Making the Move: 6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase

Making the Move: 6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase

– Leaving Calgary, Alberta, Canada on December 9, 2011 with only 4 – 50 lb suitcases and 2 carry ons

“What should I pack in my suitcase?” is a question we often get asked by soon-to-be Nicaraguan expats. With some extra legwork and a willingness to pay premium prices you can almost always get what you need here. 

In the capital city of Managua you’ll find a Pricesmart, which is very similar to Costco. You’ll also find a couple of large department stores such as Sinsa and Siman.

And although it’s not at all like the super Walmart stores found in the US and Canada, there is also a Walmart that recently opened in Managua.

If you’re moving to Nicaragua, our guess is your chosen destination is probably not Managua.

In towns and cities like Granada, Leon, Matagalpa and San Juan del Sur small Ma and Pa shops, that specialize in one type of product or service, are the norm. It can be very difficult to find quality inexpensive household and personal items in these places.

So, if you’d like to avoid paying premium prices — and save yourself the time and extra expense of traveling to Managua when you first get here — we recommend adding the six items listed below to your packing list.



6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Kindle

New and used English books are sometimes hard to come by, especially if you’re looking for newer releases. And when you do find them, they aren’t cheap. If you enjoy reading and don’t already have an e-reader you’ll probably want to invest in one. We love our Kindles!




6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Quality KnifeSharpening stones are easy to find outside of Managua, but inexpensive good quality chef knives are not. With more time to enjoy cooking and a bounty of vine ripened fruits and vegetables available a good knife will be a welcomed companion.



6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: iPad Pro


With technology outdated by at least two years and items priced 30% to 100% higher than in Canada and the United States you’ll definitely want to bring your laptop, iPad and any other electronic devices you can’t live without.  It’s also a good idea to make sure everything is working well.  Repairs can usually be done in Managua, but don’t come cheap. 



SPICES6 Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Spices

Although the selection is better than what it was when we first moved to Nicaragua the variety of spices available here is somewhat limited. For example oregano, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes and cinnamon can be found in almost every grocery store, however cardomom, allspice and sage cannot. If you have some not so common favorite spices you can’t live without you may want to stash them in your suitcase. 



6 Items to Pack In Your Suitcase: Bedsheets & Pillows

We’re people who appreciate nice linens.  You can find them here but, like many other quality items, they are sold at a higher price than what you can buy them for in North America.  Keep comfy and save yourself some cash by bringing a couple of sets of sheets with you. For added comfort you may want to bring your favorite pillow and a quilted mattress coverWorried about space in your suitcase? Space saver bags like these ones work great!



Six Items to Pack in Your Suitcase: Ear Plugs


Here in Nicaragua roosters, barking dogs and fire crackers are common sounds we hear all hours of the day and night.  To avoid sleep disruption you may want to pick up a multi-pack of ear plugs. You’ll be happy to know, that just like those individuals living near an airport or a railway crossing, you too, will eventually desensitize to these sounds.



Have you recently made the move to Nicaragua? Is there an item not on our list that you wish you would’ve packed in your suitcase?


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Posted on January 23, 2016, in Making the Move and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Really good advice. I learned these lessons the hard way when I moved to Brazil. Especially the knife and ear plugs, sure was grateful for the ear plugs in the early days of adjustment.

  2. Water bottle! Hydroflask or S’well bottle is priceless! Insulated stainless steel that keeps your icy water icy for 24 hours. Never leave home without it!

  3. Extra batteries for your phone (because mine don’t last all day). Cheap to pick up on eBay, and lighter to carry around than a battery pack and charging cable.

  4. 200 pounds of luggage! Wow. What in the world did you bring. What happened to just fill a backpack? 🙂 e airport?
    you get a chef’s knife dithth

    • Hi Judith,

      We brought a lot of stuff we didn’t actually need and never used.

      Some of those items included extra toiletries (because they were available here), warmer weather clothing like long sleeve shirts and pants, fins, masks & snorkle sets, mosquito nets and a pump & hardware for a misting system. Looking back I was definitely excessive with the amount of clothing I brought.

      Unfortunately 4 years ago when we moved there weren’t a lot of blogs about relocation to Nicaragua, like there are now. Nor were there Facebook groups like “Expats in San Juan del Sur“, “Expats in Nicaragua“, etc. and therefore we were pretty much winging it!

      To view a complete list of what we brought just click on the link below:
      What We Packed in Our Suitcases


  5. You know your stuff. Except for the ear plugs, it is exactly what I tell people. I add one thing. I you a large size person (I’m over 2 meters), dont expect to find clothes here.
    I am fairly serious about cooking so I brought some of my favorite cookware.

    • Hi Keith,

      I’m pretty average size and I don’t buy clothes here either. 😉

      Favorite cookware is definitely something good to bring. Since moving I’ve transported cookie sheets and muffin tins in my suitcase. Fairly easy items to find in Managua, but not so easy to find in San Juan del Sur.


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