The Ultimate El Salvador Packing List: What to Wear in El Salvador (Clothing + Gear List)

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Last Updated on: 6th February 2023, 03:16 pm

Wondering what to pack for El Salvador? Use this El Salvador packing list to decide what you will take with you plus what to wear in El Salvador!

Here’s everything you need to take with you so you, too, can have a fabulous time in El Salvador, but also a few things we wished we had brought (more bug repellant and sunscreen, please!) so you can avoid some of our mistakes!

El Salvador - View from the Mirador Turístico Apaneca (The Apaneca Tourist Viewpoint) - Stephanie Craig
El Salvador will take your breath away!

I include items that you’ll want to take to beach towns, the mountain towns of the Ruta de las Flores, and the safety items I always take for trips to Central America.

If you’re still trying to decide what to bring to El Salvador or what you’ll want to wear, here’s my ultimate El Salvador packing list so you have an awesome and safe trip!

El Salvador - Juayua - Hotel Juayua Garden - Stephanie Craig
Hanging out in the garden at the Hotel Juayua 

Good to Know: I have this list split up into a general El Salvador packing list of items for everyone, separate sections for what to wear in El Salvador for women and men, packing tips for El Salvador for plus-size travelers like myself, packing information for LGTBQ travelers, what technology to bring to El Salvador, El Salvador guidebooks (including what I used), and what you need to pack for backpacking El Salvador hostels.

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What to Pack for El Salvador - El Salvador Clothing - El Salvador Shoes - Packing List for El Salvador - What to Bring to El Salvador

My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2024

These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.

Protect Your Trip via Safety Wing

Find the best city tours, day tours, bus tours, & skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide and Viator.

Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on

For English-speaking private airport transfers, book through Welcome Pickups.

For road trips and independent travel, rent a car through Discover Cars.

Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.

For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.

See also
27 Magical Things to Do on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador

Book an affordable family or romantic photography session on your trip through Flytographer (Use the code HISTORYFANGIRL for 10% off your first photoshoot).

For travel guidebooks to have with you during your trip, I always pick one or two from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.

5 Most Popular Tours in El Salvador

Heading to El Salvador? There are so many great things to see and do here! These are the five most popular Salvadoran tours and day trips to help you get started planning your trip!

San Andrés y Providencia: Walking Under the Sea Experience

Ilamatepec ( Santa Ana ) Volcano Hiking + Panoramic View Lake Coatepeque

From San Salvador: Mayan Heritage Archaeological Tour

Full-Day Ruta de Las Flores visit four Colonial Towns and Coffee Farm

From San Salvador: Thermal Spa and Coffee Plant Tour

What to Bring to El Salvador: Packing List Items for Everyone

El Salvador is a pretty straightforward place to pack for if you’ve traveled extensively in Central America, but if this will be one of your first trips to the region then you might be surprised at some of the items on this list!

Luggage Options: What Backpacks or Suitcases to Use to Pack for El Salvador

The first thing you need to decide is what kind of luggage you plan on taking with you, and this will be dictated by your travel style.

Only you can decide if you’re going to take a roller bag-style suitcase or if you’re going to backpack.

If you plan on traveling with only a carry-on, then you will need a minimalist packing style. However, if you are going to check a bag, then you can choose a larger suitcase that will hold a few more items.

El Salvador - San Salvador - Airport
Deciding what kind of luggage you will take will determine if you check your bags or not.

Some things to consider when deciding between taking a roller bag or a backpack as your main piece of luggage:

Will you be staying in hotels or shared hostel dorms?

Will you be traveling by driver or using chicken buses?

Do you want to travel carry-on only or are you comfortable checking a bag?

Will you be staying in one or two locations, or will you be moving from place to place often?

Best Backpacks for El Salvador

I use a Bergans Skarstind 48, which I bought in 2018 to backpack the Caucasus, and its survived many trips over the years, including to El Salvador.

See also
50 Photo Spots on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador's Route of the Flowers, to Spark Your Wanderlust

Unfortunately, it’s now out of production. The closes thing I can find to it is the Osprey Renn 50 for women and the Osprey Kestrel 48 for men.

Azerbaijan - Border Control
Taking mirror selfies in my backpack while backpacking in the Caucasus

This style of backpack holds more than enough clothes to get through a week without having to do laundry, just with a little mixing and matching.

