Considering that I have packed no less than 30 suitcases for my frequent trips to Puerto Vallarta, I think I can claim to be somewhat of an expert.
Comfortable shoes! Wear them before you pack them! As matter of fact, test drive them on cobblestones, bricks, sand, and high curbs. If you don't trip, fall or break a leg, get blisters, or lose a heel, buy three pairs in different colors.
Sunscreen. I don't care how many trips you've made to the Fake N Bake, nothing ruins a vacation faster than being broiled. I recommend the waterproof kind, because even if you don't plan on being in the water (huh?!) you'll probably sweat off the regular kind. Spray-on sunscreen works best, as you can hit the hard to reach places easier, unless of course you have someone to help rub oil on your back.
Hair dryer. Don't assume that just because your hotel says it has hair dryers in the room that they actually work. A travel sized dryer is small enough to pack without taking up precious shoe space.
Travel alarm clock. This is a must if you plan on taking a tour or catching an early flight out. Wake up calls from the front desk usually never happen, not because they forget, but because they are very kind and feel bad about waking you up.
More than one bathing suit. There is nothing worse than putting on a wet, damp swimsuit, and besides, they take up very little luggage space! To wash, just rinse out in your shampoo and hang dry.
English/Spanish dictionary or phrasebook. Sure, it is a tourist town, but not everyone knows more than the common phrases or basic words. As a guest, it is polite to try and speak the language of the country you are visiting. Gracias, por favor, and hola go a long way, if you get tongue-tied, smile. Smiling works wonders. I smile a lot. I also make very little sense in Spanish. Go figure.
Comfortable clothes for multiple occasions. I know, I know, you are on vacation, and you don't want to dress up. I'm not suggesting ball gowns and coat and tie, but at least one simple, yet classy outfit is a must. Think; Casual Elegant. You never know when you may be invited for dinner to Cafe de Artistes, Trio, or even a wedding. Some places have a dress code, like long pants for men, or a pant-suit or dress for women. Skip the necktie; I have yet to see a necktie in Vallarta. Also, pack clothes you know you like. Don't pack clothes that sat for a year or two thinking you will love them on vacation. Chances are, if you didn't like them at home, you won't like them on vacation. With luggage weight limits at their lowest, pack conservatively so you won't get charged extra.
Not to pack:
Expensive jewelry. If it comes off, don't pack it. This isn't about theft, it's about taking it off at the pool, beach, or leaving it next to the sink, and whamo! Down the drain. If your ring falls down the drain, consider it gone, drain traps are about as normal as a wall mounted hair dryer working.
Water. It's been asked, "Should we pack water?" The answer, "No!" Water is plentiful, and chances are, your hotel has a purified water system. If not, they provide bottles of water. Otherwise, you can buy bottles of water just about everywhere for 1/10th of what a bottle of Evian costs at home. For Evian lovers, it's available here too, just a little more expensive than nationally bottled water.
Food. Yes, I've also been asked, "Should I pack food?” Somehow, people think they will either starve or run into Montezuma and his revenge. Not true! You are coming to the epitome of "Diner’s Paradise", with over 900 registered restaurants!
Luckily, if you forgot to pack it, it can be bought in Vallarta. Between Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Comercial Mexicana, or the two Lan's Department stores, you will find what you are looking for. Half the fun is inventing things you forgot to pack just so you have to buy something in Vallarta, like, new shoes for example.
Packing for the Seasons