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Perhaps the most important thing to think about before heading on a long-term trip is the footwear. You want to strike the balance between lightweight and supportive, comfortable and fashionable and you can easily do that with a pair of Velcro-strapped Tevas and some trainers. You should only even consider taking walking boots if you’re planning on doing some serious hiking; otherwise, leave the added weight behind and just take some cover-all sandals and sneakers.
The night-time chill is real in Mexico, especially in places with higher elevations like Guanajuato and certain parts of Chiapas, so prepare accordingly by taking a squishable puffa jacket that you can throw in your bag of an evening. You won’t regret it when you come out of the bar shivering in your shorts and t-shirt. Alternatively, if you’re too fashionable for a trusty puffa coat, take a denim jacket. As long as it’s light and layerable, you’ll be fine.
Contrary to popular belief, from those indoctrinated by the idea that Cancun is Mexico, it does rain just about everywhere most travellers will be venturing in the country. In fact, there’s a very distinct (and torrential) rainy season between the months of June and September in particular. The best way to not let the weather get you down? Pack a thin but waterproof raincoat. You don’t need anything extreme, but you definitely need a decent hood.
Step away from the 14 pairs of shorts you’re throwing in your rucksack and grab a couple pairs of jeans and leggings instead. Not only will stretchy yoga pants keep you covered up in mosquito territory, they’re also great for travel days, hikes and, well, yoga. Jeans on the other hand might add some bulk to your luggage but you’ll be glad to have them when you want to go out of an evening or wear something warmer for once.
However…that’s not to say you should do away with shorts entirely, especially if you’ll be targeting the humid coastal regions of Mexico, or hanging out in particularly warm spots. Plus, a pair of shorts can double for pyjamas in a bind, or as something to keep you cool when hanging out in your hostel. Make sure they dry easily though, if you’re planning to take them to the beach, and that they match most of your other items.
For those amongst you who are entirely pant averse then a loose dress won’t go amiss when you’re packing to backpack through Mexico. A decent, versatile dress can be both dressed up for an evening, and dressed down for the day, and should also match the shoes you’ve taken along with you, plus any jacket you plan on layering over the top. Basically, aim for something in between pretty but impractical flowy maxi dress and sweaty skintight styles.
Obviously. If you’re prone to bites, pack some decent bug spray and repellent, plus a hefty amount of sun cream and after sun for the inevitable burns you’ll pick up at least once along the way. Alongside the obvious stuff—soap, shampoo, etc—you might want motion sickness pills, plasters and first aid accoutrements, as well as some diarrhoea pills. And don’t forget to pack enough period products for a full cycle, plus birth control that will last the duration of the trip, if applicable.
Itsy bitsy bikini or head to toe swimsuit. Tiny Speedos or baggy trunks. Whatever your preference, pack a couple items in which you can take a dip.
Always, always pack more underwear than you think it’s ever possible to use in between lugging your clothes to the laundry. Maybe you get caught in a rainstorm, or things get lost along the way. Whatever the case, you’ll be glad to have spares and enough to get you through ‘til you next find a washing machine.
Some key accessories you definitely need to throw in your bag for a trip to Mexico include sunglasses, a peaked cap of some kind, and a day bag (over-the-shoulder, tote, rucksack, whatever takes your fancy). If applicable, some simple jewellery and a belt or two might also come in handy.
Controversial, we know, but Mexican hostels are regular participants in book exchange, meaning you can catch up on your much-neglected reading on the road… and for free! Sure, you could bring a Kindle, but there’s nothing quite like the feel of a real paperback, and you don’t have to worry about coating it with sand and salt water at the beach. Alternatively, swap out ‘book’ for whatever helps you relax of an evening. Long-term travel is tiring, after all.