I can fit a week’s worth of clothing, two pairs of shoes (plus wearing a third on the plane), makeup, toiletries, a travel hairdryer, etc. all in this bag.

Note: Not all backpacks are carry-on sized. To make sure you can use your backpack as a carry-on, check the dimensions of the bags.

See the Osprey Renn 50 and the Osprey Kestrel 48 on Amazon.

Best Roller Bags for El Salvador

During my first trip to Central America, I used an Osprey Sojourn 80L roller bag as my main suitcase.

However, it’s no longer in production. I also travel lighter than I did all those years ago. If I had to buy a new roller suitcase now, I’d go with the Osprey Rolling Transporter 40 Duffel Bag if I wanted something durable that will last for multiple trips.

About a year ago, I started using a Ricardo spinner suitcase similar to the Ricardo Beverly Hills Malibu Bay as my go-to for domestic travel.

Washington - Kennewick - Hampton Inn - Suitcase
My favorite suitcase for the past year is a Ricardo – it’s been to Mexico and 24 US states!

I wish I’d used this in El Salvador instead of a backpack since we were mostly traveling by private car.

For the way we traveled in El Salvador – one main hotel location with day trips and a private car for traveling round-trip to the airport – a roller suitcase would have been more convenient.

So which is the best roller bag for El Salvador?

If you plan on traveling extensively around Central America, I would go with the Osprey Rolling Transporter 40 Duffel Bag. This way you have a bag that can stand extensive wear-and-tear.

If you plan on going to El Salvador as a stand-alone trip, I would get something chicer that you can use for all your trips. The Ricardo Beverly Hills Malibu Bay is a great option for this.

See also
50 Photo Spots on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador's Route of the Flowers, to Spark Your Wanderlust

See the Osprey Rolling Transporter 40 Duffel Bag and the Ricardo Beverly Hills Malibu Bay on Amazon.

Best Day Packs for El Salvador

I have two go-to day packs for all my trips, and both are perfect for using as El Salvador day bags.

The Pacsafe Citysafe is great for cities because it has many anti-theft features designed to deter pickpockets, like wire mesh sewn into the lining and an RFID pocket.

Serbia - Belgrade - Day Bag Pacsafe
I use my Pacsafe Citysafe bag to help thwart pickpockets all over Europe.

It also transitions to a night bag easily and won’t embarrass you if you go to dinner directly after sightseeing all day. 

It also has a laptop sleeve if you need to travel with your laptop.

However, this is an investment travel bag, and I don’t always want to travel with my computer.

Since I didn’t take my laptop with me, I used my Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack. This is my favorite budget day bag.

El Salvador - Juayua - Stephanie Backpack
My Venture Pal has survived seventeen national parks and trips to Mexico and El Salvador with no sign of stopping anytime soon!

It was a steal for the price, and in the past six months, it has survived seventeen US national parks as well as my trips to Mexico and El Salvador!

It won’t last as long as my Citysafe (which is already in year five!), but it has more than proved its worth so far.

See the Pacsafe Citysafe and the Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack on Amazon.

Organization (Bags within Bags)

If you aren’t a bags within bags person, you need to become one, at least when you travel. This will help tremendously when you’re traveling, whether you’re backpacking around El Salvador or staying at one luxury hotel.

I divide my stuff up into these bags and then organize these in my suitcase:

1-2 large packing cubes for clothes, bathing suits, and bathing suit covers

1-2 medium packing cubes for underwear, socks, pajamas

6 small cosmetic-style bags for smaller items. I have a random collection of bags bought at various H&Ms across Europe, but they are all similar to this one. 

See also
27 Magical Things to Do on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador

I have them split up like this:  wet toiletries, dry toiletries, prescriptions and medications, small tech like cords and chargers, hair essentials, and makeup.

Bulgaria - Sofia - Packing before a trip
Being a bags-within-bags person helps turn the chaos of packing into a smooth trip once you leave!

1 laundry bag that comes with the packing cubes to separate dirty laundry during the trip.

1 Canvas Tote Bag that can be used as a beach bag for beach days, for groceries, and as a go-to day bag for any day where you’re going to be taking it easy and don’t need a ton of stuff.

