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costa rica
2022 Packing List

Keep in mind: We will be checking into 3 different accommodations. Therefore, bring a big suitcase at your own "risk." ;) Many people bring a big suitcase and really regret it. It's smarter to pack less and pay a little to do laundry if you ever need to.

Towel: Bringing a towel (quick-dry are the best) is a necessity. This is super useful for the beach, hot springs, etc.

Don't forget: Important items to not forget are a padlock (to lock up your things during the day), your passport, extra masks, and hand sanitizer. Items that are helpful when sharing rooms are eye masks, ear plugs, and shower shoes. 

$$$: We wrote a whole paragraph about getting Costa Rican colones, how much to bring, where to exchange, etc. Scroll down to the bottom of this page!

Style: You'll notice that the style in Latin America is typically never shorts. Jeans are always popular, even in the summer! We usually stick out like tourists when we wear shorts and sandals. However, it is okay to wear shorts and dresses on this trip, especially because it can get really warm. We highly recommend packing at least one pair of pants as an option to make sure you're comfortable.

Weather: Prepare for mild to hot temperatures.

La Fortuna is humid and warm. It can be 70s at night and 80s during the day.

Monteverde is mild and can even get chilly at night because it is at a higher altitude than the rest of the cities. It can be high 50s at night and high 60s during the day.

Manuel Antonio is humid and warm. It can be high 70s at night and high 80s during the day.

Rain: January is Costa Rica's "dry season," but it still may rain occasionally. It naturally rains all year round in Costa Rica because so much of the country is covered in rainforests! The rains are often afternoon showers. You will want something to cover yourself and your day bag for the chance it does. Ponchos can also work great and are much smaller to pack than a rain jacket. 

The highest altitude reached on this trip would be approximately 5,000 feet near Monteverde. 


Main Luggage: Backpack or Suitcase​

We recommend bringing just a carry on size backpack or suitcase and then a personal size backpack or purse as a day bag. Even if you have a free checked bag, it’s much easier to travel with just a carry on size bag. Jess and I always travel with the same size bags, no matter how long we’re traveling. We each have a 45-liter backpack and a 20-liter laptop bag/day backpack.

 

I personally love backpacks as opposed to suitcases because they are easy to lug around. I love the brands Gregory and Osprey, but they are more expensive. They last several years, so, if you plan on taking a trips in the future, I recommend making the investment! Here are my recommendations:

  • Great combination bag (has a detachable day bag - saves you from buying 2 separate ones) for 1 week - 6 week trip length. I have a few friends who use this and love it! The day bag attaches and detaches with a zippers and the backpack also opens like a suitcase, so it's very accessible. 

  • If you’re looking for an intro backpack, I recommend this Mountaintop on Amazon. I used it for around a year, and it never failed. It even held up well during a 4 day 30 mile trek!

  • If you plan on taking a trip over 6-weeks then I recommend you buying a bigger bag. I currently have an 60L Osprey that is very similar to this one.

Day Packs

 

Day Packs are a must! Usually on trips like these, you leave all of your stuff in your main backpack or suitcase at the hostel but use a smaller bag to carry around your phone, money, jacket, camera, water, and everything else for the day. You can use anything for this including your school backpack, purse, fanny pack, string gym bag, or, if you want something to not hurt your shoulders while exploring all day, here's what I use:

 

  • This bag is a little pricey, but is incredible. I can't stress how nice it is to have a good day bag over everything else. You are doing everything with it and I believe it is 100% worth the cost. It can fit so much and feels really nice on your shoulders. It also has a netted back that helps you keep the sweat away! 

Other Bags

 

Here are a few other bags that I think bringing are very necessary and shouldn't cost any money.

  • Dirty clothes bag (can be any bag from a trash bag to a HEB bag​) - needed to separate the clean from dirty clothes while traveling between places.

  • Ziplock bags help immensely when organizing everything. You could also make the switch from plastic and use small reusable bags to hold your things. 

 Clothes

 

This is a very hard thing to recommend, but I will do my best! I want to point out that it is very easy to over pack. There are laundry services nearby or in each accommodation. It's smarter to pack less and pay a little to do laundry if you ever need to.

  • One hoodie or jacket

    • You might want this for at night in Monteverde or if you get chilly easily, but you likely won't need a jacket during the day.

  • Raincoat or Waterproof Shell 

    • It may rain on the trip. You will want something to cover yourself and your day bag for the chance it does. 

    • For those budget hunters, ponchos can work great and are much smaller to pack than a rain jacket. 

  •  One-two pair of comfortable pants (leggings, joggers, etc)

    • Even though it will be mostly warm, you will likely want a couple of pant options to protect yourself from the sun, mosquitos, etc. We prefer to wear leggings for the Cloud Forest night walk to protect ourselves from bug bites. 

    • You'll notice that the style in Latin America is typically never shorts. Jeans are always popular, even in the summer! We usually stick out like tourists when we wear shorts and sandals. However, it is okay to wear shorts and dresses on this trip, especially because it can get really warm. We highly recommend packing at least one pair of jeans as an option to make sure you're comfortable.

  • Three-four pairs of shorts 

    • ​Mix of nicer shorts, like jean shorts, and athletic shorts

    • Shorts are also nice for sleeping in.

  • One hat 

    • ​I just use baseball hats now, but the best investment are these waterproof ones. I know it's pricey, but I love this hat and used it for years!

    • Great for sun protection!

  • Seven-eight shirts, including dry fit options

    • Any mix of colors and styles work.

 

 

  • Underwear

    • ​The number of pairs depends on if you want to do laundry​​​ or not.

