should dress appropriately. In all, Mexicans are tolerant of the way foreigners dress. Still, out of respect for the culture of the place you're visiting, you should try and adhere to their norms as much as possible. You'll often find your efforts appreciated and reciprocated.

The blog www.travelite.org has some good tips on traveling light, as well as some useful travel product reviews. For tips on what to bring for camping and hiking, read the article "Outdoors — México."

Checklist


3 pieces of each item of everyday clothing, such as pants, socks, underwear, dresses, skirts, and shirts. Read more...
Warm coat in fall and winter, light sweater in spring and summer. Read more...
Raincoat. Read more...
Swimsuit. Read more...
Walking shoes or hiking boots, one solid set. Read more...
Hiking socks, at least one sturdy pair. Read more...
One nice outfit and shoes to match. Read more...
Flip flops or waterproof sandals, sturdy. Read more...
Sleep sack or linens for hostels. Read more...
Towel, for beach or hostels. Read more...
Sarong, packs tightly, excellent for laying on at the beach or covering up when leaving.
Passport. Read more...
Traveler’s checks. Read more...
Cash in a easily convertible currency. Read more...
Credit, Debit Cards. Read more...
Driver’s license, good for a photo ID. Always keep separate from passport. Read more...
Hostel, Student ID, Student Membership Cards. Read more...
Travel Insurance, if applicable, and forms. Read more...
Photocopies, make copies of all important documents such as passport, visa, credit and debit cards. Keep separate from the originals in case of theft. Read more...
First-Aid kit. Read more...
Money belt for carrying cash, credit and debit cards, passport, and valuables. Read more...
Spanish phrase book or dictionary. Read more...
Toiletries, readily available in México although specific brands can be hard to find. Make sure to pack extras if important.
Padlock, bring for lockers in hostels. Read more...
Water bottle, many hotels offer filtered water free for guests. Read more...
Eyeglasses, bring backup and copy of prescription.
Contacts, bring extras and copy of prescription. Cleaning solutions are hard to come by in México, so pack enough of everything for the entire trip, except maybe saline solution, which is readily available at pharmacies.
Sunglasses. Read more...
Sunscreen and Aloe Vera, overpriced in México, especially in resorts. Read more...
Hat. Read more...
Pocketknife, small multi-use, like a Swiss Army knife. Read more...
Compass. Read more...
Waterproof matches. Read more...
Detergent, if planning on doing laundry by hand, something concentrated and biodegradable like Dr. Bronner's is ideal. Read more...
Flat sink stopper, if planning on doing laundry by hand. Read more...
String for makeshift clothes line, if planning on doing laundry by hand. Read more...
Needle and thread for repairing clothes.
Tape for repairs, electrical or duct.
Super Glue or some other strong, fast bonding glue for repairs.
Safety pins.
Zip lock bags, sturdy, for anything that might leak or spill.
Alarm clock.
Rubber bands.
Flashlight (torch), small
Earplugs.
Garbage bags for wet laundry or garbage.
Calculator.
Cell phone. Read more...
Travel advisories and warnings, check with foreign ministry or state department. Read more...
Mosquito repellent. Read more...
Mosquito net, if planning on sleeping outdoors. Read more...
Driving paperwork. Read more...
Camera, film, memory cards. Read more...
Electrical adapter. Read more...
Personal tools
Toolbox


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