Packing Recommendations

Costa Rica has many micro-climates. We suggest you pack for a variety of temperatures. Generally, Costa Ricans dress very similarly to Americans from the US, but dress up more. Bring the clothes that you are normally used to wearing, but please carefully read over our packing recommendations!


  • You may bring 1 large suitcase, 1 small carry-on suitcase, and 1 personal item like a laptop. (Most airlines charge fees for additional checked baggage and overweight baggage, check your airline’s website for details)
  • Backpack or duffel bag - you will want one bag big enough to fit up to 3-days outfits for weekend excursions.
  • Small day pack that you can take on day hikes, activities and to class.


  • Pack light: leave a little room for the things you will buy while abroad
  • Lightweight clothing (especially for weekend excursions)
  • Several pairs of jeans or pants. Although people do wear shorts, they are more likely to wear jeans or pants (both men and women).
  • “Going out clothes”—something you can wear to the theater and out to dance.  For example nice jeans, a nice top, and nicer shoes (guys, pay attention here!). Costa Ricans tend to dress up more when going out.
  • Costa Ricans generally dress up a little more than US students, i.e. they do NOT wear pajama pants, cut-off shorts, athletic clothing, or sweatpants to the university.
  • While at the University it is common for students to wear what we would characterize as “going out” clothes or “business casual”. Shorts are not common to wear to school, although if “dressed up” they would not only be more customary to the situation, but also trendier.
  • Sweatshirt/fleece/sweater/jacket—bring a few it because can get cool in the afternoon and night.
  • Swimsuit
  • Rain jacket
  • Windbreaker/warm-up pants (optional, but can be useful for cloud forest, hiking, and canopy tour to keep you warm and dry if it is rainy and windy).
  • Fleece, sweater, light sweatshirt or hoodie (for Poás Volcano)—you’ll need it!


  • Comfortable walking shoes for walking in the city and hiking. Make sure you break them in before your trip.
  • Sneakers for jogging, gym, soccer, or other sports.
  • Water sandals with a back strap (not flip flops) for rafting. You want shoes that you can get wet but will protect your feet and not fall off in a current. (Aqua Socks, Tevas or Chacos sandals, or sneakers.)
  • Flip flops; typically, in Costa Rica, you have one pair for inside the home. House shoes are an important part of Latin American cultures.


  • Camera and batteries/charger
  • Laptop computer and flash drive/memory stick
  • Toiletries
  • Insect Repellent
  • School supplies: notebook, pens, pencils, English-Spanish Dictionary
  • Sun hat, sun glasses, and sun block (these are available in Costa Rica, but are much more expensive)
  • Compact umbrella
  • Water bottle
  • A wristwatch with an alarm setting or travel alarm clock
  • Bath towel to use at host family.
  • Beach towel or Sarong for traveling to the beach/waterfalls etc. (Most students prefer to use a Sarong rather than a beach towel because it is lightweight and dries quickly. You can purchase them in Costa Rica for around $12.)
  • You can purchase shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. in Costa Rica. Keep in mind that imported brands are more expensive than in the US.


You can definitely bring your laptop! This is great for communication (especially Skype). Increasingly you will find WiFi at the homestay, the school, and at cafés in town. Please be careful, though. This is an item that can get stolen or damaged easily so just be careful with it. Remember, you do not always need to carry your laptop with you, in fact we highly recommend you do not travel with it locally. There are computer labs at the school and Internet cafés all over town so sometimes it’s easier to just use a public computer when you are away from your homestay.


Bring an extra pair of clothes & toothbrush in case your luggage gets lost or delayed by your airline. Keep all valuables with you in your carry-on.


If you do bring valuables like a laptop, iPod, digital camera etc. please be aware that there is always a risk that these can get lost/stolen/damaged. It is a good idea to have expensive possessions insured while abroad—there are companies online that will do this for a fee. Also, our advice is that you do not take your laptop outside of your host family’s house.


  • Prescription drugs to last for the duration of your stay, original prescription (some medicines may not be available in Costa Rica).
  • Extra prescription contact lenses.
  • Personal first-aid kit with band aids, aspirin, anti-bacterial gel, etc.