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The Quintessential Cancun Packing List

The Quintessential Cancun Packing List

Historically, I was never a good luggage packer. Case and point: I went to Italy for 10 days in the mid-2000s and took two full suitcases weighing in at just under 80 pounds. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to do lots more traveling. Whether by necessity (or sheer laziness), I have managed to tighten up my packing routine upon accepting that there is never a reason to take nine pairs of shoes on any vacation.

Prompted by a recent trip to Mexico, I felt compelled to put together this Quintessential Cancun Packing List. Be advised: this isn't an exhaustive list, it's a list of items I found most useful, helpful and handy during our week abroad. (You're on your own when it comes to determining how many pairs of underwear to pack.) I hope you find it helpful! Feel free to leave a comment with any additional suggestions or questions. (And if you're looking for an amazing place to stay in Playa del Carmen, I can't say enough nice things about The Royal Hideaway Playacar. Pure perfection.)



Swimsuits Assuming you vacation like most of the coastal Mexico-going population, you're going to end up spending the majority of your days in a swimsuit, basking in the sun. Take more swimsuits than you think you'll need. I would a recommend a minimum of three swimsuits for a week-long vacation so you can hand wash, line dry and rotate as needed.

Swimsuit cover up A pretty swimsuit cover up comes in handy when your skin needs a break from the rays, you want to do a casual lunch or cringe at the thought of parading from the pool to your room baring all for the world to see. One of my best pre-trip purchases turned out to be a pair of black, stretch, wide-leg palazzo pants I scored a few days before our trip.

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Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 1.13.43 AM

$50 from AE

Tank tops I would be nothing without my Old Navy Perfect Fit Ribbed Tanks. Well, I would be something...and that something is naked. These are a go-to staple of my daily wardrobe at home and transitioned nicely into vacation. They roll, pack and travel well, and can serve as staple daytime pieces or nighttime pajama tops. Bonus: Their tanks comes in TALL...and are actually long enough for tall-girl torsos!

Maxi Dresses Maxi dresses are a beach-going girl's best friend. I packed a variety ranging from classic black to bright, bold patterns and they served me well throughout the trip, both day and night. Many resort restaurants have dress codes, so be sure to check with yours and pack appropriately. We found that maxis offered the perfect combo of comfort and class for our nights out.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 12.03.24 PM

Scarf/Shawl Depending on the time of year you visit Mexico, you may be surprised to find that temps dip when the sun goes down. (Restaurants also keep the air cranked low for the comfort diners.) I got a lot of use out of a light scarf/shawl/wrap I brought along. You can pick up similar versions in a variety of colors on ebay, typically for well under $10.


Large Sun Hat "I'm not a hat person," you say. Well, neither am I. And you're going to have to get over it. As much as I love those unfiltered, equatorial rays, a large sun hat is an essential to surviving the Mexican sun. You'll be able to easily spot those who ignored and resisted this advice by the pain, suffering and scarlet red they're sporting across their face/neck for the duration of their trip. We typically freely soaked up sun (slathered in sunscreen, of course) between sunrise and 1 p.m., donning hats after lunch when the rays got super intense.  Realizing I will only wear a floppy hat on the beach (and never again in my "normal" life), I was pleased to discover you can score some super deals (under $10) on ebay. Just be sure to allow at least a month for shipping, as many of these lovelies are coming on a slow boat from China (literally). $4.66 on ebay


Jewelry Leave your good stuff at home. In all likelihood, you'll be spending a great deal of your time outdoors, in the pool, on the beach or in the ocean. Keep the accessories and accoutrements simple and pretty. $22 on etsy 


Sunscreen Pack sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen. Pack way more than you think you'll need ... in a higher SPF than you think you'll want. (Seriously. Even then it may still not prove to be enough.) While most resorts do sell sunscreen, most travelers aren't keen on paying $15+ a bottle. We went through several bottles of SPF 50 during our time in Mexico -- and still came home so tan we looked orange. Be sure to take lotion sunscreen and leave the spray sunscreen at home. We found that the spray stuff was no match for "gentle" ocean breezes. Whatever you do, don't forget to also pick up a lip SPF! Lip burns suck. 

