What To Pack For South America: Ultimate Packing List

We spent eight months traveling in South America with everything we own on our backs. Here we bring you our personally tested packing list with all essentials you should not forget at home before your journey. Read our ultimate list on what to pack for South America to travel like a pro.

If you are planning on traveling around South America, congratulations – you will have a great time.

But once your excitement of buying flight ticket wears off, you should start focusing on the practical side of upcoming travels. Because no denying, South America is a huge continent, and it sometimes does not matter if you are going to visit one country or all of them, it is essential to understand that even in one and the smallest country you will most likely experience different types of climate, and you will need to pack a bit of everything to get yourself covered.

We must confess, that although we’ve visited nine countries on the continent and needed quite a lot of equipment for every weather and every activity you can think of, we packed way too much gear. Some of them we even did not use at all, and it only took a precious space in our backpacks plus if we did not have them, we could have prevented our aching backs.

What To Pack For South America

Packing Guide

Traveling In South America Guide

That’s why we have created this ultimate packing list for South America to help you figure out what is necessary to pack and what is better to leave behind.

Packing light is important, although not every time it is 100% possible. With our guide, we believe that your backpack will have just the right weight and nothing important will be missing.

Traveling from the hot and ocean coast, humid jungle, scorching dessert to villages high in the mountain while stopping from time to time in the pulsing capital cities sounds pretty exciting, but what should you pack to enjoy your travels to the fullest without being overdressed or undressed all the time is a challenging task, especially when we presume that you want to try different adventures such as hiking, snorkeling, canyoning, volcano climbing, glacier walking and much more.

Of course, everything you will forget can be bought in South America, but very often the clothes are not in the desired quality, and usually, it is much more expensive than in your home country because of high import tax.

So what should you purchase and pack before your travels to South America?

We’ve got you covered.

South America Packing Guide

South America Packing Guide

South America Packing Guide

BACKPACKS AND HOW TO KEEP YOU AND YOUR BELONGINGS SAFE

One thing is sure if you plan on traveling long-term at some point you will get sick of carrying your backpacks and of constant fear about your belongings. But it is an inevitable part of traveling, and you should make sure that you purchase your bags in top-quality.

Travel Backpack for Him & Travel Backpack for Her – The most important thing you will need to have is a backpack. And we believe this is an item you should not skimp on as you will carry it most of the time, and it is essential that you have a bag which fits you well. It depends on how long are you traveling for, but we were pretty happy with backpack size we got and also with the brand – we have it for several years, and apart from the dirt it still looks and feels like brand new.

Lightweight Backpack – We brought three small lightweight backpacks and could not be happier with this decision. A small backpack is essential to carry your valuables when traveling from one destination to another, plus it is useful when walking in the city or setting off for a one day trip. And why did we have three backpacks instead of two? The third one was this water-resistant bag we could carry with us when doing activities close to the water when we needed to keep safe and dry our electronics, for example when we were enjoying beaches on Florianopolis, admiring Iguazu Falls or spending one week on the Galapagos Islands.

Dry Bags – Even when using a water-resistant bag, we still use light dry bags to keep our technical equipment, well, dry and to minimize possibilities of damaging it.

Packing Cubes – If you want to keep your bags organized, the best way how to attain it is to purchase packing cubes. It is the item which will save you from going crazy when looking for something in your backpack, and we cannot imagine traveling without it.

Read Post  Ultimate Guide to Traveling Through South America

Combination Locks – When it comes to safety in South America, it is always useful to take all the necessary precautions you might think of to keep your valuables safe. We always used combination locks on our backpacks when traveling on a night bus, but it is also an essential thing to have when staying in dormitories as hostels usually provide lockers without locks.

Money Belt & Bra Pocket – We advise you to keep your valuables in your hotel room, however a money belt can be useful when traveling from one place to another. It is the easiest, inconspicuous way how to carry money or passport without leaving it unattended on your back. It is, of course, possible to carry your daypack on your front as we were told by our guide in Medellin, but frankly, it is not very comfortable, and we think it looks even more obvious that you carry a fortune in it. Because money belts are not the best solution for girls and a women wearing a dress, a bra pocket is a smart and comfortable option on how to keep money safe.

South America

Packing List Guide

Packing List

TRAVEL INSURANCE

When we are talking about safety and the best ways how to keep your belongings safe, we must mention a travel insurance.

Once, I heard a very stupid sentence that buying insurance is like betting against yourself – well if you are rich enough to pay thousands of dollars in case something happens, you can follow this rule otherwise, we strongly advise you not to leave your home country without proper insurance, no matter how low your budget is.

You should not travel at all if you cannot afford to pay for insurance.

ELECTRONICS

We probably travel with more technical equipment that the majority of travelers, but we still believe that most of the people take the camera or laptop with them to a foreign country to work remotely, to record their adventures, take awesome photos, or simply to keep themselves entertained during long bus rides or during quiet nights in hostels.

