What to pack for Nicaragua

  • Luggage strapped together for wheeled transport
    Luggage strapped together for wheeled...
    by atufft
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    Local "chicken bus" transport
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Most Viewed What to Pack in Nicaragua

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    Portrait Photography Made Easier

    by atufft Written Jan 20, 2013

    Photo Equipment: Although Nicaraguans have cell phones and are aware of technology, iPhones are rare, and some digital photographic equipment very unsual. To get good portrait photos I take a portable 3x5" image printer. I find it easier to get good portraits of children and families if I print and give them a hard copy of the picture I take. Another technique is to give the camera to the subject of interest to take my photo. My portraiture effort in Nicaragua wasn't as focus as in Honduras, for some reason, but I did get a few good images. To avoid confusion, men taking photos of children should be accompanied by the parent or by a woman, as molesting of teens and children is now a very serious concern everywhere.

    Self-Portrait with a Local Child Interrupting :-) Family Photo in Nicaragua Portrait using my camera
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    Baggage Considerations--Be Generous to the Locals

    by atufft Updated Jan 18, 2013

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    Luggage and bags: It's very popular to "backpack" through Central America, but I don't see the advantage in this. Young people from the USA and Europe crowd onto buses bulked by awkward backpacks that get in everyone's way. Backpacks are hard to secure with locks, so good luck bringing home treasure ceramics in a soft-sided backpack.

    Per person, we recommend taking a durable two wheel cart with solid collapsible handle for secure transport of clothes and souvenirs, as well as one ordinary looking day pack for personal transport of valuable electronics and money. The firm sided luggage can take the abuse of the airlines and bus companies, so that you won't have to worry about how the conductor may pile and strap your belongings inside cargo hold or on top of the chicken bus. Properly packed, firm sided luggage can bring home a treasure chest of memorabilia. The easily manageable daypack can service for even an overnighter hiking excursion, if necessary.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: In our application, my wife and I share one large airlines acceptable suitcase, most of which is empty upon arrival. Most airlines would allow us take free two suitcases (one per person), but along the way we often end up with a packed basket, some disassembled furniture, or some other odd package of souvenirs that doesn't conveniently fit well into a suitcase and so needs special handling. Properly wrapped, such a package can be checked in as baggage for the return trip home.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Then, we each also have a wheeled suitcase that conforms to the overhead bin size of international airlines. We tend to share the space in these bags, layering clothes, and eventually dedicating one for dirty clothes, and so on. Wheeling the large and small suitcase together, bridging broken pavement, down cobbled streets, and even up hotel stairs, is possible if the little one is strapped atop the larger one, and so we have special quick release plastic clip and nylon straps for this purpose. Properly strapped, the two bags can stand upright when at the hotel counter. I'm stronger than my wife, so I let her deal with delicate objects and her carry-on luggage, while I figure out how to move the rest. We never have trouble because the locals are always ready to help move luggage for the smallest of tips.

    Photo Equipment: Naturally, it's important to watch how delicate objects are handled. As we proceed through our national journey, dirty clothes, replace the vendor supplied newspaper, nesting and padding delicate souvenirs inside all of the luggage, and making the most of valuable space and weight requirements. Tiny luggage locks are used to discourage impulsive hotel cleaning staff from rummaging through our belongings, but theft is unlikely in more respectable hotels.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: When traveling, whether on bus or boat, allow the working locals as much seating and leg space as you can by NOT insisting upon bringing the baggage aboard. Thus, another reason to abandon the backpack! Contrary to Lonely Planet and other such guidebooks, you are less likely to lose luggage with the bus company than you are with the international airline company. It's OK to palm a small tip to let the conductor know that you are important, and to help the conductor decide where to stow the bag. Some buses will charge an extra fare for luggage, but backpackers often end up paying this trivial price too. Observant travelers will notice that this is the way families of middle-class nationals typically travel, so don't be afraid to role play local life, rather than impose goofy American or European sensibilities.

    Miscellaneous: During a long bus trip, step out at stops to visually check the baggage to make sure it's there. But, it's very unlikely that the conductor will get confused or allow another passenger to steal your baggage. If the chicken bus requires putting the luggage or souvenirs on a seat, volunteer to pay for the seat. Relax knowing the bargain you got on the souvenir, and don't be so cheap to save a dollar for baggage transport. Be generous to fellow travelers in Nicaragua by giving your chicken bus seat to a pregnant woman or elderly person, in favor of the greater view afforded by standing room only. In Nicaragua, the longest local bus rides are at most an hour.