1-2 empty gallon ziplock bags and 3-5 empty small ziplock bags for packing open bottles, wet clothes, etc. as the trip progresses.

After 56 countries and 45 US states, I have settled on a system that works for me. I tweak it for the specifics of each trip, but generally, this system serves me quite well!

Toiletries & Skincare

You will want to take good care of your skin while you are in El Salvador! This starts with sun protection, but it doesn’t end there.

This list also includes travel eye care items, hair care, cosmetics, dental care, and more!

Travel-sized shampoo and conditioner. Some people swear by solid shampoo, but I just refill the same travel-size bottles.

A small hairbrush. I use one like this, but get one that is right for your hair type.

Travel-sized hairdryer for those who need a hairdryer and are not staying in a hotel that provides one.

Full-Sized Travel Towel. Most bloggers I know hate their microfibre travel towels, but I opted for a big, beautiful microfibre towel that’s perfect for the beach or a hostel.

Best Microfiber Towel for Travel
I always bring my travel towel wherever I go.

Seriously, no one loves their travel towel as much as I do. The fun stripes also make it perfect for enjoying a beach trip without feeling like you’re using a travel towel.

Dry Shampoo for those who like to use it. These are the ones I use when I travel.

Hair products that are specific to your hair type.

See also
50 Photo Spots on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador's Route of the Flowers, to Spark Your Wanderlust

Reef-Safe Sunscreen for all the time you will spend outside. If you’re flying carry-on only, bring at least one or two travel-size sunscreens. Get an SPF 50 if you can.

Mosquito Repellant for the mosquitos. If you’re traveling carry-on only, bring a travel-sized insect repellent. It’s important to prevent mosquito bites to prevent getting dengue fever,

Tissues, Toilet Paper, or Kleenex

Travel Sized Hand Sanitizer

Your Prefered Moisturizer, Night Cream, and Lotions since travel is brutal on your skin.


Makeup Removing Towelettes

Toothbrush and Travel Cover

Travel-Size Toothpaste




Hair Removal Items for those who care about that sort of thing. I bring a razor, shaving cream, and Nair when I travel to the beach.

Nail Care Items for those who need them. I bring a nail file, nail clippers, and whatever nail polish I’ve been wearing to touch up chips. On my trip to El Salvador, I was wearing OPI Suzi.

El Salvador - Apaneca - Chicken Bus Ticket
I always get my nails done before a trip because I need photos like these for my blog. Oh, blogger life is weird.

A Pair of Tweezers

Travel Eye Care items: Everyone should have sunglasses or prescription sunglasses. If you wear contacts, bring your case and solutions, as well as a backup pair if you have one.

If you wear glasses, bring a hard case for storing them. I travel with two pairs of prescription glasses and two pairs of prescription sunglasses.

This is because I’ve lost pairs of glasses twice while traveling, and not having a backup pair is asking for a disaster.

El Salvador - Apaneca - The Labrynth at the Albanian Cafe in Apaneca - Stephanie Craig
I always travel with two pairs of prescription glasses and two pairs of prescription sunglasses…just in case!

If you will be diving or snorkeling, you can’t wear glasses in the masks so bring disposable contact lenses. You might be able to buy one or two disposable pairs just for this purpose without investing in a full contact lens routine.

Laundry Detergent Powder if you will be traveling long enough to need to wash clothes in your sink. For me, this is usually if I’ll be gone more than a week. I put some in a ziplock bag to avoid bringing too much.

See also
27 Magical Things to Do on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador

Something to deal with that special time of the month. If you have to deal with a period on the road, pack whatever you need depending on your preferences.

A Water Bottle with a Filter if you want to be able to drink the tap water safely. Do not drink tap water in El Salvador unless you use a filter.

First Aid Kit & Medications

Over-the-counter medication from pharmacies is pretty easy to find, so you don’t need to lug around everything you could need. Just make sure to bring a few basic items.

A basic medicine kit will include:

Your prescriptions, medications, contraception needs, and regular vitamins.

Anything you take weekly (for me this would be things like antacids).

Your OTC pain medicine of choice. I brought a small bottle of Ibuprofen.

After Bite for mosquito bites (even being extremely careful, you may end up with some if you have to go somewhere at dusk).

