Packing instructions – what to bring and what NOT to bring
Read this entire section before beginning to pull your items together. Read with a hi-liter in hand and mark the things you want to make sure you remember to do. Packing light is an art. As you pack, check off each item so you can easily see what is still missing. Keep in mind, in addition to the clothes you pack you will also have the outfit you wear on the plane! Elementary school supplies to donate would be appreciated.
___ duffel bag or large backpack ___ smaller daypack
___ 5 shirts (tee, camp, safari style) ___ battery charger or extra batteries
___ 1 long-sleeved shirt ___ passport
___ 2 light-weight long pants ___ hand sanitizer
___ 2 pair of shorts ___ watch
___ 5 pair of long socks, not anklets ___ toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
___ modest bathing suit ___ shampoo, bar soap, shaver
___ hat with brim ___ deodorant, hairbrush
___ rain poncho ___ BPA free water bottle
___ underwear ___ sunscreen
___ rubber boots (Wellingtons) ___ insect repellent
___ tennis shoes or hiking boots ___ 1 lg. trash bag and several lg. Ziplocs
___ flip-flops, sandals, or crocs ___ flashlight and/or headlamp
___ sleep wear ___ bandana
___ sweatshirt or windbreaker ___ journal, pens
___ small clothesline, (clothespins opt) ___ camera, memory cards, charger, batteries
___ sunglasses ___ binoculars
Other things I always bring are:
___ cell phone and cell phone charger
___ pocket Spanish dictionary
___ medications and first aid supplies,
___ duct tape
___ alarm clock
___ sewing kit
___ eye glass repair kit
___ hair elastics
___ polishing cloth for glasses (also good for binocs and camera)
___ books to read
___ deck of cards (or Bananagrams or other small game)
___ extra pair of glasses
___ bird field guide
___ trekking poles
In your wallet or passport pouch, you should have:
___ a card with your passport number on it
___ your medical insurance card
___ phone numbers for hotels and tour operator
___ credit card
___emergency contact persons
___air confirmation number or ticket
___ sock liners
___ moleskin to prevent or treat blisters
___ baby powder
___ pocket knife (in CHECKED bag only)
___ pencils & sketchpad
___addresses of people you’d like to send postcards to
If you want to bring a bit of make-up, please think minimal.
Documents: Keep your passport and cash/credit card in a pouch next to your body, inside your clothes, and put a copy of the front page of your passport somewhere else in your luggage as a back-up. Your passport and the copy of the first page or the card with the number on it should not be in the same place! Bring a copy of the phone numbers for our lodges that we provide and leave another copy with your emergency contact persons.
Credit Card: Your credit card company should be alerted that you are traveling outside the country.
Cash: US currency is commonly accepted. Travelers’ checks are unnecessary and not very useful.
Luggage: Bring only one duffel bag, suitcase, or backpack and a daypack. The daypack can also be your carry-on. There are no concierges or bellhops to help with your bags, so make sure you can easily carry everything you are bringing. If you do choose to bring a wheeled bag, the ones with the oversized wheels will work better than the dinky little wheels. In choosing your school donation items, remember they speak Spanish! Number cubes or math flashcards, colored pencils, notepaper, or other paper, scissors, cheap solar calculator, blank CD’s hole punchers, rulers, little paint brushes, that sort of thing. Or go for fun stuff, like harmonicas, playground balls (deflated – we have a pump to re -inflate them!), or whatever else catches your eye. Discard all packaging before tossing any items in your bag!
Clothing: You want clothing made of lightweight cotton, like cotton sheeting, or quick-dry synthetics, no jeans. Underwear made of quick-dry fabric can be rinsed in the shower and hung to dry so you don’t need to bring so many. If your long pants zip off to shorts, they count for both! Long-sleeved shirts with sleeves that roll up also count for both! In selecting sleep wear, consider you may be sharing a room with strangers at some point. T-shirt and gym shorts works well, or short gown. Boots can be inexpensive but should have good tread.
Toiletries and medical supplies: Insect repellent can be spray-on for clothing and lotion or wipes for exposed skin. Unscented biodegradable shampoo and soap are best choices. Baby powder in your socks or bra really helps with chafing and sweat. Hand sanitizer is useful if we eat while on a hike or if you relieve yourself along a trail. First aid kits are stocked wherever we go, but many people like to bring their own Imodium, a couple of bandaids, itch balm, and maybe a broad spectrum antibiotic. If you are a person who experiences gastric upset simply from a change in water or diet, I have found that taking one or two chewable Pepto Bismol tablets before each meal prevents any unpleasantness. Again, please discard packaging materials.
Snacks: Snacks are unnecessary but I know a lot of people wouldn’t dream of leaving home without their trail mix or chewing gum. Just be sure it’s sealed tightly so as not to attract ants.
Plastic bags: If you pack clothes in 2-3 gallon ziploc bags you can keep clean separated from dirty, organize your stuff, and keep it from getting wet. Press the air out as you seal the bag. Extra Ziplocs allow you to keep brochures, ticket stubs, your journal, and other paperwork from absorbing moisture and keep your souvenirs clean. The large trash bag can keep your boots from getting everything else dirty.
Packing your camera, binoculars, and cell phones in a bag with several silica gel packs or even a couple of tampons helps prevent fogging up or moisture damage.
Cell phones: Cell phones will probably not work in CR or the charges could be very high for use. You may want it for use in stateside airports, however, and the internet may work, even if you can’t make calls.
Jewelry: Do not wear or bring any jewelry unless you want to wear a waterproof watch. It is very important to dress modestly and not appear to flaunt your material wealth.
Share space: If you are traveling with friends or family, you can plan to share a few toiletries, battery charger, clothesline, etc.