Packing for a destination well known for its variable weather conditions like Costa Rica can be a challenge; from freezing night temperatures in the mountains to blistering heat and humidity on the coasts. Conditions can vary greatly in a single day, from hour to hour, and place to place when you are on the move; comfortable easy-care layers is the key, with light cotton clothes as the base. At the lower altitudes you will need your favorite beach gear like water sandals, sunhat, shades and sarong. For higher altitude you will need a light sweater, pants/slacks and a waterproof windbreaker. Bring a jacket for chilly evenings and a set of smart outfit for the unexpected formal occasions.
Nothing will affect your enjoyment of an outing as much as your shoes, they can make or ruin your day; a pair of familiar, comfortable walking shoes that you can take for granted will be your best holiday companion. And if you plan to hike or explore the back country on foot, pack a strong pair of trainers or walking boots, and plenty of socks. Shorts and light shirts are ideal for venturing on trails, but if you are a bug magnet, those lightweight waterproof track pants that can be unzipped above the knees are ideal.
Remember Ticos generally dress well and are conscious of appropriate attire. If you do not wish to attract unwanted attention, do not wander around in shorts in the cities. Try to blend in and respect what is culturally acceptable, for instance, put on a pair of long pants or slacks when going out to restaurants in the evenings.
For those going on long treks during the rainy season from May to November, or those headed for the Caribbean where it is fairly wet all year round other than September and October, a lightweight raincoat is indispensable.
Other useful items for travelers include water bottle, compass, penknife, flashlight, camera and accessories, binoculars, iPod, sunblock and insect repellent. Bring a smaller daypack that can double as a handbag, a money belt to keep your cash and vital documents on you should you need to leave your daypack, a dry bag to protect valuables like watches, music and cameras, etc., and a sturdy plastic bag for wet clothes. Also consider bringing a small dictionary or phrasebook, an alarm clock, a combination lock, a basic first aid kit, prescription drugs and other needed medicines if they are uncommon.
Costa Rica uses the same 110V-60 cycles system as the United States. Europeans appliances will need American flat pin 110V adapters. Many items like batteries, films, toiletries, etc. are cheaper here and can be purchased locally. Remember to pack your travel insurance documents.
ADDITIONAL PACKING TIPS FOR LADIES
* Pack crease-resistant clothes that can be adapted for day or night.
* Rolling rather than folding your clothes will reduce crease and take up less room.
* Travel in the most comfortable walking shoes you have, and pack three other: slip-on shoes, joggers, and something more dressy or formal.
* Use a sealable plastic bag to contain shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, shaving cream and moisturizer; if there is a leak, it will not go all over your toiletry bag, where you have your hair brush, toothbrush, toothpaste and shaver.
* Pack a lightweight jumper or cardigan in your carry-on bag, as some air conditioned places like airports, airplanes, hotels, banks, etc. can be freezing cold.
* Put a small flashlight in your handbag for going out in the evenings, especially in rural area and beach towns.
* Additional items to pack: lip balm with sunscreen, wet wipes, eye drops, bandaids, antiseptic cream, anti-itch cream, feminine hygiene products, needle, threads and safety pins.