Small Baby Oil for sandfly bites. I hope you don’t need it, but if you do you will want it ASAP.

A travel-sized First Aid Kit

Bandaids which I used to stave off blisters in El Salvador.

Luckily I had them with me! After accidentally stabbing my thumb with my razor in the Lisbon airport and having to pretend like I wasn’t bleeding to death while eating a steak, I vow to never leave home without bandaids.

Travel-sized Vaseline (Always, always, always pack Vaseline).

Always pack vaseline. It’s great for preventing chafing and blisters!

If you anticipate sleep issues from any time changes, I love having melatonin with me on every trip.

Sea-Band Wristbands if you get motion sickness and will be on boats, golf carts, or winding mountain roads.

Imodium and Pepto if you get stomach issues when you travel.

What Documentation to Bring to El Salvador

You won’t need that many items, but there are a few documents you need to bring with you to El Salvador.

See also
50 Photo Spots on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador's Route of the Flowers, to Spark Your Wanderlust

Your Passport as well as hard and soft passport copies. You need the passport to enter and exit the country, and copies in case you need to work with your embassy in the event your passport is lost or stolen. Put a hard copy in your luggage and email yourself and someone you trust a soft copy.

El Salvador - Juayua - San Salvador Airport - Immigration
You will need your passport to get through immigration at the airport in San Salvador

A Passport Holder to keep your passport from being damaged.

I also had a waterproof passport and cellphone holder that I used to protect my passport at pools, beaches, and hot springs.

El Salvador - Ahuachapan - The Tamales de Santa Teresa in Ahuachupan - Stephanie Craig
That cool blue string around my neck is the dry bag holding my credit cards and cell phone (once I’m done taking selfies of course).

Good to Know: If your passport gets wet, you can be refused boarding on your plane.

Your Driver’s License if you plan on renting a car or golf cart.

El Salvador - Juayua - San Salvador Airport - Car Rental Counter
Make sure you bring any documents your rental car company requests if you plan to rent a car.

Vaccination records if you come from a country with a requirement for vaccines like yellow fever. I brought my COVID-19 vaccination card with me just in case.

Scuba Certification if going to scuba dive.

Your Travel Insurance Policy information. For my trip to El Salvador, I purchased travel insurance and emailed the policy information to my mother and husband in case they needed to access it on my behalf.

I’ve had several broken phones, a nearly stolen wallet, car rental accidents, etc, so I always prefer to pay for travel insurance just in case I need to use it.

It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be in destinations that are considered more dangerous, like San Salvador, or doing outdoor activities like hiking, scuba diving, and surfing.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip to El Salvador

Money: Cash and Credit Cards

Whenever you travel abroad, money can be one of the biggest concerns. Here’s what you need to bring with you to be able to access your money in El Salvador.

Credit Cards & ATM Cards

Bring your credit cards and bank cards as well as a hard copy in case they are lost or stolen, plus email yourself a soft copy just in case.

See also
27 Magical Things to Do on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador

Your cards have the international toll number for you to call your company if there’s an issue.

You can give your companies a travel notice so they don’t suspect fraud and shut your cards off.

Make sure you bring at least two cards. Never travel with only one account or one card. You never know what can happen on the road.

Make sure your cards don’t have foreign transaction fees. Since I travel so often, I don’t use any credit cards that have this kind of fee. Ask your bank and credit card companies if you are unsure.

I also use Charles Schwab, which reimburses me for ATM fees I pay to other banks. This helped me save money in El Salvador because some of the bank fees were very high!

El Salvador - Nahuizalco - ATM Slip with giant fee
Some ATM fees in El Salvador were very, very high! This one was almost $8! Luckily, my bank reimburses me.


Since El Salvador uses the US Dollar (USD) as their official currency, you can bring cash with you before your trip if you’re coming from the USA.

You should bring a minimum of $12 in cash to pay the immigration fee when you enter the country.

El Salvador - Juayua - San Salvador Airport - Tourist Card Form
At Immigration you will need to fill out this tourist card and pay $12 in cash – so bring some cash with you!

Many places take credit cards, but having access to cash is important.

I used cash to pay for many expenses where I couldn’t use a credit card.

