Costa Rica is beautiful and warm any time of the year! Given the tropical climate, it is pretty easy to pack for your vacation to any part of our country. However, certain items are especially important for families to pack in advance when they travel to this Central American paradise.
Adventure Tours Costa Rica has developed this list of “must-have” items to pack for family vacations to Costa Rica.
If you have any questions, feel free to email our travel experts. We are happy to help!
Items for the Airplane
Traveling to and from Costa Rica is easy and fun. But having a few key items always on you will prevent headache in the long run. We suggest that you keep your small electronics chargers handy as you might need to communicate with your transportation company or hotel upon arrival in Costa Rica. We also suggest bringing your own pen on the airplane for completing the customs forms required for entry into Costa Rica, and also back into your home country. This saves you a lot of hassle as well trying to find or borrow something to write with from another traveler. Most airlines do not serve meals on the flights to Costa Rica but do have snack boxes available for purchase. Our happiest guests have their own non-perishable, non-liquid snacks in their bags, especially if they are traveling with little ones. This can be especially important if your children have special items that they really enjoy eating (such as a Goldfish crackers). These types of snacks might not be readily available for purchase in the Costa Rican airport and/or grocery stores for your children to enjoy during your vacation.
The Cost of Items in Costa Rica
We have included items on this packing list that might seem obvious but oftentimes travelers forget them and are then surprised to learn what they cost to buy in Costa Rica. This is especially true for sunscreen and bug spray. Make sure to buy these items in advance of your trip to Costa Rica as due to our high import taxes, these items that you will need on daily basis, can cost up to double (or triple) the retail in your home country. The same applies to the electronics that your family is bringing with them to Costa Rica. Be sure to have all of your power cords and headphones with you. Again, this items are very expensive to buy in Costa Rica if you forget them.
Clothing for Green Season
If you are traveling during the “green” season or the Costa Rican rainy season, make sure to bring items that you can get wet and wear in the rain. Although the rain in Costa Rica is phenomenally warm, it can leave you soaked pretty quickly. It is especially important to bring layers during this time that include a light rain jacket and light pants. We love the idea of bringing layers to keep yourself comfortable when traveling during this time as there is a big change in temperature between an air conditioned room and humid tropical air outside!
Closed Toed Shoes
Closed toed shoes that can get wet (and dirty) are a Costa Rican vacation must-have. If your family plans on taking part in an ATV rainforest adventure, hiking, ziplining, canyoning, or white-water rafting, shoes that are closed are required for safety purposes. First time travelers to Costa Rica are always surprised at how dangerous walking in the jungle can be with all of the mud and rocks that become slippery, especially as they are usually wet. Even if you are traveling to a rainforest mountain town, be aware that many of these pueblos do not have concrete sidewalks. Sturdy walking shoes are helpful to avoiding injuries or uncomfortable walking conditions. Our vote is that you make sure that there is a ton of tread on the bottom of your shoes or hiking sandals (Keens brand is great).
Bring a Bag
Adventure Tours Costa Rica suggests that families traveling together bring at least one beach bag or day backpack with them. This universal bag will be a key part of your daily activities. A backpack can hold souvenirs if you are out on the town shopping or it can hold beach towels and sunscreen if you are having a day at the ocean. Your bag can go with you on day trips to Manuel Antonio National Park or even on a Monkey Tour to hold your families necessities like water, diapers, or snacks.
Packing List for Family Vacations to Costa Rica
• Beach bag or day backpack
• Bug spray
• Cash – this is necessary for tipping
• Closed toed shoes – most outdoor adventures require them
• Hats – if you are prone to sunburns, this is especially important
• Hand Sanitizer – travel sized
• Layers – one pair of light pants and a light sweater or hoodie
• Rain jacket – if traveling in the green season
• Light clothing – sundresses, shorts, t-shirts, tank tops
• Pen – keep it on you during your travel for the customs forms on the airplane
• Phone chargers – keep these handy during your travel to/from the country
• Reusable waterbottle – always have one attached to your backpack
• Sandals or flipflops
• Socks – at least 1 pair
• Snacks – you’ll want these on the airplane and/or in your hotel room
• Sunglasses - for everyone, even for the kiddos
• Sunscreen – waterproof if available (it is expensive to buy this in Costa Rica)
• Swimsuit – we suggest bringing 1 or 2
• Toys – we have found that the happiest little travelers to Costa Rica have their own bag packed with a few toys from home
• Wet wipes – sometimes there is not toilet paper in the bathrooms