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Travel Light Packing Suggestions

By Carl Franz

Suggested Packing List, Women & Men

o Strong, comfortable running or walking shoes, with non-skid soles

o Several pairs of sock. We prefer cotton.

o Two pairs of slacks (denim is too heavy)

o Women: dress or skirt (easily washed and packed)

o Two shirts or blouses (long- or short-sleeved but modest)

o Sweater, lightweight

o Jacket (lightweight) or windbreaker

o Rain jacket or compact umbrella (rainy season)

o T-shirt or two (widely available in Mexico, if needed)

o Sleepwear (long T-shirt)

o Lounging outfit (I use light sweatpants)

o Shorts (for the beach only)

o Swimsuit (be aware that in Mexico a thong still attracts throngs)

o Daypack, small and lightweight

o Munchies, tea bags or special condiments you can't live without

o Zip-loc bags (several sizes)

o Flashlight, small (a must)

o Small keychain style compass (very helpful with a guidebook)

o Notebook, pen, map

o Sun protection?hat, sunglasses, sun-block ointment

o Suntan (a few 10- to 15-minute pre-trip tanning parlor sessions help prevent sunburns)

o Mini travel alarm

o Camera and film

o Hidden Pocket (see following section) or Money belt

o Traveler's checks, ATM card

o Glasses or contacts (bring prescription)

o Small towel and/or beach towel

o Soap, bath and laundry (small bars or refillable container)

o Stretch clothesline

o Small sewing kit

o Medicines, vitamins and supplements in original bottles or with prescriptions

o Pictures of your home, family, countryside or postcards or picture books



o Comfortable sandals or shower shoes

o Inexpensive penknife

o Earplugs (if Mexico's noisy streets might disturb your sleep)

o Blockbuster novel, small travel game

o Walkman (with headphones, favorite cassette)

o Surge protector (if you use electrical devices)

Do Not Bring: Jewelry, large sums of cash, fancy knives. (Steve says he's lost several knives over the years at police and army highway checkpoints.)


Mexicans carry an umbrella or large square of thin plastic in their pockets for afternoon showers during the rainy season. It is very compact, cheap and has a variety of uses.

If you need resort wear and can't find it in Minnesota, you can have clothing made to order (hecha a la medida) or buy it ready-made in Mexico. Handmade clothes aren't wash-and-wear, although many types are presentable without ironing. Some things (an all-cotton Oaxaca shirt, for example) might be a dense ball of wrinkles after washing. Most inexpensive handmade clothing also shrinks considerably, so buy large. Speaking of large -- if you're wide and/or tall, it will be difficult to impossible to buy ready-made clothing and shoes. Steve often buys underwear, socks and the like in Mexican department stores or even in supermarkets. He says that Levis made in Mexico appear to be the same as those purchased in the US but they cost less. The only problem is finding clothing as ample as he is.

Used clothing from the US can be found in many markets. Some of it still has price tags and stickers from the Goodwill and Salvation Army. If you're lucky you may find a bargain from an exclusive shop or designer.

When a piece of clothing becomes too worn, too dirty or just too much hassle, give it away or hang it on a bush. Someone will find it and certainly use it.

Mexican shoe sizes seem to stop at about size nine. Custom-made sandals cost less than factory-made ones of equal quality. A friend says that children's shoes are an excellent bargain in Mexico. Shoe sizes are the length of the foot in centimeters.

Hat sizes are the circumference of the head in centimeters.

©1972-2000 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens
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