We needed cash to pay our driver, shop at artisan shops, eat meals at the Juayua Food Festival, entrance to the Termales de Santa Teresa, and for shopping at the Nahuizalco Night Market.

I used credit cards at our hotel, some restaurants, and some shops.

You can access ATMs in many towns – but not all towns. Starting with some cash at the beginning will make life easier.

Storing Your Money

I kept my cash (and my passport) in the backward-facing pocket of my Venture Pal 40L Lightweight Packable Daypack. Pair this with a wallet that RFIDsafe technology that blocks your cards and passport from being scanned.

See also
50 Photo Spots on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador's Route of the Flowers, to Spark Your Wanderlust

Alternatively, you can use any wallet if your bag is something like the Pacsafe Citysafe since you can keep your money, passport, and credit cards in the inner pocket that has RFIDsafe technology.

El Salvador - Apaneca - Wooden El Salvador Souvenirs
Never flash your cash when you’re shopping in El Salvador

I put a few small bills in the bag’s front pocket to use so I never flashed my cash in public.

I’ve never used a money belt when I travel, but if that would make you more comfortable, there are much better money belts available today than in the past.

I also don’t use a full decoy wallet, but you can make yourself one if you feel more comfortable.

What to Wear in El Salvador: Clothing, Shoes, & Accessories

I’ll admit that I would have been packing for El Salvador wrong if I hadn’t been to Mexico just a month before.

However, spending a few weeks on the Yucatan Peninsula reminded me of what it’s like to travel in this kind of heat and informed my clothing choices, and I loved all the items I took with me to wear in El Salvador.

El Salvador - View from the Mirador Turístico Apaneca (The Apaneca Tourist Viewpoint) - Stephanie Craig
My favorite outfit that I took to El Salvador was a lightweight, airy maxi dress and a crop-length denim jacket for when I needed to cover my shoulders.

The weather in El Salvador is hot, even oppressive at times, so you will want to plan accordingly.

Average highs are always in the mid-to-high eighties, with temperatures exceeding this often throughout the year.

If you aren’t used to the heat, you might be surprised at how many locals are wearing heavy items of clothing like jeans.

However, unless you grew up in a very hot climate, you’ll be happier in light clothing that breathes.

You also need to plan for the season you are visiting. El Salvador has two main seasons – the rainy season from May through October and the dry season from November through April.

Another thing to consider is that a lot of what you will want for clothing in El Salvador depends on the parts of the country you will be visiting.

For example, what to wear in El Salvador on a surf vacation in a beach town will look different than what you will want to wear in more conservative parts of the country.

See also
27 Magical Things to Do on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador

So I have recommendations for every kind of trip, and then you can select only the items and amounts that make sense for your ultimate destinations and trip length.

What to Wear in El Salvador for Women

This travel packing list is designed for one week in El Salvador.

Take items off if you’re going for less time than that. Going for more time? You’ll want to do laundry while there.

Women in El Salvador dress more conservatively than in many other parts of Latin America, so you may find that flowy maxi dresses and fuller-coverage swimsuits are more comfortable to travel in.

El Salvador - Ataco - Stephanie Craig
We mostly wore dresses because they were cooler in the heat!

Because I primarily spent time in more conservative towns, I was happy having a light jacket I could throw over my shoulders and dresses that were midi- and maxi-length.

Clothing for El Salvador

3-4 dresses if you primarily wear dresses when traveling (like me). I was happy in light dresses that were loose and didn’t stick on me when I was sweaty from the heat.

2-7 lightweight t-shirts or tank tops depending on how many dresses you are taking.

I brought two tank tops for sleeping in since I wore dresses out every day. If you plan on wearing short sleeve shirts during the day, I would get ones that have a loose fit and a higher neckline.

2-4 pairs of pants, shorts, or skirts. Look for ones that are loose and breathable. I would skip jeans unless you know you enjoy wearing jeans in the heat.

1-3 pairs of yoga leggings or hiking pants if you will be doing activities like climbing a volcano or going hiking.

1 pair of shorts for sleep bottoms

1 light cardigan, jean jacket, or kimono for layering during the day, covering up your arms when visiting churches, and staying warm at night.

I brought a cropped denim jacket and it was a great option for on the ground as well as on the plane – which was freezing.

