Whatever you do, pack light—casual, comfortable, hand-washable clothing. T-shirts and shorts are acceptable near the beach, while more conservative attire is appropriate in smaller towns. If you're heading to Antigua, the Verapaces, or the highlands, especially during the winter months, bring a sweater or jacket, as nights and early mornings can be chilly. Sturdy sneakers or hiking shoes or boots with rubber soles are essential. A pair of sandals (preferably ones that can be worn in the water) are indispensable, too. Jewelry—even the fake stuff—only attracts the wrong sort of attention. Scarves or beads are safer accessories.

"Insect repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses" is your packing mantra, and an umbrella or stashable raincoat are handy, too. Long-sleeve shirts and long pants will also protect your skin from the relentless sun and ferocious mosquitoes. Tissues and antibacterial hand wipes make trips to public toilets more pleasant. A handbag-sized flashlight is also very useful: blackouts and streets without proper lighting are commonplace. In the jungle, a camping mosquito net is invaluable when staying at places with no screens on the windows (or no windows at all). Snorkelers should try to bring their own equipment if there's room in the suitcase.

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