Stories by CheapCaribbean

Central America Packing Guide

July 5, 2019 2 Comments

Woohoo! You’ve booked a fabulous trip (or you’re about to) to Central America and now the excitement is kicking in full speed. We know you’re probably anxious to start packing your bags (aren’t we all?), but we can’t let you forget these essentials that are sometimes easy to miss. Here’s a quick Central America packing guide and some insider tips to help you know exactly what you’ll need on your trip!

1. Passport

We know, we know. This one is a bit obvious, but you’d be surprised how many will actually leave home without it! It happens to the best of us every once-in-a-while. Try to pack this first in an easy to reach pocket of your luggage to avoid leaving it behind.

2. Environment-safe sunscreen

We’re all about protecting our oceans and everything in it–and choosing the right sunscreen plays a big role in that. Instead of grabbing any sunscreen off the shelf at your local store, opt for one that’s non-toxic and mineral-based a.k.a reef friendly.

3. Hat

The closer to the equator you vacation, the warmer it gets–but we’re not complaining! Be sure to pack a lightweight hat or two for long days out in the sun to protect your face and neck.

4. Reusable water bottle with a built-in filter

Don’t just stop at non-toxic sunscreen for ocean conservation efforts. Invest in one of these bad boys to limit your use of plastic while on vacay. With these, not only are you reducing plastic use, but you’re giving yourself one less thing to worry about when it comes to safe drinking water.

5. Lightweight rain jacket

Unless you plan on lounging by the beach or pool for the duration of your trip (don’t worry, we’ve all done it), we suggest packing a lightweight rain jacket–especially for a trip to the Costa Rican rainforest. Panama also gets plenty of rain throughout the year, so it’s always a good feeling to be prepared for any kind of weather!

6. Medications

Sometimes even the most careful of travelers get sick–but at least you’ll be prepared! Nothing’s worse than getting an upset stomach or even a headache in a foreign country with unfamiliar medications. Be sure to pack some Advil, Pepto Bismol or any allergy medications you would reach for at home.

7. Comfortable shoes

From hiking up a volcano in Panama and trekking through the Costa Rican rainforest to strolling the cobblestone streets of Cartagena and the sandy pathways of Belize, you’ll want a pair or two of reliable and comfortable shoes. Because, let’s face it–tons of adventure awaits in Central America.

8. Day-bag

Whether you’re headed off to the beach, on a hike through the rainforest or on a snorkeling excursion for the day, you’ll want to have an extra bag with you to keep your belongings in. If you’re traveling lite, then opt for a bag that can easily be folded up and stowed away in your carry on.

9. Hand sanitizer

Between bus hopping, hiking, renting bicycles, shopping, street food and all-day sightseeing, you’ll be glad to have some trusty ol’ hand sanitizer on you. You’ll be thanking us later! (You’re welcome.)

10. Bug Repellent

Hopefully you’re still with us at this point because this may be one of the most important items! Central America is no stranger to those darling mosquitos we all know and love… so we suggest stocking up on the best stuff you can find to keep you and the fam bite free!

And there you have it! Once you have all these travel essentials ready to go with you to dreamy Costa Rica, Panama, Cartagena or maybe Belize, you’re one step closer to paradise.

Rachel Tellez

Storyteller and grammar nerd by day, traveler and adventure seeker by long weekend.


  1. Reply

    Co co

    July 8, 2019

    For hiking in a volcano or trekking in the rain forest, you should use confortable full covered, non slippery boots, confortable long legged pants and long sleeve cotton shirt. Also remember, Cartagena is a city (not a Country) located in Colombia, South America.

    • Reply

      Rachel Tellez

      July 8, 2019

      Hi Co co, thanks for the helpful hiking tips! We also realize Cartagena is a city and that it’s not located in Central America, but we included it in the mix because of its similarities and proximity to those countries. Think of it as a special invited guest 😀