Space is tight on the bus we’re taking to Mexico. Pack light. Use a duffel bag – they bend and flex and fit into tight spaces.
The weather: Parts of the southern US and northern Mexico can get cold at night, December-January, from the lower 50s (10 C) all the way down to the lower 30s (-1 C), that is freezing cold. It will be pleasant during the day, at about 60 F (15 C), but sometimes windy and chilly.
For about half the tour we will be in warmer climates as we travel south of Mexico City to the coastal regions and beaches, where the temperatures will be moderate. Think of a cool summer’s day, around 80 degrees F (27 C), and 60 degrees F (15 C) at night.
Dress appropriately. While you may want to wear shorts and t-shirt at the beaches, we recommend you bring layered clothing such as comfortable jogging pants, hooded sweatshirt, long-sleeve shirts, for colder mornings and evenings, and at night. Bring long pants, a second sweatshirt, socks, a shawl or scarf for really cold times. Bring a really warm sleeping bag. (If the bus is parked and the engine is off, there is no heating at night, nor in any of the buildings in Mexico. You’ll be nice and snuggly in a warm sleeping bag.)
Often we may start the day wearing casual clothes, perhaps go shopping at a market, or swimming at a beach, and then change into devotional clothes in the evening for a kirtan program.
Bring ten sets of undergarments, in addition to swim wear, so you won’t have to do laundry more than once a week. Don’t overpack. For example, you may wear a pair of pants, or a dhoti, or sari, for two days in a row. Less is more when space is tight.
One medium sized duffel bag.
One small backpack with essentials.
One warm sleeping bag with pillow.
One small toilet “suchi” kit.
One pair of sandals, flip-flops, or Tevas
One pair of closed shoes (Harinama / running shoes)
Recommended Contents for your Duffel Bag:
Photocopies of all of your important documents
(passport, visas, permanent resident card, airplane tickets)
5 sets of devotional clothes
Boys: dhotis & kurtas
Girls: saris or gopi skirts with chaste tops
4 sets of cold-day casual wear. Example: Full-length jeans,
slacks, pants, jogging pants, yogi pants, with chaste plain or
devotional shirts or tops. Long sleeves preferred for cold days.
1 scarf or shawl.
3 pairs of shorts and 3 t-shirts (beach wear, warm weather wear)
10 sets of underwear, undergarments
5 pairs of socks (for cold days and nights)
2 pairs of pajamas
1 pillow cover
1 pillow case or empty draw-string bag for dirty laundry
1 dish set of (non-breakable) plate, bowl, cup, fork and spoon.
1 pair of sneakers / running shoes (for cold days and harinamas).
snorkel and mask – you’ll need it when we go swimming in tropical fish lagoons
Now that you have all that lying there in front of you, roll it up tight into “rolls” military packing style, so you can fit more in less space. Does it all fit nicely into your medium-sized duffel bag? If not, trim down. You will survive with 8 sets of under garments, 3 sets of cold-day casual wear, 4 sets of devotional clothes… You will, you will, you will survive 🙂 Tuck your shoes inside a plastic bag into your sleeping bag if you run out of space.
Recommended Contents for Carry-on Backpack:
Wallet or Purse with:
– Passport (valid, of course), with valid visas for
USA and Mexico (if needed)
– Photo ID card
– Photocopy of your birth certificate.
– US Permanent resident card (“Greencard”, if applicable).
– laundry cash (US $10 per week)
– cash for snacks and emergencies
– debit card with VISA logo (best way to get money from ATMs)
– chap stick / lip balm with SPF
– (for ladies:) Hair clips, bands, safety-pins for saris, etc.
– essential medicines (if needed… Tylenol, Ibuprofen, inhaler, etc.)
Small Toilet “Suchi” Kit with:
– Toothbrush and toothpaste (travel size)
– Small bottle of biodegradable soap (travel size)
– Small bottle of 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner (travel size)
NOTE: Store above items in Ziploc (sealable) plastic bags to
prevent accidental leaking all over your belongings.
– Razor with spare blades and shaving cream. (travel size)
– DEODORANT, even if you don’t usually need it.
(Please bring deodorant. You will sweat. Traveling in Mexico on a bus with limited opportunities to fill up the shower water tanks, means you will have to make do with one shower a day.)
– Nail clipper
– Tilak with small mirror
– Ear plugs
– small first-aid antiseptic cream
– hair brush/comb
(for ladies 🙂
– Female hygiene needs
– gopi-dot paint and kajal eyeliner
Japa beads and bead bag
a Krishna conscious book you’d like to read on the tour
your own plate, cup, bowl, spoon and fork (we will rarely be using disposable dishes on the tour)
sweatshirt (hooded is ideal) or “chaddar”
girls: Swimsuit-tankini top or one-piece with shorts
or your regular swimsuit top with a t-shirt over it
boys: Lined swimming shorts or board shorts
towel or “gamsha”
sunscreen / Sunblock in Ziploc plastic bag (small, travel size)
sun hat, cap, or headband
flashlight with spare batteries
travel sized pack of tissue
special medical or dietary needs
travel journal or diary, and ballpoint pen(s)
camera (not too expensive, in case it gets lost, stolen or broken)
sports water bottle with carrying strap
change of clothes for the next day
any other important little stuff you can’t live without
NOTE: If you are flying to meet up with us, you will need to pack all liquids, gels, aerosol (spray) cans, and any sharp objects into your duffel bag which you check in.