Canon 6D Mark II paired with 24-105mm II – Perfect camera and lens for traveling. It’s built like a tank, battery lasts forever, the lenses are cheap and I still prefer it over mirrorless cameras for this reasons. And who would not want to have gorgeous photos from traveling in South America? Although more and more travelers shoot their pictures on a mobile phone (and it is completely fine, you can find awesome phones with great cameras), we are a bit old-fashioned when it comes to taking pictures and bring our big DSLR camera.

Sony a6500 paired with 18-105mm lens – When walking streets of big and busy cities such as Lima or Bogota, we didn’t want to make easy targets from us, that’s why we carried a small mirrorless camera. The perfect choice for all travelers who want to travel light.

Tamron SP 150-600mm If you are serious about photography and going to Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in the Peruvian jungle or Galapagos Islands, you have to consider bringing big telephoto lens for capturing the wildlife. Yes, it’s big and heavy, but if you travel only for 2 or three weeks, or you are taking photography seriously, it’s worth it.

GoPro – A great waterproof camera if you plan on visiting a destination with a rich underwater life. You do not want to end up like us when we bought a second-hand underwater camera last minute before our trip to the Galapagos in Quito only to find out on our first day that the battery is dead and lasts only 30 seconds. We also always carry one or two back-up batteries for the camera in case we don’t have time to charge it every day, or only in case of technical difficulties.

GorillaPod – If photography is your hobby, you should consider carrying a compact tripod. We fancy this one as it is small and does not weigh too much.

Memory Cards – We love hiking, and there were many situations during our travels when we couldn’t transfer photos from our camera to the laptop straightaway, so it was essential to have spare memory cards, so we could keep taking pictures without fear that when we reach Machu Picchu, the highlight of Inca Trail, there will be no space left on memory card.

Laptop – In order to keep our blog going on the road, but also to post process photos which we would have done anyway, we bought a laptop Dell XPS13 which turned out to be great because of its size and quality.

Power Bank – If you want to do some multi-day hikes such as Salkantay trek, it is essential to have a power bank, because most of the mobile phones won’t last more than two days, especially if you use it as an alarm clock or instead of torchlight.

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Kindle – It is heavy to carry around a book or two in the backpack, and even harder to find a new one when you finish it, and although you can find exchange shelves in the hostels, the choice is usually not that great, or books are not in a language we understand. That’s why having a portable library is a true gem when traveling – you can download as many books as you can and kill some time when waiting for a bus.

Travel Adapter – Chances are, that to keep your electronic devices working in South America, you will need a travel adapter. We use a universal world travel adapter with multi-plugs, which covers all plug options, and we don’t need to buy a new one when traveling to a new country.

South American Gifts for Travelers

E-readers

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, birthday present shopping or just looking for that something special for someone gift giving can be challenging. It seems that everyone has everything they could possibly need or want, especially if they are planning upcoming holidays.

A trip to South America can be daunting, while it is possible to get most of the luxuries of home it is always good to be prepared. Most people think about whether they should bring a backpack or suitcase, and what guide books they need for South America but there are South American gifts that can make a trip much more pleasant. If you are looking to surprise something, or just making your own packing list you do not want to miss these items.

GoPro Video Camera

GoPro

Janie Airey / Getty Images

You may have a good point and shoot or DSLR camera but sometimes video says so much more than a still photograph.

The GoPro video camera is small enough to fit in your pocket but perfect for traveling around South America. It’s also less conspicuous so thieves who are looking to score big with a DSLR or video camera will pass you by looking for something that appears

You can also buy a waterproof case which means you can capture surf lessons in Mancora or crossing the rivers to the Lost City in Colombia. A monopod is also great for capturing selfies.

E-Reader

E-reader

Kris Ubach and Quim Roser / Getty Images

Whether you choose a Kindle, Kobo or another e-reader they are the perfect companion for a holiday in South America.

While several books would be needed for the flight South, days on the beach, nights in a lodge or travel days, with e-readers you can shed all of that bulky weight.

Even those who profess to be traditional bookworms find after a few minutes on one of these devices they have converted. Amazon also has a subscription service where you can download all the books you want. You can’t go wrong with a good book on the beach.

Small Compass

Compass

stock_colors / Getty Images

On the other side of technology something many travelers overlook is a compass.

While many travelers like to depend on smartphones and GPS devices sometimes technology fails or you are somewhere you don’t feel comfortable showing you have expensive electronics.

A compass is small enough to fit on a keychain is the perfect device, especially when you have been given directions to go East or West. This is one of the best South American gifts for travelers, even if they don’t realize they will nee dit.

International Adapter

International adapter

jayk7 / Getty Images

While many South American countries use the same style of outlet as in North America, this is not true in every country.

