We knew about one month ahead of time that we were definitely driving to Costa Rica as opposed to flying. With that knowledge, we began to collect the stuff that we knew might be more of a challenge to acquire once we crossed into Mexico. It’s not like everything is impossible to find in Latin America, and actually, certain things are both more affordable and widespread; however, we have found that specialty items (such as sporting goods and camping stuff), car parts, electronics, and many clothing items/toiletries are definitely less costly and worth stocking up on (within reason) before entering Latinoamerica.
Gibran and I spent significant amounts of time running around, getting stuff we thought we needed and then taking it home, rethinking it, taking it back and buying new stuff, pretty much right up until the moment we we left. While (pretty much) every time that I have traveled, I’ve been limited to what I can carry in a backpacking bag and a purse. This time, because we were traveling in a vehicle and for a longer amount of time, we subconsciously decided to pack our truck full of stuff that a backpacker would never bring: sheets, towels, endless toiletries, clothes and shoes for every occasion, enough books to last a good long while.
We definitely went overboard, and have realized it during one or more of the many times we’ve had to try to repack and attempt to fit everything back into our little truck. Here are some hints that we’ve definitely learned this time.
Figure out what you do have before anything. I wasted quite a bit of time trying to find a used spring suit for surfing on Craigslist — calling people and setting up times to meet them — before realizing I already had one.
Then, visualize what you are going to be doing; think of where you are going and what you might want to do while you are there. This will help you think of items you might need.
Leave Yourself a Little Room
While the natural instinct seems to be to fill your bags up to the brim, keep in mind that you will most likely be picking stuff up along the way. So, either leave yourself a little space for these things, or bring stuff that you are willing to part with — maybe give some of your stuff to the locals.
Because you will be excited, there is a high possibility that you might go overboard with shopping and preparing. In our case, this was definitely true. Obviously we needed to buy stuff, but just not as much as we ended up getting. The thing is, you can buy stuff to prepare you for all kinds of events, but chances are that something will come up that you hadn’t prepared for, and you will just have to go out and buy it while traveling anyways. Furthermore, whilst hauling your stuff around the four corners of the earth, you will definitely understand why less is more.