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Costa Rica
Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A Guide on 16 Items to Pack for a Costa Rica Vacation

If you want to know what items visitors to Costa Rica most often forget to bring – or regret bringing – just ask a hotel owner.

To create our “Insiders’ Guide to Costa Rica,” we asked some of our present and former columnists and other long-time residents, as well as our favorite urban tourism guru, for their travel recommendations. One of our questions was what to pack.

Pip Kelly, an Australian and Costa Rican citizen who is co-owner of the Casitas Tenorio B&B in the Northern Zone town of Bijagua, gave us such an extensive list that we decided to publish it in full, including her brilliant footwear hack.

Here’s Pip’s Suggestions on what to pack for a trip to Costa Rica:

  1. A good travel flashlight.
  2. A rechargeable battery that you can charge your cell phone from – the electricity goes off lots here!
  3. Some nice natural bug spray so you don’t have to be covered in DEET the whole time.
  4. A copy of your passport (and/or keep a photo of it on your phone).
  5. Anti-itch cream for after you get bitten – and maybe some antihistamine tablets.
  6. A travel umbrella and a lightweight poncho is good for visits to rainforest areas.
  7. Some donations for the local community – an English picture dictionary is always a great thing to bring.
  8. If you are debating whether to bring the “good camera,” just do it. Too many times we have guests complain that they didn’t pack their best equipment.
  9. Bring a good road map; maps can be hard to find here. I recommend this nice waterproof map.
  10. Pack lightweight clothes that dry easily. Leave the jeans at home.
  11. Bring two pairs of shoes, and leave big, bulky hiking shoes behind; bring washable hiking sandals instead. (A great footwear hack: if you’ve got a muddy hike in mind, buy inexpensive rubber boots, botas de hule, at a local hardware store, then leave them at your hotel at the end of your trip.)
  12. Pack a little first aid kit if you plan on doing lots of hiking.
  13. Bring a soccer ball and a pump and play a game with the locals.
  14. Ziploc bags are very useful.
  15. Bring a couple of ATM cards in case one does not work. Bring cash ($US) and don’t exchange money at the airport- the rate is terrible!
  16. Sounds crazy, but a travel hairdryer can come in handy – not just for drying hair, but shoes, a wet camera lens or moist passport.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of how long you’re actually planning on staying in Costa Rica, bring enough clothes for anywhere between five days to one week. There are lots of full-service laundromats in Costa Rica.

Often, you can drop off your clothes and pick them up an hour or two later for a couple of bucks or ask your hotel and they will probably be able to help you out.

This was first published on 2017 but is just as appropriate today as it was back then.

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