Day 14: A travel hack that saves space AND gives back

rubber boots Costa Rica

When I asked an array of Costa Rican travel experts for their best advice last year, my favorite tip was a way to save precious suitcase space while also supporting local businesses and giving useful to someone who needs it. A triple boost, if you will.

The travel hack, which I’m paraphrasing from Pip Kelly of Casitas Tenorio in Bijagua (and one of last week’s Changemakers), was as follows: unless your Costa Rican trip will include some rigorous hiking, rubber boots, or botas de hule, will probably fit the bill much better than expensive, heavy hiking boots. What’s more, they’re pretty cheap and readily available around the country. So save that room in your suitcase, buy a pair upon arrival, splash around in some puddles and muddy trails – and at the end of your trip, simply donate them to your hotel, tour operator, or a local family. They will be put to good use, because every man, woman and child in Costa Rica needs to own botas de hule. It’s an essential.

Have you done something like this when traveling, in Costa Rica or elsewhere? Are there certain items you “forget on purpose” so you can buy them locally? Are there items you plan ahead to leave behind when you head home? I love this idea and would love to hear more.

I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook!

6 thoughts on “Day 14: A travel hack that saves space AND gives back

  1. Wonderful post, Katherine! My long-time friend and frequent fellow traveler, Linda, is a serious runner. She needs to replace her running shoes with a certain degree of regularity. For the majority of our Costa Rican travels, she arrives in country knowing that she will be leaving a pair of shoes behind with a local family who will find a good use for them.


    1. Ooh, that’s a good one! I have a giant-footed sister in my husband’s family – we giant-footed women have to stick together so we do a lot of shoe swapping. But I am going to think through what other opportunities I am missing. Hmm… maybe I can get extra children’s books or schoolbooks at independent bookstores and donate those and that way I am also supporting those bookstores… 🤔


  2. Back in the 80’s I went to Monteverde with my friend and professor at the Centro Cultural Don Snedeker to visit the Stuckey family and after the Sunday Service and potluck I left there the boots that didn’t fit me anymore.


  3. Yes it was. I used to walk from Santa Elena uphill to the reserve. I went several times, alone and then last time in the early 2000’s with who would become my wife, I had contacted Mr. Stuckey again and he not only remembered me, but very graciously let us in his farm for birding and to also see the milking process, it is something I will thank him for. Now I don’t know if even want to go and see all the development there…
    I have an almost ‘homemade’ book from 2001, they printed only 1000 copies, is called “Monteverde Jubilee Family album April 19 1951 April 19 2001, 50 years growing and spreading our roots”. It was published by the Asociación Amigos de Monteverde.
    Saludos from Amherst VA.


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