On of our favorite places to travel to is Central America and fortunately we get to spend time there every couple of years. It is, after all, where Steve and I met. Sometimes our trips are short ten day trips and other times they are a month or longer, but what I’ve found is that you don’t need to pack more just because your trip is longer. Just pack smarter!
Our upcoming trip is both business and pleasure, but realistically there will be more business. We’ll be scoping out sites for an upcoming yoga and surf retreat. And we’ll be spending our time connecting with the local yogis and surf instructors, meeting with retreat organizers, and local business owners. So we will need gear for business and fun. I was really hoping to be able to take just a carry on backpack, but I will be taking yoga photos and unfortunately I will have to do my hair at least one day on the trip, so I’m begrudgingly bringing a hairdryer and straightener (which I would honestly never suggest bringing, who wants to blow dry their hair when it’s 90+ degrees out!). This trip I will be lugging around extras like: a yoga mat and yoga clothes, a camera, gorilla pod, laptop, phone…. you get the picture. I will be amazed and ecstatic if I can get it to all fit in a carry on bag. I believe in MIRACLES!!!!
A waterfall on the Ruta de las Flores in El Salvador
So I put together this Central America Packing List partially to help myself when it comes to packing for our trip, but to also help others with packing for their upcoming trips to Central America. This list is more geared toward those who will be backpacking/flashpacking in Central America or who will be going on a yoga/surf holiday.
First off let’s talk organization. If you can find a way to organize your stuff that makes sense you will spend far less time digging through your luggage and getting frustrated because you can’t find what you’re looking for. When I first started traveling I used ziploc bags, they’re super lightweight and they’re see-through, so you know exactly what’s in them. Now that I’m getting older, I’ll be 30 in just over a month, I’ve upgraded my organization system and I love it!!! Here’s what I use:
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack(2)
Eagle Creek Pack-It Half Cube (1) and Pack-It Half Tube Cube(1)
REI small compression sack (1) for dirty clothes
Plan A Backpack: Kelty Redwing 40 Internal Frame Pack
Plan B Backpack:Gregory Women’s Jade 60 Backpack
Plastic folder for important documents, receipts, itineraries, etc. (1)
Crappy canvas beach bag (1)
The Sea to Summit bags kick major ass! They’re heavy duty. They won’t tear and they’ll keep your clothes dry even when the rest of your bag is soaked. In my opinion, they are worth every single cent. They’re a little heavier than some of the other dry bags, but really it’s negligible and they’ll pack your clothes down nice and small. If you’re getting one make sure it’s the right size. I usually use one for tops and one for bottoms. I’ll also be using my Eagle Creek half cube for all of my toiletries, sunscreen, etc. and my half tube for all of my little electronics and miscellaneous cords and chargers. This system worked perfectly for our Southeast Asia trip, so I’m assuming it will work just as well this time around.
1 Pair of quick drying socks like Smartwool’s PhD socks
3 pairs of underwear, my faves for traveling are still ExOfficio Women’s Give-N-Go Lacy Low Rise Bikini
Shorts (2) I’m packing my Roxy Board Shorts and my new Nike Women’s Boyfriend Shorts
Tank tops (3) (cheapies from Target)
Dresses (1-2) (lightweight, wrinkle resistant)
T-shirt (1)(lightweight cotton or wicking)
Long sleeve cardigan or zip-up (1)
Rain jacket/poncho like Patagonia’s Torrentshell (1)
Pants (1)(lightweight, quick drying); I’m loving my prAna Halle Pants
The fun part… deciding what clothes to pack. This is always tough for me because I like options, but then I end up wearing the same thing day after day. 3 pairs of underwear is all you will need for any trip (if there is water available for washing) and I still swear by ExOfficio’s Give and Go panties. They are ridiculously quick drying and they’re virtually stain resistant, which is awesome when you get traveller’s diarrhea… seriously accidents happen. And I still love my Roxy Fold-over Boardies….they’re so comfy…although not exactly practical for surfing…I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t stay on in a big wave. And if you’ve been reading my blog you’ve probably heard me rave about the importance of a sarong and it’s multiple uses: skirt, dress, towel, beach blanket, privacy screen, etc…. you get the picture. Don’t worry if you don’t have one…pretty much any major beach destination will have them for sale. Steve and I will be in Nicaragua during shoulder season, May unfortunately is the first month of their rainy season, so I’ll be lugging a rain jacket with me, although an umbrella would do the trick too. But I’m bringing a jacket in case we get caught in a rainstorm while hiking or something. I’m also packing one pair of pants, hoping that I don’t need to wear them. I’ve been loving my PrAna Halle pants…. they’re water resistant, can be turned into capris, and they don’t look as ridiculous as most “travel” pants.
