Last Christmas, covid was still very much a thing in our lives. And not the kind of beachy, bunda, boo-thang but a frustrating, lethargic and exasperating situation. A friend came home for Christmas sun-kissed and full of stories, and I can’t lie I was well jealous!
A month later and I’d booked myself flights to Mexico City, not knowing much about the country besides their amazing food and of course, the stories you hear the media spin.
Mexico didn’t have any covid restrictions during the pandemic, and their barriers to entry are also pretty low. You can stay in the country for 6 months/180 days with a basic holiday visa. Upon arrival at immigration, you get a slip of paper. This is your visa that you’ll need to leave the country, so make sure you keep it safe!
Time To Get Packing
Packing. A love-hate relationship I have. I love picking and choosing outfits, rolling everything up neatly into its place, whittling down the number of clothes I’ve packed, and that feeling when you get the zip to close without bursting back open.
However, I hate not knowing what to bring, the idea that I’ll be stranded on an island on my own and I’ll be standing there thinking sheet, that ONE THING I didn’t pack!!
I read a bazillion blog posts on what to pack for Central America, including the rainy season. I found a lot of them didn’t go into a huge amount of detail about medications or exactly how many clothes to pack! I’m only three weeks in, so it’s hard to know if I’ve overpacked yet, as some of the rain gear and hike stuff have yet to be put to use.
For now, enjoy my Mexico, Belize & Guatemala what-I-packed list!
The Big List
The Rucksack & Day Bag
Every long trip starts with a solid rucksack or travel pack. I needed one that would fit comfortably on my shoulders while also making room for a day bag of sorts to fit my laptop.
I was living in Limerick City, Ireland then and wanted to buy a bag locally (to be able to try it on, ease of getting it right away and supporting the local shops yanooooo). I went with the 60-litre + 20L Vango travel pack from Radar Stores, Foxes Bow in Limerick.
I’m delighted I went with this because the daypack is detachable and hangs on the front of the bag (so facing out from my back) or clips on the rucksack straps and sits nicely at my front, which gives me peace of mind as my valuables are in it. It also has a zip-up cover for the straps, so they’re not hanging out when you check in the bag.
Now that I’m two weeks in, I’m kiiiiiiind of questioning why I didn’t go with the 80L for that little bit of extra room. When I’m packing it up, I have to think hard about where everything fits perfectly, which is kind of annoying.
But on the other hand, it means I have to be super frugal about what I buy and pack into it, which is a great thing for my back, my wallet and the world!
I also bought packing cubes for the bag to arrange all my things; they’ve come in handy! I can pull one out and know all my underwear, bikinis or medication are in that specific bag.
- X4 packing cubes
- Passport and visa slip when you get into the country! Make sure to check it when the officer gives it to you, for Mexico you’re entitled to stay up to 180 days. Some people misinterpreted the immigration officer and only got a 3-day visa by accident, so be sure to check your papers before you leave arrivals.
- Phone; I bought a Mexican sim when I got here to use Google Maps when out and about. Paid €25 for the sim and data package.
- Spanish phrasebook
- A Decathlon neck wallet for safety. It fits your passport, money and cards. You can tuck it into your top around your neck when in busy areas.
- A small purse.
- A cloth bag for life bag: I use mine as a handbag and wish I’d brought another one.
- My glasses & sunglasses.
Medication & First Aid
- Insect bite pen: thank you, Laura & Paul for quite possibly the best present ever! This UV bite pen has given me so much relief from the millions of bites I’ve been getting. It takes the itch out of the bite and provides instant relief.
- Electrolyte tablets.
- Dioralyte sachets.
- Packs of paracetamol.
- Packs of Ibuprofen.
- Chlamydia antibiotics, I hope these stay tucked away in the bottom of my bag!
- General penicillin antibiotics.
- Probiotics with a focus on women’s health (great general day-to-day tablets to take, especially when you feel thrush is coming on in this heat!)
- Contraceptive pill.
- Malarone: anti-malaria tablets.
- Canesten thrush cream.
- Ear drops.
- I had a pregnancy test lying around at home, lol so brought that!
- Tampons: I know I know, still haven’t conquered the moon cup and they’d be so handy for travelling!
- Vitamin B tablets.
- Liquid plasters.
- Blister and regular plasters.
- Plaster tape (I’m obviously expecting some major injury with all these plasters).
- Antiseptic cleaning wipes (small sachets).
Day-to-day clothes, underwear & socks
- X1 light pyjama top and shorts
- X1 fleece zip
- X1 white long-sleeved linen shirt (I wear it over everything!!)