See also
27 Magical Things to Do on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador

1 rain jacket if traveling during the rainy season

2 swimsuits for beach towns, hot springs, and pools. Pack a swimming suit even if you’re going to be mostly in towns because many hotels have pools.

If you are going to only be in a swimsuit in popular beach towns, you can wear whatever you feel the most comfortable in, from bikinis to a rash guard and swim pants.

Even in the more conservative towns, I felt comfortable in a high-waisted bikini.

El Salvador - Ahuachapan - The Tamales de Santa Teresa in Ahuachupan - Thermal Pool - Stephanie Craig
I felt comfortable in a high wasted bikini at the hot spring and thermal pools

If surf lessons are a part of your travel plans, you can ask the surfers at your company if they have any special requirements for what they want you to wear to the beach for your lesson.

1-2 swim cover-ups for the beach, pool, or thermal baths. This can be anything from a sarong to a specialized beach cover-up to a regular dress.

I have a black t-shirt racerback dress that doubles as my favorite beach cover.

Shoes for El Salvador

You don’t want to overload yourself with shoes in El Salvador.

I like to have three options. Two get packed in my suitcase/backpack and one extra can be worn on the plane.

Flip-flops for the beach, wear at the hotel/hostel, and thermal pools. I prefer this version with arch support for tired travel-weary feet. Slides are another option.

Sturdy Travel Sandals like Birkenstocks or Tevas for walking around the cities or villages. These are my two favorite sandals for travel because they are sturdy and made to be walked in.

Hiking Shoes with traction for going on waterfall hikes, volcanoes hikes, or other adventures that require close-toed shoes. I like Columbia for my hiking shoes, but there are several sturdy brands.

Pro Tip: for hiking shoes and Birkenstocks, make sure you get them early and break them in. I learned this the hard way. Blister city.

Underwear and Socks

2-4 Bras, Bralettes, or Sports Bra depending on your planned activities

See also
50 Photo Spots on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador's Route of the Flowers, to Spark Your Wanderlust

8 pairs of underwear or however many days you will be there plus one extra. Keep the extra pair in your carry-on luggage if you will be checking your suitcase – just in case!

2-3 pairs of bicycle shorts for wearing under dresses and skirts to stop chaffing

2-4 pairs of quick-dry socks for hiking days or days when you need to wear closed-toe shoes

Jewelry and Accessories

You should avoid taking important jewelry with you to Central America. I don’t travel with expensive jewelry, and I would avoid taking any sentimental irreplaceable jewelry with you.

I took this set of six pairs of hoops that are cute and versatile and easy to replace if I lose them. I selected the silver set, but the gold is really cute, too!

(I left a set behind on the Olympic Peninsula a few months later and I already replaced them).

I also wore two rings from James Avery that I wear every day, but I didn’t take any real jewels or anything expensive.

During my time in El Salvador, I bought some locally made jewelry and wore it with the jewelry I brought.

I also wore my Fitbit watch (which was a replacement for the one I left in Mexico), but it wasn’t essential.

El Salvador - Ahuachapan - The Tamales de Santa Teresa in Ahuachupan - Largest hot spring in Central America - Stephanie Craig
I loved these earrings – but I also loved that I could replace them if I lost them on the trip! Also seen: my Fitbit

I wouldn’t take a watch that looks expensive, but maybe something cute like this won’t be an issue if it doesn’t make it home.

Take whatever hair accessories you like to use. I took some hair clips and headbands, but I mostly wore my hair in braids secured in my favorite brand of no-metal elastics.

A hat for staying out of the sun, especially at the beach. You can do a cute beach hat or a dad hat.

What to Wear in El Salvador for Men

Here’s what men should pack for El Salvador for a week.

If you’re going to be there longer, plan to do laundry. If you’re going to be there for less than a week, take less of each item.

See also
27 Magical Things to Do on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador
El Salvador - Juayua - Iglesia Santa Lucia in Juayua with a La Chiva Bus and Guy on Bicycle
Men want to make sure to dress for the weather

Clothing for El Salvador

7-8 lightweight shirts (think tank tops, quick-dry t-shirts, and fabrics that wick)

3 undershirts

3-4 pairs of shorts

1 pair of long, breathable pants if you’re going to be hiking

1 tee shirt and shorts for sleeping

2 pairs of swim trunks

1 rain jacket

Shoes for El Salvador

Comfortable Closed-Toed Walking Shoes for hiking and walking around cities and towns.