Be forewarned: if you plan on doing any ecotourism (cenotes diving or snorkeling) while you're in Mexico, you'll want to look into rules and regulations before you go. Many protected zones forbid the use of non-biodegradable sunscreen. Similarly, we had heard rumors about April through August being prime "sea lice" (jellyfish larvae) season. Though we had no problems resulting from our snorkel, the ocean was too rough for us to do much ocean swimming throughout the rest of our trip. Several people recommended picking up a bottle of Safe Sea to avoid stings/bites, so if you're planning to bank a lot of ocean time, it may be worth looking into.

Moisturizer Bring along a good moisturizer to replenish your skin after a day spent in the sun. Not only will it make parched skin happy, it will help lock in and preserve your tan.

Cleansing Wipes I never leave home without a pack of cucumber cleansing wipes in my bag. From hand washing to face cleansing to snorkel sterilizing (see below section on snorkels), these little guys came in super handy throughout our trip. The cucumber also offered a welcome, cooling refresher in the midst of the midday heat.


Dry Shampoo Ladies: leave the curling rod and straightener at home. Take the dry shampoo. My hair loved the wind, salt and humidity in Mexico. It has never looked better (with virtually zero effort). My advice is don't bother fighting the elements, and instead embrace the beachy-ness. But keep a bottle of this spray magic on hand for those moments when you need a quick cleanup and boost.  (A note of caution: This bottle is just-barely too big to be stashed in a carry-on bag. I lost an entire can coming back through security in Cancun and it made me very sad. Be sure to pack it in a suitcase so your dry shampoo doesn't suffer an equally dismal fate.)

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Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 12.49.56 PM

Cosmetics I'm a firm believer that there is no makeup more beautiful than the natural glow that follows a day spent basking in the sun. A couple coats of mascara and a lip gloss were all I need to transition from day to eve.

Anti-Diarrheal Medicine  It seems like everyone has a story about a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who was stricken by intestinal disaster while traveling in Mexico. Perhaps we just got really lucky (more likely: our resort was just that good), but no one in our group had any kind of GI issues on our trip. (And we even ate off-resort the afternoon of our snorkel excursion.) Having said that, it can't hurt to pack a little Imodium, if only for peace of mind. The only thing worse than vacation diarrhea is being stuck indoors with vacation diarrhea.


Cash (in one-dollar US bills) Bring a couple hundred dollars in US one-dollar bills for tipping. (I blew through mine in five days, so scale accordingly.) Assuming you're parking it at an all-inclusive, you should still be tipping and tipping generously at every opportunity. (You're never going to meet people who work harder or are more deserving.) Our concierge informed us that staff prefers tips in US dollars, so there is really no need to convert to pesos unless you have some burning desire to carry around a wad of foreign money.

There are a million websites that will advise on proper tipping amounts. My only insights on this matters are as follows:

  • Tipping at meals: Even at an all-inclusive, when eating a five-course meal it feels insulting to leave a tip of a few dollars (I saw people do it. Ugh!) -- especially when the level of service and attention you're receiving is exceptional. For dinners and fancier meals, we felt it was more appropriate to tip what we would have expected to tip had we paid for the meal in the United States.
  • Tipping for drinks: Around the pool, we tipped a couple bucks per drink. Our poolside waiter was amazing throughout our trip, so we decided to also leave him a big tip on our final day. Some people suggest handing out a big tip upon arrival in order to "get better service," but we wanted our tip to be a token of gratitude for exceptional service and attention -- not an incentive. On a similar note, don't forget to occasionally walk up to the bar to tip the bartenders, as well. They're working hard back there!
  • Tipping for housekeeping: I left a few bucks for housekeeping twice a day (daytime cleaning and turndown service.) Be sure to tip daily (rather than one big chunk at the end of your trip) as maids rotate, and you'll likely receive service from different people throughout your stay.
  • Tipping for transport (airport to Playa del Carmen): Our concierge suggested $20 is an appropriate tip amount for the driver for the Cancun to Playa trip. (45 min in a private van with six people.)
  • Tipping for activities: Don't forget to tip your hosts and driver if you head out on a snorkel/dive/adventure excursion.

