Adventure Life Journeys will send a detailed, tour-specific packing
list after you book your trip. In the meantime, below are a few travel
essentials to get you started. In general, less is more. Set out everything
you want to bring and then try to pack half that!
Note: Delayed bags are COMMON at many South and Central American
destinations. Pack one change of clothes, two pairs of socks/underwear,
personal hygiene items, passport, airline tickets, and emergency numbers
in your carry on. Prepare as if you may not see your checked bags for
two or three days just in case, but don't go overboard. You still want
to be comfortable negoitiating around the maze of airports.
- Online Gear Store: Check-out the Adventure
Gear site for all of your packing needs and detailed, packing lists for
any region, from the humid tropics to the cold polar regions.
- ATM/ Debit card: In most cities and even smaller towns,
you will find ATMs. Arrange for a fee waiver before leaving and save receipts
in case there are errors.
- Cash and/or Traveler's Checks: Pack a little US cash in
small denominations for emergencies. Traveler's checks are a bit safer, but
they are also more difficult to exchange.
- Passport and Airline Tickets: Don't forget!
- Copies of Travel Documents: Store copies of travel documents (passport,
tour voucher, travel insurance, airline tickets) separately from the actual
- Address book/ Emergency numbers: Pack an address book with emergency
numbers for friends/family, tour staff, credit cards, and travel insurance.
- Camera, spare battery, and lots of film: Although you can buy film
in most locations (even some Antarctic boats and Amazon lodges), prices are
often considerably higher than home. Consider how much film you will need
and then bring at least half as much again!
- Comfortable Shoes: Slip on shoes work great for airports
and casual walks around town. Bring durable hiking boots for trekking tours
to minimize twisted ankles and don't forget water shoes (Tevas, flip-flops,
or old tennis shoes) for trips to the Galapagos, whitewater rafting, etc.
- Money belt for important documents, passport, and money.
Do not use the kind that hang from your neck. They're not very secure and
a pain to use.
- Convertible pants: Light, fast drying, and the legs zip
off to form shorts. Bring at least two pairs!
- Fleece sweater and light rain jacket: Expect the unpredictable,
even in tropical areas!!
- Shirts (Long and Short Sleeve): Try to pack colors that you can mix
and match to minimize luggage without having to wear the same combination
everyday. Check out our Weather
links for a 10 day forecast before you go. Synthetic, fast-drying fabrics
are a real bonus in the tropics!
- Swimsuit: You can find one there, but styles and sizes are limited.
- Sunglasses and Hat to block the strong Equatorial sun.
Consider buying the hat when you arrive. It makes a great memory of all of
your travel miles.
- Personal Items and Medications: Although you can find many
travel essentials in South and Central America, you're unlikely to find your
favorite brand of shampoo or deodorant. If possible, pack these in a small
tote in your carry-on. Don't forget the insect repellant, antibiotics (for
Traveler's Diarrhea), anti-itch cream, extra contacts/ glasses, sunscreen,
and prescription medications.
- Water Bottle: Minimize plastic waste by bringing a refillable water
bottle so that you can buy larger bottles of water or fill up from hotel supplies.
- Book(s): Remember that the pace of life is a bit slower in Latin
America. Expect a few delays and plan accordingly.
- Journal and Pens: You're bound to forget some of those subtle travel
experiences once you return. What better way to pass the time, than to make
a lasting record of your adventures!
Advice from a Traveler
It's amazing how much stuff people take when traveling to Latin America.
A backpacker may be willing to take a cold shower, but she thinks she
needs all of the amenities of a Roman bath to accompany the freezing
water! Many travelers pack for South American journeys with the thought,
"I won't be able to buy this down there. Better take it."
It's only later, when buying stove fuel at Ace Hardware in Quito, that
she realizes how wrong she was!
One of the pleasures of traveling is bringing home crafts and memories
of the host country, so why miss out by bringing too many odds and ends
from home! In Iquiue, Chile, I once saw two backpackers with four 100-gallon
backpacks and a cat. I nearly lost my senses laughing and pondering,
"What can be so important to kill yourself carrying it." As
it turns out, the refrigerator-toting travelers had an intriguing story
to go along with their packs, but I don't really think they needed the
Surprisingly, all a South American traveler really needs is a passport
and plane ticket. Everything else he can buy as needed in markets, malls,
or from other travelers. And the price for items bought on the road?
Let's just say it won't break your budget.
By Tiffany L. Murnan