Recommended Sleeping Gear:
– sleeping bag (warm enough for cold nights)
– washable sleeping bag liner or bed sheet
– comfy pillow with pillow cover
NOTE: If you are flying to meet up with us, consider bringing a larger duffel bag which contains your sleeping gear and your small duffel bag… since most airlines these days charge you
per check-in bag ($25 for the first, $35 for the second bag). As long as it folds flat, you can either store that larger duffel bag at the temple where you’re joining the tour, or on the bus under a mattress somewhere.
Other: Your favorite musical instrument (Talk to us if it’s bigger than a pair of kartals or a flute. We have limited space for mridangas or guitars on the bus.)
DO NOT BRING any intoxicants or illegal drugs
No torn or mini shorts.
No revealing tops, halter tops, spaghetti straps, or tube tops.
No bikini tops or triangle tops for swimming.
Please do not bring non-devotional games (computer games or other), non-devotional books, non-devotional music, non-devotional movies, nor card games. Please consider leaving your laptops behind (read on for an explanation.)
You’ve heard that we are what we eat. It makes sense. What about the other stuff we feed our senses? On this tour we encourage you to follow a Krishna diet. Let’s feast on Krishna prasadam for mind, body and spirit… Let’s read, listen, watch and otherwise feed our senses with spiritual subject matters that make us more conscious of the most beautiful, most amazing couple Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, and Their equally amazing devotees.
We encourage you to bring all things favorable to help you remember Krishna, and to leave behind all those things that distract you and others.
No card games?
Old-school devotees consider them to be gambling, at least they represent a “foot in the door” because you’re play-gambling without betting money. When devotees at temples (or swamis and senior devotees traveling on the bus with us) see us bus tour youth playing cards it doesn’t send a good message to them, who’ve been told to give up such bad habits when they joined the temple.
No Tablets or Laptops? For real?
Consider the liberating effect of not being tied to a computer screen day and night, anticipating that next Facebook notification or status update from a friend far far away. (Or whatever other good reason you may have to be dependent on a tablet/laptop.) Consider just enjoying the company of the devotees you’re with. Live in the moment, make memories, experience Mexico!
Charging your devices are a pain on the tour. We as organizers need to carry laptops to manage the tour, to communicate with venues ahead, etc. Trust us. Keeping that laptop safe from damage and theft, and charged, is a daily chore.
Others will constantly want to borrow your laptop/tablet to check their Facebook, emails, etc. and it affects the whole atmosphere on the bus. Plus, in Mexico, wifi is practically non-existent. You’ll need to go to Internet cafes to check your email and social media.
There’s a good chance your device may get stepped on, broken, lost or stolen. Laptops and tablets are prime targets for theft in Mexico. If you don’t want to lose it, leave it at home.
Anecdote from a recent tour: We relaxed on the “no laptop” rule, and watched to see what would happen. As soon as we arrived at temples the laptop and tablet owners disappeared to search for that ever elusive free WIFI connection, spent hours glued to their screens, spent nights keeping themselves and others awake watching movies or playing computer games. So please, leave the devices at home. (If you need one for your job or school while you’re on the tour, let’s talk.)
Keep your smart phones in “airplane” mode in Mexico. Rates are $14 per megabyte for data. Just to check a few emails a day will cost you about $14 per day. Text messages are 50 cents a piece, incoming AND outgoing. Phone calls, with a $10/month Mexico plan activated, are 60 cents a minute, incoming and outgoing. Receiving a voicemail message counts and costs you 60
cents per minute. It’s basically very expensive to operate a US smart phone in Mexico.
(A recent tour participant racked up an $800 phone bill in just a few days and the parents freaked out, as you can imagine.)
If you must bring your smart phone, then turn your data features off, and use your phone in emergencies only. Keep it turned off most of the time. Same challenge as with laptops to try to keep the phone charged. Leave it at home and enjoy the peace and quiet in the jungles and beaches of Mexico. Plus, one less worry about it getting broken, lost or stolen.
You can purchase inexpensive phone cards in Mexico to call home, available at most corner stores. Public phones are plentiful.
Most Important Items Checklist
1) Valid Passport (With visas, if needed, for Mexico, the USA)
2) Valid Permanent Resident Card (Greencard, if applicable)
3) Valid state / province Picture ID or driver’s license
4) Certified Copy Of Your Birth Certificate
5) Valid Student ID
6) Photocopies of all of the above, including photocopies of visas
7) Notarized Registration Form for the bus tour. If you are under 18,
both of your parents must sign this registration form before a notary
public. If you’re 18 and older, sign the form in front of a notary who
witnesses your signature.
8) If you are under 18 and decide to go snorkeling with us:
Your parents must provide a letter signed by them giving
you permission to go snorkeling. Talk to us about details.
There are probably things that we forgot to mention on this packing list.
Use your common sense. And remember, less is more.
If you have questions, just ask.