Copies of your documents Be sure to pack copies of your documents (passport, driver's license, credit cards, health insurance card, etc.) should you lose something along the way. You'll also want copies of the customer service/help numbers for your credit cards. I took paper copies and left digital copies with a family member back home. In the event of an emergency, having copies of your documents can expedite the pain and suffering of trying to get your proverbial document ducks back in a row. You may also want to pack the location and phone number of the nearest U.S. Consulate, should you need to get in touch. (Or consider registering your trip through the Smart Traveler Program.)

Small Laundry Soap Next time we head down, I plan to take a small laundry soap so I can give my swimsuits a quick hand wash to get rid of the ocean and pool gunk and grime. (This trip I ended up washing them with shower gel...)

Plastic bags I packed a whole box of gallon-size plastic bags I picked up at the Dollar Tree before vacation. We ended up going through almost the entire box, using them for everything from stashing damp swimsuits on our last day to protecting cameras/iphones from sand and water in our beach bags. Also be sure to toss in a few larger bags (grocery or garbage) for dirty laundry and layering in suitcases.

Pen (blue or black) Pack a pen somewhere easily accessible for filling out customs forms on the plane before you arrive in Mexico and when you return to the United States.  (Also you might want to sneak a peak at a customs form before you have to fill it out.) Note to those traveling OUTSIDE of the US: pretty much everywhere else on the planet birthdate is entered as DD-MM-YY (rather than the American format: MM-DD-YY.) Be sure not to mess that up on your form! You'll also need to provide the address of your hotel/resort/accommodations on the form, so be sure to pack that in your carryon.

Luggage belt The arrivals/baggage claim area of the Cancun Airport was mayhem the morning we arrived. Anything you can do to differentiate your black suitcase from the hundreds of other black suitcases will expedite your wait at the carousel and get you on your way to enjoying vacation. (I'm a fan of these neon luggage belts!)


$7 on Amazon

Snorkel If you plan on going on a snorkel excursion during your stay, it may be worth packing your own snorkel set (or at least the snorkel portion). We definitely had doubts about the sterilization of the "rented" snorkels -- and ended up using the aforementioned cucumber wipes to do our best impromptu cleaning. If you're weird about germs (or the thought of shoving a mouthpiece a stranger has been sucking on in your own mouth) -- maybe invest in a snorkel of your own and bypass the vacation heebeejeebies. There are tons for sale on Amazon available at varying price points.

ONE LAST TIP... If you're planning  to use a credit card or debit card while you're abroad, be sure to give your bank/credit card company a heads up before you depart. Without advance notice, many financial institutions will cut off access when you try to make a purchase abroad, assuming the card has been stolen. And that's no fun. (Some credit card companies have a place on their online portal where you can submit trip details and bypass having to make a call.)

8 Badass Columbus Female Founders You Should Know

female founder collage Columbus has been named the seventh best city in the country for female founders, a top 10 city for small business and the best city for working mothers. Whatever you call it, there's no denying that we have some mighty talented, badass, creative female founders in our midst -- and they're not only doing great business, they're doing great things for the Columbus community.

If you haven't met these ladies, you should. If you don't know them by name yet, you will.

Allie Lehman, Death to the Stock Photo Something about Allie Lehman's photography makes me feel like we're all living in an eternal state of autumnal bliss on a never-ending Saturday morning. She has such a gift for capturing the subtle, intimate, meaningful moments of daily living most people miss by rushing through life. Not only is Allie a super-talented photog, she's also an author, an entrepreneur and the founder of Death to the Stock Photo, a movement that is changing the way the world views stock photography.