Comfortable day sandals like Birkenstocks or Tevas.

Flip-flops or slides for the beach, thermal pools, and your hotel.

Underwear and Socks

7-8 pairs of underwear

4-5 pairs of quick-dry socks

Jewelry and Accessories

Just like in the section above for women, I would caution you to not take valuable or irreplaceable sentimental jewelry to El Salvador. If you do have personal jewelry that you love, I would take replaceable pieces.

A hat for staying out of the sun.

An inexpensive watch (optional).

El Salvador Packing Tips for Plus Size Travelers

It’s hard to find El Salvador clothing for plus-size bodies in typical shops in El Salvador, which is something I have found to be true across Latin America.

I always pack a little more than my peers, because I know I can’t replace my wardrobe mid-trip.

Our clothing also takes up more room in our bags, so I tend to look like I pack more even when I am packing lighter than other travelers.

Washington - Kennewick - Hampton Inn - Mirror Selfie - Stephanie Craig
I wore this Pretty Garden jumpsuit on the plane to El Salvador (and again to Washington state the next month) and loved it. The plane was cold, so glad to have the jacket on top!

My favorite brands for women’s plus-size travel clothing are Torrid, Pretty Garden (I wore this jumpsuit on the plane to El Salvador and loved it), and Swimsuits4All.

I shop Snag Tights for my chub rub shorts (and keep vaseline handy just in case!).

I don’t have recommendations for men’s plus-size travel clothing for El Salvador, but beware that they don’t see larger sizes often – even for men.

If you have questions about clothing in El Salvador for plus-size travelers, drop them in the comments and I’ll add my two cents!

See also
50 Photo Spots on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador's Route of the Flowers, to Spark Your Wanderlust

El Salvador Packing Tips for LGTBQ Travelers

Where I have recommendations for what to wear in El Salvador, these are organized by gender so that I can link out to specific items, rather than a prescription for how one should dress for gender expression.

I hope you purchase the clothes for your trip that makes you the happiest and most comfortable, regardless of gender and expectations.

I am not an expert on LGTBQ travel in Latin America, so I cannot comment on how safe or unsafe travel is for LGTBQ travelers in El Salvador regarding clothing selection or any other matters.

I looked for a good guide to link to by trusted LGTBQ travel voices, but I couldn’t find an up-to-date one.

When I asked my circle of travel writing friends, Jose from My Normal Gay Life told me that he has family from El Salvador who mentioned to him that for some, El Salvador is “totally unsafe…, especially for Gays.”

If you are researching a trip and you are worried about your safety as an LGTBQ traveler, I don’t have any resources to link out to at this time, but I will add some if I find one down the road.

What Technology to Bring to El Salvador

Here’s the tech that I normally travel with. Some items I chose not to bring to El Salvador. If this is the case, I notate it.

Cell Phones

I brought my iPhone and two iPhone chargers. I took most of my photos in El Salvador on this phone.

El Salvador - Apaneca - Mirror Selfie in Front of the Church in Apaneca - Stephanie Craig
I used my iPhone for most of my photography for convenience.


I took my Sony ZV-1 point-and-shoot camera with two memory cards as my primary camera, but I ended up not using it much and sticking with the convenience of my iPhone.

I sometimes travel with a Nikon DSLR, but the combo of my iPhone12 and Sony ZV-1 are more than enough for my needs when I want to travel light.

I don’t travel with extra camera batteries, but if you want your camera to be your go-to and not your phone, it’s a good idea to pack extra batteries.

See also
27 Magical Things to Do on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador

Computers & Tablets

I normally travel with my Macbook, laptop charger, and iPad.

However, I decided not to take these to El Salvador since I wasn’t going to need to work while there, and I wouldn’t risk having them lost or stolen.

Every time I travel with my laptop, it’s a risk, so I only do it when necessary.


Since I was traveling from the US, and El Salvador and the US both use the same plugs, I didn’t need to bring an adaptor.

If you are coming from a country that uses different outlets, you will want to bring a universal adapter.

Backup Battery

I never travel ANYWHERE without a portable charger. Recharge it every night of your trip – it’s a safety issue!


