17 Top Cancun Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2018 Update)

What to bring to Cancun


1) Travel Insurance – Even the best planned trips can go wrong, it’s always recommended to buy travel insurance before you set off on your adventure. Coverage can include small costs such as stolen items up to major costs like medical emergencies. I recommend World Nomads as it’s one of the highest rated travel insurance companies among travellers.


2) Passport Holder – Travelling can be rough on your passport and they can be expensive and troublesome to replace. Make sure your passport lasts to its 10 year validity period by keeping it in a protective holder. It’s never fun being refused boarding due to a damaged passport.
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3) Lonely Planet Cancun, Cozumel & the Yucatan – Lonely Planet are the world leader in travel guides. As this area of Mexico is the most popular tourist destination they produce a guide specifically for Cancun, Cozumel and Yucatan with all the things travellers need to know for their trip.
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4) Spanish Phrase Book – If you are not a Spanish speaker it’s always worth have a pocket size phrase book handy. You can use it for reference when dealing with locals or use it for practice while in transit.
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5) Swimwear (Mens & Womens) – If you are heading to Cancun, it’s likely to you will be spending a lot of time around a pool or the sea. Make sure to pack multiple swimwear options so you can still enjoy the water while your swimwear dries.
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6) Beach Towels – While your hotel will probably provide towels, these are usually just for use in the room. Make sure to bring some nice big beach towels with you. Hotels will usually rent you beach towels if you decide not to bring any, but a few dollars per day can easily add up over multiple days so it’s worth bringing your own.
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7) Sunglasses – Most people heading to Cancun are seeking the sun. Make sure to protect your eyes from UV damage with good quality sunglasses. It’s also worth having a cheaper pair if you are planning to do activities where they may get damaged.
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8) Flip Flops (Mens & Womens) – Flip Flops are a must for any traveller. They are light to pack, and easy to slip on and off when going in or out of the water. With the heat of the sun in Mexico the ground can get very hot, so try not to walk around barefoot as you could end up burning your soles.
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9) Sun Hat (Mens & Womens) – If you are spending hours out in the sun you’re best to wear a sun hat. Not only will it protect your face from sunburn it will also help keep you cool and shield your eyes from the brightness.
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10) Waterproof Pouch – Protect your phone and cash while around the water with a waterproof pouch. The pouch will also keep the sand out so you can take your electronics to the beach without fear of them getting damaged.
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11) Bug Repellent – Mosquitos can be a huge problem in Cancun. Save yourself from bites by packing some bug repellent. The worst time for mosquitos is the early evening, the suckers (literally) will come out in force and you will be happy you came prepared.
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12) Camera – Cancun is a simply stunning part of the world. Make sure you take a camera to capture the memories of your trip. Most people visiting Cancun make time to visit the famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza where there are lots of great photo opportunities.
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13) Kindle – Relaxing in the sun is the perfect time to enjoy a good book. I like the convenience a Kindle gives me over bulky paper books. I can bring an essentially unlimited amount of books with me wherever I travel. When I finish the book I am reading, I can just go online and browse others I might be interested in. The battery life is also amazing, usually lasting me weeks.
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14) Daypack – It’s always worth having a little daypack with you for excursions. You can use it for your hand luggage on the flight and then anytime you need to carry a few things around with you then it’s there.
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15) Charcoal Tablets – Mexican food (or even the water) does not always agree with people. Taking one of these tablets at the first sign of stomach issues is highly recommended if you want to continue enjoying your trip.
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16) Sunscreen – Sunburn and skin damage is no joke. Make sure you pack high factor sunscreen in your case and apply it whenever you head out during the day. Be sure to buy the waterproof sunscreen if you are planning to be in and out of the water.
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17) Sarong – A sarong is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing you can own and it’s perfect for the climate in Cancun. It can be wrapped around the waist, or the shoulders to protect from the sun. It can even be used as a scarf or a makeshift towel. Sarongs are usually lightweight and pack small so they won’t take up much room in your luggage.
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18) Rain Jacket – While Cancun is known for getting a lot of sun, they also get a good amount of rainfall. When it rains, it usually rains very heavy for a short amount of time. You don’t want to get caught in a shower without a raincoat. It’s still usually very warm when it rains so all you need is a lightweight waterproof jacket.
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19) Packing Cubes – Packing cubes make packing and unpacking your bags so much simpler. I consider them my “set of drawers” when packing. I simply put all of my underwear in one, T-shirts in another and larger items (jeans etc) in the largest. When I arrive at the hotel I just empty each into it’s own drawer.
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20) Digital Luggage Scales – If you are planning to buy a few souvenirs during your trip you must be conscious of your bag going over your airline’s baggage allowance. A small digital scale lets you weigh your own bags while you pack so you don’t get caught short at check-in.
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Other things to take on your trip


What NOT to take to Cancun


1) 🚫 Heavy Books – Books take up a lot of luggage space and are usually heavy. Consider how much you are going to read and if it justifies the space or opt for a Kindle or audiobook option that will take up much less space.

2) 🚫 Lots of cash – Cancun has many ATMs don’t risk taking lots of cash with you. There is no need risking losing a large amount of money. Many shops, restaurants and bars also take credit card so you will be safe with smaller quantities of cash.

3) 🚫 Expensive Jewellery – Expensive Jewellery can make you a target for pickpockets and scammers. Leave anything expensive and unnecessary at home so you won’t need to worry about it while you are on your trip.

4) 🚫 Warm, Bulky Clothes – The majority of the time in Cancun it’s hot. Even when it’s wet, it’s still warm. Pack for hot weather with a chance of rain, not so much cold.

5) 🚫 Fruits – It is illegal to bring many types of fruits into Mexico. If you are going to pack food for the flight make sure you do not have any fruits when entering Mexico as you could face a large fine from customs.

Frequently Asked Questions


1) Do many people speak English in Cancun?

Many of the local people working in hotels, tour agencies bars and restaurants in the tourist area of Cancun will speak English. You will still likely run into people who do not, many taxi drivers will only know basic English so knowing a little Spanish may help.

2) Can I spend US Dollars in Cancun?

Many hotels or businesses will accept USD in Cancun although it is not recommended to spend in USD. You will almost always get an unfavourable rate or simply be ripped off. Try to always deal in the local currency if you can help it.

3) Do I need to tip?

Tips are expected in Mexico in a similar way to the US. 15% is a good standard tip. Many places add on the tip automatically so it’s worth checking your bill. The spanish word for tip is “propina” so if it’s already been added you do not need to tip unless you wish to. Baggers in supermarkets expect a small change tip and musicians in bars usually walk around with a jar expecting a few pesos.

4) Can I drink the water?

Most visitors to Cancun cannot handle the local water very well. It’s advised that you drink only bottled or filtered water. Bottled water is inexpensive so make sure you keep yourself hydrated.

5) Can I leave the resort/tourist area?

Many people travel to Cancun and are unsure about leaving the resort. The tourist area is more than safe for visitors although you should always be vigilant for pickpockets. Cancun outside the tourist area is also relatively safe, though there’s not too much to see for tourists. If you are the more independent traveller type, you can save money on tours by going to places like Chichen Itza yourself from the bus station.

6) Do I need vaccinations to visit Cancun?

No specific vaccinations are required for Cancun. It is always a good idea to be up to date with all the standard travel vaccinations anyway. (MMR, Typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A)


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