I am very excited to be heading back to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for 17 days (I leave bright and early tomorrow morning!), after 6 months of last being in the area. I will be traveling to Tulum, Valladolid, Merida, Campeche City and Playa del Carmen.
Even though I consider myself to be a minimalist, packing for travel always remains a challenge for me. I only first began packing a carry-on only earlier this year. Prior to that, I traveled with a huge suitcase and would pack it completely full of stuff. But after I returned home from my travels and unpacked my bags, I started to realize how little I actually used and needed.
So, on my first solo backpacking trip to Mexico this past May, I purchased a 48 litre backpack and a 12 litre daypack and challenged myself to pack lighter. This was the first time I packed carry-on luggage only and it was incredibly freeing! Physically, I had much less weight to carry around with me and it was so nice to be able to breeze through airports, bypassing the baggage drop-off and pick-up lines, while everyone else stood there… waiting.
On this current solo trip that I am about to take, I attempted to pack even less than what I did during my last trip. Even though I thought I had packed light last time, there was still stuff that I didn’t use or need! So during my packing, I took the time to really question every item that I wanted to pack, asking myself, “Do I really need this?” “Will I actually use this?” “Is this something I could buy relatively cheaply and relatively easily at my destination?” “Am I bringing this item solely for those ‘just-in-case’ scenarios?”
It took me a good chunk of the day (good thing it’s a Remembrance Day in Canada today, which means no work and more time to pack!) to finish packing but I think I am finally content with my list. It was a challenge and I know there is still going to be stuff that I don’t use or need, which is why I plan on writing a post when I return from Mexico, reflecting on my packing list – what worked, what didn’t and what I could do to improve for next time.
So now that I have finally finished packing, here is my complete packing list as I attempt to travel minimally for 17 days in Mexico, with only a 48L backpack and 12L daypack:
The Travel Gear:
Liquids Bag (Under 100 ml):
Since I traveling with carry-on luggage only, all of my liquids must be 100 ml or less. I bought this Lewis N Clark Clear Plastic Toiletry Pouch from Amazon.ca and it works great for holding my liquids! It is made from a thicker plastic that won’t rip or tear, which is great and better than using a Ziploc bag.
Sunscreen 30 SPF
Facial Moisturizing Lotion – with natural ingredients and homemade from a company in Winnipeg that I love, called Just The Goods
Bug Bite Allergy Stick
Essential Oils – I love this Pocket Pharmacy from Saje! Their essentials oils smell amazing, they are pure and they work very effectively for a variety of ailments.
GoToobs filled with organic shampoo and conditioner (I love the brand Andalou and I can usually find their products for cheap at Winners in Winnipeg)
Contact Lens Solution
Natural Roll-on Deodorant – from Rocky Mountain Soap Company
Medical and Toiletry Bag:
In this packing cube, I have the following:
Travel-sized Hair Brush
Diarrhea Relief Pills – when you’re eating street food and at local eateries in Mexico, you never really know how the food was cooked.
Ziploc Bag With Various Medications – Advil, Tylenol, Pepto-Bismol, Sore Throat Lozenges, and Activated Charcoal
Emergen-C Vitamin C Powder – it is dissolved in water and is good for boosting your immune system to fight off colds
Wet Wipes – these hand and face wipes are a good alternative to washing your face at the end of the day.
Nail File – in case my nail clipper (not pictured) is found by airport security and confiscated
Q-Tips – gotta keep the ears clean!
Ear Plugs – to be able to get a good sleep if there are loud snorers in the hostel dorms
Pepto-Bismol – in case of heartburn, nausea, indigestion or diarrhea
Hydrocortisone Cream – for itchy bug bites
Concealer – this is the only makeup item that I am bringing with me. I prefer the natural look, but I brought this just in case I get a huge zit or something that I would like to cover up.
Travel Flashlight – for finding my way to the bathroom in the nighttime at hostels and for exploring cenotes and caves.
Allergy Relief Pills – I am allergic to mosquito bites (and probably other bug bites as well) and strong fragrances.
Hair Elastics – I don’t want my hair touching the back of my neck when it’s super hot outside.
Travel Toothbrush – this handy little toothbrush folds up into a case, to protect the bristles.
Razor (not pictured)
Nail Clipper (not pictured)
Here are the contents of my day pack/personal item:
Travel Power Strip To Go – electrical outlets are sometimes hard to come by in hostels, so this power strip allows you four outlets!
Eagle Creek Money Belt – this is where I keep my credit card, debit card, foreign currency and identification.
Tales of a Female Nomad (Novel) – I always bring one novel with me to read.
Travel Journal – I love writing and documenting what I did during each day, the weather, my thoughts and feelings, who I met, what I ate and how much money I spent. I bought this specific travel journal from Winners in Winnipeg.
Sunglasses – cheap pair from American Eagle
Lonely Planet Mexican Spanish Phrasebook – so I can attempt to communicate with the locals.
Cliff Bars and Kind Bars – for the plane and for general snacking in Mexico.
Contact Lenses and Case
Eyeglasses and Case (not pictured)
Travelon Packing Cube with Various Chargers, Cords and Combination Locks (for hostel dorm room lockers)
Homemade Hand Sanitizer
Just The Goods Lip Balm – natural, homemade and locally made in Winnipeg (my hometown)
Ear Planes – my eyes don’t pressurize on airplanes, so these handy earplugs help with that!
These are random items in my backpack that don’t fit into any packing cubes:
Travel Microfibre Towel
Sandals – I actually bought these the last time I was in Playa del Carmen because the flip flops that I had originally brought, gave me the worst blisters ever on my first day in Mexico!
Reebok Athletic Shoes
Glasses Cleaning Cloth (not pictured)
Headband (not pictured) – to pull my bangs off of my forehead on hot days.
This packing cube contains the following:
Socks – four pairs
Underwear – 17 pairs (one pair for every day. I don’t plan on doing laundry!)
Bras – one sports bra and one regular black bra
Deciding what clothing to take is always the most difficult part of packing for me. I think I have finally figured it out, although I know for sure that I won’t wear all of this.
Three T-Shirts – one Reebok athletic shirt (moisture wicking) and two solid-coloured Polyester t-shirts from H&M
Three Tank Tops – one cotton from Dynamite and two athletic tanks (moisture wicking) from Winners
One Swim Suit – tankini top and boy short bottoms
One Pair of Black Leggings
One Pair of Pants – from Eddie Bauer, beige-coloured with lots of pockets and they roll up into longer capri pants
Two Pairs of Capri Pants – one black athletic pair and one black baggy pair from Lululemon
Pajama Bottoms and Top – pink tank top (not pictured) and grey sweatpant-like shorts
One Cardigan – grey button-up long sleeved from Garage Clothing
Two Pairs of Shorts – both athletic, one is black and the other is a dark blue
One Sweater – 3/4 length, baggy, solid burgundy-coloured from H&M
Travel Purse/Identification/Important Items:
My small PacSafe travel purse contains my most important and valuable items:
Canon Digital Camera
Foreign Currency – Mexican Pesos
Identification – driver’s license, debit card, credit card, birth certificate, insurance card, and provincial health card.
That’s everything I am packing for this trip! I am sure there will be items that I don’t use or need and will be writing a post when I return home, reflecting on my packing list.
What are some essential items that you have to pack when you travel?