Packing List: Costa Rica

Let me start off by saying I never thought it would happen to me and to be honest I’m a little disappointed in myself for giving in.

But first, let’s take a step back.

Earlier this year, I spent a fair amount of money on the new Allpa 35L backpack from Cotopaxi with the thought “this will be my under 2 weeks and under trip bag.”  In the most travel nerd way I was beyond excited.  I was actually counting down the days (ordered on their Indiegogo project) until it got shipped.  Embarrassingly, I even emailed Cotopaxi (multiple times) to get a timeframe on when it would arrive.  Yes I was that excited.  The bag is small enough to be a carry on and has enough pockets and room carry basically everything you need (if you know how to pack effectively).  At the time, I had a few weekend trips coming up and I wanted to try the new bag out, but alas it wasn’t meant to be and I never got to try it out.

By the the time I got the bag it was clear that Costa Rica was going to be its first trip (for those wondering the bag is awesome and well worth the price/wait). I was excited about the challenge of 11 days and only 35L of space.  I’ve always considered myself a pretty minimalist low maintenance traveler but this was a chance to take it to another level.  No carry on roller bag for me.

Quick Tangent:
I’ve spent countless hours complaining about people with roller bags and even used the phrase “roller bag people are everything wrong with the world”  The mindset between someone with a roller bag and someone with a backpack is similar to the difference in the travel community between a tourist and a traveler.  Fair or not, I’ve always considered myself to be in the latter category.  So now I finally have a backpack to replace any need of ever using a roller bag again.  Happy days are here.

Normally when I travel I rely heavily on public transport.  I take trains, planes, and buses whenever possible  But after speaking with Jordan. who’d been to Costa Rica twice, he recommended renting a car and driving from place to place.   The biggest reason this was appealing is because of the freedom it gives me.  It plays right into my “not having a real plan” goal for this trip.  I could stay as long in a place as I want and wouldn’t have to worry about missing a train or a bus running late.  After weighing both the pros and cons I decided to take his advice and rent a car.

Renting a car may prove to be the best or worst decision of my entire trip.  Driving by myself in a foreign country is really the only thing that’s given me any sort of anxiety about this trip.  I don’t have anyone to rely on if the car breaks down (I’m not handy), if I get in a wreck, or if I get lost.  But a secondary result of renting a car is it allows me extra space- to bring a second bag.  Ironically, instead of going the minimalist route on the trip and really utilizing my new Allpa I’m bringing more luggage than I took to spend a month in Southeast Asia- hence the disappointment I feel in myself.

With that said, it would be foolish to not take advantage of the extra room I have; especially since I rarely “bring things just in case” when I travel.

Below you’ll find a list of everything I am bringing with me to Costa Rica for my 11-day trip and which bag I put it in.  For the record, I could have gotten by with just the Allpa (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).

Cotopaxi Allpa 35 L (carry on)


  • Passport
  • Global Entry and Priority Pass Cards
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses & Case
  • Travel Towel
  • Travel Pillow
  • Sleep Mask
  • The Rum Diaries by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Notebook
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush & toothpaste
    • Contact solution and container
    • Razor and trimmer
    • Body wash
    • Comb


  • DJI Spark Drone
  • GoPro Hero 5 and 3-way stick
  • Macbook Pro & Charger
  • Apple Earbuds
  • Hard Drive
  • Battery Pack
  • Portable Speaker
  • Sennheiser HD 380 Pro headphones


  • 2 Swim Trunks
  • 2 Tank Tops
  • Longsleeve Tee
  • 5 T-shirts
  • 5 pair of boxers
  • Surfing Rash Guard Longsleeve Shirt
  • 1 gym short
  • 2 pair of shorts
  • Cotopaxi Rain Jacket
  • Long pants (for jungle hiking)
  • Hat
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • Sandals

Deuter 65 L (Checked Bag)


  • Drone controller
  • Bug Spray
  • 2 Spray Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • GoPro Accessories
    • 2 extra batteries and charger
    • Clamp mount
    • Additional holders

Because “What If”

  • Hammock
  • Blanket
  • 1 L of Seagram’s whiskey
  • Hiking Boots
  • 1 pair of socks
  • Day Pack
  • 2 L Hydration Pack
  • Camping Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Beach Towel
  • Water shoes
  • Nebraska Flag

I truly believe if I wanted to make the one bag work I could have, but I didn’t.  Certain things, bug spray, sunscreen, whiskey, etc,  I could have bought when I landed, but I know those things are cheaper in the states.  With no plan, I have no idea what opportunities may present themselves over the next 11 days so I’m okay giving in to overpacking.

Whether I end up sleeping on the beach beneath the stars, hiking through the Costa Rican jungle, or hammocking on a mountain overlooking a volcano I want to be prepared.  Now I have all the stuff I need.  If worse comes to worse and I don’t need something I can leave it in the car and not worry about it.  I don’t have to carry it around or cram my two bags on a bus or train.

This was a rare chance for me to be over prepared and give into the “what if I need it” urge that I always fight when packing.

I may not even open my 2nd bag, but hey, at least I have it.

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.

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