15 Unique Packing Tips for Your South American Adventure!

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Updated October 22nd, 2018.

So you’re ready for your South American adventure. Or are you? Make sure you pack all the essentials by following these packing tips.

15 Packing Tips For South America

1. Layers. The Andes Mountains stir up some odd weather patterns, meaning that in cities like Quito, Santiago, and Cusco temperatures can range dramatically in a single day. Outfits that afford for temperature changes are the most helpful in these parts.

A Girl Wearing Lots of Clothes For Cold WeatherLayers are the name of the game when traveling in South America. 

2.Pack a raincoat; rain showers are short lived but can happen often so come prepared.

3. Bring lots of socks. In a land where hot showers are not always available it can be hard to warm up, nothing is worse than cold feet and luckily socks hardly take up any room in your suitcase.

4. Invest in a good day bag. A backpack may not be the best choice for city exploring as you can’t keep your eye on it. You want to get something that hangs across your body, can be kept in your direct line of vision, and can be zipped closed.  For long bus rides we suggest investing in a money belt.

5. Plenty of long pants are a good idea. Many countries in South America are Catholic and err on the conservative side, when possible cover your legs and shoulders, as it is more respectful.

6. Don’t worry about bringing hats, gloves, or jewelry, better to buy these when you get there. All three are easily accessible in most markets and make for great souvenirs.

Two Girls' Hands Wearing Lots Of Jewellery You will most likely purchase far too much jewelry, so don’t bother packing much! 

7. Pack some good shoes with good ankle and arch support. Sorry to sound like your grandmother, but flip-flops won’t cut it with long days of traipsing on cobble stone streets ahead.

8.Huge cities abound in South America but so do miniscule pueblos where electricity is scarce. If your plans include getting off the beaten path make sure to pack a headlamp or a flashlight.

9. Lots and lots of sunscreen, you may not be necessarily hot during the day, but don’t underestimate the power of the equatorial sun mixed with some mighty tall mountains.  Without proper protection your chances of burning are much higher in this part of the world.

Four Girls Pose During A TrekTo protect yourself from the sun hats and sunglasses are also a good idea. 

10.In South America books are not particularly easy to get your hands on. Shopping in a bookstore will cost you a pretty penny and used book trade centers or shops are few and far between. Pack either a Kindle or a couple good reads to get you through your trip.

11. If you’re checking a bag throw some peanut butter in your luggage. Nothing is better for long days on the road than easy access to protein. Snacks in South America are plentiful but with so many tempting options choices that provide a necessary energy boast may not be your first choice!

A Collection Of Sweet ThingsWith so many yummy treats, do yourself a favor and pack a protein packed snack. 

12. Bring a padlock, most hostels these days have lockers, but just in case bring a small lock to make your things less accessible.

13. Recycling in South America is not a common practice. So instead of stocking up on plastic water bottles, bring a reusable water bottle with you and fill up at purified water stations along the way.

14. Bring q-tips! In South America the cotton ending to these cleaning essentials closer resembles a plastic stick. One of the best things in the world is clean ears, don’t give this up while traveling.

15. Just for women: When that time of the month rolls around you might want some tampons and while in South America these can be very hard to find, so stock up before you leave.

Written by: Tyler Protano-Goodwin

Our Recommended Travel Resources

  • Join Our Facebook Group: South America Backpacker Community
  • Travel Insurance: True Traveller and World Nomads.
  • Flight Search: Skyscanner.
  • Accommodation: Booking.com and HostelWorld.
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