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Tips on Packing

Packing is a four letter word to many people. Philosophies of packing really run the gamut, from the bare minimum — tiny backpack, one change of clothes, and a toothbrush — to over the top, with full suitcase, big carry-on bag, and something for every possible occasion. I’d like to think I fall more toward the former, but I also believe in being prepared and having a little bit in the way of choices.

I carry a 50L, middle-of-the-road sized pack (though most people I met traveling thought my bag was small), I bring more underwear than anything (the main determinant of when you must do laundry), and I generally try to remember I can pick up most things on the way, though I still like to have enough of everything to start off with anyway. Plus, I’m a girl, and my clothes are smaller and don’t take up as much space so I can afford to be a little more generous. And so, without further ado…

My South America Packing List:

Gregory Jade backpack (circa 2006, there is a newer version out now)
3 packing cubes
alo lightweight jacket
North Face microfleece
long sleeved shirt
3-4 tees (one UnderArmour breathable shirt for active days, one plain white shirt for layering and warmer days, one dressier shirt for normal days or going out, one everyday/slightly nice shirt – all mostly wrinkle-proof or supposed to look wrinkled)
2 tank tops
going out shirt (satin tank top)
pair jeans (some people say don’t pack jeans, I find I wear them most of the time and make you look a lot more normal when you’re walking around cities, etc.)
pair North Face hiking pants (can be zipped into shorts, or some pairs can be rolled into capris)
pair khaki shorts ($3 shorts from Thailand!)
pair back gauchos/capris (can be dressy/look like a skirt)
big t-shirt for sleeping
pair warm PJ pants
pair PJ shorts
14 pairs underwear
6-8 pairs socks
(2-3 thick hiking socks, 2 breathable “under” socks, 2-3 everyday socks)
light thermal long sleeved shirt
pair thermal underwear bottoms
($5 at Walmart)
pair North Face gloves, 1 pair fleece gloves (to wear under big North Face ones)
Kathmandu rain shell
pair Skechers running shoes
(with good gripping treads)
pair Rainbow sandals
pair flip flops
(ready to be thrown out – will wear for showering until I pick up a cheap pair there)
2 bathing suits (bikini and more modest tankini)
2 small headscarves
(to dress yourself up or use on a grungy day)
2 small bags (small canvas tote and reusable shopping bags, roll until almost nothing)
small black purse (for nights out)
bigger waterproof purse (for daily use)
2 travel guides, relevant sections ripped out (Lonely Planet, Rough Guide)
English/Spanish dictionary
1-2 books (for pleasure reading on long bus rides)
Moleskine journals
(1 big one for journaling, one small Moleskine journal for keeping in purse to keep notes)
toiletries (travel size of essentials: toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner, body spray, deodorant; razor, toothbrush, chapstick)
feminine products
(prescriptions, Ibuprofen, Excedrin, Benedryl, Dramamine, Immodium, etc.), sunscreen, bug spray, Purell, etc.
tissues (mostly to be used as toilet paper)
Micronet medium-sized travel towel
unlocked LG phone, global SIM (for emergencies – free with ISIC card and $10 recharge in minutes)
netbook computer
(hp mini 1000) and Built case
(Canon Powershot SD750), protective case
chargers for all electronics

adapters (my dad just got me this beauty from Switzerland with a USB adapter as well)
2 2GB SD memory cards, 1 USB memory card reader (not totally necessary with netbook’s built in reader)
8GB USB stick, 4GB USB stick (I’m paranoid about losing my pictures, see the last tip in Pre-Trip Planning for why)
travel alarm clock
(simple Wordlock combination lock)
spork (Light My Fire sporks – I got a set for my birthday and I’m in love with them! Carry in your purse for cheap snacks or meals throughout the day – yogurt, a spontaneous picnic, food from the local fresh food market, etc.)
money belt
(I used to almost never use this and it will always feel a little weird, but I’m going to swear by it on this trip)
passport, travel documents, insurance information, phone numbers, addresses, etc.

Surely there are things I left out that others may insist upon, that maybe I have forgotten all about or have just decided to do without. And surely there are things that I’ve packed that many would say is over the top or unnecessary. Well, to each his own, different strokes for different folks, and all that jazz.

28 Comments leave one →
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