There are some apps that you will want to have downloaded onto your phone before you leave for your trip.

Google Translate

Google Maps: Download the map for the country so that it will be available offline

Skype: Great for calling to get your bank cards unblocked

Facebook Messenger This is ninety percent of how I communicate these days

Instagram: Because aren’t we all basic at heart?

Adobe Lightroom Mobile: for photo editing

Podcast Addict or other Podcatcher: Looking for travel podcasts to inspire you? These are my favorite travel podcasts

Dropbox Mobile: for backing up cell phone photos

Your Airline’s Mobile App: so you can check in to your flight and check your flight’s status

Your Bank’s App: so you can check if there are issues while you’re out of the country

Guidebooks for El Salvador

Lonely Planet Central America is available as a paper copy or as a Kindle edition. You typically won’t find major guidebooks once you land, so get yours ahead of time.

I used this to plan my last trip to El Salvador, and I held onto it so I can use it for my next trip to Central America!

See also
50 Photo Spots on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador's Route of the Flowers, to Spark Your Wanderlust

I bought the paperback version since I decided not to travel with my Kindle.

The nice thing about this book is it also covers nearby Central American countries.

Since many travelers coming to El Salvador will also visit neighboring Guatemala and Honduras or even combine El Salvador with Panama and Nicaragua, this means you’ll only have to carry around one guidebook to cover your trip.

See the Lonely Planet Central America on Amazon

Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary 9 for those traveling to El Salvador without a background in Spanish.

Packing Travel Tips for Salvadoran Hostels

Hostel life can save you money, especially in some of the pricier areas, but you’ll need a few more things with you to safely and comfortably stay in El Salvador backpack hostels.

Flip-flops or shower shoes are a necessity. I can’t imagine going to El Salvador without flip-flops, but it’s extra important if you’re in hostels using shared showers.

A Full-Sized Travel Towel because hostels don’t provide towels.

A lock for your securing your stuff in dorm lockers. If you also want to lock your bags, make sure the locks are TSA-approved locks.

A friendly backpacker hostel with $2 dinners.
I try not to stay in hostels anymore, but I’ve done it enough in the past to know what to bring!

Sleep Mask and Earplugs if you’re a light sleeper and will be sleeping in shared dorms.

A headlamp for accessing your stuff in shared dorms after lights-out.

If your hostels won’t provide bedding, bring a sleeping bag liner and a travel pillow.

More Central America Travel Guides

Will you be exploring more of Central America? Check out these travel guides:

Belize Country Guides

Planning a Trip to Belize: 11 Steps to the Perfect Belize Getaway

See also
50 Photo Spots on the Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador's Route of the Flowers, to Spark Your Wanderlust

What to Pack for Belize

13 Incredible Things To Do In Belize

21 Unforgettable Places to Visit in Belize: Bucket List & Beyond!

10 Spectacular Belize Beaches for Your Caribbean Getaway

The 17 Most Instagrammable Places in Belize

10 Best Books about Belize

13 Beautiful Quotes about Belize for Your Caribbean Getaway

27 Un-Belize-ably Good Belize Puns & Belize Instagram Captions

Ambergris Caye

7 Ridiculously Fun Things to Do in San Pedro, Belize

Belize City to San Pedro: How to Get from the Airport to Ambergris Caye & Back

Snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

How to Visit Secret Beach on Ambergris Caye

Caye Caulker

30 Captivating Things To Do in Caye Caulker, Belize + Caye Caulker Travel Guide!

How to Get from Belize City to Caye Caulker

Costa Rica

Your Ultimate Costa Rica Bucket List for a Fabulous Central American Adventure

Before Your Trip to El Salvador – Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road.

I love World Nomads for traveling in Central America, and I happily recommend them.

It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’ll be enjoying water activities, spending time on beaches, or visiting towns and cities where petty theft occurs.

I have been a paying customer of World Nomads as far back as 2016, and I happily recommend them.  

If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.

Get a Travel Insurance quote for your trip!

Pin this Packing List for El Salvador Vacations for Your Salvadoran Adventure!

What to Pack for El Salvador - El Salvador Clothing - El Salvador Shoes - Packing List for El Salvador - What to Bring to El Salvador

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