 

  • Jess recommends sports bras over other kinds. She suggests three to four sports bras and one to two regular bras.

 

 

 

  • One swimsuit

    • ​You might use it to go to the beach!

 

 

  • Five pairs of socks (+/- a couple of pairs)

    • ​I wear my Chacos almost every day, so I don't wear socks often. 

 

 

  • Optional: One-Two "nicer" outfits (such as a light dress)

    • Good for the photo days or going out at night if you want!

Shoes

  • Walking, hiking, or running shoes

    • I live in my Trail Runners. I've owned and used many hiking boots and different kinds of shoes for traveling, but these are by far the comfiest and most useful.

    • If you don't want to invest in new hiking shoes, any running/walking shoes will be perfectly fine for this trip! Just make sure not to bring your nicest running shoes that you don't want to get dirty. 

  • Sandals or Flip Flops

    • ​This is needed for whenever you go to the hot springs or beaches or if you want shower shoes.

    • ​​​I'm a huge Chaco advocate! I think they are the best all-around shoe you can own. I hike, swim, and use them for normal daily use. 

    • Jess highly recommends bringing a pair of flip flops because she always wants shower shoes. 

  • Optional: One pair of night time shoes or sandals

    • ​Not a necessity, but some people like to bring them.

    • Jess packs a light pair of sandals to wear with "nicer" outfits. 

Toiletries 

 

Here is a short list of toiletries that are a must! I recommend bringing the travel size of everything to save yourself some room!

 

 

  • Sunblock 

  • Bug Spray

 

  • Chapstick

 

  • Soap/Shampoo/Conditioner

    • ​I'm a fan of the three in one, but I understand most people prefer all three.​

    • This is an example of where the travel sizes and ziploc bags come in clutch.

 

  • Deodorant 

 

  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Floss

    • ​They make covers that help keep toothbrushes clean while traveling.

 

  • Razor

 

 

  • Lotion

    • ​Travel size only!

 

 

 

Optional toiletries based on what you need:

 

 

  • Contacts/Contact Solution

 

  • Small bottle of Advil or Ibuprofen 

 

  • Q-tips and tissues

 

  • Brush or comb 

    • ​Jess brings a mini brush. 

 

  • Makeup 

    • ​Jess recommends travel or compact sizes whatever makeup you want. She uses one travel compact that has brows, shadow, and face all in one. 

 

  • Headbands and hair ties 

    • ​Jess puts these in a little bag. 

 

  • Hair tools 

    • ​Jess doesn't recommend bringing these, as they take up a lot of space. 

    • If you do want a blow dryer, there are very small compact ones that fold up. These are a better option, but the best option is using/borrowing one at the hostel. 

 

  • It's also recommended to always pack feminine products rather than relying on buying them there. 

other

  • Reusable Water Bottle

    • You can't always drink tap water in Costa Rica, but sometimes you can. It's always best to ask each accommodation, and we recommend filling up a reusable bottle each day in the hostels. Some provide flavored water and ice water. 

  • A Pen

    • Handy for filling out forms at customs.

  • Quick-dry towel

    • A necessity. Bringing a towel of your own is also super useful for the beach. 

    • They are very compact and will dry much faster than the ones you use at home. 

 

  • Sunglasses

    • ​Don't forget your favorite pair of sunglasses :)

  • Ear plugs

    • ​These can come in handy when you are sleeping in shared rooms, and people are snoring or come in late.

 

 

  • Eye mask for sleeping

    • ​This is great for sleeping on bus rides or when you want pitch black in your room

  • Padlock

    • ​There will be lockers for valuables at the first and third accommodations, so, if you want to lock those up, then this is needed.

electronics

  • No outlet converter is needed in Costa Rica.

  • ​Phone + Charger

 

 

  • Headphones

 

  • Camera + Charger

  • Optional: Go-Pro

    • ​Not gonna lie, this is a great place for any action cam.

    • I personally use an older version of the Sony Action Cam.

  • Power Bank (Portable Charger)

    • ​This is great, so you don't have to worry about being somewhere with a dead camera or phone.

documents

  • Passport! 

    • Check right now and make sure your passport isn't expired!! 

    • I also like passport covers because you can keep other important information in them. sport covers because you can keep other important information in them.​

  • Cash

    • Most places in Costa Rica will take credit or debit cards, but we recommend having some cash   with you. 

    • Costa Rica uses the Colon for their currency.

    • A good way to get Colones before you leave is by ordering them from your bank. This often gets you a good deal, as opposed to exchanging money at the airport or withdrawing money from an ATM once in Costa Rica. It will still be possible to withdraw money once you're in Costa Rica, of course, and we would be happy to point you to ATMs in each city.

    • Although you don't want to carry a lot of cash around, it's a hassle and costly to pull money out of an ATM. We recommend bringing more cash than you probably need to be on the safe side. Then, each day, only walk around with the amount of cash you need for that day only. Leave the rest locked up in the hostel. 

    • We recommend bringing $100-200 in cash, depending on how much you plan to budget for each day. You can use cash for local restaurants, tips, street vendors, and small markets. For excursions and nicer restaurants, you will be able to pay with card usually. 

  • Drivers Licence 

    • ​If you go out, you might need an ID, and I don't recommend bringing your passport out drinking.

 

 

 

  • Travel Insurance

    • ​As stated your preparation information, Costa Rica requires specific travel insurance coverage to enter their country. All of the details for this have been sent to you via email. 

  • Money Belt

    • ​These are great to assure that no one is going to take your valuables.

    • Jess uses them, and you can wear them under your shirt. She says it helps her keep track of her IDs, phone, and money.