Knowing what to pack for South America, or any big trip can be completely daunting. There are so many  articles about packing tips out there on the net. But I thought, wouldn’t it be great to get an update from people who are actually living it? Therefore I’ve bailed up eight people currently traveling the Gringo Trail in South America and asked them about their biggest packing regrets and the one thing they couldn’t live without on the road. This is your ultimate South America packing list. Do not throw even one thing into a suitcase before reading this.

Alex maughan

what_to_pack_for_south_america_packing_list_packing_tips_Alex
Age: 23 | From: England | Travelling for: 5.5 months | Where: South America

What do you wish you’d brought but left at home?

More sports leggings because I’ve done a lot more activities than I thought. And they are great for buses. I didn’t realize how active South America was!

What do you really regret bringing?

So many books. I wish I’d either bought a kindle or downloaded the kindle app on my iPad.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

My portable charger. It has saved my life on more than one occasion and would be my number one tip on what to pack for South America.

Dayna Morgan

what_to_pack_for_south_america_packing_list_packing_tips_Dayna
Age: 21 | From: Wales | Travelling for: 5 months | Where: South America & The Caribbean

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D BROUGHT BUT LEFT AT HOME?

Chili flakes there’s not a lot of spicy food out here and they are really hard to find. I put them in every meal at home. And they go great with avocado

WHAT DO YOU REALLY REGRET BRINGING?

My diary. I’ve been using the Polar Steps App instead, it’s so much easier to carry around with me.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My jeans – in Bolivia they were my life saver. I wore them everyday when it was cold (and it’s always cold in Bolivia – something I didn’t realise before I left). At night I even wore them in bed.

Rachael Evans

what_to_pack_for_south_america_packing_list_packing_tips_Mickey
Age: 22 | From: Wales | Travelling for: 5 months | Where: South America & The Caribbean

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D BROUGHT BUT LEFT AT HOME?

More Spanish skills. I just think even basic Spanish can get you so for. If you can pick up a little convo with someone they have a lot more time for you.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY REGRET BRINGING?

My go-pro. It’s a waste of time because your phone is just as good at taking pictures. And along with all the accessories you need it’s really heavy and your look like a twat when you pull it out.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My iPhone. It just does everything in one – takes photos – maps – google translate. And it’s so light.

Joshua cooper

what_to_pack_for_south_america_packing_list_packing_tips_Josh
Age: 24 | From: South Hampton | Travelling for: 6 months | Where: South America

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D BROUGHT BUT LEFT AT HOME?

A deck of cards because they are a great way to make friends if you’re a solo traveler.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY REGRET BRINGING?

I brought too much warm stuff – I have long sleeve tops that I haven’t worn but they are good quality so I don’t want to throw them away. Plus you collect free tops everywhere you go along the way.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

A really good sleeping bag liner. In the really hot places I slept in it. In the really skank places I slept in it And if i hadn’t been using it while hiking my sleeping bag would have been really grim by now

Natalia Riley

What to pack for south america
Age: 23 | From: London | Travelling for: 3.5 months | Where: South America

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D BROUGHT BUT LEFT AT HOME?

My smaller backpack. Mine is currently 70 litres and is both a rucksack with wheels. But I found when I went hiking and had a much smaller bag it was really nice. I think it would have been a good exercise to learn how to pack more smartly.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY REGRET BRINGING?

My carbon monoxide alarm… Don’t even ask. My mum made me bring it incase of carbon monoxide leaks in hostels. But I haven’t even looked at it once.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My puffer jacket – This was actually another thing my mum made me bring when I was wondering what to pack for South America. And I wore it every day for two months in Bolivia and the other colder places.

michael Salter

what_to_pack_for_south_america_packing_list_packing_tips_Mickey
Age: 25 | From: Brisbane | Travelling for: 12 months | Where: South & Central America & Europe

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D BROUGHT BUT LEFT AT HOME?

A Life Straw. I was contemplating buying one of these but regrettably decided against it. If I’d brought one, I probably would have saved hundreds of dollars on bottled water.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY REGRET BRINGING?

So many clothes. It’s a bit general but by having a full backpack it meant having to always throw something away when buying or getting something new. Eg. Alpaca jumpers, free shirts/singlets from Sunday Funday, Death Road, various bars etc. Not to mention, just things you buy along the way.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My neck pillow. This was the only thing that was essential in both Central and South. Not only essential to sleep on long bus and plane rides, it acted as an extra pillow in hostels. About 90% of hostels only give 1 flimsy pillow per bed which is not enough for a good nights sleep (at least for me). The little bit of extra padding made all the difference. Also it can be attached to the outside of your bag, so it doesnt take up extra space in your luggage.

hayley hadfield

what_to_pack_for_south_america_packing_list_packing_tips_Hayley
Age: 27 | From: Shefield | Travelling for: 12 months | Where: South & Central America & Europe

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D BROUGHT BUT LEFT AT HOME?

A decent skin care regime! I left my Liz Earle skin care products at home thinking that cheaper alternatives would be better on the road. #Totalfail as looking after your skin whilst you’re away is essential due to late nights/ sun exposure. Especially if your prone to breakouts and dark eye circles! Decent SPF moisturiser and anti puffiness eye cream is one thing i regret not bringing. You just can’t get the same over here.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY REGRET BRINGING?

I really regret bringing my Converse. At home i really thought i couldn’t live without my trade mark Chucks. However alongside hikers and runners they are completely impractical bulky & heavy! A lightweight pair of pumps is much more appropriate and dry quickly if you get them wet. Also hikers and either pumps or runners is best. Lots of shoes are a waste of space.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I absolutely can’t live without my lightweight waterproof/windproof Kathmandu black jacket. Its the one thing i have used practically everyday. In Central America a thin waterproof that goes with everything and folds away to nothing is great due to surprise downpours. In South America it’s a great top layer and you can easily add a fleece underneath for warmth

Emma Wynne

About-me-page
Age: 30 | From: Melbourne | Travelling for: 12 months | Where: South & Central America & The Caribbean

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D BROUGHT BUT LEFT AT HOME?

Thought I should throw my two-cents worth in here. Fashionable runners that I could both hike in and wear with jeans. I bought runners and my Adidas Superstars. But I hardly wear my Adidas and they just add extra weight to your bag. Too many shoes definitely shouldn’t be on your list of what to pack for South America.

WHAT DO YOU REALLY REGRET BRINGING?

A 2nd pair of jeans and a few of my dresses. You really don’t need that many clothes. I really want to chuck them out, but I love them and can’t bring myself to do it.

WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

The Netflix app. Now that they have added the ability to download shows they are an absolute God send for long journeys.


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