Costa Rica Family Packing List

This list is meant to be a guide for a typical vacation to Costa Rica.  Be mindful of what you usually need while traveling to evaluate whether you need everything on this list or if you may need to bring items not on this list.

Documents:

  • Passport (with photocopies, I also suggest leaving a photocopy with someone at home)
  • Itinerary (printed or with Pocket Travel Consultant App) including flight info, lodging, activities, transport
  • Travel Insurance info
  • If you are traveling solo with your child(ren), you may be asked to provide a notarized letter from their other parent that it is OK to take them out of the country
  • Bank contact information (non-1800 numbers) in case you need assistance while traveling
  • Driver’s license

Clothes

If you are traveling for more than a week, I recommend packing for approximately 5-7 days.  Laundry services in hotels and in major tourist areas are common in Costa Rica.

  • Fleece top/sweater
  • Footwear – sneakers or hiking shoes (waterproof if you have them), sandals/flip flops, casual footwear if desired
  • Water-/windproof shell
  • Sun hat
  • Bottoms: 1-2 pairs of long pants/jeans, 2-4 shorts/skirts
  • Tops: 4-6 short sleeve or sleeveless shirts, one long-sleeve lightweight shirt)
  • Sleepwear
  • 1-2 casual nice outfits (simple dress, polo/button down shirt, etc.) for dining out, if you like
  • 5-7 pair underwear, 5 pair socks
  • Bras
  • Towel (for beach/pool)
  • 1-2 swimsuits

Toiletries

  • Sunscreen and  lip balm with sunscreen (reef-friendly is best)
  • Insect repellent (I like Cutter All Family Mosquito Wipes, available on Amazon)
  • Wet wipes/antibacterial gel
  • First-aid kit (travel size portable kits are available at Target or on Amazon and include bandaids, tape, antiseptic cream among other useful items)
  • Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, or other fever reducer/pain reliever (adult and child/infant)
  • Antihistamine
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Rehydration powder (for example, Pedialyte Electrolyte Powder)
  • Cortisone cream
  • Shampoo/conditioner/soap
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/floss
  • Feminine products
  • Shaving supplies
  • Nail clipper
  • Hairbrush, hair supplies
  • Deodorant
  • Contact lens supplies
  • Prescription drugs as needed

Other Essentials:

  • Cell phone, cell phone charger (and plan for use in Costa Rica: roaming data plan or purchase SIM card in Costa Rica)
  • Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
  • Battery power pack/portable charger (for recharging phones on long travel days)
  • Cash, credit and debit cards (be sure to set travel notice with your credit/debit/atm card provider)
  • Moneybelt (I personally don’t use a moneybelt for most travel, but know many travelers do)
  • Day pack (for hikes/walks/excursions)
  • Sunglasses
  • Ear plugs
  • Personal entertainment for each family member (Reading and writing materials, cards, small toys, sticker books, headphones, etc..)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Umbrella
  • Handwashing laundry detergent (such as woolite or tide), sink drain cover, and portable drying line
  • Gallon-sized ziploc bags or similar, 2 per person (for all sorts of uses while traveling – from storing your electronics to separating clothes.

Family/Child-related Items:

  • Carseat (or a plan to rent)
  • Portable high-chair seat (Amazon has My Little Seat Travel High Chair)
  • Diapering supplies for first few days
  • Lightweight travel stroller
  • Formula & 2 bottles, washing liquid
  • Sippy cup
  • Baby carrier
  • Travel crib (or plan for using hotel cribs/beds)
  • Goggles, packable pool/beach toys
  • Food pouches, granola bars, other individually packaged snacks
  • Nightlight

Optional/Activity Specific Items:

  • Sport Sandals or Water Shoes (if you plan to do waterfall rappelling and/or rafting)
  • Drybag (will help keep cameras and essentials dry if you are canyoning, rafting, or caught in a rainstorm)
  • Binoculars

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