A lot of people loath packing, but I actually love it. Before each trip I carefully draft a packing list and tick it off one by one to ensure I don`t forget anything. Yes, I may be a bit OCD and an overly organized German, but at least I can now provide you guys with a nice South America packing list as a result of it. 🙂 South America is a bit tricky to pack for due to the extremely different climate zones in each country, but hopefully this South America packing list will help you plan what to pack for your big trip to this beautiful continent.

Bags

I have a 65l backpack from Osprey and a 35l backpack from Berghaus. All of my clothes, shoes and toiletries go in my Osprey backpack and all of my electronics go in my Berghaus backpack, as I like having my electronics separately in my hand luggage.

About two years ago I started using packing cubes and they really revolutionised the way I am travelling. Bit of a dramatic statement you may think, but I literally wasted hours trying to find certain items in my top loader backpack and they were usually always at the bottom. It drove me crazy! With packing cubes I can keep order in my pack, and as you may know, for a German order is everything! I currently have a big one for trousers, and two small ones for underwear and tops respectively. I am considering getting a couple more though for my chargers and other small gear.

Clothes & Shoes

Over the years I have managed to pack less and less for my long-term trips and my back has really thanked me for it. I am not one of those people who manage to travel with just carry-on luggage for long-term trips though, and this is mainly due to the fact that I like trekking and always carry trekking equipment with me, and also that I usually volunteer or work with local NGOs during my travels, and so I always need some smarter looking clothes that are suitable for office environments as well.

I try and bring versatile clothes that are ok to wear for sightseeing and to wear in an office at the same time. As you can see on the picture below I actually don`t take that many clothes with me, but I can easily combine them with each other, so that I can create different looking outfits all the time.

travel and business south america packing list
  • Sunhat
  • Wooly beret
  • Small shoulder bag
  • Sunglasses
  • 1 necklace (I ususally buy jewellery on the road which makes for a nice souvenir)
  • 1 bracelet
  • 1 pair of fancy earrings for going out – I wear studs otherwise
  • 1 bikini
  • 1 Pashmina scarf
  • Black cardigan
  • 2 long-sleeved shirts
  • 2 long-sleeved shirts/blouses
  • A little black dress
  • Fleece-lined tights for colder climates
  • 2 T-Shirts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of jeans hot pants
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 pair of linen trousers
  • 1 pair of ballerinas
  • 1 pair of Havaiana flip flops
  • 3 bras (one sports bra)
  • 5 pairs of underwear (one thief-proof Clever Travel Companion underpants)
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 pair of silk socks (for ballerinas)

Trekking Gear

As the weather in the mountains can change from one minute to the other I have trekking gear for each climate, so the below items, depending on how they are layered, would be suitable for a hike in the sunny Black forest in Germany, or a trek in the chilly Andes for example.

south america packing list trekking

Toiletries

I am a simple kind of girl when it comes to make up and therefore don`t carry lots around with me. In hotter climates things like foundation or powder just get sweated off instantly anyway, so my make-up bag is very small. A lot of cities in South America are at high altitude which means that your skin dries out really quickly and the sun is also stronger, so I always have decent sun cream, hand cream and body lotion with me. The two small cosmetic bags pictured below both fit into the big one.
south america packing list cosmetics
  • Mascara
  • Concealer
  • Eyeliner
  • Eyebrow pencil (otherwise my eyebrows are invisible)
  • Sun cream with SPF 50 or higher (Heliocare gel is my favourite as it soaks into the skin instantly and it is also available in SPF 90)
  • Travel sized body lotion
  • Hand cream
  • Anti-ageing face cream (to prevent wrinkles, because of course I don’t have any wrinkles yet! Cough, cough.)
  • Razor and spare blades
  • Nail file
  • Nail scissors
  • LUSH solid shampoo & conditioner bar (I have never heard of shampoo bars until I saw a post about it by fellow blogger Alex. These bars are amazing and you will never have exploded shampoo bottles in your bag again!)
  • Toothpaste
  • Travel toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Deodorant
  • Contact lenses (1 year supply) & travel sized solution
  • Prescription glasses
  • Some hairbands and hair pins
  • Small travel hairbrush
  • Make-up removal wipes (I also take these on multi-day trekking trips with me as showering is often not an option)
  • Travel towel
  • Travel washing line & detergent
  • Tampons

Gear & Electronics

If someone could invent a universal charger that could charge everything from cameras, laptops to batteries, I would be the happiest woman in the world. All these chargers and cables take up quite a lot of room, but for now I guess I have to pay the price for being a photo and laptop-obsessed person.
packing list south america electronics and gear

Medicine

A lot of travellers say that most medicine can be bought on the road, but when I am ill I don’t really want to find the nearest pharmacy to get my remedies, so I prefer having some basic medicines with me.

  • Antibiotics
  • Imodium + Rehydration sachets
  • Cold medicine: throat lozenges, nose spray + cough medicine
  • Painkillers
  • Insect repellent
  • Tiger balm (for headaches, insect bites and sore muscles)
  • Contraception pill (one year supply)

I also take my trusted South America Lonely Planet guide with me, and once I have been to a certain country I just tear out the pages to make the book a bit lighter. This all may look like a lot, but it all fits in my 65l and 35l backpacks. So, what`s your verdict for my South America packing list? Will I get arrested by the packing police or do you think I packed about right? Let me know in the comment section below.

