Putting together a Guatemala packing list requires a balance of minimalism and packing so you’re prepared for different activities.
I’m a travel expert who’s been to over a dozen countries and recently visited Guatemala. I’ve got packing down to a science. Today, I’m breaking down everything you’ll need for Guatemala from clothes to medicine and little things you probably haven’t thought of.
By the end of this article, you’ll be prepped with the ultimate Guatemala packing list so you can enjoy all the incredible things to do in Guatemala from Antigua, to Lake Atitlan, and beyond.
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Guatemala Packing Checklist
A daypack is a must-have for all travel packing lists. You’ll especially want one for your Guatemala packing list because you’ll need to carry a water bottle with you at all times. Plus, you’ll want to have your camera handy if you’re a photographer. This Osprey Daylite daypack is ideal because it’s big enough to carry all these essentials while still being lightweight.
Guatemala is an overall safe country to visit, despite what the media says. Still, things like food poisoning, getting sick from tap water, and things like petty theft can happen. VisitorsCoverage helps you find the best travel insurance by comparing quotes from hundreds of travel insurers.
A money belt is a great Guatemala packing list item if you want to keep all your things secure. I don’t think it’s 100% necessary, but it’s worth having if you want extra peace of mind. This RFID-protected money belt has a few different pockets. Plus, it’s thin and lightweight.
Noise-canceling headphones are a must-have when traveling throughout Guatemala. The main method for travelers to get around is shuttles, so being able to entertain yourself during transit is important. Some people even listen to music when hiking Acatenango.
These Bose noise-canceling headphones are perfect because they work well and barely take up space.
This Guatemala packing list wouldn’t be complete without a portable charger. You’ll need it for long days of exploring and for long volcano hikes.
This Miady portable charger is a great choice because it’s quick-charging, has USB and USB-C ports, and it’s compact.
Packing cubes are a travel essential everyone should have. Packing cubes help compress your clothes and maximize space while also keeping your items organized.
I love these Peak Design packing cubes because they hold a lot and are expandable and compressible. They even come in a couple of different sizes, too.
A toiletry bag is an overlooked organizational travel item that can affect your get-ready routine. Having a durable and organized toiletry bag is especially important for travelers staying at hostels because you need to have all your toiletries together when you use shared bathrooms.
I like this Sea to Summit hanging toiletry bag because it has multiple compartments and it’s waterproof in case anything spills.
Don’t leave home without packing some sunscreen! It’s essential since Guatemala is sunny throughout the dry season and the wet season.
I love Sun Bum sunscreen because it has a hydrating formula that’s also waterproof. Plus, this one is 3 FL OZ so you can take it on the plane.
Insect repellent is one of the best items I packed while visiting Guatemala. I put it on every morning before I headed out for the day and only got a few mosquito bites here and there. You can buy bug spray in Guatemala, but it’s handy to already have it with you. This Ranger Ready bug spray is carry-on ready and deet-free.
You can still get bug bites even with the best bug spray. Stop any itching and inconvenience before it drives you crazy by keeping anti-itch cream handy. Benadryl anti-itch cream is a go-to because it works and it’s small enough to carry with you.
First Aid Kit
Packing a first aid kit is a no-brainer when traveling. You’ll especially want it for Guatemala since there are so many outdoor attractions like hiking, swimming, and surfing. This first aid kit is perfect because it’s small and has everything you need from bandages to tweezers and more.
Motion Sickness Medication
Prevent and relieve any nausea or unease on bumpy shuttle and boat rides by taking motion sickness medication.
Public transportation in Guatemala isn’t exactly the most comfortable travel experience. Roads can be rough and windy and getting to and from a destination can take a few hours, if not longer, by shuttle or chicken bus. Additionally, the boats at Lake Atitlan are notoriously rough.
Dramamine helps prevent things like nausea and dizziness, which is a real possibility if you’re prone to motion sickness.
Guatemala is overflowing with stunning landscapes and scenery. Acatenango Volcano views, Tikal ruins, and Lake Atitlan are just a handful of many out-of-this-world locations to capture in Guatemala. Be sure to pack a landscape camera like this Nikon one if you’re a photographer. Plus, it comes with a carrying case, a memory card, and more.
You’re going to want to stay hydrated in Guatemala considering the warm weather, high altitudes, and lack of safe drinking water from the tap.
Hydro Flask water bottles are great because it keeps your water cold all day and it’s leak-proof. You can fill it up daily with cold bottled water, or, fill it up with filtered drinking water, which is available at most accommodations.
Level up your hydration game by adding electrolyte tablets to your water so you can feel good and stay on the go.
