As moms, we prioritize securing all the important articles to pack for the kids to make sure they have everything they need away from home and sometimes we can leave our own necessities to the last minute.
However, because of the limited shopping here in Nicaragua, I encourage you to plan ahead and bring what you will need from home, so that you are also at your best in your new life here in Granada. It is worth it to pay $25-40 for an extra piece of luggage on your flight over to shop for what you need in your own country at leisure, with a greater variety of choices at more competitive prices.
What to bring in your suitcase
I recommend that you bring more daily wear, exercise clothing, and underwear (especially bras as they lose elasticity over time) than you might normally anticipate needing. Clothes and shoes have a way of wearing down more quickly here and these articles are difficult to replace in Granada (possibly easier done in Managua but not at the better prices that you can pay in your home country).
There are a few elements working against us here in Granada. For clothes, just washing them in heavily treated water that contains extra chlorine will begin to fade colors rather quickly. If you hang your clothes out on the line, the sun can also speed up this process (a useful trick is both to wash and dry clothing arranged inside out). Also, we tend to sweat more in a tropical environment and it’s dustier here; so chances are that you will wash your wardrobe more frequently.
A lot of moms like to take up yoga in Granada and there are some fantastic classes and instructors here. If you plan on making yoga part of your routine make sure that you bring enough workout wear (including sports bras) to get you through your extended stay, as those clothes get washed a lot depending on how many classes you take each week.
For shoes, I recommend bringing a pair of sneakers for hikes and exercise, sandals for daily wear and dressing up, and a few pairs of comfortable flip-flops for casual wear (I love to wear Crocs for comfort, durability and non-slippage on wet tile). Sandals are probably the easiest item to replace in Granada.
In general, you will want a lot of tops that breathe well and make you feel cool. What you normally wear in August back home will be right for Granada weather year round. You should bring a sweater for air-conditioned environments and trips into Northern Nicaragua and and a coat in case you fly back home into winter weather.
Skirts, shorts and jeans also work well in Granada and in beach areas, as well. Shorts work less well in other areas of Nicaragua including Managua, where they are considered too informal and revealing (skirts, pants and sandals also are better in banks and anything having to do with immigration and visas).
Don’t forget to pack several bathing suits. At some point if you bring only one it will go threadbare on you and as you pick through some scarce, overpriced options in Managua, you will wish you had brought some backup. Bring a favorite sun hat or there are some stylish Panama hats sold around town.
The other clothing category that we tend to forget about is sleepwear. Think again about hot summer nights, potentially without air conditioning (depending on your home and budget). Also, imagine your house cleaner or pool cleaner arriving at 7:00 am and what clothes you might still be in when you greet them!
Nicaraguans value highly the effort you put into your presentation. For what that is worth to you, try an experiment with your most casual look with one that took some more forethought and see their reactions. I can bet that you will sense an appreciation for the pains you took to put it all together.
On that note, you will want to bring a few dressing up outfits. Particularly if your children are attached to a school here, there are occasions in Granada that require a more formal outfit. The school will host events for socializing and for predictable dates like end-of-year promotion and it is nice having those clothes, shoes, jewelry and a purse all lined up ready to go. You will see your Nicaraguan counterparts in dresses and heels for these events and they love to see you getting into the occasion, too.
Stock up on favorite cosmetics and toiletries
If you have a favorite lipstick or waterproof mascara bring 2 or 3! Items like these are imported and pricey here. I love this Maybelline, waterproof mascara but it $15 dollars here in Nicaragua! I also recommend to pack more of your favorite toothpaste (there’s something very unsatisfying about the toothpaste here…), 50+ SPF Kiss My Face waterproof face cream for swimming, and full body 50+SPF Alba waterproof spray sunblock that smells great.
By the way, tampons are much harder to find here in Nicaragua. If you are stickler for organic cotton tampons like I am, make sure you plan ahead. If you run out your favorite organic products you can easily order them here.
If you dye your hair at home bring a couple of boxes of your favorite brand and color just to have one less thing to think of in your first months of being here. There is a good line of Loreal hair dye called Casting Crème Gloss that is sold at La Colonia that doesn’t use ammonia, if you need it.
My one tricky, bulky item
If your family will be living in Granada for more than six months, I recommend that you bring your favorite blender. I get asked about bikes, scooters and even TVs, but the one bulky item that I do suggest bringing and have myself brought is a Vitamix blender. Within seconds it blends all these fresh tropical fruits with a couple cups of ice and makes a perfect smoothie full of immunity-building vitamins and antioxidants.
I use my blender at least once a day; Aiden gets a smoothie every time I pick him up from school, cooling him down and buying me time if he’s hungry or agitated.
To get it here, I packed both the pitcher and the motor base in my carry-on luggage, to assure that it arrived safely, but first removed the blade with this wrench to check it in with other luggage to avoid security issues.
It’s good to try to pack well for your comfort Mom. You are important, too and you will want your energy to be focused on helping your kids transition into their new environment rather than hunting down this and that in a foreign land.
Having said that, the important things is really just getting here and having this special opportunity and venue to connect with family. If there is something missing in your suitcase, it’s really all secondary to the bigger picture of why you are here. So once you have given your packing list your best effort, know that you did what you could and you will figure out the rest when you get to Granada!