The time has come to pack your bags and head to the airport. This is either one of those things you absolutely cannot stand or look forward to. I fall into the latter category. Packing my luggage means that it’s almost vacation time (even if it’s still two weeks away)!
I love creating a packing list to follow when going on vacation. And one of the reasons why I love following a list means that I can’t pack the entire contents of my home into my luggage. Which I would absolutely do if there were no weight limits on airlines. A packing list for Cancun or wherever keeps ME in check. Seriously, I’d pack 40 dresses for a 3-day vacation if I were allowed.
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The Non-Negiatable Travel Essentials
When planning your Cancun packing list and things that you need to be able to check off, make sure you can locate your passport. A valid passport is necessary for entry into Mexico, and you’ll need at least 6 months of validity on your passport before it expires.
Look we’ve been through a lot in the past couple of years with Covid-19 and the one thing that we cannot take for granted is the guarantee of ‘normal’ anymore. Who knows what the next thing might be, but it’s essential in 2023 that you do not leave your country without travel insurance.
It costs less than a coffee a day and it protects you in the event you lose luggage, are injured, or need to be repatriated because of a global pandemic. For peace of mind and security don’t skimp on this necessity.
You can usually purchase additional travel insurance options from your local health care provider, or certain credit cards may offer it as part of their package. Whenever I travel I purchase my travel insurance from SafetyWing and *touch wood* have never had to use it. But it’s always good to know that I have it.
Cancun Trip Essentials
Reef Safe & Biodegradable Sunscreen
A necessity for your Cancun packing list is to have reef-safe sunscreen if you plan on swimming in the sea. Also, you can’t come this far to Mexico and not dip your toe into the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico sea.
However, as you will probably see in your hotel that sits on the beach, this part of Mexico is a breeding ground for turtles. Loggerhead turtle, Hawksbill turtle, and leatherback turtles have made the area around Cancun and Quintana Roo their breeding grounds for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
The local government and animal conservation organizations have been hugely successful in ensuring that the turtles can lay their eggs on the beaches and be protected. Reef-safe and biodegradable sunscreens are therefore even more critical in protecting turtles and marine life.
Most tour agencies and groups in Cancun and beyond have a mandatory policy for reef-safe and biodegradable sunscreens in an effort to protect the incredible and diverse marine wildlife. I use La Roche Posay Factor 50 whenever possible. It’s marine friendly and has no nasties that will hurt the environment. Check the back of your favorite brand to see if they are compliant.
It’s a first-world problem, but nothing is worse than your cell phone running out of battery. Especially on vacation when you want to take photos, look up directions or browse Instagram. My phone barely lasts a full day after its been fully charged, so I cannot leave the house without having my portable charger.
I purchased the Anker Powercore II which is able to charge my cellphone up to 4 times and has 2 USB ports. It means that no matter what I can charge my phone and not worry about running out of battery. It has a 20000 mAh battery which takes a while to charge ( I usually charge it overnight every couple of days) and is compatible with a wide range of brands.
Apple Tags / Tile Mate
This summer has been a disaster for lost luggage. I seem to read every day in the news or see on social media about the chaos of airports and people losing their luggage. It’s never ever fun to find out that your luggage hasn’t made it to the same destination as you.
A small relief is purchasing Apple Tags (for iPhone users) or Tile Mate (for Android users) that helps you locate your luggage. Using Bluetooth technology, your tag or tile can send a signal to indicate where it is located. So even if you do somehow get separated from your luggage, you’ll be able to find out where your belongings are.
I’ve included it in the travel essentials section for your things to pack for Cancun because unfortunately this problem is increasing and it may end up giving you some peace of mind should this occur.
Whether you’re an organized person or not, packing cubes make vacationing just a little bit easier. What I love the most about packing cubes is how organized they are. My suitcase no longer explodes as soon as I walk into a hotel room anymore!
Instead, I have everything organized into each of the packing cubes. One packing cube will contain all my underwear and bras, another for my swimsuits, another for my daytime clothes, etc.
I also feel with packing cubes that I’m no longer sitting on my suitcase trying to squeeze it shut. It’s like everything magical fits in the packing cubes.
When I visit Thailand or India, I try and start taking probiotics a couple of weeks before I travel, to try and help my tummy adjust to some of the things that may upset it.
The same applies to visiting Mexico, I’ll try to restore the PH balance of my tummy by taking some probiotics before and during my vacation. I should probably take them all year round (I figure with some of the cultures in my yogurts they help with the probiotics?). You can pick them up in your local health food store.
It helps with some dodgy toilet issues that come with traveling to places your tummy may be unfamiliar with. Sometimes it helps, and sometimes all you’ll need is a couple of Immodium to sort out the frequent trips to the bathroom.
Beach or Pool Essentials
Quick Drying Towel
For years I would take my trusty beach towel on my vacations which ended up taking over half of my suitcase. Nowadays I bring my quick-drying microfibre beach towel that is light, sand-resistant, and extremely quick drying.
I purchased mine from Decathlon for when I go swimming, but you can purchase larger versions (and prettier patterns) on Amazon for the beach. I love these towels for how little room they take up in my luggage and for their amazing functionality.
Waterproof Phone Case
I’m not a huge fan of leaving my belongings on the sand whilst I go into the sea or pool for a quick swim. Sadly my cell phone is one of my most precious possessions and if I lost or had it stolen I’d be bereft. Which is a terribly sad omission but the absolute truth.