- 1 baggy hippy harem trousers
- X3 dresses
- X4 shorts
- X5 going out tops
- X4 day tops
- X2 skirts
- X15 knickers/thongs – I only now realise I overpacked in this department!
- X4 normal ankle socks
Workout, Hiking & Swimming
This Decathlon yoga mat that I am delighted I brought, I’ve gotten so much use out of it for yoga + workouts. It’s very thin and light, which makes it fit perfectly into my rucksack.
- X4 workout shorts
- X5 workout tops
- X2 long-sleeved workout tops for higher altitude hikes
- X5 sports bras
- X6 bikini bottoms
- X3 bikini tops
- X1 pair of swimming togs
- Orange Nike baseball cap
- Light Regatta rain jacket
- X3 buffs
- Jungle mosquito trousers from decathlon
- X1 pair of workout leggings
- X2 pairs of hiking socks
- 3 microfibre towels, one small, medium & large. The large black one is great to hang off a bunk bed if you’re on the bottom; blocks out light and gives me privacy. Think I overpacked these and that the one black towel would suffice! Good hostels often provide towels too.
- A sarong; ideal for the beach and to turn into a dress.
I brought 5 pairs of shoes:
- Brown/grey Birkenstocks. I’ve had these a couple of years and only wear them in the summertime, so they’re a little worn now. I’ve worn these the most in my three weeks here.
- New Balance runners: for my runs and more strenuous walks.
- Scarpa hiking boots: I was lucky enough to get these from my sister’s friend because they are quite spenny but are waterproof and sturdy, I’ll get plenty of wear out of them in Guatemala!
- Havaiana flip-flops.
- Decathlon velcro water sandals: got these in the kids’ section for super cheap. They dry quickly and are ideal for wading through water and other water sports as they don’t fall off.
Top tip! When you’re packing, be sure to jam socks and underwear into your shoes to make more room! I wear my hiking boots to the airport and when travelling around because they take up too much room in my rucksack.
Tech & Work Stuff
- MacBook Air laptop and charger
- Garmin Forerunner 645 music watch + charger
- X2 travel adapters with USB ports
- X2 USB leads with multiple output types
- Larq UV water bottle + charger: thank you, sis, for the super cool birthday prezzie! This water bottle uses UV light in the lid to rid the water of any bacteria. It has two settings, a 1 minute cleanse and a 3-minute “adventure” mode for dirtier water.
- JBL headphones: old but solid
- X2 notebooks
- Lots of pens!
- Amazon Kindle + USB lead
- GoPro Hero Session with selfie stick-type thing
- Goji power bank
- X3 padlocks for suitcases, lockers etc
- Head torch for those late-night volcano hikes we’ll be doing in Guatemala!
- USB stick
- Tangle teaser brush
- La Roche Posay night cream/moisturiser
- Weleda light day moisuriser
- Reusable metal razor with blades from Duo
- Hotel shower wash in a small bottle
- Make-up wipes (to take in my handbag to clean my hands)
- Lush ultrabland cleanser to remove make-up
- X3 facecloths
- Rimmel mascara and eyeliner pen
- X3 Mac lipsticks: red, pink and nude (lipsticks are great because they triple as blush and eye shadow too!)
- Small scissors
- Hair band
- Burt’s bees hand salve
- Mini bottle of hand san
- Piz Buin bottle of sun cream x2 SPF 30
- La Roche Posay SPF 30 face suncream x2
- Piz buin bottle of aftersun x2
- Toothbrush + spare
- Mini bottles of Jungle Formula insect repellant x2
- Hair bobbles (a looooad of them)
- Safety pins
- Nail varnish
- SPF lip balm
- X2 Anti-chafe balm
- Lots of earplugs
- Jewellery; earrings & necklaces (I didn’t bring many)
- Sleeping bag liner
- X3 sunglasses – every day, running and a funky pair for Tulum etc. Probably overpacked these!
- X3 eye masks! Absolutely essential for me to sleep
- Small laundry bag
- Small dry bag
- Face masks: Mexico requires that you wear them
- Waterproof phone case and lanyard for going on water expeditions
- X2 luggage tags
- Umbrella – I arrived during the rainy season, and I’m grateful for my brolly!
Time to Reflect
Writing this list certainly highlighted how I didn’t need half these clothes. I’ve noticed I keep wearing the same outfits over and over. It’s common to swap or leave unwanted clothes in hostels, so I’ll do that before I head to the next destination.
This Christmas, I’m going to recap this article, highlighting what was unnecessary, what else I should have brought, and what bits n bobs I bought along the way.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and that it helps you pack for your next big adventure! Is there anything you’d add to this list? Am I mad to have packed this much?! I’d love to hear from you below in the comments!