We have visited a number of different all-inclusive resorts in Mexico. We also got married at an all-inclusive in Puerto Aventuras. The resorts we have been to were different sizes and locations, so we have had various experiences, and learned about what is good to pack and what is good to leave behind.
Another tip of mine is to pack a day’s worth of essentials in your carry-on luggage. If your checked luggage happens to get lost, it is nice to have a days worth of clothing, swimwear, and sunscreen!
Something to keep in mind as well, is that most resorts will have a lot of these items in their gift shops. Take for example, beach toys or reef-safe sunscreen. However, be prepared for gift shop items to come with a high price tag.
Reef safe sunscreen
Traveling to Mexico means that you will need some good sun protection. Sunscreen is a must, but choose one that is reef-safe. Most resorts and swimming areas on the Mayan Riviera require reef-safe sunscreens, and there are plenty available either in stores or online. Bonus – reef-safe sunscreens are also safer for your health. Check out my tips for reef-safe sunscreen.
You may wish to bring a rash guard in addition to sunscreen, especially if you have kids. If you are doing day trips, you may likely end up at a cenote, where they do not allow sunscreen at all (even reef-safe sunscreen). I always bring a rash guard because at the end of our trip, I tend to feel a little crispy and I like having my skin covered. A resort on the beach may mean many hours in the water, and a rash guard means not having to constantly reapply sunscreen.
Bug spray in the buggy season
Some months of the year are buggy, while others are fairly bug-free. You may want to consider bringing bug spray especially if you plan on walking around in the jungle within your resort, or perhaps if you go on a day trip. We visited the Mayan Ruins of Ek Balam in July, and got eaten alive, so it is good to be prepared.
Pool & beach toys
It is nice to have some beach toys to enjoy the pool or beach with. And don’t worry – you don’t need anything bulky or expensive! You can find some cheap toys at the dollar store. I would recommend things that travel easily. You could bring a small bucket by filling it with clothes when you pack, and use inflatable beach balls. We normally leave our beach gear behind, either by passing it to another family or throwing it away as a last resort.
How neat are these collapsible beach buckets?!
Goggles & snorkel gear
You’ll want something to enjoy swimming or snorkeling, so it is a good idea to bring your own snorkel or goggles. Even just for the pool, my kids always bring a pair of goggles so they can play comfortably in the water.
Your all inclusive may or may not have a beach. But take into account if your resort has a beach or if you are going to do any day trips, whether you visit a beach or cenote, Xcaret Park, etc.
A good camera / action camera
We love capturing our vacation moments, and that means a good camera. An action camera means lot of great underwater shots, from the beach to cenotes.
We always try to bring small bills to our resort so we can tip as needed. This could be anyone from a maid to a bartender. Plan on doing lots of tipping along the way.
Books / apps / music / card game
While there is usually plenty to do, including relaxing, it is nice to have a good book for the beach. Apps and card games are a great way to travel light but also have some things to keep you busy. We usually download a bunch of movies to enjoy as well.
Clips and a shade blanket
We have been to several resorts, and surprisingly, it can be tough to snag a good beach seat with shade. We have found that it is helpful to have a beach blanket and clips for creating some shade or securing a spot on the beach.
Reusable, insulated tumbler / mug
If you are planning on enjoying drinks at the resort, we noticed that it is popular to bring a labeled travel mug. This way you can get a large drink that stays either hot (like coffee) or cold (sipping your margarita on the beach!). If your tumbler isn’t personalized, make sure you at least put your name on it so it doesn’t get lost.
What to skip…
~ beach towels (unless you want to have a backup microfiber towel)