Full of vibrant history and charm, the many countries of Central America present students with an exciting array of opportunities to study abroad. Extending from Mexico to Panamá, the wide geographical expanse of this area contains a large array of landscapes, environments, and climactic conditions that can surprise unexpecting travelers. From visiting Nahuatl speaking populations in the cold highlands of Guatemala to trekking across the tropical national parks in Costa Rica, travelers need face interesting challenges when packing for a trip to the area. Here are some helpful packing tips for Central America.
Some key things to remember:
Researching each country and the specific areas you will be visiting
This is key since weather varies even within the countries themselves due to elevation and locality. Looking up the average temperature of a country can be misleading as this does not give you an indication of the wide variety of landscapes and environments that make up a country. Take Costa Rica for example, the valley in which the capital of San José is located can be mild in the summer with temperatures ranging between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and temperatures in the high 50s in the evenings. In contrast, the Pacific coast of the country, located less than 2 hours away, is far warmer and drier with temperatures that can exceed 90 degrees each day and stay in the mid-80s in the evening. It is these type of changes that can make packing challenging and make it essential to research the specific areas about to be visited.
The weather is not consistently warm or cold as some may expect
Even if it is warm during the day, temperatures can drop significantly during the evening. Seasons are different in Central America and, for the majority of countries, only include a dry and rainy season. Light layers are essential for dealing with these temperature changes. Also, make sure you always have layers with you in the eventuality that the weather changes or the sun sets.
Account for other weather related influencing factors such as rain and humidity or heat and dryness
Many areas of Central America, such as the tropical forests, are rather humid all the time which can present challenges to travelers. To exemplify this type of humidity, imagine that all you travel with is damp within a few hours of your wearing it. To alleviate this, wear breathable and quick drying clothing and avoid heavy fabrics such as denim. The opposite can also be true with extremely dry and hot conditions, such as those of the Pacific coast. Hydrate consistently and apply copious amounts of sunblock to protect your skin. Also, look out for signs of heat exhaustion when being outside for extended periods of time. These can include disorientation, confusion, and exhaustion. A refillable water bottle can be a life saver in this situation.
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