So the week of classes has flown by in a whirlwind of assignments, tests, and evaluations. You cannot be more excited for the weekend because the weekend means relaxing and best of all: Traveling. But not matter where you go you always have the same two dilemmas:

  1. What do I pack?
  2. How do I pack it?

First off, ditch the small rolling suitcase. Sure there might be perks to choosing it, but in Costa Rica, there really aren’t any. Roads and sidewalks are rarely smooth sailing and it will make you stand out even more as a tourist, possibly making you a target for theft and swindling. And if you travel with a group, especially across a border or in a boat, your fellow travelers will be quite irritated by you. I have found that traveling with one large backpack or duffel bag, in addition to a smaller backpack or day pack is you best option.

First, lay out everything you think you are going to need into the categories of: Clothes, Toiletries and Medications, entertainments and miscellaneous. Then go through the motions of ‘do I really need this?’. The more time you spend in Costa Rica the more you realize how much energy and space it saves you to ‘recycle’ clothes or outfits on the weekends. Pack only what you will need, and avoid unnecessary excess.

Clothes: I always pack one pair of pajamas, an outfit for each day, and at either one pair of jeans or a pair of long pants. Make sure to always check the weather and base outfit choices off of that. It never hurts to bring your raincoat as it can always double as another warm layer if needed. It is helpful to pack under garments and socks all together in a zip lock baggie to keep them together and easy to find. Even if you aren’t going to the beach bring your own towel, you never know if you’ll have one or not. Two pairs of shoes is really enough and I always bring one long sleeve shirt or sweatshirt and wear it on the bus.

Toiletries: ALWAYS bring bug spray and sunscreen. It is important to bring whatever else you may need as often the hotel/hostel you are staying in will not necessarily have it. Always bring medications even if you don’t take any prescriptions regularly. Usually Tylenol, allergy, and anti-diarrheal are good choices, and motion sickness if you tend to get queasy with crazy drivers.

Miscellaneous: If you don’t travel with your hard copy of you passport (WHICH YOU SHOULDNT UNLESS YOU ARE LEAVING THE COUNTRY), bring a photocopy and a more expendable form of ID, like your VERITAS one. Your VERITAS one is particularly great because at some national parks showing it and explaining that you are studying in Costa Rica might get you in for quite cheap. Also your health insurance card. I always bring plastic bags because they have multiple uses, and I travel with travel locks to either lock my bag when I am not in the room or to let me sleep a bit more comfortably on the public buses.

Entertainment: I bring my tablet, tico phone, some books, and a guide book in addition to my journal and writers notebook. Whatever you feel will entertain you on the bus ride or before bed is your discretion.

Food: Optional, depending on where you are going it can be a great way to cut back on expenses.

Pack well, Pack light, and have fun!

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