5 Best Ways to Prevent Insect Bites & Stings


Outward Bound Costa Rica has been welcoming students to Costa Rica and Panama for more than twenty-five years.  We know how to prepare for safe travel.  We understand that you may be concerned about Zika and other mosquito-born diseases being present in Central America and though none of our courses take place in affected areas, we want to share with you our best tips to stay safe and itch-free.

These tips will help to prevent bites from every kind of bugs and insects.

1. Use the proper repellent.

The most effective mosquito repellent contains the chemical DEET, specifically at concentrations of 30% and higher according to the CDC.  If you are allergic to DEET, or would prefer a natural repellent, there are several from which to choose.  We recommend this article from Consumer Reports,  Effective Natural Repellents for in-depth information on natural repellents.

DEET is effective against mosquitos, however, it isn’t as effective in warding off midges/sand flies.  Research has shown that repellents containing citronella and/or lavender are effective, and a frequent remedy is Avon Skin So Soft.

2. Make sure to have enough supplies to last your entire course.

Bring repellents in your suitcase and carry on, and apply generously morning, noon and night. Application particularly after swimming, before bed and after showers is a must.

3. Wear long-sleeves & pants.

We know that it can get quite hot in Costa Rica! Nevertheless, wearing long sleeves and pants is the best way to protect yourself from all bites (and protect you from getting sunburned). There are now modern materials that will allow you to remain cool while you are covered. Check with your local outdoor retailer (REI, EMS, OutdoorWorld, etc.) for the brands they recommend. This is an important investment for your safety and well being.

4. Check your clothes/shoes before putting them on.

Stay vigilant and check your shoes and clothing before putting them on. Also, watch were you are walking, sitting and storing your belongings. There is no need to be overly anxious about your environment, but staying aware of your surroundings is an easy and quick way to stay safe at all time.

5. Listen to your instructors when they tell you not to scratch!

It takes effort not to scratch, but it is essential to understand that your nails and skin carry bacteria.  When you scratch, bacteria enters your bite wound and you risk certain infection.  Your instructors know this environment and are trained in first aid but there is little they can do once you have an infection.  Listen and follow their instructions to stay safe. Do not touch animals or insects you see while on course unless given the go ahead to do so by your instructors.

By following these 5 steps, you will have a safe and life changing adventure with us.