The Packing List

I did some brainstorming back in January 2015, and here’s an updated list of what I plan to bring (and eventually, what I wish I had brought). For those who know me well, I am a notorious over-packer. I tried..I really did. But hey, live and let live. I’ll put aside what I really didn’t need and make sure to note it here.

What I wore on the plane

  • jeans
  • hiking boots (later to be changed into flip flops)
  • black tank layered under embroidered tank
  • light fleece
  • leather jacket
  • travel neck passport holder
  • SHOLDIT Infinity Scarf (has a super secret zip pocket)
  • My Passport, tickets and $$ (on my body at all times)

My Carry-on

  • one quart-sized, zip-sealed toiletry bag, adhering to the Airline Travel Restrictions
    • travel-size shampoo, conditioner & dry shampoo (trust me, worth it)
    • travel-size toothbrush & toothpaste
    • sample-size facewash & cream (my mom got them from a promotional day at her salon)
  • makeup bag with the essentials
  • 3 tsa locks to use upon arrival (didn’t want to risk getting them chopped off in panama, but will use them during stay to secure items)
  • all-in-one travel clock/alarm/luggage scale (a life-saver pre-departure to ensure everything’s under 50 lbs. just remember to bring it with you to prep for the return flight!)
  • one sheath dress (for embassy check-in)
  • 2 “nice” outfits (for orientation at university)
    • one khaki pencil skirt, one patterned, 2 tanks, 2 tees, neutral sweater
  • one set of exercise/pajama clothes (shorts, sports bra & tank)
  • 2 pairs of sandals
  • 1 pair of laced keds
  • camera charger & add’l lenses
  • ALL of my jewelry
  • ALL of my meds (birth control, malaria pills, general antibiotic (just in case), diarrhetic aids, ibuprofen, cold & sinus aids etc etc – not too much, but enough to help me when in need)
  • ALL of my underwear (in case I lose my luggage – I’m personally not a fan of recycling dirty underwear)
  • large and small cross body bags (to use upon arrival)

My “Personal Item”

    • one of the most important things to remember – bring copies of your grant paperwork in case you get into any sticky situations with customs or ridiculous airline personnel like I did (see here for more details).
  • wallet
  • travel-size deodorant
  • face wipes
  • travel-size kleenex
  • tide to-go wipes
  • 4 cliff bars “survival food” to have on hand when needed (definitely came in handy)
  • small water bottle. I bought one once I made it through security. Sadly, my nalgene didn’t make the cut for size reasons 😦 I wanted to get one of these before I left, but didn’t have time.
  • laptop & charger
  • iphone & charger
  • headphones
  • dslr camera
  • flip flops
  • gum
  • mouth party caramels to give to my hosts upon arrival


  • I got to check two bags:
    • large suitcase
    • hiking backpack
  • sm backpack for day hikes (packed flat inside large suitcase)
  • xtra light fabric duffel in case I need another bag along the line (packed flat inside large suitcase)
  • running shoes
  • 5 days worth of exercise gear
  • SOCKS (almost forgot these)
  • basic tank tops
  • 1 pair of denim shorts
  • 6 pairs of pants – black, white, olive, grey, khaki, denim
  • versatile tops that I could dress up or down
  • other toiletries
    • face wash (I know my skin would freak out with the climate differences down here, so I opted to bring my own. definitely not necessary)
    • xtra hair ties and pins


What would’ve been helpful to have:

  • Checked 3-oz bottles of Dr. Bonner’s. So multipurpose & they would’ve come in handy for shorter trips to the interior. I have a huge one at home, but just didn’t give myself enough time to stop at target and get the little bottles. Ah well.
  • one of these compact waterbottles



Of course this list is specified to my needs and interests. Below are some links to sites I referenced early on to wrap my mind around what it might be like to pack for Panama.

Peace Corps Panama: Packing List

What to pack for Central America

How to Pack for Humidity

Packing for Costa Rica

International Carry-on Checklist

12 Travel Essentials

13 Travel Tips that Will Make You Feel Smart

25 Mind-blowing Tips That Will Change the Way You Pack

How to Live Better Out of a Backpack

How to Pack your Backpack

Top 10 Things to Pack for a Day Hike

What’s in My Carry-on

10 Cool Tech Gadgets for Travel

The views and information presented in this blog are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the US Department of State.


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