Read this entire section before beginning to pull your items together. Read with a highlighter in hand and mark the things you want to make sure you remember to do. Packing light is an art. As you pack, check off each item so you can easily see what is still missing. Keep in mind, in addition to the clothes you pack you will also have the outfit you wear on the plane!
___ cell phone and cell phone charger
___ hand sanitizer
___ battery charger or extra batteries
___ pocket Spanish dictionary
___ medications and first aid supplies
___ BPA free water bottle
___ insect repellent
___ 1 large trash bag and several large Ziplocs
___ flashlight and/or headlamp
___ journal, pens
___ small clothesline, (clothespins opt)
___ camera, memory cards, charger, batteries
Clothing and Toiletries:
___ a duffel bag or large backpack
___ a smaller daypack
___ rain poncho
___ 5 shirts (tee, camp, safari-style)
___ 1 long-sleeved shirt
___ 2 light-weight long pants
___ 2 pairs of shorts
___ 5 pairs of long socks, not anklets
___ sweatshirt or windbreaker
___ bathing suit
___ hat with a brim
___ rubber boots (Wellingtons)
___ tennis shoes or hiking boots
___ flip-flops, sandals, or crocs
___ toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
___ shampoo, bar soap, shaver
___ deodorant, hairbrush
In your wallet or Passport pouch you should keep:
___ a card with your passport number on it
___ your medical insurance card
___ phone numbers for hotels and tour operator
___ credit card
___emergency contact persons
___air confirmation number or ticket
___ bird field guide
___ trekking poles
___ sock liners
___ moleskin to prevent or treat blisters
___ baby powder
___ pocket knife (in CHECKED bag only)
___ pencils & sketchpad
___ addresses of people you’d like to send postcards to
A few more things to consider bringing:
___ duct tape
___ alarm clock
___ sewing kit
___ eyeglass repair kit
___ hair elastics
___ polishing cloth for glasses (also good for binocs and camera)
___ books to read
___ deck of cards (or Bananagrams or other small game)
___ extra pair of glasses
Documents: Keep your passport and cash/credit card in a pouch next to your body, inside your clothes, and put a copy of the front page of your passport somewhere else in your luggage as a backup. Your passport and the copy of the first page or the card with the number on it should not be in the same place! Bring a copy of the phone numbers for our lodges that we provide and leave another copy with your emergency contact persons.
Credit Card: Your credit card company should be alerted that you are traveling outside the country.
Cash: US currency is commonly accepted. Travelers’ checks are unnecessary and not very useful.
Luggage: Bring only one duffel bag, suitcase, or backpack and a daypack. The daypack can also be your carry-on. There are no concierges or bellhops to help with your bags, so make sure you can easily carry everything you are bringing. If you do choose to bring a wheeled bag, the ones with oversized wheels will work better than little wheels.
School Supplies for Costa Rican Students: In choosing your school donation items, remember they speak Spanish! Number cubes or math flashcards, colored pencils, notepaper, or other paper, scissors, cheap solar calculator, blank CD’s hole punchers, rulers, little paintbrushes, that sort of thing. Or go for fun stuff, like harmonicas, playground balls (deflated – we have a pump to re-inflate them!), or whatever else catches your eye. Discard all packaging before tossing any items in your bag!
Clothing: You want clothing made of lightweight cotton, like cotton sheeting, or quick-dry synthetics - no jeans. Underwear made of quick-dry fabric can be rinsed in the shower and hung to dry so you don’t need to bring so many. If your long pants zip off to shorts, they count for both! Long-sleeved shirts with sleeves that roll up also count for both! In selecting sleepwear, consider you may be sharing a room with strangers at some point. T-shirt and gym shorts work well, or a short gown. Boots can be inexpensive but should have good tread.
Toiletries and medical supplies: Insect repellent can be spray-on for clothing and lotion or wipes for exposed skin. Unscented biodegradable shampoo and soap are the best choices. Baby powder in your socks or bra really helps with chafing and sweat. Hand sanitizer is useful if we eat while on a hike or if you relieve yourself along a trail. First aid kits are stocked wherever we go, but many people like to bring their own Imodium, a couple of band-aids, itch balm, and maybe a broad-spectrum antibiotic. If you are a person who experiences gastric upset simply from a change in water or diet, I have found that taking one or two chewable Pepto Bismol tablets before each meal prevents any unpleasantness. Again, please discard packaging materials.
Snacks: Snacks are unnecessary but I know a lot of people wouldn’t dream of leaving home without their trail mix or chewing gum. Just be sure it’s sealed tightly so as not to attract ants.
Plastic bags: If you pack clothes in 2-3 gallon Ziploc bags you can keep clean separated from dirty, organize your stuff, and keep it from getting wet. Press the air out as you seal the bag. Extra Ziplocs allow you to keep brochures, ticket stubs, your journal, and other paperwork from absorbing moisture and keep your souvenirs clean. The large trash bag can keep your boots from getting everything else dirty. Packing your camera, binoculars, and cell phones in a bag with several silica gel packs or even a couple of tampons helps prevent fogging up or moisture damage.
Cell phones: Cell phones will probably not work in CR or the charges could be very high for use. You may want it for use in stateside airports, however, and the internet may work, even if you can’t make calls.
Jewelry: Do not wear or bring any jewelry unless you want to wear a waterproof watch. It is very important to dress modestly and not appear to flaunt your material wealth.