When people found out I was going to Colombia and Guatemala aside from the initial, WOW reaction, they asked me why? My response was, my good friend from college had a wedding in Columbia, and my other good friend was getting married in Guatemala! They, again, asked why are they getting married there? Is he/she Guatemalan? My response was, “Nope, they both lived there at one point and fell in love with it! So a Guatemalan wedding it was!” To be completely frank, these two countries weren’t at the top of my list to visit, but I of course wanted to be there to witness my dear friend getting married, and I knew that this would be an unforgettable adventure. AND OH WAS IT AN ADVENTURE. lol. For the next few blog posts I’ll be sharing some highlights and lowlights from my trip to Colombia and Guatemala!
For this blog post, I’m going to just talk about what I packed! Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when going to a third world country, so I did some of research on what to bring because I didn’t want to be without something that I really needed. I didn’t buy a book, and I didn’t really look at trip advisor, except to book a hotel and I was pretty much only going off of a few blog posts, and a friend who had just visited.
- One thing I did do was look at the weather and it had rain clouds every, single, day! But, I also looked at predictions over time and what I saw was that it was freaking HOT. So I packed with the expectation of it being hot and maybe a little rainy too.
- I packed quite a few lightweight dresses that I could throw on over a swimsuit, or dress down for day time with some sandals and dress it up for evening time with a cute wedge or heel.
- Comfy shoes: So I had a bit of a dilemma when I was packing everything in my SMALL backpack. The most difficult thing to pack were the shoes, since all of you know I have SO many (it’s the Nordstrom shoe manager in me)!
- Sandals: I packed these Sam Edelman sandals ($70), because I thought they would be casual and comfy enough to walk around in, but also stylish enough to wear during the evening. (you can see them in the photo above) I also always bring my black Havianas ($26)for my go-to shoe, to go to the beach, and just in case my other shoes become so uncomfortable, I usually end up wearing these.
- Hiking Shoes: I searched high and low for awesome hiking boots that would not only last me a long time, but would keep my feet in good shape in difficult terrain and DRY. After trying on multiple shoes, high-tops, low-tops, and even some Chacos, YES I KNOW THAT’S HARD TO BELIEVE, I ended up going to REI and getting the Oboz high-top Bridger Bdry boots ($175). I LOVED THEM! Yes, they were an investment, but I will have them for a long time and if they don’t hurt my feet while hiking, its an added bonus! I would recommend to ALWAYS try on hiking boots. Especially if you will be hiking in a specialty terrain and for a long time. Everyone that helped me at REI was very well informed on what would be the best options for me and ultimately helped me to decide what to get.
- Tennis Shoes: While I already had hiking boots, and flip flops, I decided that I knew at some point I would be working out and need my good-ol tennis shoes. I needed a new pair anyways for the, and I went to Nordstrom and ended up getting the Nike Air Zoom Fearless Flyknit (Now on sale for $104). It is a lightweight shoe that is flexible and great for walking. The only downside to the shoe is that they don’t have a ton of support. So if you have high arches or need more support, this shoe most likely wouldn’t be the choice for you.
- Converse: You can’t go wrong with the classic white converse shoe ($50)! It’s comfortable and you can easily pair them with dresses, shorts, and pants.
- Bathing suits: I packed 2 bathing suits for my 2 week trip. One that I had from my trip to Israel last year, and one I actually bought by Solid and Striped at TJ Maxx. It’s super cute and I was shocked to find a Solid and Striped bathing suit there for only $50!
- Backpack: Honestly, it was a difficult choice in deciding whether or not to bring a backpack, or a normal piece of luggage. I knew that I would have to pack wayyyy less in a backpack than in a regular piece of luggage, but really, I saw it as a challenge! I was going for 2 weeks, and I was determined to fit it into one big backpack, and a little one too. 🙂 Once again, I did my research when it came to backpacks. I received a ton of recommendations for brands like Osprey and Deuter but none of the ones that I tried on worked for me. Their were either too small, too expensive, didn’t fit right, or didn’t have the large opening front loading pocket that I was looking for. I ended up going with the Northface Forevo 70 Pack. I loved it! Again, this is something that I recommend you try on before you buy it because they truly all fit differently and if you are doing a very difficult hike, this particular bag might not have the qualities that you are looking for. However my bag ended up being perfect for me, and honestly, I am SO glad I packed a backpack instead of lugging around a huge piece of luggage up 100 steps, across dirt roads, and on boats! I also bought the REI Ruckpack 28L ($99), which was perfect for day trips and very comfortable during a day hike! It has a lot of compartments, one for your laptop, water bottle, and I managed to get a towel and a change of clothes in there. I definitely recommend it!
- Packing Cubes ($25) : This might seem overkill, but trust me when I say, when packing in a backpack, these things are a lifesaver! I separated them by type of clothing, all of my underwear, socks, and bathing suits in one, shorts and pants in another, and dresses and shirts in another. It was PERFECT!
Other things I packed: bug spray, suntan lotion, one pair of jeans, 25 pairs of underwear, 2 pairs of hiking socks, 5 pairs of no-show socks, a rain jacket, 2 pairs of PJ’s, 5 casual shirts, 3 pairs of workout leggings, 3 workout tops, 3 pairs of shorts, a shawl (for those cold nights), batteries (for my headlamp), cords for my iphone and ipad, water bottle, and a headlamp (it came in very useful during the evening in Guatemala).
Things to keep in mind when you are packing:
- I would definitely bring a sweater or sweatshirt! I forgot to bring a heavier sweater for the evening time, and I had to buy a shawl in Guatemala because it gets much cooler during the night.
- Deet bug spray: Look, I know people have a thing against deet, and I’m not going to tell you that you HAVE TO bring it. BUT in Guatemala and Colombia there are bugs, BIG ONES, and zika. Personally, I think that using it for 2 weeks, wouldn’t be that big of a deal, I would rather use it sparingly for 2 weeks, than get bitten all over and even worse, contract zika. I bought bug wipes from REI and I thought they worked pretty well and didn’t really have an off putting smell.
- Speaking of bug spray, make SURE to bring Afterbite itch relief cream because I’m sure you will get bitten and it’s hard to find it there!
- Plan ahead and research: It didn’t take me a day to determine what exactly I needed to bring, I planned it out for about a month (I’m a planner. SO type A lol). A few days before, I laid out each outfit, and pack according to each day.
- Bring toiletries with you! They can get really expensive over there and sometimes, certain items can be difficult to find.
- Also a useful tip when packing shoes, especially those who have a ton, I typically go with a black or brown shoe color pallet when I’m packing. So if I pick out black shoes, then I pick all outfits that go with those shoes. When you start to pack outfits that match both brown and black, I typically end up with so many shoes that I have to take several outfits and shoes out. I hope that made sense… lol
- AGAIN USE PACKING CUBES! Just do it. You can thank me later!
- You might need to bring a converter if you are coming from outside of North America.
- When I got to Cartagena, it wasn’t difficult to find a store where you could buy a sim card, but apparently, after you buy a sim card you have to also “recharge” your phone in order to get internet access. I don’t exactly know why… but I know that the second step, the Colombian guy who helped me, and didn’t speak English, had to walk with me somewhere else to get it “recharged”.
That’s it for my packing list! I must say, I pat myself on the back because all-in-all, my backpack was only 31 lbs! THAT’S A RECORD FOR ME!
Next up, all about my adventures in Cartagena, Antigua, and Lake Atitlan.