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Whether you plan to catch some waves, explore colonial architecture, eat your weight in gallo pinto, or all of the above (Hint: choose all of the above…) packing smart for a trip to Nicaragua is essential.
Of course, if you’re like me you probably dread packing more than your annual dentist visits. The night before a big trip I end up either having a minor emotional meltdown or binge-watching BBC period dramas while pretending my empty backpack doesn’t exist.
But packing doesn’t have to be difficult. Here is our no-stress guide to packing for a trip to Nicaragua:
What to Pack for Nicaragua
Sam and I strongly recommend traveling with only a backpack. Not only will you save tons of money on airline baggage fees, but you will also have an easier time navigating uneven terrain or cramped public transit (chicken bus, anyone?).
We have been using our Osprey Porter 46L backpacks for the past several years and can’t recommend them highly enough. If my house were on fire, I would run back into the flames to retrieve it. Buy it here
You can read our full review here.
Light, breathable clothing
Nicaragua is HOT. Like surface-of-the-sun, melt-your-skin-off hot. So be prepared to sweat worse than Federer at Wimbledon. Only pack clothes made from light, breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen, and stick mostly to shorts, t-shirts, and tank tops.
It’s also a good idea to pack high-performance, quick-dry clothing designed for hiking or trekking. Like this.
Hiking Boots/Athletic Shoes
Nicaragua is home to loads of adventure activities, so having some good athletic or hiking shoes is essential (I love my Merrell hiking boots).
Whether you’re surfing at the beach or chilling in a volcanic crater lake, the odds are good that your trip itinerary will include a few water-related activities. So be sure to pack at least one swimsuit.
On trips that are super water-heavy, I like to take two so I always have a dry one ready. (Getting into a wet swimsuit is about as pleasant as drinking pickle juice, in my opinion.)
Flip-flops are a must when traveling in Nicaragua. Not only are they great for beach days, but they are also super easy to slip on when walking around the hotel or using sketchy showers. I love my Sanuk flip-flops.
In case I haven’t been clear on this topic already, NICARAGUA IS HOT. The sun can do some serious damage if you’re not careful. Be sure to pack (and actually wear!) a sun hat so you don’t get heat stroke.
Though Nicaragua’s rainy season officially lasts from roughly May-November, there is a chance you will encounter rain no matter when you visit. We recommend packing a light rain jacket so you’re prepared for an unexpected shower (or downpour!).
On bright, sunny days, having a good pair of sunglasses is crucial. But I recommend leaving those designer shades at home, since you won’t want to risk breaking or losing them while hiking or swimming.
A nasty, peeling sunscreen is probably not the souvenir you had in mind. Be sure to pack strong, water-resistant sunscreen, and apply it liberally and frequently. If you’re packing carry-on only, be sure to purchase 3oz or less.
An unfortunate travel reality is that epic adventures often come with a side order of gastrointestinal distress. It’s gross, but true. And though being careful about the food and beverages you consume can greatly reduce your risks, we believe it’s better to be prepared.
We always travel with stomach tablets, since we never know when problems might arise.
Nicaragua is home to numerous mosquito-borne illnesses, and the best way to stay healthy is to prevent mosquito bites from happening in the first place. We recommend taking insect repellent spray or insect repellent bracelets.
We always pack dry bags when we travel. They are great for protecting our stuff during rainstorms or water sports. Buy them here.
With so many active, adventure activities, a GoPro or Action Cam is so much more convenient than lugging around a giant DSLR camera.
We use this one. It’s way cheaper than a GoPro and does a descent job of capturing video.
Outlets in Nicaragua are 120 Volts and use the type A plug (which is the same as in the United States or Canada). Travelers from other regions may need to use a voltage converter/outlet adaptor in order to use electronics safely. This is the one we always take.
Waterproof Cell Phone Bag
Using a waterproof cell phone bag is a great way to protect your smart phone from water damage. Don’t worry, you can still text and take photos while your phone is in the bag. We use some like these.
We used this one.
What to Leave Behind
Though jeans are basically my daily uniform at home, I didn’t bother taking any on this trip. With the scorching hot temperatures, thick denim was the last material I wanted to wear.
Too many Shoes
The easiest way to over-pack is to take a different pair of shoes for every possible occasion. Instead, try to limit yourself to 2-3 pairs MAX. I typically take a pair of flip-flops, a pair of walking/hiking shoes, and a pair of nicer sandals for when I want to look more polished.
Unless you are traveling for business or to attend a special event such as a wedding, leave behind your dressy clothing. Being cool and comfortable should be your top priority.
What items would you add?
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