What NOT to pack when traveling through Central America

Pretty much everything that Eli and I packed (clothing wise).

I´m a planner, always have been, so naturally when we decided to travel to Central America I spent hours researching. I know I will always look like a tourist, there´s no way to hide it, I just don’t ever want to be THAT tourist. You know the one who sticks out like a sore thumb, walking around wearing flip flops with socks, loudly asking if anyone speaks english, wearing apparel that no one in the country would EVER wear.

So I researched and researched until I felt like my eyeballs were going to shrivel up and fall out of my head. ¨Don´t wear shorts¨ they said, ¨no one wears shorts especially guys¨ they said, ¨People dress pretty fancy and girls don’t wear short dresses or skirts.¨. So Eli and I packed pretty nice clothing and only our favorites. Collared shirts, pants and long flowing skirts.


When sitting comfortably behind my computer at home packing cute fashionable clothes sounded like a great idea. Panamanians don’t wear shorts. Alright, we won’t wear shorts don’t want to stand out you know. Stupid, Stupid Stupid. Hiking shoes? Who needs those in countries that are filled with ancient ruins, jungles, and gorgeous landscape. Especially don’t need them if we are going during the rainy season, there is no way there will be any mud. *face palm*

Honestly, I don´t know what I was thinking. I think I got too caught up in what people were saying not to bring and not to wear. I forgot that there is no way I can wear long pants on swelteringly hot days. I’m from Oregon where humidity is not a thing. I do need hiking shoes, duh. Also, we have learned that Central America is where some of your clothing items come to die. It´s so hot and sticky that we will not be returning with all the clothes that we have packed.

So having been in Panama for exactly 3 weeks about 4 days out of our four month adventure I’ve decided to write a revised packing list of what I should have brought


  • 1 pair of hiking shoes
  • 1 pair of nice sandals (like Birks)
  • 1 pair of flip flops that can get destroyed, throw out at any time


  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 2 skirts (one long and one short)
  • 8 shirts:  2 well loved nice shirts, that hopefully wont be staying here for the rest of their lives, 3 shirts that are nice but can totally spend the rest of their lives here and only a small tear might be shed, and the 3 shirts that can get dirty, be worn on hikes, will live here forever
  • 3 dresses
  • 2 pairs of athletic shorts (personally I like skirts and dresses more and don’t tend to wear shorts so I only brought a pair for hiking)
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 sweater or cardigan
  • 2 swim suits
  • 1 sarong to quickly throw over my swimsuit
  • Undies

Not packing hiking shoes was the biggest mistake I made and I will definitely be having my parents bring me mine or mailing them to me. At first I thought that packing 8 shirts was a little much but we do laundry very, very rarely… So, in a nutshell Eli and I needed to bring more clothes that could get dirty and ruined because it´s muddy and rainy here, weird.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks for the amazing tips. My fiancé and I are planning a trip for South and Central America in the next year or so, and I too am a planner. What has been your favorite part of this trip?

    1. I’m so glad you found them helpful! My favorite part has definitely been Bocas del Toro. That town is so amazing. It has the perfect amount of adventure and laid back vibes. My boyfriend and I didn’t want to leave, we totally got sucked in and are planning to head back soon. When we were there we did this day sailing trip, on the boat Jäger Knight I’m not sure of the companies name but I wrote about it in my post about Bocas, with our friends and it was the best $40 we have spent our whole trip, we had a great time!

  2. Wear shorts. Every day.
    Smirk when the locals stare jealously as their legs are drenched in a river of sweat from wearing pants in the summer.
    lightweight hiking or running shoes are a must too like you said.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: