This carry-on packing list for Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Mexico gives you a breakdown of how many items you actually need to make the most of the land of tacos and tequila. Plus, you’ll get tons of Playa del Carmen and Tulum outfits ideas so you look the part in this tropical paradise!
Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Mexico are two of my favorite spots to travel to in the world. I’ve been to each multiple times and every single time I’m like “damn I want to move here”. It’s beautiful, the food and drinks are amazing and the people are so friendly. You’re going to LOVE it!
How to Dress in Playa del Carmen & Tulum, Mexico
Mexico is one of the most underrated destinations in North America. It’s a shame most people only know it for all-inclusive resorts or a cruise stop. Whether you want to dive the world’s second-largest barrier reef in Quintana Roo, party in Mexico City, or surf on the west coast, Mexico is a destination you’ll keep visiting for more once you experience its welcoming pull.
In Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Mexico, the look is all about neutral tones and light, flowy fabrics (especially in Tulum). Dress code-wise, you can pretty much wear whatever you want in each city. Both cities are on the Caribbean in Mexico’s state of Quintana Roo and are very popular for tourism. You’ll see tons of nationalities in addition to the locals.
This part of Mexico is hot and humid most of the year, but you’ll get a light breeze and chilly temps at night during the winter months (December-February). Expect to wear shorts and a top, or light dress during the day. At night, you’ll probably wear a top with pants or shorts depending on weather. During winter, you’ll definitely need a light sweater at night!
Carry-On Packing List Playa del Carmen & Tulum Mexico Overview
Less is always more when it comes to packing and Mexico’s Caribbean Coast is hot and tropical—making it that much easier to pack light. I’ve packed a carry-on bag for Playa del Carmen and Tulum both times I’ve visited. This last time, I even fit a wetsuit, snorkel and mask along with all my essentials!
When it comes to packing just a carry-on bag, I understand how hard it is to know what you can actually fit. That’s why I’ve broken down the ideal number of items for your carry-on packing list for Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Mexico below.
- 5 tops
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 1 dress or romper
- 2 pairs of pants
- Underwear (one pair per day plus two)
- 2 swimsuits
- 2 bras
- 2 pairs of shoes
- small toiletry bag
- collapsible day pack
This packing list is inspired by my actual packing list for an eight-day, seven-night solo trip to Playa del Carmen to relax and freedive. The time I didn’t spend underwater, I was eating in different restaurants or going out for drinks.
Easy Playa del Carmen & Tulum, Mexico Outfit Ideas
Playa del Carmen & Tulum Outfit Ideas: #1. White Sun Dress
I got this white sun dress for my bridal shower and it has got to be my favorite dress I’ve ever owned. It’s so flattering and feminine without looking like you’re trying at all. You’ll love how lightweight it is in Mexico and how effortlessly chic you look in it. Plus, it’s so comfortable and it shows just the right amount of cleavage! Buy the white dress here.
If you want to go all-out with the boho vibes, I’d go for this boho dress in beige.
Playa del Carmen & Tulum Outfit Ideas: #2. Beach Coverup Dress
When you’re on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, you’ll spend most of your time in a swimsuit. This beach coverup dress is perfect for wearing over your colorblock bikini all day while ensuring you’re dressed for lunch at a waterfront restaurant or sunset cocktails. Buy the beach coverup dress here.
Playa del Carmen & Tulum Outfit Ideas: #3. Crop Top & Flowy Pants
There’s something about a square neck tank top that gets me every time. They’re just more flattering or something! I love this square neck crop top with flowy linen pants. It’s such a comfortable outfit that screams relaxed Tulum vibes and linen pants keep you nice and cool. Buy the square neck tank and flowy linen pants here.
Playa del Carmen & Tulum Outfit Ideas: #4. Two-Piece Set
Bringing a matching-two piece set on your beach vacation to Mexico is a no-brainer! You don’t have to plan your outfit at all and you’re guaranteed to look stylish and memorable. Buy the linen two-piece set here.
Playa del Carmen & Tulum Outfit Ideas: #5. Tie Front Kimono Coverup With High-Waisted Shorts
Whether you’re heading to brunch or riding bikes to the beach in Tulum, this tie front kimono cover up over a pair of high-waisted shorts will keep you stylish and comfortable. Buy the kimono cover up and high-waisted shorts here.
Packing List for Playa del Carmen and Tulum: Essentials
When I head to Mexico for a beach vacation, there are a few items I never leave without!
Hanging Toiletry Bag
This hanging toiletry bag is small enough to fit in your carry-on with everything else and large enough to fit all the toiletries you need. I love that it has a convenient pocket for everything and a hook to keep my toiletries off dirty surfaces.
You can’t head to Playa del Carmen or Tulum, Mexico without the perfect boho purse. I recommend this Round Rattan Crossbody Purse or this Straw Clutch Bag, but if neither is for you, set aside some time to go shopping for one when you arrive!
Collapsible Daypack or Beach Bag
Nothing makes you feel travel savvy like a collapsible bag that you use every day of the trip but hardly needed any space to pack. For beach days in Playa del Carmen and Tulum, you may want to go with a collapsible beach bag, like the Keelaos Mesh Beach Tote, rather than a back pack. When you’re exploring the Tulum Ruins of venturing out on a whale shark excursion, you’ll probably want the 4Monster Daypack to put your water bottle, towel and change of clothes in.
Quick-Drying Towel or Turkish Towel
If you’re staying in a hostel, they probably don’t offer beach towels, so it’s best to bring your own. When I travel with a towel I bring either a WETCAT Turkish Beach Towel (very stylish) or Fast Drying Towel by Rainleaf.
The past few years I have been on a quest to find reef-safe, non-toxic sunscreen that works. I will tell you, it is so hard to filter through all the green-washed “natural” brands that say reef-safe and all natural but have loads of toxic chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors. One of the few brands that is truly reef-safe and non-toxic is Babo Botanicals Sheer Mineral Sunscreen. It’s made for extra sensitive skin, reef safe and, most importantly, it scores 100/100 on the Yuka app that detects toxic ingredients.
Is there anything better than binge-reading a good book on the beach with a margarita in hand? I think not! I always travel with my Kindle eReader, especially on solo trips when it’s nice to have a distraction while eating out alone. My favorite reads for vacation include The Book by Alan Watts, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and, my personal favorite, the famous Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
I always put a rashguard on my beach vacation packing list. You can stay out in the sun for hours with zero sunscreen on your upper body and it will stay protected from the sun. It’s amazing—especially if you hate lathering sunscreen on your chest! This Roxy Women’s Rashguard is one of my favorites or the TSLA Women’s Rashguard is another great option that will last for years.
Bug Spray or Bug Spray Wipes
I haven’t had an issue with bugs either time I was in Mexico, but that largely depends on where you are and what you are doing. If you’re committed to avoiding chemicals, bring a travel-size California Baby Natural Bug Repellent Spray. This brand uses citronella and lemongrass essential oils to keep bugs away. You have to reapply often but it works—just read the reviews if you don’t take my word for it!
How light do you pack for Mexico’s Caribbean coast? Did I leave out and must-pack items? Please share in the comments below! 🙂