Mexico City was one of the unexpected highlights of a huge year of travel for me, and I was lucky enough to spend six weeks working and traveling around the Mexican Capital. During that time, its spectacular food scene, astonishing historical sights, and urban energy helped it cement a permanent place as one of my favorite cities in the world.
But if you’ve never visited CDMX, you might be a little stumped at what to pack. The landlocked metropolis is a far cry from the easy-going beach resorts on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and requires a little extra thought.
To help, I’ve thrown together my list of Mexico City essentials to make sure you can enjoy everything this wonderful city has to offer comfortably. Everything here has a permanent place in my bag.
I travel full-time, so my backpack is sparingly filled with clothes I can’t do without. More importantly, I shift climates regularly, so adaptable outfits are vital. Mexico City is a great trial run for an awkward climate pack, as the weather teeters annoyingly between two entirely different wardrobe selections.
I was there in February when temperatures were warm to hot during the day but pretty chilly at night. Even in the summer, it can get brisk in the evening. With that in mind, here are some of my essentials that I think you should throw in your bag.
My Patagonia Nano Puff is a staple on any and every trip with me. While I never wore it in CDMX during the day, it was perfect to wear unzipped at night with just a shirt underneath. It’s super light, so if you’re not going to be back till late, you can stuff it in your day bag and barely know it’s there. It even looks pretty good, so you won’t feel scruffy turning up in one of the city’s fancier restaurants.
It’s the last thing I pack on any trip, as this thing can literally be forced into any space you have left. If you’re a little more systematic with your packing, it also stuffs into its pocket – I’ve used it as a travel pillow this way. On the subject of pockets, it has two huge traditionals and an extra long inner breast pocket that’s big enough to put a GoPro with a selfie stick. I often pick this jacket instead of carrying a bag because they’re that big.
These t-shirts are my travel bread and butter. I own five (seriously, 1,2,3,4,5) of them because they’re just that great. Proof claims that thanks to the merino/nylon blend, you can wear these for more than 72 hours and pass the smell test. While I haven’t made a scientifically sound study myself, I’m a brutally sweaty man and haven’t had a shirt stay so fresh.
They help me stay cool during the day, function great as a base layer, and dry extremely fast. On top of it, they look great dressed up and standing at the end of a suave cocktail bar. I’ve already got two more in my Huckberry shopping cart.
You’re going to be doing a lot of walking in Mexico City. You’ll be pounding miles of pavement as you jump from taqueria to museum to bar, while historical pursuits might take you to the dusty Avenue of the Dead at Teotihuacan (shown above). If you’re packing light, you need one pair of shoes that can cope with it all.
The Lems Primal Pursuit is my go-to hybrid shoe for travel. Comfortable, stable, and rugged while looking good enough to throw on with a pair of pants. The mesh lets things air out a little if you get a little hot, and they’re fully bendable, too, saving extra space in your bag. I wore these every day in CDMX, even at Pujol, the world’s fifth-best restaurant.
Sunglasses should be a requirement for virtually any trip, but I’ll take any spare moment I have to plug these sunglasses. The guys at Goodr have built shades that, for me, are the best value product I’ve ever owned.
Starting at only $25, Goodrs are incredibly practical. They’ve kept the price point low by focusing on the necessities and cutting out the pricy extras. The plastic lenses are polarized, silicon nose and ear pads hold them in place during exercise, and they even make glasses for people like me – massive noggins.
Glasses have always been a problem for me, but I now own three pairs of Goodrs – two original BFGs and their aviator style. Dress ‘em up, or throw ‘em around. It’s great not worrying about losing a $200 pair of sunglasses.
The city center can get hot during the day, and you’ve got to stay hydrated. But it’s the 21st century, and we must try not to buy plastic bottles everywhere we travel. Reusable bottles are very much a preference thing, but I found this Yeti 26 oz growler works best for me. The narrower shape means it fits in more pockets than some of the chunky ones that are popular now, while the handle lets me dangle it a little more comfortably than just holding it.
