Wondering what to pack for South America?
So 18 months ago I packed for my big Latin American adventure and I shared my backpacker packing list wondering if I had packed too much.
I wasn’t sure what to pack for travel in South America. Backpacker packing lists are one of the most searched posts with travelers because everyone has anxiety that they’ll end up in some remote area and have forgotten some essential item.
I did that too.
So have a look at my old post on what I took to Latin America and then hop back here and I’ll let you know how I fared. But here’s a hint:
I took too much.
I just wasn’t sure what I would need, I had never been to Latin America and didn’t know how developed it would be or that it was much cheaper to buy the same items there. Now I wish I had gone with a carry on backpack.
What I loved: Here’s What to Pack for South America
I will never travel without packing cubes again. These changed how I viewed packing my bag. Instead of rummaging through my bag it was simple and quick to take them in and out. If you don’t have them believe me you need them.
HP Mini 311
I thoroughly researched netbooks and this was perfect for me as it allowed me to edit photos on Lightroom. It was a bit slow when I tried to run multiple programs but only $250 and you can’t beat that.
I once hated these sandals and thought they were ugly but they are perfect for long days on cobblestone.
I bought them at a dollar store and tucked in my journal and gave them to kids and fellow travelers who loved picking between flags, beavers and polar bears – so much for crushing stereotypes!
What I didn’t need
Travel wash bag
The awkward size took up too much room. I thought the hook at the top would be practical but most places did not have somewhere for me to hang it. I got rid of it at 7 weeks.
Expensive travel clothes
I was so excited at this big trip I went out and bought a bunch of fancy travel clothes. If you are an adventure traveler you may need this but if you realize you hate hiking you should spare yourself the $100 merino wool sweater because you are only going to hang it up at some hostel in Panama and lose it and then wonder why you buy nice things.
I didn’t bring any rain gear at all. I only got stuck in the rain once and wore a garbage bag. I did buy a 99 cent poncho and didn’t wear it until month 13. I should have worn another garbage bag.
I rarely used anything in my medications bag and it was a small fortune. Most of the medication I could have gotten in Latin America where many countries sell by the pill, in Panama I bought motion sickness pills for 10 cents a pop.
Mini first aid kit
I ended up taking the band aids and throwing out the rest.
I once used it for a mango, that’s the only time I used it. Next time I’ll just bring a corkscrew.
Every traveler has one but the only time I needed to sew something I just dropped it off at a seamstress and she fixed it for $2.
Mini flashlight on key chain
I had a head lamp, which was recommended by many and I used it quite a bit, even if just to enter dorm rooms at night.
Silk sleeping bag
I did not need to use this once, hostels in Latin America are quite nice and if I had seen one that required the bag I didn’t stay there. It was a lot of money so if you really want one save yourself some money and sew up a sheet.
What’s your best advice for what to pack for South America? What have you lugged around and realized you did not need?