Packing Lists

My Universal South America Packing List

My universal South America Packing List helps you preparing for your very own trip to Latin America!
My universal South America Packing List helps you preparing for your very own trip to Latin America!

This post is also available in: German

If you want to experience the full diversity this South America Packing list helps you to prepare for your trip – be it hiking in Patagonia, city sightseeing in Buenos Aires or discovering old inca ruins in Peru. This list not only helps you to pack everything you need it also saves you a lot of time!

When you prepare for a big trip it can become pretty stressful in matters of packing. Mostly it's when you realize that you forgot some essential things you haven't thought of earlier. Sounds familiar?

The following South America Packing List is based on my experience of numerous trips to South America – from the very hot areas like the Atacama desert down to the windy, but beautiful Patagonia with it's amazing glacier landscapes. Therefore this list is very universal and usable for diverse trips, no matter if they are long or short.

First things first: You need much less than you might think. Trust me.

During my trip my luggage became less and less – I got rid of things I never used and focussed on essential, lightweight stuff instead. This list is what I came up with after this process. Don't worry: even if there is something missing for you, you can always buy stuff all around the world when you need it – this way you save space and weight.

Moreover I included links to certain products on Amazon to save you the time searching for it – there you can also find more information and reviews of others.

1) Backpack & Bags

 

2) Clothes

In general I packed for more or less one week to keep it easy and to leave enough space for other essentials – at the end of the week I did laundry in the Hotel/Hostel I was staying in or went to a laundry center in the city.

  • 7 x underwear
  • 3 x socks
  • 2 x hiking socks
  • 4 x regular T-Shirts
  • 1 x Longsleeve
  • 2 x Sport T-Shirts (mid layer) – I recommend using breathable shirts
  • 1 x Shirt for dinner & special occasions
  • 1 x shorts
  • 1 x Hiking Pants, with the option to turn into a short pant
  • 1 x Jeans
  • 1 x Board Shorts, usable for swimming as well as regular shorts
  • 1 x Fleece Jacket (mid layer) – highly recommended for colder spots and the evenings!
  • 1 x breathable, waterproof Jacket as shell layer
  • 1 x pair of flip-flop (e.g. Havaianas)
  • 1 x Sneaker – comfy boots for traveling (e.g. Nike Free Run on Amazon)

>> find more Outdoor & Trekking Gear in the Outdoor Packing List for Patagonia!

 

3) Toiletries

In this list I just stick to the basics – you should extend it to your own liking (especially female readers).

 

4) Camera & Technical Gadgets

 

5) Travel Gadgets

 

6) Documents, Money & Security

Store your important documents safely to avoid getting pick pocketed.

  • waterproof document bag
  • passport / visa
  • plane / bus / train tickets
  • cash in local currency (mostly you can exchange money at your home airport or bank)
  • money belt (you can wear it underneath your shirt!)
  • print of booking confirmation (Tour, Hotel, Transfer)
  • a good travel insurance – I often used the one from WorldNomads (see calculator below)

I highly recommend to get a good travel insurance as in almost every case your current health insurance won’t work in most of the countries. During my time I used the awarded Travel Insurance by WorldNomads which you can easily purchase online for the exact time needed:
 

 

7) Travel Guides

First of all you should check out all the free South America travel guides I published. If you want to come well prepared the following guides are great resources to take with you (mostly also available as eBooks) for your time in South America:
 
backpacking in chile ebookBackpacking in Chile: my Chile Travel Guide
 
This is a clear and concise 100 page eBook based on my experience from 4 months traveling through Chile.
 
It includes travel guides for each region of Chile as well as a complete trekking guide for Torres del Paine, plus route itineraries. Checklists are included to help make sure you don’t forget anything.
 
This eBook is designed to save you a lot of time & make your trip much easier. Download it now and take it with you!
 
more information >>


 
backpacking in argentina ebookBackpacking in Argentina: my Argentina Travel Guide
 
This is a clear and concise 100 page eBook based on my experience from 3 months traveling through Argentina.
 
The book includes travel guides for the several regions of Argentina as well as a tiny trekking guide for El Chaltén and Ushuaia. Checklists are included to help make sure you don’t forget anything.
 
