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Before the pandemic, I hosted a retreat in Costa Rica. Several of the retreat guests brought multiple bags, whereas I just had my backpack and a small carry-on rolling suitcase. Don’t get me wrong — I used to be a chronic over-packer. After traveling to 28 countries in just 18 months, I knew I had to pare things down when my luggage was lost on Mallorca and I was without clothes for days. Here’s my Costa Rica packing list — everything you should bring, and everything you should leave at home.
Costa Rica Packing List
- Passport, driver’s license, COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (don’t forget to complete your Health Pass 72 hours before arrival!)
- Reef-safe sunblock
- 1 interchangeable outfit for each day of your stay (you can pair yesterday’s dress with tomorrow night’s dinner outfit if you wear heels and jewelry)
- Travel insurance documents (make sure it covers your excursions!)
- Cash and credit cards; your bills must be pristine with no folds, marks, writing, or tears on them. If you’re in doubt, just take out cash when you arrive in the country.
- Swimsuit and coverup
- 1 pair of underwear for each day of your stay
- Pajamas (I like to pack a couple pair of shorts and loose t-shirts)
- A lightweight jacket in case of rain
- Bug spray (remember if you’re only packing a carry-on, it must be less than 3.4 oz)
- A wide-brimmed floppy sun hat (this looks great with a sundress!)
- Formal dress if you plan to eat somewhere nice
- Flip flops
- A pair of tennis shoes
- One pair of heels/wedges/platforms
- Shampoo/conditioner if your accommodations don’t provide it
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Dry shampoo (we love Batiste!)
- Makeup wipes (I’m obsessed with Kirkland’s and my mom always sends me home with several packs when I visit her)
- Medications (prescriptions in their original bottles plus any anti-diarrhea or motion sickness meds)
- Cell phone, charger
- Laptop, charger
- Camera, extra batteries and a charger for the batteries
- Kindle with Kindle Unlimited
- Headphones or AirPods
- GoPro + charger + extra batteries
- Refillable water bottle (Costa Rica has safe tap water, thankfully!)
- Purse that’s large enough to take to the beach, too
- A mini fan (I never go anywhere tropical or hot without one! It came in handy when I was stuck in a sweltering hot villa when the power went out thanks to a hurricane in Mexico. I also used it while sitting in the Leticia airport in the Amazon for hours with no AC)
- A sweater (you can wear the sweater on the airplane so it doesn’t need packed — it’s bulky!)
What to Leave at home
- If you’re naturally curly-haired, leave the curling or flat iron at home. It’s probably going to be far too humid for your style to last otherwise.
- Blow dryer (most hotels and Airbnbs have these for you)
- Towels (same reason as above)
- Books or magazines (if you don’t own a Kindle, just use the Kindle app on your phone)
- Denim (it’s just too bulky and heavy)
I hope this list has been helpful in helping you prepare for your Costa Rican vacation. If there’s anything else we might’ve missed out on, leave a comment below!