What I’m Packing for 3 Weeks in Central America

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We are one week away from taking off for what will be my first back-packing adventure. It will also be my first time traveling for this lengthy amount of time (no, my time in Kiev doesn’t count- I lived there, I wasn’t traveling). So, I’ve been doing more than my share of research (aka Pinteresting) about how to pack efficiently. I am a notorious over-packer, and I’ve never been ashamed of it:


I couldn’t have said it better

I have gladly paid the “over-weight” charge at airlines time and time again. However, this time is different. This time, there will be no wheels. Only my back. And the only thing that might be worse than not having the perfect outfit or accessory is having to hike for 20 minutes to get to your eco-hostel with sore shoulders and the weight of the world on your back (I imagine it would be worse, anyways). 

So, after literally hours of research, planning, shopping, and preparing, here’s the breakdown of what I am packing (and what I am leaving behind):

My Carry-On

I know, it’s not pretty, but such is life when you’re about to become a backpacker. Even though it is not a classy or stylish shoulder bag, my carry-on is actually pretty cool. It’s a packable back-pack that is full size, but folds down into a built in pouch with a zipper. I will use it as my day pack while we are traveling as well. Apparently everything should serve more than one purpose if it is worth taking!

I am also sticking a small tote inside the backpack. I will put my cross-body purse and only the things I actually want to access during my flight in the tote, and then the backpack can go in the over-head storage compartment. More leg-room for me!


One pouch filled with essentials after an entire day of traveling:

  • deodorant
  • a travel-sized toothbrush and “Toothy Tabs” which are an amazing product from Lush that are actual little tablets you use in lieu of paste. They are great for traveling!
  • lip balm
  • moisturizer

Another pouch is the Travel Safe Kit by Saje Natural Wellness. In this kit is:

  • Restoral Skin Ointment
  • Safe Hands sanitizing lotion
  • Arrive Revived mist and roll on
  • Eater’s Digest roll on
  • Sleep Well roll on (I will add this in- to help in those non-private rooms)

Other items I will carry on include:

  • 2 books
  • a journal and a pen
  • a vapour water bottle (so compact when it’s empty)
  • our Canon Power Shot S200 and case
  • our Olympus Tough Stylus waterpoof camera and case
  • chewing gum (for take off and landing)
  • a neck pillow- it is the tiny blue pouch you see in the picture. It is an Aeros inflateable pillow.
  • sleepy mask
  • ear plugs
  • ear buds
  • compression socks
  • power bank portable battery charger
  • infinity  scarf
  • iPad, iPhone, and charger
  • passport wallet
  • our trip itinerary (made by moi)

There are a few items that are not pictured that I will also include in my carry-on:

  • a change of clothes (just in case my pack doesn’t make it at the same time as us)
  • my make-up pouch
  • a small collection of jewellery
  • a few snacks

Now, that’s everything in my carry-on. Which will eventually have to be in my pack. I just put it all in, and it seems heavy. Uh-oh.

My Pack

Here’s the pack I chose, again, after much research and even a return. It is the Osprey Ariel 65L:


The perfect bag for me! Photo from osprey.com

I love this pack because it included the #1 thing that I wanted in a pack; a zipper on the front so that I don’t have to get at everything from the top. It has a J-zip all along the front panel, which is awesome for easy access and organization. It also has a zippered opening at the bottom. Another feature I like is the comfortable hip-belt that has built in storage right there, for easy access to things like your camera. I also purchased the Osprey Raincover (mostly for a couple of boat rides that I read will get you and your gear soaked) and the Airporter Travel Cover, which is a must to control all of those straps when you check your pack. I can’t wait to test this bag out! Stay tuned for a review.

Most of the things inside my pack will be organized into my Lug packing cubes. These are essentials for me every time I travel.



Here’s my clothing breakdown:

  • 4 tank-tops
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 pairs of capris
  • 2 dresses
  • 1 bunnyhug
  • 1 lightweight, packable rain jacket
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 long-sleeved button-up shirt
  • 6 pairs of underwear
  • 3 bras – one strapless, one sports bra, one regular
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of pajamas- T-shirt and shorts
  • 3 bathing suits (I know, but they all have different purposes…)
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • one pair of nice strappy sandals
  • 1 pair of Keen hiking shoes
  • 1 pair of Vibram 5-Toe shoes

I know it seems silly to be bringing two pair of such similar shoes. I bought the hiking shoes several months ago, and at the time didn’t think the toe-shoes were right for me. Then, after more research I realized if we wanted to go canyoning we would need something better suited for going in and out of water. That’s where the Vibram’s come in. They have great grips but are also more of a water shoe.I am still taking the Keen’s because I will wear them on days with long walks or hikes, and if we decide to go for a run. If I love the Vibram’s when we go canyoning, I will know for the future that they can also serve as my hiking shoes.

Technology/Toiletries and Extras




In my Grid-It organizer by Cocoon:

  • camera charger and extra battery
  • USB charger hub
  • travel alarm clock (because I’m paranoid of our phones/iPads letting us down and missing an important wake-up call)
  • padlock for locking the zippers on my pack when it’s out of my sight
  • charger for iPad

Inside the small black pouch are items for my eyes and ears:

  • contact case and solution
  • extra contact lenses
  • glasses in their case
  • Q-tips
  • travel patches for motion sickness (they stick behind my ear)

Inside the larger clear case are items for showering and after-the-shower:

  • the world’s greatest razor which has allowed me to live a shaving-cream free life since high school: the Schick Intuition razor. Seriously, you should definitely try this product, for travel and for everyday!
  • one extra razor blade for my Intuition (just in case)
  • along with the world’s greatest razor I am bringing the world’s greatest shampoo! Lush’s solid shampoo bars are eco-friendly, and oh-so luxuriously made with essential oil and other natural products. They are good for up to 80 washes, and with their compact-size that fits into a Lush tin, they are perfect for travel.
  • moisturizer- I decided to take just a tiny bit as most days I would be slathering myself in sunscreen anyways
  • an extra tube of toothpaste (remember the Toothy Tabs from my carry-on?)
  • small bottle of perfume

Inside the clear/green case are my makeup essentials:

  • liquid foundation
  • concealer
  • brow shadow and brush
  • eye shadow
  • eye liner
  • mascara (one waterproof and one regular)
  • lip gloss

We bought a pre-packaged Medical Kit. Inside is:

  • bandages of different shapes, sizes, and functions
  • anti-septic wipes
  • mini-roll of duct tap
  • A wide array of medications to treat pain, inflammation, and common allergies.
  • a small set of tweezers
  • we also added our own Pepto Bismol, Advil, and Imodium tablets

Other items shown:

  • Beau & Ro clutch/belt bag
  • sunglasses
  • ZipLoc bag filled with sunscreen and high concentration DEET bug spray
  • my very own prescription diving goggles
  • small pouch for hair ties and a few pieces of jewelry

Other items not shown:

  • extra ZipLoc bags- for anything and everything
  • zip-ties for fascining zippers together on day pack or back pack if we are travelling by bus or other times when they may be out of our sight or we may be catching some shut-eye in public
  • flashlight and headlamps
  • aloe vera soothing cream (in case of sun burn)

Well, I’m sure that’s not quite everything, and in the next 6 days this list will likely change, but for now, this is it! Stay tuned for updates on what worked, what didn’t, and what we wished we had (or didn’t have)!


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