This eBook is designed to save you a lot of time & make your trip much easier. Download it now and take it with you!
 
more information >>


 
 
lonely planet chileArgentina, Lonely Planet

The travel guide for Argentina covers also Patagonia and lines out the most popular things to do, comes with small maps of the covered cities/villages and gives recommendations on restaurants and places to stay.
 
buy it on Amazon >>

lonely planet chileChile & Easter Island, Lonely Planet
 
The Lonely Planet for Chile covers also Patagonia and lines out the most popular things to do, comes with small maps of the covered cities/villages and gives recommendations on restaurants and places to stay.
 
buy it on Amazon >>

dk chileDK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Chile & Easter Island
 
The fully updated guide includes unique cutaways, floorplans and reconstructions of the must-see sites, plus street-by-street maps of all the fascinating cities and towns. The new-look guide is also packed with photographs and illustrations leading you straight to the best attractions on offer.
 
buy it on Amazon >>

lonely planet patagoniaTrekking Patagonia, Lonely Planet
 
This is a must if you plan to hike a few times in Patagonia as this guide has itineraries for several parts of Patagonia and even for Tierra del Fuego. It's a good resource for the popular spots like Torres del Paine and Chaltén as well as the lesser known parts. Highly recommended!
 
buy it on Amazon >>

lonely planet south americaLonely Planet South America on a shoestring
 
This Lonely Planet is also available as Kindle eBook and covers the highlights in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru etc. Essential info at your fingertips – including hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, and prices.
 
buy it on Amazon >>

lonely planet spanishLonely Planet Latin American Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary
 
Get More From Your Trip with Easy-to-Find Phrases for Every Travel Situation – the Lonely Planet Phrasebook helps you to order the right meal with the menu decoder and comes with a 3500-word two-way dictionary. Moreover you'll find shortcuts, key phrases & common Q&As
 
buy it on Amazon >>


 

Anything to add to this South America Packing List?

Tell us! I’d like to collect more useful advices – simply comment on this article.
Moreover let’s spread the word as sharing is caring: share this post with your friends on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus by using the related buttons.
 
Disclaimer: This universal South America Packing List contains Affiliate Links for services and products I’m using on my travels – therefore I can highly recommend using them. By using this links you won’t pay any additional fees but support me to keep this site running!

  • Nick McFarland

    What size backpack did you actually use? I’m planning 4-8 months through South America and have been planning on using the Osprey Farpoint 55L (Farpoint 40L + 15L daypack). However, when I think about trying to fit in a decent waterproof shell and other clothing for the more adventures parts I’m worried about actually squeezing it in that backpack.

    • Hey Nick – I only got a 48l Backpack plus a daypack with me. I always had the jackets on me as it can be freezing cold in the buses and planes with the AC turned on!

  • Gaylord McBallSack

    Great stuff! Thanks

  • LA

    it might be worth reminding people about vaccinations as some SA countries require yellow fever certificate before entry

  • Heather Kollmann

    Hi! I was recommended by someone to purchase a small compact tent & sleeping bag as they experienced a lot of camping opportunities, especially through Argentina/Chile. (They were solo as well but had a 3-person tent to make it easier for socialising and having new friends join on parts of their trek.) I’ve only experienced hostel backpacking in Central America and am hesitant to add quite a number of litres to my pack for these supplies. What are your thoughts? (I am a graduating student flying one-way to Buenos Aires and all my belongings will be with me in my pack.)

    • Anthony Brown

      Heather, I had the same concern. I’m traveling solo for two weeks to Chile and really enjoy backpacking. Most of the websites I’m seeing are aligned with “touring with day hikes” and I was really looking for multiday backpacking trips (for which a tent and sleeping bag would be essential). Do you have any recommendations on sites focused on trekking?

      • Hey all – it always depends on what you are willing to do. For multiple day hikes it is essential to have a tent – in hotspots like Puerto Natales and El Chalten you can rent equipment. If go into remote Patagonia you should bring your own tent & equipment!

        • Anthony Brown

          Steve, thanks for the reply. I did end up taking (and using) the tent and sleeping bag. Right now sitting at SCL waiting for my flight home. Great trip, beautiful country in spite of the spring rains. Ciao.

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