    One eye on luggage as we wait at San Carlos port Luggage strapped together for wheeled transport Local River Boat Loading at San Carlos Port Delux buses with roof racks in San Carlos
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  • maryellen50's Profile Photo

    Essential Items in Nicaragua

    by maryellen50 Written Feb 28, 2007

    Luggage and bags: Soft-sided luggage with wheels is easier to carry and expect everything to have a continual film of dirt especially when traveling out of urban areas.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Lightweight easy washable and easy dry as you will change often due to humidity and dirt and dust everywhere. Waterproof shoes adviseable.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: At least 70% DEET as there are many mosquitoes due to the summer season. Sunscreen is essential.

    Photo Equipment: Digital camera with battery recharger.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Large brimmed hat to avoid sun exposure.

    Miscellaneous: Baby wipes to remove grim from your face/body when in bus. Water purification tablets. Several boxes of nutritional bars when you are on the road. Instant drink mix to add to water.

    Anti-western art Sandino art More anti-western art More anti-western art Sandinista memorial
    Related to:
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    Remember film and mosquito repellent!

    by hanula Updated Aug 10, 2003

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    Luggage and bags: Backbag with some sort of waterproof cover.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Raincoat.
    Rubberboots if you plan on going to the numerous cloud forests.
    Sunglasses and a hat.
    Light, long trousers for the forests.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Live milk bacteria tablets (e.g. Idoform if you're from Finland) to keep your stomach in good condition.
    Mosquito rebellent.

    Photo Equipment: Bring your own films. They cost about 10$ each here!!!

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Swimming gear.
    Snorkelling gear for the Caribbean.

    Miscellaneous: Torch.
    Mosquito net (you can buy one from Managua for 10-15$. There are market places close to the bus terminals, but be careful when you go shopping there. They are not the safest places.)

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Adventure Travel

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  • Varinia's Profile Photo

    Mosquitos repellent, Suncreens, hat!

    by Varinia Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Luggage and bags: Don't bring too many! A backpack is a must!

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Sandals, boots, comfortable cotton clothes, bathing suit, Denim jacket!

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Toiletries and Alka-Seltzer, Peptobismol!

    Photo Equipment: Lots of rolls!

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Great place for Camping on the beach!

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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    Packing List

    by warlord Written Sep 7, 2002

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    Miscellaneous: Be sure pack the most important thing when traveling to the third world : gifts for the children. I carried a small deck of Disney cards which made great icebreakers in out of the way places. If you have room in your pack, it would also not be a bad idea to bring along some old clothes to give away. People in Managua are in dire need of charity.

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  • Gina54's Profile Photo

    Packing List

    by Gina54 Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Do not visit in September or October. It is the 'rainy' season. When I say rainy, I mean constant tropical downpours. It rained every day, all day, all night, for the entire week. It was kind of cool in a way.

    Miscellaneous: The bugs are huge, there are bats everywhere. This is not a country for the faint hearted.

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  • erikajj's Profile Photo

    Packing List

    by erikajj Updated Aug 26, 2002

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    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: We stayed up in the mountains of Esteli. The sun was very strong and I still got sunburned despite sunscreen, thus my nickname 'Erikita la langostita.' It was warm during the day and sometimes chilly at night, though it didn't rain much in November.

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: If you look like me, you will need sunscreen and a hat. You can buy most medical supplies at the pharmacy and there are very few things for which you need a prescription. You may want to have a mosquito net to sleep in if one is not provided for you. We brought bug spray, but didn't really need it at this time of the year.

    Photo Equipment: Film was really really expensive in Esteli. I would suggest bringing what you need.

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  • TanjaE's Profile Photo

    Packing List

    by TanjaE Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Luggage and bags: not to heavy bags, cause you won't know which transport you'll choose (bus...).

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: hiking shoes, summer dressing (it's very hot)
    if possible, a mosquito net (depends on the accommodation)

    Toiletries and Medical Supplies: medicine against flue, mosquito bites

    Photo Equipment: you will always get everything you need, if you have the money. Some ewuipments are sold in wooden shacks. But they work...

    Miscellaneous: for people from non american countries...don't forget to bring a adapter (US/central american norm) for the socket for your electronical equipment...

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