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It all started with the hotel: A dreamy Instagram post sent by a friend showcasing a gorgeous cliffside property along Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, accessible only by boat and amazingly well-priced for the spectacular views and private, casita-like rooms we could stay in. When I later found myself packing for a trip to visit said hotel, I also needed to factor in a day in Antigua, the overnight hike my friends and I signed up for during the first leg of the trip, and the various modes of transportation we’d be taking throughout the week, luggage in hand. Read on to see what was on my packing list for Guatemala, from my favorite backpack duffel to a headlamp and comfy linen pants.
Baboon to the Moon duffel
A rolling suitcase felt impractical for this trip, so I decided on a Baboon to the Moon duffel that I’ve usually used for two- to three-day trips. Five full days was stretching the limits of what it could handle, but I was heading to warm weather, so my clothing was all pretty lightweight. The backpack straps made it easier to get around, and the side pocket came in handy for last minute add-ons like a hat.
As much as I tried to go light, I found myself needing a little extra room for my Dopp kit and accessories; plus, I like to have a personal item with me on flights so I don’t have to keep getting up to access things in the overhead compartment. Paravel’s Weekender bag is a great size for this task: It fits a lot, but can easily slide underneath the seat in front of you. And it has top handles and a crossbody strap, which allowed me to configure my bags in a few different ways.
BioLite Headlamp 325
This headlamp was an absolute essential, as day two of our hike began before the sun rose. It’s super lightweight, has four light modes (white, red, flashing white, and flashing red), and lasts for up to 40 hours on a single charge (when on low, or three hours when on high), which far exceeded what I needed it for. The stretchy, adjustable headband was comfortable, too, and stayed secure, even when layered with my beanie.
I didn’t pack much makeup on this trip, so I was glad to have the two-in-one product that is Supergoop’s Glowscreen. It gives a nice tint and glow to your skin while providing SPF 40 coverage, and the .5-fluid-ounce mini size is perfect for saving space on short trips.
Teva Universal Trail Sandals
I bring these Tevas on pretty much every warm weather vacation. They’re my most comfortable pair of sandals, and are neutral enough to pair with pretty much any outfit. The Teva tan they produce is real, but it’s worth it to avoid the blisters or sore feet that come with a lot of other sandals.
Travel Rest Ultimate Travel Pillow
Influenced by TikTok, I ordered this travel pillow shortly before my trip. I was skeptical, especially of the claims that it only took a few breaths to blow up, but am happy to report it really does take all of 15 seconds to blow up, with very little energy exerted. As a loyal window seat flier, I’m used to leaning against the wall when I try and sleep; this pillow means I can crane less, and in fact I’ve since used it to sleep in an aisle seat with just as much success.
Iris Linen Easy Pull-On pants
Everlane The Square-Neck One-Piece
It wouldn’t be a lake trip without a bathing suit or two. I wore this Everlane one piece while paddleboarding in the lake; it’s comfortable, stays in place without the constant need to adjust, and has held up well after coming with me on several trips—there’s been no pilling or fading of the bold red color yet.
Where I stayed:
La Casa del Mundo was truly the highlight of the trip—we opted for a suite, which had three beds and a charming little patio where we would sit and read in the mornings and sip cocktails in the afternoons. The property is only accessible by boat, so we hopped on a ferry in Panajachel, the main hub visitors enter through to get to the many small towns around the lake, and zipped over in about 20 minutes.
If stairs are not in the cards, this property is not for you—it's built into a cliffside (Lake Atitlán is in a massive volcanic crater, after all), and has a maze of winding stairs leading up to the casita-style rooms, front office and restaurant, and numerous outdoor seating areas, each with their own mix of hammocks, lawn chairs, and chaise lounge chairs. At the hotel, we rented kayaks and paddleboards to take onto the lake, and could jump (or walk) in from various points around the base of the property. Stairs aside, it provided the ultimate relaxation we needed after the challenging hike up the Acatenango Volcano. While I'm happy we left during the afternoons to visit more of the lakeside towns, I could have easily spent a few days doing a whole lot of nothing right there at La Casa del Mundo.