So, you’ve made the decision to go hiking through Central America. While you may be ready to jet off immediately, you should make sure you have everything you need first. Don’t forget the bug spray—follow this packing list for first-time hikers to ensure your trip runs smoothly.
Documents are crucial to safe and legal travel, and this is especially important when hiking solo or for extended periods of time. Here’s a comprehensive list of documents you may need when hiking in Central America:
- Passport: You can’t enter any country without one of these! Make sure to get yours if you don’t have one. Also, make sure it won’t expire within 6 months of your departure date, as many countries see this as suspicious and will potentially deny you entry. Most Central American countries don’t require prior approval for visas, but be safe and double check on the country’s embassy website.
- Cash: Take some in your own currency and enough cash in the country’s currency. Take as much of your home currency as you feel comfortable carrying, and remember, not every country accepts credit cards or has ATMs.
- Proof of travel: Most countries require proof that you will leave their country within the allotted tourism time, which is typically 90 days. If you plan to go on a long trek, you may not have booked a return flight within 90 days. Be sure to obtain a bus, boat, or other transportation ticket proving your intent to leave the country within 90 days of entry. Without this proof, you risk being denied at the border.
Anything can happen on your trek, and it’s best to be prepared for any possible situation. You know your body and what you’re prone to, so use your best judgement when packing medicine. Some things you’ll want to bring include:
- Any prescription medicine you take
- A painkiller
- Anti-diarrheal medicine
- Antibiotic (if possible) in case of infection on a longer hike
- Motion sickness medication
In addition to any normal toiletries you use at home, (face wash, moisturizer, toothbrush/paste, hairbrush, etc.) take these for a more comfortable time while traveling:
- Pain-relief product: With all the walking, climbing, and physical activity, pack this gel for relief from body aches and pains, and keep it in your bag at all times.
- Pocket pack of tissues or a small roll of toilet paper: These are not usually found in the wilderness, so remember to take your own.
- Soap tablets and hand sanitizer: Soap isn’t a guarantee in public restrooms, so bring some along.
- Sunscreen and bug spray: These can be expensive, so have your own handy.
- Portable charger: This can save your life on lengthy bus rides and hikes.
- Camera: If it’s an expensive model, bring a waterproof case.
This list can be adapted to fit your personal preferences and style, but the following items provide a great base to start with:
- 3 lightweight dresses (for those who like wearing dresses)
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 5 to 7 short sleeve shirts or tank tops
- 1 to 2 long sleeve tops
- 2 bathing suits
- 5 to 7 pairs of underwear
- 2 to 3 bras (for bra wearers)
- 1 hat
- 1 pair of beach shoes
- 1 pair of hiking shoes
- 1 to 2 pairs of water-wicking pants/leggings
- 1 lightweight jacket
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 5 to 7 pairs of socks