About-Allie-Lehman3allie lehman

Lisa LaMantia, Willow & Wren Color Free of toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor (aka: the really bad stuff) Willow & Wren is doing nail color in a newer, better way. Alongside classics like Sticks + Stones (a creamy, vampy red) and the perfectly peachy Fizzy Pop (a personal fav), you'll discover an ever-evolving palette of now-inspired shades that rotate and retire with the changing of seasons and trends. From All That Glitters (a gorgeous, glittering rose gold) to Maine Attraction (a vibrant, emerald green that will make you want to get in the car and hit the road), W&W offers a signature color for every style and taste. The passion project of Lisa LaMantia, a local City Planner (and good friend), Willow & Wren has become a permanent fixture on my toe tips and my go-to gift for lady friends. 

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Allison Chapman, Igloo Letterpress If you've never had the opportunity to lay your hands on a letterpress, drop what you're doing and head to Worthington. Look for Igloo Letterpress situated squarely at the intersection of history, wordology and design (39 West New England Avenue). Allison has brought a magical thing to the central Ohio community, and invites visitors to put down their technology and take a step back in time by creating something beautiful and meaningful with their hands. 

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Heather Whaling, Geben Communication Thought leader. Crisis averter. World changer. Do gooder. Of all the things I could call Heather Whaling, I'm most thankful to call her my friend. As Founder and President of Geben Communication, a German Village-based boutique public relations firm, Heather leads a savvy PR team that is kicking ass and taking names on a daily basis. (And moving the needle in a big way for their clients in the process.) With a guiding mantra of "Doing well by doing good," you'll find Heather giving of her time and talent as a tireless philanthropist, mentor to many and friend to the community.

heather whalingScreen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.50.11 AM

Danielle Evans, Marmalade Bleue As I mentioned in a recent post, when it comes to my list of likes, food and typography rank near the top. So it should come as no surprise I’ve got a serious creative crush on the woman who brings both of these things together to create magical, storybook-worthy works of art. If your brand is a foodie brand, drop what you’re doing and call Danielle. If your brand isn’t a foodie brand, after you see her work…you’re gonna wish it was.

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Mollie + Kelly Fankhauser, Kittie's Cakes There are cakes...and then there are Kittie's Cakes. It's easy to tell the difference. Kittie's Cakes are the kind of thing that compel a person to get out of bed, put on real pants and drive across town on a Saturday morning because you know the rest of the city is going to see today's Instagram and race to German Village to buy up whatever is left. (Not that I would know anything about that.) When it comes to these former-golfers-turned-bakers, it would be easy to love Mollie and Kelly based solely on their product, but the love doesn't stop there. This duo somehow manages to run an awesome business, support several community initiatives and rule the Instagram world on behalf of both Kittie's and their golden child, Linus. Living proof that you really can have your cake and eat it too...and have a meaningful impact on the world in the process.


Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams No list of Columbus female founders would be complete without mention of our Patron Saintess of Creativity, Jeni Britton Bauer. What can be said about Jeni that hasn't been said before? (Probably not a lot, given that her name yields over 91,000 hits on Google.) As she suggests in her book, anyone can make great ice cream. Inspiring an entire city to fall deeply in love with a better way of doing things, however, takes a special person, a tireless spirit and a true passion. For those of us who live in Columbus, we've bought into Jeni's story and better way with each scoop and spoonful. Jeni's isn't just a story about great ice cream; it's the story of the spirit of our community -- innovative, creative, passionate, fun and relentlessly focused on doing, not just being, good.

Jeni jenis




AUTHOR /// Amy Taylor is a Columbus, Ohio-based Marketing Strategist + Copywriter. Learn more about her at or follow her on Twitter @NoMeatballs.