Which is why I put my phone and cards into a handy waterproof case. I don’t have to worry about my belongings on the beach, and can also take pictures in the water too. If you are unsure about the product, test it out with some paper in the compartment and see if it remains dry.
Nice to Have but Not Essential
These are definitely not essential items to add to your Cancun packing list but they can make your life a little bit easier. Who doesn’t like to make their vacation a teeny bit more stress-free?
I’m a sucker for gizmos and gadgets that I definitely don’t need. And none more so than this very list. Who would have thought that I would need a gadget for watching my phone on a flight hands-free? Not me! But my goodness how I love it.
Hands-Free Phone Holder
Speaking of hands-free phone holders! Here is the ultimate gadget that is sheer genius and I’m so glad that someone thought of inventing it. I travel a lot of low-budget airlines in Europe (hello Ryanair!) and they notoriously have stripped back everything on the airplane. There are no pouches for putting your belongings in, and you just about get a tray to put your overpriced terrible food on.
I use my phone to catch up on TV shows and movies that I’ve missed out over the past year. This ingenious product allows you to mount the device on the tray table when it’s stowed away. This is the perfect gadget to have for flights with no in-flight entertainment or if you just want to watch Netflix on your phone.
Hands Free Coffee Holder
This useful gadget allows you to slide a drinks holder over the arms of your luggage handle. I usually carry a coffee in one hand, a bottle of water tucked under my armpit, and pull my suitcase behind me as I navigate the airport.
I try and fly first thing in the morning, so I’m not usually at my peakiest (read: alert) at this time, and coffee is a non-negotiable for when I’m traveling that early in the morning. It’s a fun little device to have.
During my vacation, I’ll find a plastic bag that will become my laundry bag. It’s unsightly but hey it does the job! But I think it might be time for me to invest in an actual laundry bag that I can add to my suitcase.
It also makes unpacking a lot easier knowing that everything in that one bag needs to go straight into the laundry. You fall into two camps with that last sentence. Either you love doing laundry or you’re in my camp that hates anything to do with the washer and dryer.
My partner suffers terribly in the heat. Actually, he suffers if the temperature climbs above 40ºF. He’s perpetually sweaty and unfortunately for him, I love the heat. When I discovered these cooling towels on TikTok, I knew I had to buy them for him.
All you need to do is soak the towel in cold water, wring it out and stick it in the little plastic pouch. So now when I drag him to the beach, he can whip out one of these chilly towels and cool down in the shade. They have made us both very happy. It’s a small relief, but it makes the difference.
I’m a fiend for misplacing my glasses. I’ve either got them on my head, on my face, or have 20 pairs dotted throughout my house. On vacation, I think I end up buying at least 3 sets of sunglasses because I’ve ‘lost’ them only to find them moments after I’ve spent money replacing them.
Enter the glasses chain but for the 21st trendy woman! I also kind of dig the coastal grandma vibes that are trending at the moment on social media. I’ve found it harder to lose my sunglasses because of this purchase, so it ticks all the boxes for me!
If you are planning on visiting the cenotes near Cancun, then you’ve got to bring a pair of water shoes. Cenotes are large underground water caves that have an exposed entrance that is located all along the Quintana Roo peninsula.
Water shoes are definitely advisable for climbing on the rocks and for getting in and out of the water of the cenotes. You can purchase them in stores in Mexico if you don’t fancy adding them to your Cancun packing list.
No vacation is complete without a good book. I’m a former librarian and educator so I’ll always be an advocate of books and the importance of reading. The beauty of the Kindle is instant access to that latest book or series that you’ve been dying to get your hands on. Traveling with a Kindle is bringing a whole library of books along with you.
I’ve owned 3 Kindles since the early 2010s, and the last one I owned lasted 6 years before I accidentally dropped into the bathtub. Nowadays the Kindle is waterproof, so even if you do drop it into the bathtub, it’ll still survive.
I also LOVE the length of the battery life on the Kindle. If I read for several hours every day, I can get a full two weeks of reading from the Kindle without needing to recharge it. Amazing.
Check out my favorite books to read over the summer or to enjoy lounging on the beach.
I’ve never owned a complete set of luggage. It’s been on my list forever and I’ve just never gotten around to actually owning a complete set. I think there is nothing classier than people who stroll through the airport with matching suitcases.
I have loved Samsonite’s hard shell luggage in a matching set of 3 pieces. It comes with a 10-year warranty, and the various sizes are perfect for whether you are going on a weekend break or a weeklong vacation.
Plus how pretty does this set look? One day I’ll get around to purchasing it!
Purchasing a GoPro or adding it to your Cancun packing list is a must for those eager to capture every moment of their adventure-packed vacation.
The durability of the GoPro is one of the reasons why you’ll see a lot of people jumping in and out of cenotes around Tulum and Cancun. A GoPro is a fun way to capture some incredible memories.
It’s always nice to look back on your vacation and the things that you got up to. The GoPro is perfect for its small size and takes up barely any space in your luggage.
What Will Your Cancun Packing List Look Like?
Whether you are packing for Cancun or the Maldives, I’m a firm believer that you can always buy something if you forget it. Missing underwear? Head to the local market or mall and pick up some new underwear.
Following a list of things you should or shouldn’t bring is always discretionary. This Cancun packing list may have sparked something within you to purchase or remember to throw into your suitcase.
The one thing you can’t pack for are the memories and fun that you’re going to have. Have a great time and enjoy your vacation! Bring back the sun with you!