First of all, I would like to introduce you all to my new traveling companion Passepartout. Owls represent good luck here in Central America and so small and large ceramic owls abound. I wanted a little partner for my travels and he seemed perfect. I named him Passepartout after Phileas Fogg’s faithful valet and traveling companion from the book Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. It seemed appropriate. So far Passepartout has accompanied me to Mexico, to the east coast of Guatemala, and to Belize.
Due to the fact that I am always looking for travel things on the internet, travel-related articles frequently pop up on my Pinterest and Facebook pages. Often there are articles about packing light: what to bring, what not to bring, how to pack in a carry-on, etc. I frequently read these articles and think, Wow that is still way more stuff than I would bring. I don’t think I actually pack particularly light, but apparently I pack lighter than some. Every trip I pack lighter, it seems.
Today I am packing for four days in Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica. Now four days is a long weekend, by no means a serious trip. But I don’t pack a whole lot differently than I would for two weeks or three weeks away. I like to pack light because I always end up carrying my belongings more than I expect to. On this trip in particular I’m motivated to pack light because on my day-long layovers in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, I’ll be carrying everything with me as I sight see between flights. So I’ll share here what I’m bringing on my trip south through Central America.
4 shirts (no extra clothes allowed. There was a time when I would bring whole outfits I didn’t need “just in case,” but I don’t do just in case anymore)
Zip-off/convertible pants (can be pants or shorts and they dry quickly)
Swim-suit (not pictured but I am bringing one)
Two pairs of socks and two pairs of underwear (On this particular trip I know I’m going to be at the same hotel for three nights, so I’m bringing enough for Sunday and Monday. I’ll wash today’s and Sunday’s on Sunday night which will give me enough for Tuesday and Wednesday. If I were moving every day I would have to bring enough to last at least until I could find a laundromat)
Scarf (for dressing up a little if that becomes an issue, head covering/shoulder covering if I need to be a little more modest for something, light blanket for the plane if I get chilly, sarong/beach cover-up…it serves multiple purposes)
Teva sandals (beach shoes, river walking shoes, shower shoes. They are good for lots of things.)
I am wearing jeans, tennis shoes and a tank top, plus my Fitbit/watch. I decided against bringing a jacket, finding it unlikely I will get cold on this trip. A jacket is a big commitment for me, I have to really feel like I’ll need it to warrant the space/weight.
Small bar of hotel-stolen soap (I only use this if the place I’m staying doesn’t provide soap. Even hostels frequently do. But I have a backup if not)
Shampoo and conditioner (I only fill the mini bottles halfway up for a short trip like this. I don’t need much for four days and it saves on weight)
Toothpaste, toothbrush and dental floss
I’ve pretty much stopped wearing makeup so I don’t bring any of that. No hair products either. I’m pretty easy going.
Being a nurse, it’s hard for me to not try to prepare for the worst possible scenario. Instead I try to bring enough to make myself feel well enough to get to a pharmacy and get what I really need. So for this trip (and this doesn’t really change for longer trips) I’m bringing
Three Epi-pens (I am allergic to bee stings)
Four Pepto-Bismol tablets
A small container with Tylenol, Ibuprofen and Aleve
One dose of Dayquil and one dose of Nyquil
Six Cipro tablets (Antibiotic. Treatment for traveler’s diarrhea)
Two tablets of Benadryl
Water bottle (empty through airport security and then refilled. Unfortunately drinking fountains are not an option in Central America, so that means buying water. But this bottle stays tighter in my water bottle pocket, so its preferable to the ones I’ll buy)
Kindle (no hard copy books. The Kindle is so much easier and lighter)
Phone charger (my Kindle and Fitbit both have long enough battery lives that I only bring chargers for them for longer trips. I just make sure they’re fully charged before I leave)
Quick-dry towel (small, lightweight, good for beach or anywhere else that I might not have provided towels)
Earplugs (Central America can be notoriously loud.)
Plastic bag (good for all kinds of things. Wet swim suit seems to be my most common use, however)
Rain-cover for my backpack
Portable day pack (I love this item so much. REI special, it folds into a tiny pouch smaller than the palm of my hand and unfolds into a good-sized day pack. I use it if I’m going out for the day and have more things than will fit in my purse: lunch, water, etc. It’s so small and light I can justify bringing it just in case. I don’t think I’ve ever gone a trip and not used it)
Sunglasses, journal, wallet, two pens, emergency phone number list
And that’s it. Everything listed here easily fits into my purse and carry-on bag. In fact my carry-on bag is less than half full. If I were going on a longer trip I would bring enough clothes for a week, and plan on washing clothes once a week for the duration of the trip. Pretty much everything else would stay the same, except for maybe a jacket or sweater if I were going to be in a colder climate.
I’m going to Guatemala City in a few hours to spend the night in a hotel, then I fly out to Nicaragua early tomorrow morning! Don’t forget you can follow me on Instagram. I post more pictures and updates there than anywhere else.