I rarely use it for hot stuff, but it’s done a solid job of keeping things chilly. Just make sure you’re careful where you fill up from in Mexico City.
My girlfriend swears by the DB Æra 25l tote. I avoid carrying bags wherever possible, but this one is always on her arm. At 25l, it’s not tiny. But it has a laptop sleeve, separate tech pockets, a zipper to keep everything secure, and it is remarkably light considering its strength.
She used it daily in CDMX. It functioned as a grocery bag, gym gear holder, carry-on, weekender…the list goes on. You’ll probably use it everywhere.
I didn’t have this in Mexico City, but I wish I did now. To enjoy CDMX fully, you’ll need cash handy at all times. My previous wallet was far more card centric, so my bills were always ripped or unorganized. I was given this one as a gift and adore it.
It keeps the old-timy leather look, has an easy-to-use money clip, five card slots (mine has seven in it), and even a space for an airtag, so you’ll never lose it. As a bonus, it has this cool little tab that pulls your cards out, which isn’t necessary, but a lot of fun.
You won’t need to use an adaptor while you’re in Mexico City – outlets are the same south of the border – but this one is worth throwing in your bag anyway. This compact gadget has your back in more than 150 countries and hasn’t failed me yet. But it’s the number of USB ports that really make it valuable.
With four USB ports and a USB-C port, you can charge up to six devices at once. I’ve had my laptop, GoPro, two phones, headphones, and watch all charge simultaneously with no issues. Hotels are catching up with the tech demands of the world, but it’s still pretty normal to have one sad outlet in an awkward corner of your room. This solves that problem for you and your whole travel party.
Unless you’re genuinely into photography, I advise against dropping cash on an expensive camera – a phone is fine for 99% of us. But it’s helpful to have a dedicated camera for video. GoPros might be marketed toward the extreme sports world, but they’re powerful enough to function as a high-quality everyday grab-and-go. Plus, its selfies are awesome.
While the Hero 11 is out, most of the new features will go unnoticed by casual users. The GoPro Hero 10 is just as good, and you can take advantage of a lower price point in the wake of the 11. I do shoot vlogs with it and sometimes want a device with more depth, but it’s hard to replicate the ease of a GoPro. It fits in your jeans pocket, films in 4k, and takes 22 MP photos. The best thing? You never have to worry about dropping it – it’ll be absolutely fine.
A firestick is a permanent fixture in my bag these days, but I’d only recommend it for Mexico City if you’re there for a more extended trip. You don’t want to be stuck in the hotel watching tv the whole time. With that said, if you’re exhausted from a day of exploring and want to kick back, this piece of tech is your best friend.
Just plug the stick into a spare HDMI port on your hotel room’s tv, and you now have access to all your favorite streaming services. Pair it with a VPN service like NordVPN, and you’ll even have access to the US version of Netflix, Prime, and HBO. No more guessing the plot of Spanish soap operas.
Sometimes nature calls. But sometimes toilets in Mexico City aren’t as ready as you are. While most bathrooms in restaurants, bars, and hotels will be well-equipped, don’t expect a little taqueria to be quite as welcoming. Toilet paper isn’t always provided, leaving you with a problem.
Instead of carrying around an entire roll of toilet paper, slip a Dude Wipe into your wallet and ensure you’re covered. They’re flushable and start to break down as soon as they hit the water, so you don’t have to worry about them causing problems further down the line. They’re wet wipes, so you’ll feel a little cleaner than usual, too.
As a guy, I have significantly fewer toiletry products than my better female half. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to save space where I can.
The Flatpak is a piece of bathroom brilliance from the accessory company, Matador. The bag folds down to as small as its contents will allow it, so if you’re only grabbing your toothbrush and some deodorant for a weekend trip to Puebla, that’s all the space it’ll take. But if you need to throw in a few extra things, there’s space for that too.
It’s also waterproof and breathable, so anything wet inside will dry without making the rest of your bag damp or the inside of the case smelly.