When I was getting ready to venture to San Jose for three months of my life, I had no idea what I was going to need! Did I pack enough stuff? Is there something I am missing? Now about halfway through my time in San Jose, some of the items I threw in my bag at the last minute are the most useful things I have, and some of the things I thought I could not live without haven’t even left my suitcase. Here is some tips for packing based on my experience.
The things I couldn’t live without here in Costa Rica are as follows: my hiking boots, a fold-up reusable bag, my flannel, yoga pants, leave-in conditioner, a portable charger, and my tiny backpack. I can hear the questions now, why not a Spanish-English dictionary? What about flip flops? Truth is, I haven’t opened up my dictionary since my Spanish class, and even in class, I preferred Google Translate. I have also worn my boots way more than I wear my flip flops. Don’t get me wrong, flip flops are nice to have, but not as useful as you might think.
Now the things I haven’t used/rarely use: many pairs of swimsuits that I brought, my straightener, my makeup (although if you do think you will be wearing makeup, make sure you bring enough to last 3 months, meaning have extra foundation if one won’t last because it is hard to find), and my camera. A nice camera is a liability, I don’t have the confidence to bring it to the waterfalls, on hikes, or to the beach in fear of ruining it or having it stolen. I use my phone instead, since I already bring it with me.
Here are things to not forget: enough medication for three months (and anti-diarrhea pills). My roommate forgot to bring enough medication for the time she will be here, and although it isn’t 100% essential that she takes it, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have enough space and your airline allows you to have a lot of liquids, make sure to pack a lot of shampoo, bug spray, and conditioner (your wallet will thank you later and you don’t need to bring it home, so think of it as ensured space for souvenirs). Make sure to pack pants. I packed one pair of jeans, one pair of yoga pants, and one pair of hiking pants, and I still wish I brought more pants. Also bring extra headphones. Mine broke the second I got here, and they are hard to find and hard to live without during all the long bus rides.
There is no perfect way to pack for three months, but this list happened to work for me, or at least are things that I think would be nice to have. Hopefully this can help someone pack better than I did because it really does impact your time here.