12 Things of Christmas


Ohio+Witte Tavern Vinegar


agate coasters Gold-rimmed Agate Coasters

knitted hot water bottle Wool Water Bottle Cover


Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 9.41.25 PM The Homesteady

art-of-doing-stuff-karen Art of Doing Stuff

About-Allie-Lehman2 Be Up and Doing


Nick Carbone via Time French 75

IMG_7947 White Sangria

19b5efc24284bcb6930a2bac9265eadd Champagne Punch

grapefruit mimosa Grapefruit Sage Mimosa


Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 11.22.30 PM Brim Papery

carver junk co Carver Junk Company

Desktop12 Crave Studio

knack gvl Knack

poppy soap co Poppy Soap Co.


bakersfield Bakersfield


dirty franks Dirty Franks

jeni's Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

kittie's Kittie's Cakes

1279_1364669610 Pasquales


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board butter Board Butter

lipbalmcontainers DIY Lip Balm

Foot-scrub-feature Peppermint Foot Scrub

hpDSC_0200 Tiny Pots

lemon14.5-768x1024 Lemon Sugar Scrub

Homemade-Christmas-Potpourri-Recipe-Free-Gift-Tag-1024x694 Christmas Potpourri

Bitters-3 DIY Bitters

homemade-headache-pillow-8 Tea Towel Heating Pads


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8W1McZuTdD73uJ Perini's Ranch | Buffalo Gap, TX

midnight-cowboy-modeling Midnight Cowboy | Austin, TX

Nestled amongst the curiosities and crazy of 6th Street in downtown ATX, you'll find this unsuspecting door. Don't be fooled by the shady exterior. Behind that door you'll discover an oasis in the chaos, and what I would consider one of the best speakeasy bars in the country. Be forewarned, house rules are strictly enforced and reservations are a must. There is a two drink per person minimum and a two-hour maximum. All of which, combined with the building's seedy past and stellar cocktails, makes The Midnight Cowboy an absolute must-visit.

BrokenSpoke Broken Spoke | Austin, TX

If you're looking for live honkey tonk, real Texas musicians and a more local crowd than you'll find on 6th Street, head over The Broken Spoke on Lamar The drinks are cheap, the enchiladas are amazing and the people are fun, friendly and anything but shy. Come prepared to practice your two-step. This place can make a country music lover out of just about anyone.

shirley-s-tippy-canoe Shirley's Tippy Canoe | Troutdale, OR

Once in awhile you stumble across a place that feels so perfectly perfect you'd swear you stepped into a movie set. Shirley's Tippy Canoe is one of those places. We stumbled across this gem along the Columbia River Gorge scenic route, and I couldn't have dreamed up a more picturesque mountain town roadside stop. If quaint charm isn't your thing, then let's talk about the food. Because...this club sandwich. Ask for a seat on the patio (it's amazing!) and enjoy.

indian beach Indian Beach | Ecola State Park, OR

69357_10100410460236492_971269184_n Robledo Family Winery | Sonoma, CA

A few years ago, we took a trip to northern California. By chance, we stumbled across the Robledo Winery -- and decided to check out their October harvest festival. I could write for pages about what a rare and wonderfully special experience it was, but instead I will simply say this: go there. Eat, drink and be merry in the company of people you love. Raise a glass with people you are meeting for the first time. Let the wine and the moment reconnect you to history and the land and the story of all of us. Skip the big name wineries. Head down the rural road to Robledo. You'll be glad you did.

timberline Timberline Lodge | Mt. Hood, OR

cfiles33831 Main Street | Greenville, SC

courtyardsliderlarge Chicago Fine Arts Building

travel.nationalgeographic Louisiana Bayou

piazza del campo siena Piazza del Campo | Siena, Italy


Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 6.28.22 PM Lily Oval Skinny Bangle ($12)

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 6.30.12 PM Poe-ka Dot Pouch ($12)

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 6.34.25 PM Forged Iron Sheers (Small $10, Large $14)

il_570xN.502196860_a3v8 Screenprinted Tea Towel

il_570xN.477823207_1l8j 14k Gold Hex Studs 

il_570xN.354729303_7aai Custom state stamp 

il_570xN.427539636_6sez Hammered Copper Earrings

il_570xN.229972175 Books Print

il_570xN.602639196_3m4g Pine Root Hair Stick

pBBW1-19329357v275 Fireside Candle (This closely replicates the scent of my much more expensive Henri Bendel Firewood candle)

little-women-01Little Women

il_570xN.664672992_o7x9 Safari Ring Dish