El Salvador Immersion Trip Packing List

Please check carefully our suggested list of what to pack. It is very important to pack as light as possible. Please try to limit your personal belongings to one suitcase. This will allow the group of participants to move more quickly during the traveling. It is also important to remember that you will be traveling through tropical and very warm climate.

What to Pack (Passport, Passport, and also….)

No packing list is comprehensive. It may all be obvious if you have traveled before. If you pack all of these things, much of it may turn out to be superfluous. You could also pack every last thing on this list and still find once you get there that you need a few things not on it. With that in mind, please find below our list.


  • Ideally, pack all you need in a small suitcase but have enough clothing for the whole trip without doing laundry. The retreat house Maria Eugenia does offer to wash people’s clothes for a small price (not included in the fee), so if you prefer to pack light you have this option.
  • A small backpack or shoulder bag for a daypack.
  • Bring a money belt, and/or a fanny pack for money, passport (make a copy to have with you at all times), you don’t need any other ID, plane ticket, make a copy to leave at home, maybe an eyeglasses prescription. (Carry these in your purse or carry-on not checked luggage).


  • Bring what you normally use: toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, shampoo, soap, deodorant, razor, prescription medications (in the original bottle). Travel sizes are great. (3oz) Full size bottles are heavy and take up a lot of space.
  • Small packet of tissues.
  • A beach towel, washcloth (if you use it) and flip-flops or plastic sandals for showers. A bath towel will be provided at the Retreat House.
  • A bandana or handkerchief is a good idea. A small mirror can be nice to have.
  • Sunglasses and a sun hat (preferably a ‘sombrero’ type that gives protection to ears).
  • A small flashlight and a small lock for your luggage might be good to bring.
  • Sunscreen (high SPF), lip balm (if you need it), and insect repellent.
  • Small notebook and pen, a couple of Ziploc bags to keep things dry.
  • Small Nalgene or other good quality water bottle, such as a biker’s bottle.
  • Hand wash-sanitizer or wipes for times when there is no water to wash. This is very important!


As Maryknollers, we take responsibility to dress in a way that facilitates our ability to have effective relationships with the Salvadorans. Appropriate dress is important. Women should not wear plunging necklines, short skirts, shorts, or tight shirts. Men should not wear shorts in public however, shorts would be appropriate for men and women while at the Retreat House and at the beach.

  • Lightweight, cotton wash n’ wear shirts (absolutely no straps, tank tops or bare bellies!).
  • Pants and Jeans are appropriate for men and women.
  • Skirts or dresses – knee length and longer (but not touching the ground, it is dusty).
  • June is hot and humid, so clothing needs to be lightweight and very airy, quick to wash and dry.
  • Something to sleep in.
  • The retreat house Maria Eugenia is up higher than the capital and does cool down in the evenings and early mornings especially if it rains, therefore there may be times that you will need a light sweater or jacket.
  • Bring beachwear–suit, shorts, shirt to prevent burns.
  • STURDY SHOES – good for walking, preferably close-toed that are already broken in. Sandals are Ok for some places, but you will definitely need sneakers–in some places there will be lots of mud.

Extra accessories

  • Camera, film and spare batteries (and extra scan cards for storing pictures and extra batteries).
  • Photos of home and family to share with other participants and the people you visit.
  • Reading Material for the airplanes and down time.
  • Journal, Pens, Addresses (for letters/postcards).
  • Snacks –power Bars, trail mix, (nothing that would melt easily).
  • Cards or other games for the group.

We suggest you bring the following medications just in case you need them: The prices of medications in El Salvador are one hundred to four hundred times higher for than in the US.

  • Some diarrhea or stomach medicine
  • aspirin or equivalent that you use
  • bandages and Neosporin
  • any other medication you are taking.

Keep in Mind

  • Shorts are not acceptable (except for at the retreat house and the beach).
  • You will be able to wash things in El Salvador, but don’t take clothes that you can’t wash with bar soap by hand. Bring clothes that breathe well, dry fast, and don’t require ironing. (no dry cleaning available).
  • Make a photocopy of your passport data page as you will carry this with you at all times.
  • Leave expensive watches and jewelry at home. Maximum $250 for personal gifts unless you plan on doing lots of shopping for gifts amount (most artisan items cost between $5 and $15).
  • Credit cards often do not work and when they do only VISA Cards are accepted at the ATM’s in San Salvador. If you bring cash only bills of 1, 5, and 10 nothing bigger than 20 dollars.
  • Electrical equipment from the U.S. will work in El Salvador.
  • In addition, it is helpful to have some snacks with you, peanuts, crackers, trail mix etc…

If you have any questions about what to bring, please contact me at friendsacrossborders@mklm.org

Remember, pack light, pack light!