I needed clothing suitable for hiking volcanoes and other outdoor activities, experiencing the rainforest in the south-east of the country, exploring the scorching hot cities, visiting the cooler highlands, and relaxing by the beach.
Luggage limits are a consideration when considering how to pack for backpacking.
My flights were with Virgin Atlantic from London to Miami; then onward from Fort Lauderdale with budget airline Spirit to Nicaragua. I returned from Nicaragua to Miami with American Airlines.
Spirit is the strictest on luggage limits both in the cabin and in the hold (15kg is the cheapest hold luggage option and the one I opted for, you pay more if you want more). Exact dimensions and weights of luggage allowed can be found on the airlines’ websites.
My packing list for backpacking Central America
After packing Armageddon had hit my bedroom floor, here’s what I packed for my trip to the tropics.
Clothes – bottoms
1 pair jeans
1 pair light long casual trousers for hiking that could be rolled up to 3/4 length
1 pair cotton/linen light three-quarter length trousers – ideal for cities or hiking
1 pair shorts (for the beach only)
Clothes – tops
1 kagool – good for those tropical showers!
2 light sweaters (serious error, 1 would’ve been enough)
1 x long-sleevedT-shirt (ideal for the highlands, or for avoiding sunburn or mosquitoes)
5 x short-sleeved T-shirts (1 of which got so engrained with dust I had to banish it)
Clothes – underwear
8 pairs quick-dry underwear
3 pairs hiking socks
Shoes and accessories
1 pair hiking boots (closed-toed footwear is pretty much essential for hiking in countries that have tropical wildlife as well as tropical temperatures)
1 pair flat sandals
1 lightweight scarf
1 sarong – you can also use sarongs as a cover-up/substitute beach towel
Small purse/wallet with dollars in small bills (or relevant exchangeable currency), credit card, passport, travel insurance details and phone number, drivers licence
Dirty laundry bag
What else do I wish I’d packed in my backpack?
A zoom lens for my camera, and binoculars. I’d have loved to have viewed and captured Nicaragua’s prolific wildlife in more depth and scale. Next time … next time …
What are your best tips on how to pack for backpacking Central America? What do you wish you’d taken, or left behind?
Hi, I'm Julie, a York (UK)-based travel blogger and comfort-zone pusher.
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