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packing to travel to costa rica

What to Pack for Costa Rica – A Checklist

A beautiful country of magnificent nature that also boasts extensive cultural and historic heritage, Costa Rica attracts millions of visitors from across the globe.

The dry season lasts from mid-December to April and is the best time for a Costa Rica trip. However, even if you visit Costa Rica during the rainy season, you’ll find that the country is still worth exploring. The rainy season may need additional preparations and pieces of clothing in your luggage, but you’ll never have to bring more than a lightweight rain jacket and waterproof, comfortable shoes.

So, what should you pack for your Costa Rica visit? Here’s a list of essentials that will give you convenience and comfort, regardless of your stay’s length and intent.

Consider the Fun Activities You’re Planning to Enjoy

Luggage planning should take into account the fun things you plan to do while staying in Costa Rica.

Travelers planning to practice water sports will need different items from the essentials required for visitors who intend to hike in the national parks. Digital nomads will need to consider their work while also enjoying the beautiful beaches and other natural treasures this tropical country has to offer.

When you have these specifics sorted out, you can move on to packing the essentials for your travel days in Costa Rica.

water sports in costa rica

Travel Essentials Packing List

Let’s start with what matters most and can’t be easily replaced or bought if forgotten back home. The list of must-haves for an international trip begins with the following:

  • Passport and ID (as well as other documents like travel insurance)
  • Return tickets
  • Driver’s license (if you intend to rent a car)
  • Money and credit card
  • Cell phones, phone battery, charger
  • Primary travel laptop, travel adapter, USB cables, etc.
  • Medications and toiletries (including reef-safe sunscreen, rash guards, and effective bug repellants)
  • A large backpack or a suitcase
  • A small backpack for day trips

Clothing and Shoes Packing Guide

Costa Rica’s weather and climate are relatively stable, which is why you don’t need too many clothes unless you’re an influencer! If you’re a mere mortal looking to enjoy a good time in Costa Rica, here’s a quick packing list that will come in handy when you’re planning:

  • Comfortable and casual clothes (in line with the types of activities you’re planning to enjoy: water activities, sports, hikes, cultural exploration, etc.)
  • A couple of swimsuits
  • Sarong, beach cover-up
  • Closed-toe shoes for hiking, a pair of flip-flops for the beach, and a pair of sturdy sneakers
  • Light jacket (or a comfy sweater or hoodie)
  • A raincoat
  • A pair of pants made from lightweight fabrics (cotton, linen) or sports apparel that wicks away moisture and dries fast
  • T-shirts, shorts, tank tops, sports bra
  • A pair of sunglasses
  • A sun hat

There isn’t an official dress code and visitors aren’t expected to put on certain kinds of clothes while in Costa Rica. So, stick to the quick packing list above and bring the stuff that you love wearing. The beach towns have a very relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. You’ll feel comfortable regardless of what you’re wearing and there’s no need to worry about how you look and if your apparel is appropriate.

Travel Essentials

Day Backpack Packing Guide

Anyone intending to enjoy various fun activities in Costa Rica must bring a small backpack for day-long trips and outdoor activities. Costa Rica’s zip-lining, forest adventure, horseback riding, watersports, and hiking opportunities are renowned across the globe. To prepare for the vast majority of these adventures, you’ll need to feature the following essentials:

  • A backpack that has a capacity of about 25 liters
  • Insulated water bottle (a reusable water bottle is fine as tap water is perfectly safe to drink in Costa Rica)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Mineral and reef-safe sunscreen
  • An umbrella or a waterproof jacket (especially if you’re visiting during the rainy season)
  • Money
  • ID
  • A camera
  • Techy travel essentials you may need during the trip (a power bank, cables, flash drive)
  • A pair of sunglasses, a hat
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit and some medications, especially if you’re taking medicines for a chronic condition
  • Waterproof cases and pouches for your phone, money, and documents
day backpack

Other Things You May Want to Bring

Costa Ricans are quite helpful and will aid you if you were to need some travel essentials. Most tourist places will also be equipped with essentials.

If you feel more comfortable bringing your own stuff, however, consider getting the following essentials as a non-mandatory part of your luggage:

  • Laundry bags and reusable shopping bags
  • Small hair dryer
  • Ear plugs
  • A dictionary or a travel guide if you don’t speak any Spanish
  • Map if you’re an old-school traveler who isn’t that keen on using the phone’s GPS
  • A pair of binoculars if you are into nature exploration
  • An anti-theft travel belt or another piece of favorite safety travel gear
  • Antibacterial gels and alcohol-based disinfectants
packing up

Responsible Travel Tips: What Not to Pack for Your Costa Rica Trip

Many travelers tend to go overboard with their packing list. If you want to avoid overpacking, here are some of the items you don’t need when you’re traveling to Costa Rica:

  • Expensive jewelry, especially small items that can easily get lost in the sand
  • High heels and other shoes that aren’t comfortable (unless you’re planning a glamorous date night with your significant other)
  • Bulky rain boots – they will take up too much space and are useless in Costa Rica
  • Lots of credit cards – your favorite travel credit card should suffice
  • A large amount of cash (most tourist hotspots have a couple of ATMs and card payments are also acceptable across the country)
  • Too many travel tech gadgets, especially if you’re not one of the digital nomads who’ll be doing some work while staying in Costa Rica

If you are going to visit the coastal area, you’ll see that you only need a few outfits and good toiletries to enjoy the most spectacular stay in Costa Rica. And even if you’re missing a couple of essentials, shopping opportunities abound.

So, take some time to plan your luggage in a smart and properly optimized way. Bringing only the items you need will give you convenience and ensure ease of travel. Have an amazing time during your Costa Rica trip!

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