Packing list for Costa Rica

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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Costa Rica and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always purchase some things locally and have other things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Costa Rica.

General Clothing[edit]

Clothes should be conservative, sturdy, easily washable, and free of the need for ironing if possible. Given the high prices and limited selection in Costa Rica, you probably will not want to buy many clothes in-country. Women should know that although many Costa Rican women wear short skirts, doing so is likely to attract unwanted attention from men.

  • At least two casual tops (e.g., T-shirts or polo shirts)
  • One fleece vest/jacket, one windbreaker and one sweater or sweatshirt
  • One or two swimsuits
  • One lightweight rain jacket or poncho good for going over back-pack, bags
  • Cap or hat for sun protection
  • Running gear (if you run)
  • 10 pairs of socks
  • Belts
  • Pajamas
  • One or two dressy outfits for nightlife (on breaks or workshops) For Men
  • Three pairs of pants for work (denim, cotton, khaki; wrinkle free)
  • Five to seven shirts, some button down and mostly short sleeved
  • Five to seven T-shirts
  • One pair of casual pants (for hiking, painting, etc.)
  • Three pairs of shorts
  • Ten pairs of boxers or briefs
  • One or two ties (sport coat optional) for formal occasions/swearing-in For Women
  • Four pairs of pants for work (denim, cotton, khaki, wrinkle-free)
  • Five or six tops for work (T-shirts, blouses, tank tops, etc.)
  • One pair of dress pants
  • Three casual skirts or dresses and one or two dressy outfits
  • Five to seven bras and/or sports tops
  • Fifteen to 20 pairs of underwear


With the exception of flip-flops, the selection of shoes available in Costa Rica is more limited than in the United States, particularly in larger sizes (over size 9 for women or over size 10-1/2 for men). You may want to bring a two-year supply.

  • One pair of sturdy walking or tennis shoes
  • One pair of running shoes, if you run
  • One pair of waterproof hiking boots or Vibram-soled boots (all parts of the country are wet and muddy during the rainy season; inexpensive rubber boots can be bought locally)
  • Two pairs of comfortable shoes for work (can include open-toe shoes for women)
  • One pair of dress shoes (can include sandals for women)
  • Flip-flops or Teva-like sandals

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items[edit]

  • Regular toiletries (soap, shampoo, shaving cream, body lotion, toothpaste, special floss, etc.) Volunteers recommend bringing economy size of these as the

Peace Corps does not provide for these items[edit]

  • Tampons, if you use them (few brands are available locally, and they are expensive)
  • Any particular brands of over-the-counter medicine you need (the Peace Corps provides some over-the-counter medicine but usually has only one brand for each type)
  • Fast-drying towels—two bath, one beach, and one hand
  • Sunscreen and mosquito repellent, if you prefer a certain type (The Peace Corps provides only one kind of each. Mosquito nets are provided)
  • Refillable razors


  • Two flat sheets or a set for a twin bed
  • A favorite pillow and pillowcase(s)
  • Flashlight
  • Sturdy (larger) backpack or duffel bag for three-tofour-day trips (Many Volunteers say this is essential)
  • Day pack or small backpack
  • Inexpensive water-resistant or waterproof watch
  • Small travel alarm clock
  • Money belt
  • Leakproof water bottle (e.g., Nalgene)
  • Pocket knife
  • Radio, cassette player or discman (with electrical cord); favorite tapes or CDs
  • Shortwave radio (optional)
  • Start-up supply of stationery, pens, etc.
  • Light, stuffable, and preferably waterproof sleeping bag
  • Camera and film
  • A few dollars to tide you over at your pre-departure orientation (or staging)
  • Good scissors
  • World map or lightweight atlas
  • Small iron
  • Photos of family and friends
  • Inexpensive jewelry
  • Backgammon and other travel games
  • Journal
  • Small sewing kit
  • A pair or two of cheap but strong sunglasses
  • Favorite resources for working with children and youth (games, art supplies, icebreakers, etc.); the Peace Corps provides some
  • Cheap items to use as rewards (e.g., stickers, decorative pencils, or erasers)
  • Books in English (to read and exchange; Peace Corps/Costa Rica has a library of novels and resource materials)
  • Rechargable Batteries (while regualar batteries are available locally, they are expensive and/or of lower quality.)

Items You Do Not Need to Bring[edit]

The following items are either available in Costa Rica or provided by the Peace Corps.

  • Disposable razors, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, body lotions
  • Mosquito net
  • Spanish-English dictionary
  • Travel books about Costa Rica or Central America (there are plenty in the Peace Corps library)