January 5th, 2016

What to Pack for El Salvador: The 5-Step Solution

Planning a vacation to El Salvador? These five essential packing tips will make your life a lot easier—guaranteed. 

El Salvador is a country that has everything at all ends of the spectrum: busy streets and tranquil tropical forests; kind local people and teeming wildlife; active volcanoes and roaring waterfalls. There are as many El Salvador vacations as there are travelers: Active types might hit the trails in the rain forest to spy on native animals and spot waterfalls; do-gooders can spend the day volunteering at an orphanage; and thrill-seekers can try sand boarding down the slope of a volcano.

One constant? Anyone venturing out to El Salvador has plenty to consider when packing their bags. Sorry, there isn’t one perfect packing list. But we can help: These five tips will cover the packing basics for anyone planning a trip to El Salvador.

Step 1: Mind Your Health

El Salvador’s delicious food, beautiful beaches, and lush rain forests are met with pollution, low quality water, and questionable quality control when it comes to food. Be proactive with these challenges when you’re packing. Always put together a first aid kit stocked with the proper medicine. Ibuprofen, allergy medicine, cough and cold medicine, motion sickness pills, antacids, bug spray, disinfectant, and sunscreen cover a myriad of illnesses. Make sure you take steps to fight off germs by bringing hand sanitizer and tissues.

Mind Your Health Tip: Knock out two birds with one stone by packing soap that doubles as body wash and can be used for your laundry. Avoid checking liquids and gels, and use a TSA-friendly Silicone Bottle Set.

Step 2: Pack for Everything

It’s almost always hot and humid in El Salvador, and you never quite know what each day will bring. Leave room for spontaneity, and pack clothes for all the activities you think you might do. Fill your bag with a swimsuit, quick-drying shirt, raincoat, lightweight pants or shorts, socks, shoes, and sandals. You should also bring a hat to keep the vicious sun off your head all day. The culture’s very relaxed in El Salvador, so no need bring dressy clothes.

Pack for Everything Tip: Pay attention to the weather, and know whether you’re planning your trip during the rainy or dry season.

Step 3: Care for Your Feet

Use the less-is-more approach when it comes to packing shoes. There’s no need to pack a pair of heels or dress shoes. All you need is a sturdy pair of shoes that will protect your feet and give you some support should venture off the beaten path. The only other pair of shoes you need? Sandals. Locals live in their sandals, and they’re by far the most comfortable footwear option.

Care for Your Feet Tip: Keep your grimy shoes and sandals separate from your clothes, and stuff them in a shoe sac.

Step 4: Be Self-Sufficient

The last thing you want is to be unprepared. Have an idea of what you’re doing for the day, and pack accordingly. Make sure you have your sunscreen and bug spray, first aid kit, an extra shirt, bottled water, and a translation book on you at all times.

Be Self-Sufficient Tip: On your trip to El Salvador, pack your clothes, shoes and toiletries into a bag that fits in the overhead compartment of a plane, and leave your electronics in a small bag that fits underneath the seat in front of you. That bag can also double as your day pack while you’re roaming the streets.

Step 5: Bring What You Need

Keep your load light and avoid bringing your entire office of electronics. Most hotels, hostels, restaurants, and coffee shops do have Wi-Fi, so bring a laptop, phone, and chargers to connect to the internet, respond to some emails, upload photos and videos, and check in with loved ones. One of the nicest things about traveling to El Salvador is that the US Dollar is the national currency. When you leave for the day, secure all your personal belongings in a safe, and hide the money you’re bringing with you. No need to draw attention to yourself with bulging pockets.

Bring What You Need Tip: Keep all your valuables—like money and your passport—concealed in a money belt or neck wallet.

Justin Fricke is an office dweller by weekday and a rock climber, hiker, surfer, cyclist, runner, and all-around adventure junkie by night and weekend. The Weekend Warrior is where he keeps records of all his adventure, gear reviews, tips and tricks. You also find him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

by Justin Fricke

Justin traded in his cushy desk job for a life on the road. He's spending a full year living in a converted Sprinter Van with his brother while they climb, surf, and explore all 50 states in one year. Follow his blog, The Weekend Warrior, where he keeps tabs on their adventures. You can also find him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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