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What to Pack for Mexico and Central America

by , April 29, 2019

Jonny Scrimgour is a 22-year-old from the south coast of England. He is currently teaching English and loves to travel, having visited The Philippines, Mongolia, Russia, and Europe. Now in Mexico and heading south, he takes a “pack light” approach to travel that allows for more freedom and alleviates stress caused by too much baggage. Since he also travels on a pretty tight budget, light packing is ideal as he can easily take his bag on all local transport and never pay hold at the airport. To help inspire your travels, see what Jonny packs for Mexico and Central America below…

This trip will take me through Mexico and Central America (Guatemala – Panama). Throughout those countries I’m bound to face beaches, big cities and mountainous regions. This leads to a wide range of scenarios such as surfing, swimming, fancy bar-going, hiking, sweaty buses and a lot of sun.

I need clothes that suit all of these occasions without screaming tourist. I also make sure all my clothes are anti-odor and dry quickly.

In short I’m going on a backpacking trip but instead of a 65L Osprey I’m opting for a 25L Tom Bihn.

what to pack for Mexico and Central America packing list


3 x Icebreaker Tech Lite Merino T-shirt

Icebreaker Tech Lite Merino T-shirt.
These t-shirts are great! A comfortable loose fit and plain design, what more could you want? Merino is the obvious choice for me because they stay odorless and are fast-drying. This allows me to wash them in a hostel sink and wear them the next morning.

1 x Craghoppers Kiwi Shirt

Craghoppers Kiwi Shirt.
This shirt also drys very quickly (a theme throughout the items I pack) and isn’t prone to wrinkles. In reality a merino shirt would be ideal but this costs a fraction of the price and does the job for me.

1 x Swell surfing top

SWELL Solid Short Sleeve Raglan Rash Vest

Also known as a rash vest. It protects your chest and gives sun protection when out on the water.

1 x Kathmandu Flight Trousers

Kathmandu Flight Trousers

Great trousers! Really comfortable, lightweight and they roll up small. They’ve also got a security pocket which I get good use out of in busy cities.

2 x Swim Shorts (1 x Uniqlo, 1 x random spare)

Standard swimming shorts. The Uniqlo pair are my go-to’s but sometimes I need to wash them and haven’t got time to wait for them to dry before using them again. That’s when the spare pair comes in handy.

1 x Dickies Shorts

Nothing special. These are actually Dickies trousers that I cut short and re-hemmed.

1 x 2117 of Sweden Svansele Synthetic Jacket

2117 of Sweden Svansele Synthetic Jacket

A synthetic down jacket for cold climates and extreme air conditioning. It isn’t the warmest and doesn’t pack super small but I got it for £25 online with a big discount. If you couldn’t already tell I’m quite frugal.

1 x Peter Storm Packable Cagoule Waterproof Jacket

Peter Storm Packable Cagoule Waterproof Jacket

A basic waterproof jacket. Weighs next to nothing, takes up no space and keeps me dry. Perfect!

3 x Icebreaker Run+ Ultralight Merino Socks

Icebreaker Run+ Ultralight Merino Socks

Merino for the obvious reasons. A good no show sock. Three pairs is enough for me as a lot of the time I’m wearing flip flops anyway.

3 x Uniqlo AIRism Underwear

Uniqlo AIRism boxer briefs

These underwear are great as they’re super comfortable, dry very quickly and cost a lot less than merino alternatives.


1 x adidas mesh shoes

I’m unsure of the actual name of these but they’re a plain black design and mesh. Mesh is great as they’re breathable and better in the heat.

1 x Havaianas flip flops

A solid, durable pair of flip flops.


1 x Bloc sunglasses

Not the most advanced sunglasses in the world but I can’t fault them.

1 x PackTowl Travel Towel

PackTowl Personal

PackTowl is a great towel choice as it has anti-odor technology which really works. I’ve used a standard microfiber travel towel before and they smell after one or two uses. This towel also has a drying loop which allows me to hang it, very useful!

1 x Pen

1 x Herschel Supply Co. Oscar Wallet

1 x Herschel Supply Co. Oscar Wallet

A semi-minimalist wallet. I’ve used very minimalist wallets in the past but they’re normally nothing more than card carriers. This wallet allows me to store local notes and coins as well as cards whilst still keeping a slim design.

1 x Lifeventure Universal Sink Plug

Lifeventure Universal Sink Plug

For me this is essential for washing your clothes by hand. The majority of my washing is in sinks and they rarely have a sink plug. This is a super simple design that covers any sink.

1 x Lock

For hostel lockers.

1 x Tote Bag

This is a simple cotton tote bag. I like to use it for shopping, or as a quick day bag mostly in cities. If I’m carrying more in the day or need more comfort I revert to the Tom Bihn.

1 x Vapur Eclipse Water Bottle

Vapur Eclipse Water Bottle

This bottle folds up really small when I don’t need it. This is ideal as there is not always free drinking water and I often have to opt for plastic bottles. When that’s the case this can sit in my bag taking up very little space.


1 x Deuter Wash Bag Lite II

Deuter Wash Bag Lite II

A very small wash bag but it’s just the right size for me. Also it has an organization pouch for a toothbrush and shaver.

1 x Lush Shampoo Bar

Shampoo bars last forever! They don’t take up much space and weigh a fraction of what a bottle of shampoo would. They also double up as a laundry detergent if I’ve run out of laundry powder.

1 x Roll-on Deodorant

1 x Suncream

1 x Shaver

2 x Razors

1 x Colgate Portable Toothbrush

I only bought this as it folds up to be smaller. This is necessary as a normal-sized toothbrush doesn’t fit in my wash bag.

1 x Toothpaste

1 x Vaseline

1 x Hand sanitizer

1 x Bug spray


1 x Huawei Mate 10 Pro + Charger

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

I love this phone as it’s got a super-long battery life and takes great photos. For me it’s worth having a good phone as it doubles as my camera.

1 x Anker PowerCore 5000 Power Bank + Charger

Anker PowerCore 5000 Power Bank

A small power bank that can fit in my pocket. I don’t rely on this but it can give me an emergency charge on my phone if needed.

1 x Lysleda Universal Plug Adaptor

Lysleda Universal Plug Adaptor

Quite cheap on Amazon. It’s got two USB ports which means I can travel with just USB leads and save space! A very simple product but it’s held up for me so far.

1 x Anker Wireless Earphones + Charger

These aren’t the best earphones in the world but they have good audio quality and I like them. I chose in-ear headphones for their portability.


1 x Passport

1 x Travel docs (flight bookings, insurance, visas)

1 x Tom Bihn Synapse 25

Tom Bihn Synapse 25

This bag is perfect for me. The organization being on the outside of the pack makes it so easy to use. I’ve used this pack for over a year and it’s been on multiple long trips and has no signs of damage. I intend on using it for many, many years to come.

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Minimal Travel Packing List: 2 Years Living Out of One Bag


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