Travelling to this beautiful continent soon? If you are not sure what to pack for South America this packing list will help you! South America is a continent with ranging climates from dry desserts, snow peaked mountains and wet humid rainforests. So packing for all of that can get tricky! So this post is here to help!
Having test run this pack on the road in South America, I know what I used and what I could have done without. I think I’ve found a good combo of things to pack! I travelled to all the countries in the continent, which are all so different. Here is the route I did around South America.
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What to pack for South America?
The main bag in 55L which is great to fit alot of stuff in, without it being too massive. It also opens out fully so you can pack it almost like a suitcase and everything is easy to find. In the back you can zip up all the straps to keep them projected say on planes. It also comes with a 10L day pack attached to it. Although I used the day pack on another trip and it was a little too small for me, so I opted to buy another backpack for days out.
It weighs about 1.7kg (not sure if you can buy this one now but there are plenty of other bags just like it)
- Karrimor Urban 30L Rucksack
For day trips enough to hold food/ water for the day on hikes and as a bus carry on bag.
- Packing cubes + waterproof bags
Makes it easy to organise everything.
- 5L dry bag Good to keep electronics dry
- small side bag – for walking around cities with
- cotton bag for laundry
- travel belt for underclothes
- Waterproof backpack cover – although not necessary, I only used it a few times when it was really raining
Jackets & Tops
- 1x fleece
- 1x waterproof/ windproof/ breathable jacket
- 2x vest (nice tops)
- 1x sports vest tops
- 3x tshirts
- 1x long sleeve shirt (to protect arms in amazon from mosquitoes)
- 1x convertible quick dry hiking trousers (mine are from north face, only good if you are hiking alot)
- 1 pair of leggings
- 1 pair of jeans
- 2x shorts
- 1x cotton trousers
- 1x dress
- 1x thermal top
- 1x thermal leggings
- 2x bikini
- 2x bras
- 1x Nike sports bra
- 9x knickers
- 2x hiking socks
- 4x ankle socks
- 1x pyjama top & shorts
- 1x Salomon hiking shoes which have contragrip soles and Gore-tex (always try on shoes before to make sure you get the right fit, and try to wear them in before)
- 1 pair of Trainers (walking around cities + General use)
- 1 pair of sliders/ flip flops (for hostel showers + beach)
- 1x woolly hat (Patagonia is cold)
- 1x baseball cap
The kit includes a first aid kit, sterile kit, creams and antibiotics. Although It’s quite big, you can flatten all the boxes down. I managed to fit in all my own meds as well.
It costs £50 (which seems pricey.. but if you were to try and get antibiotics alone it would be about £20 with the prescription) They also do student discount on everything including vaccinations!
- Malaria tablets for 1 month (for French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Brazil (amazon jungle area)). I got them from ASDA pharmacy which is the cheapest place. Just turn up, have a consultation and then they give you a free prescription to buy the tablets.
- Altitude sickness tablets (I got mine from Nomad Travel Clinic)
- My own prescriptions to cover me for 6 months
- pyramid deet mosquito repentant
- pyramid permethrin fabric spray
- Factor 50 sun cream
- bamboo toothbrush
- SPF lip balm
- Shampoo bar
- Antibacterial soap bar
- Travel clothes wash
- Nail clipper + file
- Quick dry towel
- Hairbrush + comb
- 1 squashed down toilet roll (actually really important, not everywhere has toilet roll especially on bus journeys)
- Smart Phone
- Cheap Unlocked Phone (used in Venezuela to call my tour organizers not to draw attention to myself)
- Go pro hero 5 (+ spare SD card)
- Smatree 2 spare go pro batteries + charger
- Charger cables
- 10000mAh portable charger (will charge an iPhone about 3 times)
- World adapter
- Head torch + spare batteries
- Casio watch (cheap one, used in public to tell the time)
- Passport + 1 laminated copy
- Visas (you might need some depending on where you’re from, I only need to get a tourist card prior to entering Suriname, I’m a UK citizen)
- Insurance (you can’t pack this but you definitely need it, read carefully about activities if you think you will do them usually you require higher cover. I have a yearly one with Journeys Travel Insurance )
- Vaccinations + certificates (the routine injections, check yellow fever especially, depending on where you are going some countries need to see the certificate, though I was never asked at all)
- Caxton card (free cash withdrawals and point of sale)
- Monzo card (free point of sale and limited free cash withdrawal, backup for Caxton card)
- 2 x debit/ credit card (for emergencies/ deposits)
- Driving license (used rather than a passport for age proof)
- Cash for the first week (to avoid atm fees)
- Emergency cash (200 USD for backup)
- Important documents saved on an Email (e.g. A copy of my passport, flight details, insurance details, vaccination certificates all to a folder in one of my email accounts)
Buy the PDF version! I decided to carry the hard copy which weighs like 500g and I really didn’t need to do that!! Though It did give me something to read when my phone was dead but I would have preferred a lighter bag.
The book has great tips on all the countries in South America! It helped me plan on places to stay, things to do and how to get around.
Actually, I used this a lot more than I thought I would! some hostels are freezing and so are the overnight busses (sometimes they give you a blanket but not always). I was so glad I had it with me!
- 2x combination locks
- Sound blocking earbuds (I’m a light sleeper)
- Eye mask
- Metal spork (eating food on buses)
- Plastic tub (for taking food for the day in, storing at hostel)
- Multi tool
- 1 litre metal water bottle
- 2 litre water bladder (for longer hiking days, e.g. w trek and Inca trail)
- Books downloaded to phone
All of my stuff weighed about 18kg which is a lot! 13kg in the big backpack and 4-5kg in my bag pack. I was aiming for 12kg total and maybe I will get to that on the next trip as I know whats best to pack. But the medical kit alone with all my medicines weighed about 1kg, which slowly went down over time.
Hopefully this list helps anyone who needs help on what to pack for South America.
If you want check out some more stories and info from my South America trip, click here for some blog posts!