I got home from Tulum this weekend and the first thing I did was unpack. Not because I’m all organized, but because I wanted to dig in and find the dream catchers and perfumes I had purchased. But while I was rooting through my bag (which totally broke on the way home… I guess you can only over pack a suitcase so many times before the zipper busts), I realized I had hardly used half of what I packed.
Guys, despite leaving much of my suitcase open for souvenirs I totally over packed for this trip. I spent so long packing and trying to decide what to take and it turns out that a lot of that was a waste of time. There were even some things that I bought especially for the trip that I didn’t even use. I thought I would need a new strapless bra, for instance, as I always wear one at home. I went out of my way to read strapless bra reviews to see which one would be best in the heat and with my planned outfits and bought one, yet didn’t even wear it! At least I have it for at home, I guess. Anyway, I figured I’d make a quick inventory of what I did and didn’t use. I even created a free printable packing list, that excludes the things I didn’t need, so you don’t pack too much like me.
In this post I’ll detail exactly what you will need to pack for one week in Tulum. If you want tips for things to do, places to stay, etc. you should check out my Tulum travel guide (there’s even a free printable version available!).
What I did use
Palazzo pants, a light sweater, a t-shirt and a sports bra. When it comes to the flight, I am all about comfort. This is my favorite flying outfit.
Maxi dress, midi sundress, t-shirt dress and a tropical print sheer dress. In Tulum I cannot tell you how important it is to pack light, breezy materials. While it does get cool in the mornings and evenings, synthetics fabrics feel horrible in the humidity and will stick to your sunscreen. I lived in dresses.
Three bathing suits, a sarong and two cover-ups. Crochet cover-ups were clearly the most popular item on the beach. I just threw on one of my sheer gauzy dresses and used a sarong as a wrap when my swimsuit was wet. The sarong doubled as my beach towel.
Denim shorts and a gauzy top. Remember, breathable fabrics. The denim shorts were great for throwing on with my one piece when we went to the cenotes. I also wore them with a gauzy top to hike the Coba ruins.
Bralette, two pairs of socks and a few panties. Let’s be honest, I was wearing a bathing suit and flip flops 90% of this trip. Undergarments were largely unnecessary.
Chucks and a pair of Haviana flip flops. The Converse sneakers were great the one time I wore them to hike the Coba ruins. Otherwise it was always my rubber flip flops.
Yoga pants and tank tops. No, I never took a yoga class because I was appalled by the $15 USD price tag, but I did wear yoga pants and a tank top to bed every night. So technically I did a lot of shavasana. #yogagoals
What I didn’t use
Maxi dress, maxi skirt and four crop tops. All the outfits I picked out and tried on before hand? The ones I pictured myself wearing out to dinner in Tulum? None of them got worn. I’m serious. None of them. Why would they when I could just throw on a comfy (and equally cute) dress?
Cover-up and swimsuit. I packed one too many of each. I ended up wearing the same bikini and cover-up most days.
Strapless bra, t-shirt bra and most of my panties. When you’re in a bikini, ain’t nobody got time for bras.
Mule sandals. I never wore these because they are a pain to wear when they get wet. Very cute, not sensible.
The other stuff
What did use
Notebook and pen. I like to write down everything I spend and notes about the things I do. It makes travel blogging (and remembering the trip) so much easier.
GoPro, DSLR, tablet and phone. I was a total space cadet and packed my Nikon without the SD card! So I ended up taking all my photos on my phone until my brother flew down to join me and brought my SD. The GoPro was amazing for playing on the beach and swimming in the cenotes. My brother used my tablet to edit our favorite photos on the go.
Printed driving directions, rental provided GPS, printed reservations and itinerary. (This is where I become a total nerd.) Although our rental came with a GPS, it was really nice to have the printed driving directions. Most of the places we went were a straight shot from Tulum but the printouts helped us navigate through the little towns once we arrived. The printed reservations had addresses and info on them, and having an itinerary made it so I didn’t have to remember the names of restaurants, etc. when we were out without wifi.
Driver’s license, passport, two debit cards, credit card. After having one to many foreign ATMs eat my debit cards, I always travel with a backup now. Since a few of the ATMs we used in Tulum seemed sketchy, I monitored my bank accounts and changed my PIN as soon as I got home. The credit card was used for hotels.
Headband, two sunglasses, chapstick and sunscreen. Funny story. I can’t seem to visit a foreign country without losing or destroying my sunglasses. The sun is harsh (and hot) in Tulum so these items were essential. You also may want to buy aloe for sunburn. Oh, and bug spray if you go anywhere jungle-side of the beach road.
Leather backpack and canvas tote. The backpack was great for day trips and the canvas tote doubled as my carry-on and my beach bag.
Shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, toothpaste and toothbrush, face wash and lotion, deodorant, cleansing wipes and Q-tips. These were the only toiletries I needed. No fancy hair care, no special lotions. Tulum is all about the basics.
What I didn’t use
US Dollars. I got a better rate withdrawing from the ATM, about 17-18 pesos to the dollar as opposed to the 15-16 pesos to the dollar they were offering in exchange for cash.
Health insurance card. Thank goodness, but you should probably have this in your wallet regardless. You should also find out how your health insurance works when you travel.
Headphones. Since we rented a car we got an aux cord instead.
Leather crossbody purse. There was just no need to accessorize here. I stuck with my little leather backpack day and night.
First aid supplies. I usually bring ibuprofen, imodium, motion sickness pills, pepto bismol, tums, nyquil, bandaids and antibiotic ointment. I only touched the tums this time, but always like to have my options. If you don’t bring your own, there are pharmacies in town.
Makeup. This never touched my face. Not once. I only brought mascara, brow powder and a bronzer/blush but there’s just no need to wear any makeup in Tulum.
Do you tend to over pack too? What are your beach essentials?
Gearing up for your own trip to the beach? You can get my printable packing list by clicking on the image above or this link.
This packing list corresponds directly with my itinerary for 1 week in Tulum.