There is nothing worse than arriving at night to a hotel in Buenos Aires, ready to recharge electronics only to find out the outlet is different than what you have. If you are traveling to several countries and aren’t sure it’s best to buy one international adapter and then you know wherever you go you will be covered.

Spanish Lessons

Spanish lessons

Westend61 / Getty Images

Speaking a bit of Spanish can go a long way in most South American countries, even in Brazil you can get by with Spanish if you do not know Portuguese.

In-class lessons are fantastic but if there isn’t time to be there in person Rosetta Stone is great and there are a number of online classes you can take. If you don’t have time for an online class consider Spanish language podcasts, they are perfect for travel days.

Noise-Canceling Earphones

Noise-canceling headphones

Elena Yurchenko / 500px / Getty Images

This is one of the South American gifts that travelers will really appreciate. It is definitely a big-ticket item but one that people swear makes traveling so much better.

A number of different manufacturers such as Bose and Sony have created ear phones that can be used to listen to music or simply to cancel out noise.

Make sure to try a few pair on before buying as some are bulkier than others, some are wireless, and buttons differ on all of them. They run $200-400 but are perfect for someone who does a lot of traveling and is particularly bothered by children crying on planes or getting to sleep in cities when street noise is loud in hotels.

Read Post  South America Backpacking Itinerary

South American Gifts for Travelers

E-readers

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, birthday present shopping or just looking for that something special for someone gift giving can be challenging. It seems that everyone has everything they could possibly need or want, especially if they are planning upcoming holidays.

A trip to South America can be daunting, while it is possible to get most of the luxuries of home it is always good to be prepared. Most people think about whether they should bring a backpack or suitcase, and what guide books they need for South America but there are South American gifts that can make a trip much more pleasant. If you are looking to surprise something, or just making your own packing list you do not want to miss these items.

GoPro Video Camera

GoPro

Janie Airey / Getty Images

You may have a good point and shoot or DSLR camera but sometimes video says so much more than a still photograph.

The GoPro video camera is small enough to fit in your pocket but perfect for traveling around South America. It’s also less conspicuous so thieves who are looking to score big with a DSLR or video camera will pass you by looking for something that appears

You can also buy a waterproof case which means you can capture surf lessons in Mancora or crossing the rivers to the Lost City in Colombia. A monopod is also great for capturing selfies.

E-Reader

E-reader

Kris Ubach and Quim Roser / Getty Images

Whether you choose a Kindle, Kobo or another e-reader they are the perfect companion for a holiday in South America.

While several books would be needed for the flight South, days on the beach, nights in a lodge or travel days, with e-readers you can shed all of that bulky weight.

Even those who profess to be traditional bookworms find after a few minutes on one of these devices they have converted. Amazon also has a subscription service where you can download all the books you want. You can’t go wrong with a good book on the beach.

Small Compass

Compass

stock_colors / Getty Images

On the other side of technology something many travelers overlook is a compass.

While many travelers like to depend on smartphones and GPS devices sometimes technology fails or you are somewhere you don’t feel comfortable showing you have expensive electronics.

A compass is small enough to fit on a keychain is the perfect device, especially when you have been given directions to go East or West. This is one of the best South American gifts for travelers, even if they don’t realize they will nee dit.

International Adapter

International adapter

jayk7 / Getty Images

While many South American countries use the same style of outlet as in North America, this is not true in every country.

There is nothing worse than arriving at night to a hotel in Buenos Aires, ready to recharge electronics only to find out the outlet is different than what you have. If you are traveling to several countries and aren’t sure it’s best to buy one international adapter and then you know wherever you go you will be covered.

Spanish Lessons

Spanish lessons

Westend61 / Getty Images

Speaking a bit of Spanish can go a long way in most South American countries, even in Brazil you can get by with Spanish if you do not know Portuguese.

In-class lessons are fantastic but if there isn’t time to be there in person Rosetta Stone is great and there are a number of online classes you can take. If you don’t have time for an online class consider Spanish language podcasts, they are perfect for travel days.

Noise-Canceling Earphones

Noise-canceling headphones

Elena Yurchenko / 500px / Getty Images

This is one of the South American gifts that travelers will really appreciate. It is definitely a big-ticket item but one that people swear makes traveling so much better.

A number of different manufacturers such as Bose and Sony have created ear phones that can be used to listen to music or simply to cancel out noise.

Make sure to try a few pair on before buying as some are bulkier than others, some are wireless, and buttons differ on all of them. They run $200-400 but are perfect for someone who does a lot of traveling and is particularly bothered by children crying on planes or getting to sleep in cities when street noise is loud in hotels.

Source https://www.laidbacktrip.com/posts/what-to-pack-for-south-america-packing-list

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/south-american-gifts-for-travelers-1637161

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/south-american-gifts-for-travelers-1637161#:~:text=A%20compass%20is%20small%20enough%20to%20fit%20on,if%20they%20don’t%20realize%20they%20will%20nee%20dit.

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