Staying hydrated when you travel is super important. Think of electrolyte tablets as a little boost to your daily water intake.
I personally use these Nuun electrolyte tablets and they help you stay hydrated and feel good throughout long travel days. It’s also a great way to ensure you’re getting daily minerals. It’s an absolute life-saver for hikes as well.
Unfortunately, food poisoning and traveler’s diarrhea are more common when visiting Guatemala. This can be generally avoided by not drinking tap water, sticking to cooked food, and eating at places that seem busy, but it can still happen. Keep some nausea medication like Pepto Bismol on hand, just in case.
Multi-purpose wash is one of my holy grails when traveling. It’s especially handy for Guatemala if you plan on backpacking. This way, you can hand-wash your laundry and wash your water bottle whenever you need. The Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash is a great product because it’s concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Plus, it’s carry-on sized.
A travel clothesline is a great travel essential for backpackers and budget-minded travelers. Many hotels and hostels lack places to hang dry clothes after you hand-wash your items. A travel clothesline fixes this problem. This Coghlan’s travel clothesline is easy to pack and no clothespins are needed.
A dry bag is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a pouch that’s meant to keep your things dry. This is super handy for visiting Guatemala’s beaches and lakes because splashing boats aren’t exactly in your control. Dry bags are also good for unexpected rain storms if you’re hiking. This dry bag by Earth Pak is durable and has a roll top and shoulder strap.
👉 Pro Tip: Purchase the Earth Pak dry bag to save a little money if you want a dry bag AND a waterproof phone pouch. The Earth Pack dry bag comes with both.
Waterproof Phone Pouch
A waterproof phone pouch is an easily overlooked item for Guatemala. But trust me, you’ll be glad you read this ultimate Guatemala packing list and knew to bring one.
Quick Dry Towel
A quick-dry towel is another major travel essential that most travelers should own. These are useful for visiting Guatemala because there are many cool swimming attractions worth visiting. Plus, having your own towel saves money at hostels.
Quick-dry towels are thin and dry fast—perfect for day trips and being on the go. I’ve had this basic REI one and it’s lasted me for a few years.
Guatemala’s wet season is notorious for having rain showers each afternoon around 2-4 pm. A compact umbrella is one of the best things you can add to your Guatemala packing list if you visit Guatemala between April and October.
📚 Related Reading: Best Travel Umbrellas
Other Guatemala Essentials to Pack
- Passport and other ID
- Covid vaccination paperwork
- Device chargers
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Contact lenses and solution
- Personal toiletries
- Prescription medicines
- Face masks
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper (for the Acatenango hike)
- Flushable wipes
- Soap leaves
- Sleeping mask
- Ear plugs
- Headlamp (for the Acatenango hike)
- Luggage locks
- Book or eReader
- Reusable bags
- Travel laundry bag
Clothing to Pack for Guatemala
Clothing for your Guatemala trip should be kept very simple. Think comfortable, lightweight clothing in materials like cotton, linen, or materials made for the outdoors.
Guatemala stays pretty warm with mild weather year-round. You’ll be comfortable in a tank top/T-shirt and lightweight pants or shorts most days. A thin layer like a light jacket or overshirt is usually enough warmth for the evenings.
The only seasonal clothing variation you should consider are items for the rainy season, like a rain jacket and umbrella. And be sure to pack accordingly (warm clothes) if you plan on hiking Acatenango.
So what clothing should you pack for Guatemala? Here is a quick clothing checklist for Guatemala:
- 2-3 pairs of light pants or shorts
- 1 pair of hiking pants
- 5-7 tops or T-shirts
- 1 dress or dressier outfit
- 1-2 bathing suits
- 1 swim coverup
- 1 ball cap or sunhat
- 5-7 pairs of socks (1-2 pairs of hiking socks)
- 5-7 pairs of underwear
- 1-2 sports bras
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of outdoor sandals
- 1 pair of hiking shoes or sturdy sneakers
- Base layers
- 1 Fleece jacket (for hiking)
- 1 Rain jacket
Having comfortable clothes to mix and match is key for your Guatemala packing list. The list included above and the items I mention below are all essential clothing items for the dry season and the wet season.
Guatemala has endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Additionally, the town of Antigua, which most travelers visit, is covered in bumpy cobblestone streets. These two facts mean that having durable and sturdy footwear is a must. I recommend adding a solid and comfortable pair of hiking boots or sneakers like these ones from Columbia, to your Guatemala packing list.
Outdoor sandals are the other type of shoe you should add to your Guatemala packing list. These, plus a pair of hiking boots or sturdy sneakers (above), are the only two shoes you’ll need.
