Pack your bags!

A carefully packed suitcase is important to your day to day success and vital for feeling comfortable during your semester at QERC.

While you may imagine Costa Rica as a hot, beach destination, the weather at QERC is much more like your perfect fall day- 45-55 degree evenings and 70-80 degree days. Evenings are chilly, so you’ll want to be prepared with warm clothes. We will spend time in much warmer locations though, so bringing clothes for both types of weather that can be layered together will help keep your suitcase light.

Check TSA’s website for ways to prepare for your flight if you have questions about what you can bring on the airplane.

You can find our recommendations for what to pack below.

Luggage and Backpacks

Checked Bag
Plan on checking
only one piece of luggage. You will be able to fulfill the requirements of the packing list and meet the 50lb weight limit.

We recommend a backpack that is 40 – 60 liters in size. You’ll be using the bag to carry your field equipment for research, hiking, weekend trips, and group travel excursions. Something that can hold a hydration reservoir is ideal, although a water bottle will work just as well to keep you hydrated on the trail!

SNU students may be asked to check a second piece of luggage that belongs to the Biology Department.

Personal Medical Needs

Personal Medical Needs
A full semesters worth of any prescriptions you take, and also your own supply of the following. Even if you’ve never taken these medicines, bodies react to new foods and experiences differently. Be prepared.

  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Imodium AD (or other anti-diarrea)
  • MiraLax or Colace (or other laxative)
  • Ciproflaxin (in case)
  • Tylenol or Advil
  • Allergy medicine
  • Motion Sickness Medicine (Costa Rica is home to MANY curvy mountain roads)
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent (20-25% DEET for the Biome Tour and Nicaragua, DEET free is fine for QERC)
  • First aid items such as neosporin, bandaids, etc.

What to Wear

Breathable and quick-dry items, both for the cool climate at QERC and for hot/humid conditions. Items that can layer are ideal. These can overlap with other casual items. These should be items your expect to be dirty and work in.

For most days at QERC – t-shirts, jeans, etc. Shorts are ok for sporting events, but NOT for other planned interactions with Costa Ricans or Nicaraguans. Clothing items will all be line-dried, so breathable, quick drying items are ideal. 

Costa Ricans dress more formally than North Americans. Plan to wear nicer clothes for trips into the city, church, and when we have guests.

  • A knee-length or longer skirt (women)
    For church services or a guest speaker.
  • A tie and collared shirt (men)
    Appropriate for church and for guest speakers.

Sweatshirt or jacket
Or 2! For the cold evenings at QERC. You will appreciate warm clothing!

Light rain jacket
Though the dry season goes from November to April, light rain can be expected on a regular basis.


  • Sturdy closed-toed shoes for hiking.
  • Nice shoes/sandals for church or other activities.
  • Tennis shoes are ok on a daily basis, but NOT for church activities or guest speakers. Great for the soccer field!
  • Warm slippers: An absolute must for the cold tile floors at QERC.


Other Items

Eco-Friendly, and biodegradable preferred.
Some items are available during our brief stops in San Jose, if you run out. Girls should plan to pack a semester’s worth of feminine care items. 

Flashlight or headlamp
Red lighting option preferred for night hikes. Please bring your own extra batteries.

School supplies
Notebooks, paper, writing instruments for course work.


Compact Bible
A bilingual Spanish-English edition is very useful.

A small gift
You may get to know your host family well in the valley, and it’s always a nice gesture to give them small things from home. (e.g. chocolates, something typical of your area, magnets, shelf ornaments, hand soaps. Starbucks items are not recommended).

Optional Items

Small bilingual dictionary
Photos of your home and family
Books, DVDS, and games
A small travel alarm clock
Work gloves