FIND OUT WHAT A TRAVEL EXPERT BRINGS WHEN SHE TRAVELS TO THE ISTHMUS OF THE AMERICAS.
Central America has something for everyone, whether it's the sun-drenched beaches of Belize's atolls (ring-shaped coral reefs), the ancient Mayan ruins of Honduras's Copán or the man-made wonders of the Panama Canal.
So it's definitely worth planning a trip! To avoid lots of rain, the best time to go is between November and April (the "dry" season).
If you're itching to visit this tropical paradise, you're probably stressing about putting together a packing list—what you should put in your luggage? This list of packing essentials will help you figure out which top six items you shouldn’t leave home without.
1. Coach Comforts
Since bus service is so affordable and many destinations in Central America lack airports, it’s likely that you’ll do most of your traveling this way. Make your ride as comfortable as possible by planning ahead. For example, you'll never regret packing accessories such as a travel pillow, eye shade and earplugs, which will make it easier to catch a few zzz's while you're sitting upright and packed among other travelers.
2. A Bonus Bag
You never know when you’ll stumble upon a traditional Honduran craft market or spontaneously decide to take a day trip sandboarding on a volcano in Nicaragua. Stash a collapsible daypack in your suitcase, it only weighs 8 oz and will expand into a full-size backpack once you've arrived and allow you to tote your camera, water and daily essentials and other small necessities on mini-adventures. That way, you don't have to lug your travel bag everywhere you go. A daypack is also perfect for days when you’re doing some serious souvenir stockpiling.
3. Waterproof Toys
All seven countries in Central America boast at least one impressive coastline. You’re going to want to remember the moment you went snorkeling in the Corn Islands, and you’ll definitely want to brag when you spot sea turtles nesting in Bocas del Toro. Pack waterproof housings for your electronics (such as Canon’s underwater housings for their point-and-shoot-models and Lifeproof’s line of waterproof and sandproof smartphone cases), so you can record all of your aquatic adventures.
4. Packing Cubes
With cosmopolitan cities, laid-back beaches, and remote hiking trails all on the itinerary, organization is key. Keep your belongings in neat compartments that are easy to access by using packing cubes. Grab a complete collection of Pack-It Cubes, Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes, and Pack-It Specter Cubes, so you'll have a mini-closet on the move. Best of all? You won’t be ripping your entire suitcase apart looking for your favorite swimsuit when you hit the Bay Islands—you'll just grab the right cube and go!
5. Water Bottle
You might be surprised to learn that some destinations in Central America offer clean, safe drinking water straight from the tap—including almost all regions of Panama. But when you're in regions that don’t, a Clearly Filtered water bottle will filter tap water as you drink it, allowing you to access drinking water from any tap or freshwater source. This will save you from having to purchase water bottles daily, which is better for your wallet and the environment, so it's a must on your packing list.
The sun is, of course, stronger the closer you get to the equator—and that big, horizontal line lies pretty close to Central America. While you would think that sunscreen would be available throughout the region, you might be surprised to find that it's considered a tourist product and, therefore, you’ll likely find only a limited selection at inflated prices. So stock up before your trip.
What else would you put on your packing list for Central America? Comment below!
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Alexandra Baackes is a traveling writer, designer, and underwater videographer. She is currently in her forth year of living as a full-time nomad—follow along at alexinwanderland.com!