What I Took for Adventure Travel In Costa Rica

I packed for a 3 week trip using one piece of rolling luggage (LL Bean ballistic!) and a day pack.  We were using Sansa air for a domestic flight while we were there and they have  a luggage weight limit of 35#. I wanted to be able to tote everything on my own if needed.  The interesting challenge was the need to plan for a variety of climates.  We were outside a lot every day.  The central valley in June, is cool at night, warm during the day, and rain can fall any time.  We spent a week there, living with a Tica family in Heredia.  Both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts are hotter, more humid, and also prone to showers and thunderstorms.  The Arenal area was more like Heredia (perhaps a tad warmer), and Monteverde was damp and chilly at times.  We packed enough clothes for a week and did laundry twice.  It cost $11 to have our clothes washed, dried and folded (for 4 people). So here are some things to consider:

  • Three heavy things that I took:  High end camera with long lenses, MacBook Pro and boots.  Of the three, I could have made do without the boots because my sport sandals were extremely versatile and weighed a lot less.  This would be a personal decision however – if you are going to be doing a lot of hiking, you may want the support and protection that boots offer.  I used the camera and computer every day!  The camera for obvious reasons – the computer to manage photos and to stay in touch (we had Wifi at nearly every location).  Also took chargers for both of these!
  • A rain jacket – this was lightweight and fit easily into my day pack so could be pulled out as needed.  Also doubled as a wind-breaker/extra layer in Monteverde.  If you are going to Costa Rica during the rainy season, pack rain gear!
  • A good hat with a wide brim – great for protecting your head, neck and eyes against the intense sun
  • Sun screen and bug-off.  You can purchase these items in the country, however they are about 50% higher than in the US
  • Two pair of sunglasses with UV protection (good to have an extra pair in case you lose one).  Also, took relatively inexpensive ones for this same reason
  • Quick drying shirts with SPF and zip-off pants (should have taken MORE of these).  I got mine from LLBean and they were really worth the money
  • A flashlight and extra batteries.  Very useful if you are walking anywhere at night and also if you get out of bed in the middle of the night for nature’s call – good to make sure you won’t be stepping on a scorpion or some other interesting creature.
  • Flip-flops – wore these EVERY DAY!
  • A high quality water bottle
  • A first-aid kit (bandages, neosporin, hydrocortisone cream, immodium, motion sickness medication, etc).  Most of these I didn’t need,  but I was glad to have what I DID need and would pack these items again.
  • A lightweight summer hoodie – wore this only 3 times, but was glad I had it.
  • A notebook containing my itinerary and all confirmations, contact information, extra paper, pens, etc
  • A pouch (from Travel Smith) that held passport, money, credit cards, driver’s license etc – could be worn around the neck, inside of your shirt for security
  • An English-Spanish dictionary
  • A beach towel
  • Granola bars and other snack food (note:  2 hungry teenage boys)
  • MOST important: The attitude that we were ambassadors for the U.S. with the behavior to go along with that. ” Con permiso”, “Por Favor” and “Muchas gracias” go a LONG way and we were treated accordingly!
What I TOOK and DIDN’T need.
  • make up (just slides off of your face anyway)
  • jewelry
  • cute sandals
  • a dressier outfit
  • sweat pants (too bulky)
  • too many cotton T-shirts – they never dry!
What I DIDN’T need and DIDN’T take:
  • Jeans – too bulky and take too long to dry
  • Purse – just used the day pack
  • Cell phone ( if you are taking one, make sure it will work in Costa Rica)
  • Hair dryer, curling iron etc.
  • A superior attitude

All the "stuff" for I needed for 3 weeks fit into these!


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