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Packing Instructions

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!


___ passport

___ 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

___ sunscreen

___ 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

___ sunglasses

___ binoculars

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

___ sleepwear

___ underwear

___ bandana

___ 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

___ cash

___ 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

___ watch

___ handkerchief

___ 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

More Information:


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 (only recommended for those whose itinerary clearly mentions bringing school supplies)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 CDs 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. 

Prefer to download our list?  Click on the icon for a printable PDF.

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