Traveling to Costa Rica

costa rica travel Jan 01, 2024

I LOVE Costa Rica! It is my happy place and I go back whenever I can. I also take students every other year and this page is handy place to keep all the information. For a list of what I, personally, pack, click here: 

  1. Click here for a suggested Costa Rica packing list - plus itinerary that I have put together. This will take you to my Google Drive. (This is from 2020 but 90% relevant)

  2. Traveling with others (Blog by Kelly Ferguson for first time overseas travelers - includes what to pack, 3-1-1 rule, and general tips.
  3. What I pack specifically: 
  4. You will want to check the TSA website on what is allowed as they update it periodically. Click here to access that website.  


Cell phones: My advice is to just use the Wi-Fi and avoid being charged an international fee! Sometimes the busses will have Wi-Fi but all our hotels do. If you want to be able to text at any time, and not just when connected to Wi-Fi, contact your cell phone company and ask them to hook you up with the International Plan. I have Verizon and they make it super easy. I just send or receive a text outside of the country and they automatically switch me over but it costs $10/day. (to avoid the fee, turn off cell service.)

WhatsApp: When connected to Wifi, you can text through your normal texting app but if you want to call and chat with someone back home you will need to use WhatsApp. I will ask everyone to download it when we get closer as I will use that for our group chats.

Adapters: You will need an adapter in Costa Rica to plug into their outlets. Please don't bring anything that generates heat like a curling iron or hair dryer. Even plugged into the adapter, the heat generating item will melt. This is the adapter I have and so far it's been great!

Curling Irons - No! In almost any country, plugging in an American device that generates heat, like a curling iron or hair dryer, will cause your adapter to break. Either use what is in the hotel room or just put your hair up for the day.

  • As many pairs of underwear as there are days plus a few extra (I like to buy cheap undies and then throw them away at the end of the day)
  • Shirts are tricky. Normally, I suggest 1 shirt for every 2 days but Costa Rica can be HOT and muggy. I think more is better especially since t-shirts and tank tops don't really take up much room. Even better will be shirts with built in bras.
  • I suggest 2 pairs of shorts for every 3 days, plus 1-2 pairs of long, quick drying pants.
  • Hiking sandals AND comfy walking shoes and socks (make sure these aren't brand new - you don't want to get blisters.)
  • Swimsuit and towel (you can't pack sunscreen in a carry-on but we can buy it when we get there. you can pack solid sunscreen.) *plastic bag to hold your wet gear
  • This is a great towel to bring as it is light and dries quickly: (You only need a towel for the beach 2 or 3 days of the trip -  no reason to pack something bulky)
  • A backpack to carry around when we are out touring places. This can double as your Under the Seat bag on the plane or you can have a separate day bag. This is what I bring on daytrips:
  • The water is safe to drink in Costa Rica. I recommend bringing an empty plastic bottle to refill so you can stay hydrated. Good for the airport too - just make sure it's empty or they'll make you throw it away.
  • Bring snacks.  Nobody likes to be hangry. I personally pack protein bars.
  • Bring a hat! The sun is much stronger than what we are used to here in Indiana and it's easy to get burned.
  • Bug spray is helpful (but again can't be packed in a carry-on). My experience is that bugs didn't bother me unless I had on some kind of scented lotion. Stay away from scents and the bugs stay away from you.
In a nutshell, all the hotels will have soap, shampoo, and conditioner, but I'm not sure about lotion. Remember, if you can't fit your liquids into the quart bag rule, the airport will make you check your bags. I'm not saying that you can't check a bag, just that it will add a little bit of stress to your trip. Also, please please please do a Practice Pack and walk around with your bag. You will be responsible for carrying it places and if it's too heavy that will make the trip difficult for you!

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