We recently brought on a series of guest writers to bring you some informative content from various regions around the world. While we’ve both had short trips to Central America we are novices when it comes to travel information on the region. So, Stephanie Parker from Big World Small Pockets has written this extensive Central America packing list since she has traveled the region extensively.
If you’re headed to Central America, then congratulations, you’re about to visit my favorite region on earth! One of the reasons I love Central America so much is because of its diversity – from Caribbean beaches to volcanic lakes, tropical jungles, and colonial cities, this region packs a mean punch.
However, with this huge range of climates, landscape and things to do, also comes with somewhat of a packing nightmare – how to cater for so many different temperatures and activities with a limited wardrobe?!
Well, here to help you out, is my complete Central America packing list, so that you know you’ll be perfectly ready for anything this amazing part of the world might throw at you.
The Ultimate Central America Packing list
Rain Jacket: You just never know when those tropical storms might hit and when they do, you’ll get drenched pretty quickly! I would recommend putting one rain jacket on your Central America packing list.
Hoodie/Fleece: Essential for evenings and cooler days up in the highlands and cloud forests, a good hoodie or fleece will come in particularly useful for travel in Guatemala and Costa Rica. We also love to bring a great packable down jacket.
Thin Long-Sleeved Top: Ideal for hiking days or traveling on overnight buses when they love to crank that aircon!
Long Jeans: Great for going out in the evening or wandering around cities when the weather is cooler, a pair of long jeans is something you won’t wear a lot, but will be glad when you do
Thin Cargo Pants: Any pair of loose-fitting, thin pants will be ideal for hiking, also if you plan to undertake any volunteer work this will come in very handy. These PrAna pants are some of The World Pursuit’s favorite.
Pair Leggings: One of my travel essentials and so helpful for exercising while traveling, for extra nightwear or for under a casual dress if you don’t feel comfortable with bare legs. Try out these Under Armour pants that are lined with fleece on the inside.
Pair Shorts: You’re going to need something for those beautiful beach days because Central America has a lot of them
Summer Dress: Again a good item for beach days or if you want to dress up a bit during the evening, make sure you take a versatile dress, which you can pair with leggings if the weather gets a bit cooler
Sarongs: You can’t take enough sarongs traveling in my opinion and, as they are so light, I recommend two! This way you can use them as a beach towel, shawl or dress.
Singlets/Vests/T-Shirts: Choose a range of colors that match the trousers /shorts you’ve selected. Try to make one of the tops quick-dri (Champion shirts are great), which will be ideal for when you’re hiking in the humidity.
Bikini / Swimwear: You’re going to need to something to enjoy that amazing ocean, especially if you want to learn to dive or surf during your time in Central America. When I lived on the Corn Islands, I wore almost nothing else!
Pair of Hiking Shoes: Depending on your plans, either hiking boots, hiking shoes or trail runners. Do be aware volcano climbs and jungle treks are some of the best experiences you can have in Central America and you don’t want to miss out. Check out these top travel shoes for more ideas.
Pair of Flip Flops: Essential. Basically the national dress for tourists here! The World Pursuit swears by Rainbow flip flops, they literally last forever!
Pair of Day Shoes: Either converse shoes, pumps, or sneakers are a good option for exploring cities and towns on foot or for putting on when you go out in the evening.
Headlamp & Spare Batteries: Power cuts are notorious across Central America so come prepared to fend for yourself. A good headlamp is a great idea for traveling anywhere in the world.
Adapter: You’ll need a US adapter throughout Central America if you want to charge any of your devices. Try a universal adaptor if you plan on traveling elsewhere.
Think about bringing these things to Central America…
Day Pack: Good for hiking and beach days, I recommend a 10-20l bag that you can fit a water bottle, snacks, sarong and your camera in. Eagle Creek makes great ones that fold up small. Check out our list of the best travel daypacks for more suggestions.
Hiking Backpack: If you’re planning on going on a few extensive hikes I highly recommend purchasing a good hiking backpack before your trip.
Latin America Phrasebook: Having a little bit of Spanish under your belt will go a long way across Central America and I’ve found a Spanish phrasebook to be a great help in this respect. You’ll really engender yourself with the locals and get a much better feel for the culture
Combination Padlock: A combination padlock like this one is very useful for locking up bags if you’re staying in hostels.
Water Bottle with inbuilt filter: None of the water is potable in Central America and the amount of plastic bottles littering Central America is scary. Go green and invest in a filter water bottle, which will limit your use of plastic and save you money too. The World Pursuit travels everywhere with their Lifestraw Go, which filters out 99% of bacteria as well.
Sleeping Bag: If you’re doing any hiking or going remote, this will come in very handy. Also many backpackers on the beach offer hammocks for very cheap rate to sleep in and having a nice and durable sleeping bag will save you a fortune.
About the Author: Stephanie Parker is a travel addict and creator of the budget travel blog Big World Small Pockets. Never one for staying still, she’s always had to travel cheaply to maintain her nomadic lifestyle … even into her 30’s! Originally from the UK, Stephanie likes nothing more than backpacking the world on a shoestring collecting stories she shares with a smile.
Plan Your Trip to Central America
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- Accommodation: To feel more at home we use Airbnb you can check out some tips and read more about getting an Airbnb coupon code here. Or just take this coupon for your first stay!
- Flights: Compare airlines, dates and prices all in one place with Skyscanner.
- Travel Insurance: We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. We ALWAYS travel with travel insurance. World Nomads offers incredible flexible and great plans!
- Guide Book: Sometimes it’s nice just to have a real book in your hands when traveling. We recommend Lonely Planetto get you through the wireless nights.
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