My Packing List for South America

October 5, 2015

Whew. You guys. I might have overestimated my packing light abilities. I’ve been bragging about this carry-on only experiment, and it’s been a bit of a stressful morning trying to get everything to fit in my 38 liter backpack and tote.

Several hours later and I’m happy with the results. Below is my complete packing list for South America – Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to be specific. It’ll be spring and summer once I get below the equator, but it’ll also be rainy season in many of the destinations I’m visiting. Furthermore, I’m visiting a lot of coastal beach cities that get super hot, but also some higher altitude cities with cooler temps like Bogotá and Cusco. So I’ve had to include a bit of everything, ahhh!

Packing List for South America

The Travel “Gear”

Of course, I had to pack all of the travel gear and/or outdoorsy stuff (that I also included in this page). Since I’ve never practiced packing them before, I think that some of these items are the reason for the lack of space problem I ran into.

Packing List for South America-2

Daypack, Pacsafe, Microfiber Towel, Doorstop (because Jodi recommends it), Two Combination Master Locks for hostel lockers and my bag while in transit, Dry Bag, and a (free) Metal Water Bottle (packed on the outside, obvi)

Random Travel Stuff

Packing List for South America-4

Eye mask for good sleep, heavy duty insect repellant (because it’s hard to get DEET abroad), ear plugs (again, for sleep), $1 LED mini flashlight (couldn’t resist while I was at Walmart), melatonin (I like my sleep, okay?), mini Tide pen (because I’m bound to ruin some clothes on this journey), quart Ziploc bags (because these are always useful)

Everything that’s in my Tote (aka my “personal item”)

Packing List for South America-5

Sunglasses (not really RayBans), antibacterial hand gel, earbuds, credit cards, a little cash, passport and immunization card, whistle and bottle opener (on the same keychain), Sharpie, chapstick, lipstick, cross-body purse, magazine, manila folder full of flight/hostel confirmations, inflatable travel pillow, Kindle, notebook and pen, Macbook Air and laptop sleeve, laptop charger, camera charger, iPhone

(Not pictured: the camera that took this photo, paperback about Colombia, sweater, summer scarf, and iPhone charger)

Make-Up n Stuff

Packing List for South America

Sephora powder and bronzer, Benefit mascara, Stila liquid eyeliner, blush, Garnier BB Cream, two make-up brushes (may get rid of one), razor, tweezers, nail clippers, Vaseline, extra hair things, free sample Marc Jacobs perfume, acne cream, floss, toothbrush, toothpaste, bobby pins, deodorant, face moisturizer


Finally, we get to this point. I’m no fashionista. In fact, I haven’t bought many new clothes recently because I kinda knew what I wanted to pack already. I have a lot of staples that I wear on the reg and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. They say that if you don’t wear it at home, you definitely won’t wear it while traveling, so with that in mind, here’s what I’m going with…

Packing List for South America

Two pairs of pants – one pair of jeans and one pair of black skinny jeans-esque pants – because remember how I told you that lots of people in other countries don’t wear shorts?

Two pairs of shorts – jean shorts and flowy patterned shorts

One pair leggings

Two sundresses

Maxi skirt – this got eliminated already.

Packing List for South America

Fitted Black Tank (another one bites the dust), Gray Tank, Patterned Ella Moss Tank

Long Banana Republic White Tee, James Perse Red Tee, Free People Tank, $5 stretchy black skirt

Cheap black dress (yes, it’s distressed looking on purpose – no, I don’t know why)

Packing List for South America

Two Bathing Suits (that was so tough for me)

One pair quick drying shorts and one pair athletic capri pants

One quick drying tank

Two sports bras (plus one regular strapless bra)


14 Pairs of Underwear (hey, I’m not trying to do laundry all the time)


The key thing here is that there’s nothing really expensive included.

Packing List for South America

Alex and Ani Gold Feather Bracelet, gold dangle-y earrings (if I need to look fancy), two pairs of cheap stud earrings (plus one pair in my ears right now), one ring and two tiny knuckle rings, Pura Vida Bracelets (20% off in October with code HARVEST20), tassel necklace, long pendant necklace, Kate Spade initial necklace, and the “skinny” by Native (real tapestries turned into wearable art)

Everything Else!

Packing List for South America

5 pairs of shoes – Rainbow flip flops, Merrell trail running shoes, TOMS, black sandals, gold/brown sandals

Bridesmaid’s robe (for hanging around my hostel room, so I don’t have to rush to put on clothes while I’m wet)

Three pairs of socks (one pair is Smartwool)

Medicines, Neosporin, Anti-Itch Cream, Sunscreen, Bandaids, contacts, and toiletries (including solid shampoo, conditioner, and omg this amazing dry shampoo)

Raincoat – I’m begrudgingly packing this, though I know I’ll probably need it.

(And yes, all of those clothes fit in the three packing cubes you see above.)

Things to buy there

A cool hat and sarong – both useful things that double as souvenirs.

Welp, that’s pretty much it, guys! Hopefully I’ve got everything I need, and if I don’t, I hear they have stores in other countries! I’ll update this list with notes if something is not useful at all. And I’m prepared to have to throw some things in the trash.

So what did I forget?


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  • Reply Baxter October 5, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    bit + grain makes it to South America! Yes!

    • Reply Rachel October 7, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Unfortunately, it would not cover up the huge “Belk” logo, which is what I was hoping for…

  • Reply Tempesst October 6, 2015 at 12:39 am

    I think you did a pretty bomb job! I will now definitely be packing a light weight robe for the next trip

    • Reply Rachel October 7, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Just used it this morning – crucial for hostel showers, especially in this heat!

  • Reply Brittany November 7, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    This looks like an awesome packing list! I love all of the photos you took. I hope you’re having an amazing time in South America!
    Brittany recently posted…Budget-Friendly Accommodations in TulumMy Profile

    • Reply Rachel November 12, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks Brittany! I probably could’ve done a better job with the photos, but I totally waited until my last day to pack and take pictures. Oops. So far so good on the items I’ve packed though!

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