Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Costa Rica: What To Pack Checklist

Suite case options - brought the one on the left.
  • Suitcase Ignas is anti checking in luggage whenever possible so since I began traveling with him, I've learned to pack light. For 10 days in Costa Rica, I went with the suite case on the left. My dog Maxwell is being used for scale. :)
  • Passport: Make sure that your passport will still be valid for at least 3 more months after your departure date.
  • Cash/Credit/ATM: I brought about $200 in cash. I definitely spent more than that but I didn't want to carry too much.  Many places took credit cards. Ignas also has a checking account with Capital One so he withdrew cash without any additional rates. Also, a lot of places took US dollars. Stay away from currency exchanges - their rates are ridiculous, especially at the airports!
  • Departure Tax: It was $28 to fly out of the Liberia airport but have cash on you because credit cards are charged as cash advances.
  • Extra Bags: I brought 2 reusable tote bags with me to carry beach items or wet towels. If you're planning to pick up a lot of souvenirs, you may consider packing a collapsible duffle to put everything in on the way home.
  • Ziploc Bags: I brought at least 6 gallon sized and quart sized Ziploc bags. I used them to keep things dry, dirty laundry, wet shoes, sea shell collecting, toiletries, etc.
  • Cell phone: I called my cell phone carrier to let them know that I was leaving the country. I basically deactivated everything except data since Wi-Fi is widely available. 
  • Hat/Handkerchief: I brought both but I should've just went with the handkerchief (see the purple handkerchief in the picture below). I rarely used my hat.
  • Cameras/Memory Cards
  • Hiking Snacks: Nuts, crackers, trek mix
  • Small Flashlight: Essential for the night hikes and just overall handy to have.
  • Pocketknife: Ignas brought this - another handy thing.
  • Clothes: Mind you, I am a girl. Perhaps Ignas will post his man attire in a future entry. 
    • Underwear (top and bottoms)
    • Socks
    • Sports bras - I brought 2 and in retrospect, I wish I had brought more. By the end of the day, my sports bra was either soaked from the rain or my own sweat. Washing them in the sink was no problem but wet clothes never seem to dry in Costa Rica so on the third day, I had no choice but to wear a wet bra to start the day - not that big of a deal but still, I would've brought at least one other sports bra.
Donning my typical Costa Rica gear.
    • Waterproof pants - These were awesome. In Monteverde, it was too cold to be trekking around in shorts so these light, waterproof pants kept me warm and dry. 
Waterproof jacket by the North Face - this is a size Large in Girls, cheaper and more form fitting!
    • Waterproof jacket - This was a lifesaver. Throughout our zip lining session in Monteverde, it rained and it rained hard. I was the only one who had waterproof anything in our group and after zip lining, everyone else was a walking sponge.
Spots bra, active top, active bottoms, Keen's.
    • Active shorts/tops - I brought 3 of each and I pretty much wore these clothes every day. I also brought 2 long sleeve tops for layering.
    • Swimsuit - I brought two pairs along with a rash guard. 
    • Swimsuit cover dress
    • "Fancy" clothes - I packed two summer dresses of which I only used one. 
    • Casual clothes - I packed 2 tops and 2 bottoms (1 shirt, 1 tank, denim shorts, white shorts). 
  • Rain Ponchos: I brought 3 which I gave to everyone else in our group since my waterproof jacket/pants kept me dry. Ponchos were a must in Monteverde.
  • Shoes:
    • Flip flops for the beach
    • Flip flops for walking around town
    • Keen's (river sandals) - I used these pretty much every day.
    • Running shoes - I wore these in Monteverde since it was too wet to wear my Keen's. 
    • Girls, don't bring heels - not worth it. 
  • Hiking Backpack: This is a must. I got mine for cheap from Big 5. It has so many compartments yet it's compact. 
  • Sunglasses
  • Toilettries
  • Sunscreen and lots of it. Girls, I brought a mineral foundation for my face that had sunscreen in it. Very easy to put on and won't clog pores! The boys ended up using it too :P
  • Wet Wipes: I brought this huge 40 pack and though we did use wet wipes, we didn't use anywhere near 40. 
  • Antibacterial Gel (like Purell)
  • First Aid: Band aids (waterproof), antibiotic ointment, painkiller, stomach stuff, etc.
  • Mosquito Repellant: Be aware of DEET and non-DEET products. Some people can be very sensitive to DEET. Me, on the other hand, I slathered it on. Don't forget your ears and face!
  • Towel: We brought compact gym towels (yoga towels) that came with their own carrying bags and they were so handy. You don't need something that's too absorbent because you'll dry in 5 minutes by standing in the sun. You'll need it for laying down because Costa Rican sand is HOT. Since we were constantly moving from hostel to hostel, we had to have our own towel.
  • Water Bottle: I brought one and in retrospect, I would've passed on it. We went to local markets several times and bought bottles of water there.
  • Laundry Detergent: We never ended up actually doing laundry at a machine but I did use the detergent to hand wash my clothes in the sink. Get a pack/bottle that is resealable since you will likely not be doing one full load if you hand wash like I did.
  • Binoculars: We went bird watching so it was cool to have these. Plus, they easily fit in my backpack. I wouldn't say this is a must for everyone though.
  • Map: We came to Costa Rica without a good map. I had only brought a map that came with one of our guidebooks. Thankfully, Gerald, the owner of the Sleeping Indian Hostel, saved us by giving us his. Here's a picture of it. If you plan to rent a car, you definitely need a map like this. Even with this, there were times when we got lost.
Bring a GOOD Costa Rica map, especially if you are renting a car and driving yourself around.

I think these are the essentials. Keep in mind that you can probably buy most things there.

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