 

Some of the above links are affiliate links which means that I will earn a tiny commission if you purchase through them. As you probably know by now, I would never recommend any product that I am not 100% convinced off though.

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

32 Thoughts on “My Ultimate South America Packing List

  1. Thank you so much for this. Pinned for later use. 🙂

    Kelly
    Kelly recently posted…Sunday InspirationMy Profile

  2. Aloke Surin on November 2, 2014 at 12:36 pm said:

    Wonderful list! Just curious, how much do your packs weigh in at?

  3. Lots to bring and thanks for posting the trekking gear section. You’ll need that a lot in South America!
    Angelica @BkChickTravels recently posted…How to Visit Bermuda on a BudgetMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 2, 2014 at 3:38 pm said:

      Yes definitely. There are so many great trekking opportunities in SA, it would be a shame not to make the most of it.

  4. Such a handy packing list – I may just have to open up this post every time I’m packing for any trip – I ALWAYS forget something even for easy short haul trips!
    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) recently posted…A Countryside Weekend Break in La Limousin, FranceMy Profile

  5. Wow I love how detailed this is! Very useful to keep in mind when packing! I always seem to fall on the overpacking end of the spectrum 🙂
    Marissa | Little Things Travel Blog recently posted…Elk Fest: Bringing Elk Together Since 1998My Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm said:

      Thank you Marissa. I am getting better and better at not overpacking, but it takes some time and a little bit of trial and error as well. I still sometimes overpack, but if I do I usualy donate stuff I don`t need to local charities. For instance if you travel from Argentina to Mexico, you will eventually not need as many cold weather gear and so can just get rid of it on the road.

  6. I love packing, but have never had a backpack before (gasps all around), I’ve always preferred a suitcase. But I’m planning a trip where I will definitely need a backpack, yours looks great! How many days of clothes can you pack in that backpack?
    Vlad recently posted…Dreaming About SevilleMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 6, 2014 at 8:16 am said:

      Lots of people prefer suitcases actually. I’d say you can pack about 1.5-2 weeks worth if clothes in the pack depending on how bulky they are.

  7. Looks like a complete yet concise pack for long term travel. Well done!

  8. Really helpful list. Thanks very much for posting.

  9. Nice pack, not always easy to achieve. Maybe the hardest thing about travelling is what to take.

    • Tammyonthemove on November 6, 2014 at 8:19 am said:

      Yes definitely. It took me a few years to improve my packing. I used to be a hopeless overpacker, but I got much better now.

  10. This was super helpful as I’m heading to Central America next year – the climates won’t be as varied as SA but I’m still struggling with what to pack. I will definitely be bookmarking this for the future.
    Sky recently posted…Central America Travel ItineraryMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on November 6, 2014 at 8:21 am said:

      Oh how exciting. There are still some cities that are at higher altitude, especially in Guatemala, but generally it will be warmer I think.

  11. First of all: Happy new year for both of you 🙂
    When I read this I really want to pack my bag again and take a flight to visit a new place!! But this time will come, I am sure.
    My best friend is going on a trip so I sended her the link to have a look at your list! I think it can help her for her packing!!
    What are your plans for this year?
    Muchos saludos y un gran abrazo de la distancia!!
    Anja

    • Tammyonthemove on January 2, 2015 at 3:12 pm said:

      Happy new year to you too. We are moving to Ghana in February, as I got a job with the UN. So exciting times ahead. Come and visit us! 🙂

  12. Packing cubes are such life savers!
    Hannah @ GettingStamped recently posted…Back in Chiang Mai – Our New Apartment {Video Post}My Profile

  13. Amissa Verstraete on August 19, 2016 at 5:40 am said:

    Hi, I’m travelling long-term on my own for the first time, starting in November. Do you think this list is good for traveling from Colombia to Buenos Aires?
    It’s looks like a really good one to me. A perfect combination of efficient clothing and pretty clothing. Because for me, I know that I wouldn’t like to travel in my hiking pants the whole time. A dress or a pair of jeans in every once and a while would do me good.
    Thank you for this one!

    • Tammyonthemove on August 19, 2016 at 5:46 am said:

      Hey Amissa, how exciting. Sounds like you have a great trip lined up. I am glad you like the list and yes, I think this packing list will enable you to be covered for all the different climate zones you will encounter from Colombia to Argentina (which is pretty much all climates from sunny to snowy). Enjoy your trip!

  14. Very helpful, one question though, how do you travel with your daypack and your backpack? I am thinking of what to bring. Might go for a 55l backpack and a shoulder bag for my camera and kindle and so on. And a foldable daypack/tote bag. Not sure if I should have a daypack too, but I think a foldable tote bag should be great.

    • Tammyonthemove on January 31, 2017 at 4:34 pm said:

      Glad you like it. I wear the daypack on the front and the big backpack on the back. So I look like a turtle with two shells. I think a shoulder bag would work great too-depends on how big your camera bag is though and if you are also taking a laptop. I basically keep all my electronics and chargers in my daypack. Plus a daypack is handy when I go hiking. A shoulder bag would be quite uncomfortable for hiking. But if you are not planning on doing any hiking than a shoulder bag should work. Hope this helps.

  15. What a list you have here. My pinky backpack for sure is always one of my favourite gears on camping or hiking. It is light, easy to carry. I planned to do quite a bit on our States road trip this month but we haven’t had the best weather!
    Thanks for posting and please keep it up.
    Lisa Schofield recently posted…Party Tents for Sale – Top 5 PicksMy Profile

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