Mexico is one of my favorite countries in the world and a popular tourist destination. This vast country has so many different things to see and do. It can be hard to decide where to go in Mexico, let alone what to pack. If you’re planning a trip, then we’ve got you covered with the ultimate sustainable packing list for Mexico.
Below you’ll find three packing lists for popular destinations throughout Mexico, broken down by region. Each packing list includes the top eco-friendly items so you can use this article as a sustainable checklist for traveling to Mexico.
Why It’s Important to Pack Sustainably When Traveling
As sustainable travelers, what we do while traveling has an impact. However, what we bring with us also matters. Packing sustainable items can help lower our carbon footprint and protect the natural environment of the places we visit.
When deciding what sustainable things to pack for Mexico, it may help to first consider where you’re going and what you’re doing. Try to pack sustainable versions of the items or clothes you’ll use the most. For example, if you’re going on a beach vacation, a sustainable swimsuit may have the most impact.
As a reminder, you don’t need an entirely eco-friendly suitcase to have a positive impact. Making small, intentional choices will go far when it comes to packing sustainably.
Southern Mexico: Sustainable Packing List for Tulum
Southern Mexico is best known for its Caribbean coastline, hot weather, dense jungles, cenotes, and archeological wonders like Chitzen-Itza. One of the most popular cities in Southern Mexico is Tulum.
Tulum is a bohemian beachy town with proximity to several ruins and historic sights. If you’re planning a trip to Tulum, it’s important to note that Tulum is hot and humid year-round and most activities involve the water. There’s also a very lively nightlife scene, so expect to see many tourists dressed up.
These are the top sustainable items to include in your packing list for Tulum:
The first thing you’ll want to pack for Tulum is swimwear. After all, the main thing you’ll do in Tulum is swim in various bodies of water. Choosing sustainable swimwear made from recycled materials (or even natural fibers) helps reduce the demand for fossil fuel-based plastic fabrics.
Check out our list of affordable, sustainable swimwear brands here.
Packing reef-safe, eco-friendly sunscreen is essential for a trip to Tulum. You’ll need sunscreen to protect yourself from the hot sun. Sustainable sunscreen is best for the oceans and cenotes you’ll enjoy. Look for a sunscreen that’s plastic-free and mineral-based.
You can find ten low waste sunscreen options here.
If you’re planning to visit the beach regularly, you’ll want to bring a beach towel with you. You can find our favorite sustainable beach towels here. Alternatively, check out one of the local artisan stores in the center if you want to buy something locally.
Reusable Water Bottle
A great way to reduce your plastic consumption while traveling is to pack a reusable water bottle. In Tulum, and many parts of Mexico, your accommodation may have a water filter. Restaurants will also provide drinkable water. If you bring a reusable water bottle, you can fill it as you go instead of purchasing plastic water bottles.
A fantastic option is LARQ, which will also filter your water.
Low Waste & Biodegradeable Toiletries
Another packing essential for Tulum is biodegradable and low waste toiletries. Due to the proximity of the ocean, it’s especially important to choose sustainable toiletries that won’t negatively impact the environment.
Central Mexico: Mexico City Packing List
Central Mexico is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful, diverse nature. It’s also the home of Mexico’s capital, Mexico City. Mexico City is one of the most populated cities in the world and a very popular tourist destination.
When deciding what to pack for Mexico City, keep in mind that it’s rarely hot aside from April and May. Thanks to its high altitude, Mexico City has a mild climate year-round. It’s also a very trendy, exciting city with a rich food scene and nightlife. You’ll definitely want to pack stylish yet versatile layers that you can dress up or down.
These are the top eco-friendly items to include when packing for Mexico City:
Chances are you’ll be doing a lot of walking while in Mexico City. While sneakers may be the more comfortable option, you’ll want to pack some more stylish footwear. Mexico City loves their boots, so do as the locals do, and pack your favorite pair of sustainable boots.
For a great selection of ethical boot brands, check out this list. If you want to shop local, you’re in luck. You can find a nice pair of boots at one of the locally-owned or second-hand boutiques throughout the city.
Thanks to the number of things to do in Mexico City, and its size, you’ll most likely be out all day.
As such, an easy-to-carry, sustainable travel bag is essential. Avoid bringing bags that don’t fully close. Instead, opt for a backpack or purse that can be completely fastened so your items are secure in large crowds.
Sustainable Rain Coat
If you’re visiting Mexico City outside of April and May, it’s a good idea to pack a raincoat. Mexico City regularly has afternoon showers and sudden thunderstorms. A waterproof jacket will come in handy.
You can find some of our favorite eco-friendly raincoats here.
If you’re trying to decide what vacation clothes for Mexico City would be, the more versatile the better. You’ll notice a range of styles and fashions here.
Choose your favorite items that you can dress up and down but don’t be afraid to bring some of your more stylish pieces. You won’t see many people dressed casually throughout the city.
Zero Waste Lip Balm
The altitude and mountain air in Mexico City are no joke. Your skin will be the first thing to notice it. Bring a thick zero waste lip balm to keep your lips from chapping.
Northern Mexico: Eco-Friendly Baja California Packing List
Northern Mexico is primarily a dry, desert climate with dramatic temperature changes. You’ll find excellent hiking here, rugged beaches, and popular wine country. One of the most well-known destinations in Northern Mexico is Baja California.
Baja California has easy access to gorgeous beaches, diving, hiking, and wine tasting. If you’re planning to visit Baja California, keep in mind that the days will be hot, but the nights can be cold. With a drier and windier climate, you’ll want to bring some layers. It’s a good idea to pack clothes that are suitable for the outdoors but also some nicer items for dinners or wineries.
These are the top sustainable items to include in your packing list for Baja California:
If you’re planning on hiking, attending a yoga class, or running on the beach, activewear is a must. There are several incredible eco-friendly activewear brands to choose from. Many brands make pieces that double as swimwear.
Check out this list for some recommendations.
You’ll surely experience some sunny days in Baja California so sustainable sunglasses are a must. These sunglasses brands make it easy to protect your eyes and the planet.
If you’re spending the day boat hopping, at the beach, or visiting different vineyards, you’ll want to keep your head shaded from the sun.
Pack a hat you can wear throughout your trip like these organic cotton caps from Threads 4 Thought.
The dry, desert climate of Baja California makes lotion an essential item. Choose a zero-waste, lotion to lessen plastic pollution in the area. Look for one that is also made from chemical-free, biodegradable ingredients to avoid harming the natural surroundings.
You may want to check out Ethique’s zero waste lotion bars which will fit perfectly in your carry-on.
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About The Author:
Alicia Briggs is a writer & editor specializing in slow travel & sustainable living. She’s worked in journalism since 2016 and currently writes for a variety of publications such as Sustainably Chic and Hidden Lemur. She has been a full-time traveler since 2018 and runs her own blog, Learning the Local Way, where she covers responsible travel & living tips.