1 pair of trail runners/sneakers (old ones that you’d be okay with leaving behind)
1 pair of flip-flops (like Havaianas), Tevas or Chaco Sandals
I think these are pretty self explanatory: Old sneakers for muddy trails and climbing on rocks and sandals for everything else. The only downside to flip-flops is they’re not so great for climbing over rocks or on muddy paths. If you brought a pair of Tevas/Chacos, you could get away with not even packing sneakers (or socks for that matter). Awesome!
Sunscreen 30 SPF and 15 SPF
Moisturizer/after sun lotion
Ultra-moisturizing conditioner like Alba Botanica Hawaiian Cocoa Butter Conditioner
Minimal make-up (Diorshow Blackout Waterproof Mascara, NARS Duo Eyeshadow, eye lash curler, Burt’s Bees lip balm, Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Concealer, blush) and know that you won’t wear it.
Coconut oil for face, skin, and hair
Kiss My Face Moisture Shave (3.4 Oz.)
Lunette Menstrual Cup
Alba Botanica Natural 3-in-1 Clean Towellettes or other gentle wipe
Small first-aid kit
Pain meds (Arnica, Ibuprofen, Blue Magic, and Excedrin)
Hair dryer/straightener/curling iron (if you must)
Toiletries always take up more space than you want them to. Alba Botanica’s Cocoa Butter conditioner is AMAZING!!! It’s the only thing that has been able to tame Steve’s crazy frizzy curls. I love it because my hair actually feels moisturized after I rinse it out, silky soft and detangled!!! I don’t think I will even go back to Biolage. I hate wearing makeup in the tropics, so I’m kinda bummed that I will be packing it for this trip, but when I do have to pack it waterproof is definitely the way to go and I swear by the Diorshow Mascara and Tarte concealer…. and Nars always has nice color palettes and they go on so smooth. When I’m at home I use Alba’s pineapple enzyme face wash religiously, but I know that when I travel I can be a bit lazy when it comes to washing my face, so their wipes are the next best thing and they’re a lazy girls best friend. Kiss My Face makes the best shave cream, it’s the smoothest hands down and they make it in a travel size… lucky for us. And finally the Lunette cup…. this was probably my best purchase 0f 2013. I use it every single month now and I only use tampons in an emergency. The Lunette lets you wait up to 12 hours (although I’ve gone longer) before changing it, so it’s perfect for long travel days or even just spending the day at the beach….no more soggy tampons. Seriously get one!!!
My trusty million pound Manduka PRO Yoga mat (I might actually take one of my other lighter mats)
Hugger Mugger Eco Bamboo Yoga Towel
booty shorts like my Under Armour HeatGear® Sonic Shorties(2)
Teeki Yoga Pants(1-2)
yoga tanks (2)
sports bras (2)
Calvin Klein Seamless Thong Panty (2)
grapefruit, bergamot, clary sage essential oil blend
I’m torn on whether to pack my Manduka mat or one of my cheapies for this trip. My Manduka is definitely the most comfortable mat I’ve ever practiced yoga on, but I would be pretty bummed if it got lost/stolen…. and it’s pretty heavy. I think it will end up being a last minute decision for me. Between Steve and I we have three of the Hugger Mugger Bamboo towels…. and we need them. We both sweat a ton and they keep our mats from turning into slip and slides…. but they’re kinda bulky, so they may not make it in the bag either. I wonder how my sarong would work as a yoga towel? Under Armour shorties will definitely make it in the bag…. I love them, because they don’t show the cellulite on my butt, they don’t ride up in the front and they pack up nice and small. And I will pack at least one pair of yoga pants, probably my Teeki pants because they also pack up nice and small. And because I’m not quite down with going commando in public I will be packing a couple pairs of seamless thongs, so I won’t have panty lines in yoga class. And I am mildly addicted to my grapefruit, bergamot, clary sage essential oil spray..it’s so lovely and energizing. It’s an instant mood uplifter.
Business Stuff, Electronics, & Miscellaneous
Old Macbook Pro
Digital Camera (Canon EOS Rebel; Point and shoot)
Chargers for all devices
Joby GP3 GorillaPod Tripod
Reusable water bottle
Knife (if I’m checking my bag)
I remember the days of electronics free traveling, but I’ll be working on this trip, so I have the privilege to lug around 20 lbs. of gear… okay, maybe not 20 lbs., but it will seem like it. We will have the cameras, GoPro and Gorilla Pod for yoga and surf photos/video and the Macbook for photo editing and blog/website updating, the Ipod and speakers for yoga music and the old Iphone for phone calls, meetings, reservations, etc. And I’ll be packing my kindle for chill out hammock time. Unfortunately, I think these will all be essential for our trip. Whatever you do don’t forget your headlamp!!! It’s Central America… the power goes out…regularly!!!
Extra Credit Card
Copan Ruinas, Honduras