From the sandy beaches of Playa del Carmen to the epic Mayan ruins in Tulum, the Caribbean coast of Mexico is a welcome vacation escape from everyday stress and work. A week in a beachfront villa rental can revive and renew your spirit, and you're likely to come away with the sun-kissed, healthy glow of relaxation. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, the region's warm climate could tempt you to simply grab swimsuits, sandals and your airline ticket before you head to the plane. Although that impulse is enticing, the wiser plan is to pack these essentials for comfort, fun and finding your bliss south of the border:
Sunscreen is a top priority. Whether you're on the golf course, splashing in the surf or strolling through the charming villages, don't go without it. Pack plenty so you can reapply it after playing in the pool or ocean, and occasionally through the day as the lotion wears off. Pack moisturizer, also, to hydrate your skin after a day of sun exposure.
TIP: Sunscreen, moisturizer, liquids, gels and aerosols are subject to the TSA Liquids Rule. Place travel-size containers, under 3.4 ounces each, of these items in a see-through one-quart plastic bag in your carry-on bag. Place larger containers for use throughout your vacation in your checked luggage.
Barefoot is beautiful – especially when you're enjoying the sand and surf just outside your rented villa. But you'll need sturdy walking shoes when you're navigating the rugged paths around ancient ruins or exploring the scenic countryside. In addition, you may want to bring your favorite golf shoes if you plan to play at any of the Mexican Riviera's numerous golf courses. A pair of slightly dressy shoes are appropriate for going out to enjoy resort-style nightlife.
TIP: Save critical luggage space and avoid excess weight charges by wearing your walking shoes on the plane. Pack the other shoes in the bottom of your suitcase, stuffing them with smaller items such as jewelry, socks and underwear.
Daytime temperatures at the Caribbean beachfront properties range from the mid-80s to around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But as the sun sets, you'll notice a chill in the air. Pack a light jacket to tug on when the nighttime temperatures dip down into the 70s, and even lower into the 60s from October through April.
TIP: Choose a water-resistant jacket for quick cover during the occasional rain showers that pass through the area, especially during the months of September and October.
Along with the tropical weather comes mosquitoes. They're most prevalent during the rainy months, but make sure you bring good insect repellent no matter when you visit. Most rental villas have screened windows, and sometimes screened porches to protect you while you relax on the premises. But make sure you're properly protected whenever you venture further outdoors.
TIP: Like sunscreen, moisturizer and liquids, a travel-size container of repellent may be carried in a plastic bag in your hand luggage. Larger, family-size containers go in your checked luggage.
Electric outlets in Mexico are compatible with American small appliances that operate at 110 volts. However, you're unlikely to find standard three-prong outlets. Pack an adapter to use with your hair dryer, shaver and other electric conveniences.
TIP: The electric current may not be steady and stable in some areas of the Mexican Riviera, so if you plan to charge your laptop, tablet or other electronic devices, also pack a small, efficient surge suppressor.
With these packing preparations, you'll reduce unnecessary worry and can spend your time completely enjoying a hassle-free vacation.