Outdoor sandals like Chacos are perfect for Guatemala because they offer the same traction and durability as sneakers, but they’re better suited for hot days. They can also double as water shoes.
Shield yourself from frequent summer rain storms during Guatemala’s rainy season by having a portable rain jacket.
Don’t leave home without packing a rain jacket if you’re visiting Guatemala during its rainy season. Between April and October, afternoon rain storms happen like clockwork and you don’t want to be stuck in the downpour. A portable rain jacket like this one for women and this one for men is perfect because it’s waterproof, lightweight, and packs up small.
Travelers dress casually in Guatemala and functionality is important. This makes minimalist packing the name of the game. These hiking pants for men and women are perfect. You can wear them while out and about, but they’re also meant for outdoor adventures like volcano hiking. Plus, the two-in-on design helps you pack simple.
Base layers are a must-have item if you plan on doing the Volcano Acatenango hike. Base layers are convenient layers to pack because they’re lightweight and comfortable. They’re perfect for plane rides or cool evenings and they take up minimal space. These base layers by Smartwool are my favorite because they’re soft and long-lasting.
Guatemala Packing Tips
Opt for a Backpack Over a Rolling Suitcase
Guatemala is full of rough cobblestone streets and dirt roads. Modes of transportation can vary from shuttles to boats. I recommend using a travel backpack over a rolling suitcase. Travelers can get by with a rolling suitcase, but a backpack makes things easier.
Keep it Simple
Guatemala is a warm country with a mild climate year-round. This means you can pack lightweight, comfortable clothes to wear in Guatemala. I recommend sticking to basic tops like tank tops or T-shirts and bottoms like shorts or linen pants. The style here is pretty simple and casual for travelers.
Leave Most of Your Makeup at Home
Guatemala is a pretty casual country in terms of style for travelers. This includes makeup. I highly recommend packing minimal makeup or just leaving your makeup bag at home if you’re a makeup wearer. Wearing a full face of makeup is just a little over the top for Guatemala, and the humidity is no help either.
Pack Light if You’re a Shopper
Pack light and leave some spare room in your backpack or suitcase if you’re a big shopper. This is because textiles are one of the best souvenirs you can get in Guatemala, and this takes up more space than the average souvenir. Trust me, you’ll want to buy some things!
Be Prepared to Hand Wash Your Clothes
Many hotels and hostels offer laundry services, but doing this is an extra cost and sometimes inconvenient depending on your schedule. Hand-washing clothes as you wear them throughout your trip is worth doing depending on your plans. All you need is a multi-purpose wash and a travel clothesline.
Purchase Some Local Dark Chocolate for the High Altitudes
Dark chocolate is good for elevation sickness. I’m not sure of the exact science behind this, but eating dark chocolate can help alleviate symptoms of elevation sickness. Many parts of Guatemala are at high altitudes, including Antigua. Luckily, Guatemala produces fantastic chocolate. Pick some up when you arrive and keep it handy if you do any hikes.
Don’t Pack a Converter
There’s no need to pack a converter if you’re traveling from the U.S. or Canada. Guatemala has the same style of plugs as these countries: two flat prong plugs with 110 volt, 60 Hz electricity. Simply put, all your normal plugs should work just fine. If you’re traveling from another country, the EPICKA universal adapter is a good choice.
Get Cash Right Away
Guatemala is a cash-heavy country. Some places that do accept credit/debit cards often charge foreign transaction fees. So, you’re going to want to get local currency (Quetzales) upon arrival. You can do this at one of the currency exchange shops in the Guatemala City airport. Or, you can order Quetzales ahead of time through your local bank or credit union for a better exchange rate.
FAQs About Packing for Guatemala
What should you pack for Guatemala?
Is it OK to wear shorts in Guatemala?
It is ok to wear shorts in Guatemala. This being said, locals dress more conservatively and so it’s better to err on the side of conservative. However, most of the travelers I saw wore shorts and there was never any fuss.
What do people usually wear in Guatemala?
People (travelers) usually dress casually in Guatemala, in tank tops, T-shirts, linen pants, etc. Outdoor wear like hiking pants and outdoor sandals are also common. Many Guatemalan women wear traditional dress. Local men tend to wear pants rather than shorts. Overall, locals wear more conservative clothing, so keep this in mind.
Guatemala is home to beautiful and diverse geography, but one thing remains constant: Guatemala is the land of eternal spring. Hopefully this Guatemala packing list helps you feel prepared to tackle the amazing adventures that await you. And be sure to read our Mexico packing list for more packing information.
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