Packing for Nicaragua

Once again, I rely on a guest post from my sister! This time it’s part of my strange obsession with packing light. She and a group from Heidelberg University are currently in Nicaragua on a spring break trip. While about 47% of me is worried about her, the other 53% is excited for her to have taken yet another travel opportunity with her university. I envy her so much! I never traveled in college.

She wrote this for me before she finished packing, but I am just now getting around to posting it. I love traveling light and hope to one day hone my packing-light skills to a reliable science. Until the travel bug bites me again, I’ll just live vicariously through the suitcases of those close to me.

So, in like 20 hours I will be on my way to Nicaragua. Why Nicaragua, you ask? Because I love to take opportunities presented to me and because I love to help others. I am participating in what Heidelberg calls the “Alternative Spring Break.” ASB is where a group from the ‘Berg travels somewhere (Biloxi, New Orleans, Nashville, El Salvador in the past) in order to do some type of service. They have worked with Habitat for Humanity, the Back Bay Mission, and Project Homecoming. My group is breaking ground with both the destination and the cooperating organization. We are headed to Jinotega, Nicaragua to work with Outreach360, an organization that teaches young children English and Spanish literacy. We will be working with Outreach360 volunteer leaders to organize lesson plans for a week of mutual education. I’m quite excited to go. Speaking of which… I should probably get packing.

It was easy to decide what clothes I wanted to pack for two reasons. First, Outreach360 provides a volunteer T-shirt for every day that we’re volunteering and second, the organization has a rather strict dress code. I’m not bashing that; in fact they describe quite well why it is so here. No shorts or skirts above the knee, closed-toe shoes, etc. So I ended up packing:

  • 7pr underwear
  • 1 bra
  • 4 pairs of socks (I have sandals I’ll be wearing some days)
  • 2 pairs capris
  • 1 pair jeans (wearing)
  • 1 linen-y overshirt
  • 1 long dress (for the church service)
  • 1 tank top (for modesty under the dress)
  • 2 Outreach 360 T-shirt2 (we have to wear one there)
  • 1 t-shirt to sleep in
  • 1 pair pj shorts
  • 1 blouse for our exploration day
  • Closed-toe man-sandals
  • Sperry’s (wearing) (Note from Caitlin: Sperry’s are like old man yacht shoes, but adorable).

Now that the clothes are taken care of, we move into the bulk of my items: toiletries. The quantity of these is partially due to my need for extreme preparation and partially due to how big of a hippie I am. My amazing sister got me some essential oils that are good for many uses (most importantly they are insect repellents and tea tree oil is an antiseptic!). I have to expand a bit on why coconut oil is so important here. This is going to be my toothpaste, my conditioner, my lotion, my facewash… It is going to take the place of many items a lot of people pack separately. It is also a solid at room temperature so while going through security I don’t have to put it in my 1qt liquids bag. These are the toiletries I ended up packing (and all of the liquids did fit in a 1-qt bag!):

  • Peppermint oil (insect repellent, helps relieve itch from insect bites)
  • Lavender oil (same as peppermint oil + stress reliever/sleep aid)
  • Tea Tree oil (antiseptic, insect repellent, mouthwash)
  • Colloidal silver (antibacterial, helps if you get food poisoning)
  • Activated charcoal (helps eliminate stomach issues, mildly effective antidote)
  • Valerian root (sleep aid/ anti-anxiety)
  • Coconut oil (energy, beauty aid, helps relieve itch from insect bites, miracles)
  • 2-in-1 Shampoo and body wash (castile soap with peppermint oil…for cleaning)
  • Baking soda (helps relieve itch from insect bites, toothpaste)
  • Lunette (this thing: just in case)
  • Towel and washcloth (they provide towels but what if they, you know, run out?)

Maybe I will do a return check-in guest blog entry to let you know if my homemade bug repellent worked or if I ran out of coconut oil.

    My final section of things I’m bringing is sort of hodge-podgey:

  • 2 Hand-crank flashlights (why wouldn’t I bring these?)
  • Poncho (good call by the sister)
  • Teeny umbrella (in case someone else’s sister didn’t buy them a poncho)
  • Life Straw (coolest invention ever:
  • Bags of assorted sizes (just in case)
  • Sunny (stuffed dog that I take everywhere)
  • Reusable water bottle (duh)
  • 1 Book for homework, 1 for pleasure (I like reading, and I have homework)
  • 1 Journal (won’t be able to blog there!)
  • Sunglasses (Central America…)
  • Small purse (Fits important stuff: wallet and bug spray)
  • Snacks (popcorn, granola, carrots)

All of this fit in a messenger bag and a backpack. I also have some room for some donations I’m taking to the volunteer center: children’s books, Uno, cards, some art supplies. I’m so excited to go. I am stoked to be leaving the country again!

2 thoughts on “Packing for Nicaragua

  1. I should have packed more socks!! And more bras!! Everything else was perfect. I’d take more baby wipes next time probably. But I really did lament my underestimation of how often I’d want to change socks.

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