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The Tico Lingo blog is a mix of informative pieces written by our faculty and personal stories from past students.
What to Pack for a Trip to Costa Rica
People are constantly asking us what kinds of things they should pack before they jump aboard a plane and make the trek down here. This article is for all those who are panicking in their bedroom, distraught with a closet gone to chaos.
First things first, you need to determine which season you’re going to be traveling in.
Generally around Nov to May. Temperatures can be anywhere from 26-34 Celsius (78 F – 93F). While the North is completely blanketed in ice and snow December through April, Costa Rica is enjoying it’s summer. Obviously this helps with the packing process as you can set aside those down jackets and long johns 🙂
Generally around May – Nov. It is usually around 20-26 Celsius (68 F to 78 F) and this is the time of thunderstorms, rainstorms and very windy days (coincides with hurricane season in the Atlantic). Weather can be fairly unpredictable during this time. It can go from a hot sunny morning to a thunderstorm in a matter of minutes!
TIP #1: Many international airlines like United Airlines and American Airlines charge you if you exceed a 50 pound limit on checked luggage. If you can fit everything into a carryon, you can save some money by not paying for a checked bag. Remember that school supplies and toiletries can be purchased in Costa Rica—save your poundage!
TIP #2: Costa Rica is a somewhat formal country. Most people dress in pants. If you want to blend in like a real Tico, avoid wearing shorts in the urban areas. Wearing shorts and tank tops is common in touristy areas, but most people in the city wear pants.
TIP #3: It’s a good idea to line the inside of your suitcase with a trash bag to prevent water damage if it’s raining in Costa Rica when you arrive. Also, pack soaps and other liquids in Ziplock bags to avoid a mess when you unpack!
TIP #4: No room in your suitcase? Wear your clunkiest outfit to the airport to save room in your suitcase!
TIP #5: Before you leave, contact your cell phone provider about international calls. If you’re planning on using your debit card, contact your bank to let them know your travel plan and ask about the international ATM fee. It’s a good idea to keep some cash on you, but have some money on a card in case of emergencies. Many places in Costa Rica take credit/debit cards.
TIP #6: If you’re staying for a month, pack for two weeks and plan on doing laundry. If you’re staying for two weeks, pack for one week and do laundry, etc.
TIP #7: Make copies of your passport, credit cards, and driver’s license. Check out this article for more information about safety.
Okay, enough is enough, let’s get to the list.
Tico Lingo’s Ultimate What to Pack List:
• Swim suit
• Tee shirts/casual shirts
• Tank tops
• Nice top
• Light jacket/cardigan
• Comfy shoes for walking
• Hiking boots
• Sandals (Chacos, flip flops)
• Sports bras
• Body wash
• Shaving Cream
• Contacts / contact solution
• Bobby pins
• Rubber bands / hair clips
• Lip Balm
• Sunscreen (expensive in Costa Rica)
• Bug Spray
• Hydro-cortisone cream for bug bites
• Sleeping pills
• Allergy medicine
• Hand sanitizer
• Motion sickness pills
Remember guys, this is an all-inclusive list. Not everything above is completely necessary, but if you want to be ultra prepared, stick to the list above. Also note that many of these things can be purchased in Costa Rica (i.e. most of the toiletries and medicines), but can also be more expensive. Items such as sunscreen and bug spray can be drastically more expensive than in most parts of the world and it’s usually better to come prepared rather than try and find it here and have it be nearly twice as much.
Hope that helps guys! Let us know if you think of something we missed!
Emily Maulding | Contributing Editor
October 9, 2015