Deciding what to pack for a weekend trip is hard enough, so what do you pack for a three-month study abroad trip? Obviously, you need to bring the really important things like your passport, drivers license/state ID, insurance cards, credit or debit cards, but like, what else do you REALLY need? After living in Costa Rica for almost three months, I think I can answer that question pretty well. The five categories of things that I, and a couple of my friends, think are necessary or at the very least highly recommended.
First on the list is probably the most important category: layers. Layers are so important for Costa Rica as the country is home to many micro-climates. This means that one section of the country could have vastly different weather patterns than the other. Costa Rica is home to beautiful beaches, but also cloud forests so it’s very important to pack for everything. So, what I mean by layers is that you should have a sweatshirt, a rain jacket, jeans/long pants, as well as your more summer-y clothes that you would expect of a tropical country like Costa Rica.
2. Creature Comforts!
The second most important category for me is creature comforts. What do you mean by that Hanna? I mean the little things that bring you joy. For me this was nail polish, face masks, specific snacks like Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts, and a teddy bear to sleep with. Did I need all of those things? No, not really, but did I want them to make Costa Rica feel more like home? Yes, yes, I did.
3. CVS Aisle!
What I refer to as the CVS aisle are things like Advil, Tylenol, anti-nausea medicine, and allergy medicine. In this category are also shampoo and conditioner if you’re very specific about what you want to use in your hair. Razors, lotions, bug sprays, and sunscreens are also good things to bring along with you from the States, just because they are expensive and hard to find. Some final CVS aisle items to bring are menstrual products as they are very expensive and there are minimal choices on the products that are available.
4. Weekend Bag!
The fourth category really isn’t a category but a thing instead and that thing is a weekend bag. This is a bag whose sole purpose it to travel around the country. Day and weekend trips are inevitable, whether you go with friends or as a program field trip, so that’s why it’s useful to have a bag ready to go.
5. Nice Clothing!
The final category I recommend bringing with you on a study abroad trip is at least one “nice” outfit. Be this a dress, dress pants and a button down, or something along those lines. Think business casual or something that you’d wear to a fancy restaurant.
I hope this run down of items and categories is helpful in deciding what to pack, as it is a very difficult task to do.