Oaxaca is an amazing city that even after a month I’m still daydreaming about. The sun was shining and it was pretty sweltering during the day. In the evenings it was calm and warm. Figuring out what to pack for Oaxaca is difficult because it heavily depends on what time of year you’re visiting.
Weather in Oaxaca
Like much of Mexico, Oaxaca has two major seasons – the wet and the dry. The wettest months are between May and October. It’s still pretty warm – incredibly warm in fact, but throughout the day, usually in the afternoon, you’ll get bouts of tropical rainfall.
As the rain dries up in late October it is pretty hot for the rest of the year. It’s slightly cooler between December and February, but you’ll still experience temperatures as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit (about 20 degrees Celsius).
What to Pack for Oaxaca
I love wearing dresses, especially in the sort of weather you get in Oaxaca. It’s dry and warm and a nice flowy dress is the perfect way to feel put together without much effort. I usually pack three or four dresses for a week’s trip and I ended up wearing some of the same dresses more than once while I was in Oaxaca because it was just the most comfortable for me.
I usually gravitate towards dresses that are fitted on top and flow out from the waist. I pack one belt that I can use with all of the dresses to help feel a little bit more pulled together, especially when transitioning from sightseeing to evening wear.
Shorts are a must, especially if you plan on doing some hiking or walking in the region around Oaxaca City. I wore shorts when I went to Monte Alban and I wish I’d worn shorts to Hierve el Agua since there’s a good bit of walking to do around there (I wore a dress, which was still ok).
I love a good pair of denim cutoffs. Both pairs that I own are ones I’ve made myself from old jeans, but I also love the ones that JCrew make every year and the cheaper pairs that you can pick up from American Eagle, too. They go with absolutely everything and I don’t mind hiking in a looser pair.
3. Jeans or Light Trousers
I recommend packing at least one pair of jeans or a pair of light trousers that you can pack just in case of cooler evening weather. I packed a pair of tights that I wore with my dresses when the temperatures dropped, although they never did. I also packed a pair of jeans which I traveled in since I always get a little bit cold on planes.
4. T-Shirts and Tank Tops
The lighter the color and the fabric, the better. I love linen t-shirts and thin cotton tank tops for weather like this. You’re definitely going to be sweating, so white and cream colors are best (even if you spill mole all over them like I did!). I packed four t-shirts for a week in Oaxaca and if you spill on yourself or sweat anywhere near as much as I did, I recommend packing at least four, if not more depending on whether you are also bringing dresses.
5. A Sweater or Light Jacket
I packed a really light cardigan for the trip that I actually used almost every night. Since I went during the wet season, it would usually rain or get cloudy in the evenings, so once the clouds and rain passed, the temperature had dropped to about 60 or 65 degrees (15-18 degrees Celsius).
I recommend packing something light enough and small enough that you can fit into your day bag so that you don’t have to worry about coming back to your hotel or B&B to grab things when the weather changes.
6. Rain Jacket
If you’re planning a trip to Oaxaca between May and October, you’ll definitely want to pack a rain jacket. I was there in late July and I wore my rain jacket almost every evening. It often doubled as a light jacket when the temperature dropped which meant I didn’t have to carry around a sweater all the time.
Make sure it’s a nice light rain jacket, it will still be really warm, so you don’t want to be sweating while trying to stay dry! I have this light one from Columbia, but Marmot and The North Face make great ones, too.
7. A Hat
You definitely need a hat. No matter what time of year you come to Oaxaca, if you are going to do any touring at all, you’ll want a hat. I wore this one and my boyfriend, Luke got on well with a baseball cap. We both agreed if it wasn’t for our hats we would have gotten sunstroke and probably a lot more sunburn.
8. Comfortable Walking Shoes
Comfortable shoes are a must. Most of Oaxaca’s downtown streets are cobbled or uneven, so no need for heels or anything too fancy. I packed a pair of flip flops and a pair of sneakers.
I did most of my walking in my beloved Rainbow flip flops. They are absolutely awesome for walking all day and still keeping your feet nice and cool. Plus, they’re leather and they come in different colors so they’re kinda cute. I’ve even converted Luke to be a Rainbow believer. Find them for women here. Find them for men here.
Sunglasses are another must on a trip pretty much anywhere in Mexico. There are a few places where you can pick up cheap sunglasses in the city in case you forget yours, but it’s always a good idea to have a pair that has UV protection.
I packed a few of my favorite rings, necklaces, and earrings. Oaxaca is an incredibly safe place and I never felt worried about any of my stuff. I feel comfortable wearing a few pieces every day and as long as you’re not worried about losing your jewelry, then I say bring it!
There are also tons of great markets in Oaxaca like Benito Juarez or stalls around Santo Domingo Square where you can pick up some really cute pieces of costume jewelry.
It’s pretty how throughout the year in Oaxaca, so choose your makeup wisely. I opted not to wear heavy foundations or anything that I might sweat off. That left me with a tinted moisturizer, an eyebrow pencil, waterproof mascara and plenty of colorful lipsticks. Like any other time, wear what makes you comfortable and happy so that you can spend your time enjoying Oaxaca rather than worrying about that pimple on your forehead.
12. Packing Cubes
I only recently started using travel cubes and holy cow have they changed my life. You can organize everything into different sections so that you never have to go rifleing through your suitcase or backpack again. These are especially helpful for short trips where you can organize each outfit into a different cube. Even better, you can keep one just for all your dirty clothes, too!
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