Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

What To Pack For South America – Our Perfect Packing List


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Aubrie Sasser



Planning a trip to South America? Congratulations! You’re in for an unforgettable adventure. Before jetting off, it’s crucial to pack the right essentials and accessories to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. From the vibrant streets of Buenos Aires to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, South America offers a plethora of diverse landscapes and cultures waiting to be explored.


In this comprehensive packing list, we’ll guide you through the must-have items for your South America trip. Whether you’re trekking through the Amazon rainforest, exploring the historical landmarks of Cusco, or relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Rio de Janeiro, these essentials will help you stay prepared and comfortable throughout your journey.


South America’s climate varies across its regions, so it’s essential to pack a mix of lightweight clothing for warmer areas and warm layers for cooler regions. Don’t forget to consider the activities you’ll be doing as well, as some may require specific clothing or gear. It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast for your destinations before finalizing your packing list.


Besides clothing, accessories like comfortable shoes, toiletries, medications, and electronics are also important to have on hand. Additionally, organizing your travel documents, managing your money and banking, and ensuring your safety and security are crucial aspects of a well-prepared trip.


Now that you’re excited about your upcoming South America adventure, let’s dive into the essential items you should pack to make the most of your trip.



When it comes to clothing for your South America trip, versatility is key. Pack a mix of lightweight, breathable fabrics for the warmer regions and warmer layers for cooler climates or high-altitude destinations. Here are some essential clothing items to include:

  • T-shirts and Tank Tops: Pack a combination of short-sleeved and sleeveless tops in breathable materials like cotton or moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • Long-Sleeve Shirts: Opt for lightweight, long-sleeve shirts to protect yourself from the sun and bugs during outdoor activities.
  • Lightweight Sweater or Fleece: For cooler regions, pack a cozy sweater or fleece to layer over your shirts.
  • Lightweight Jacket or Windbreaker: A lightweight jacket or windbreaker is essential for protecting yourself against unexpected rain or chilly evenings.
  • Pants and Shorts: Pack a mix of lightweight pants and shorts for comfort and versatility. Consider convertible pants that can transform into shorts for added convenience.
  • Swimwear: South America boasts stunning beaches and swimming spots, so don’t forget to pack your favorite swimsuit or trunks.
  • Underwear and Socks: Pack enough underwear and socks for the duration of your trip, plus a few extras. If you plan on hiking or outdoor activities, consider moisture-wicking or wool socks for added comfort.
  • Sleepwear: Don’t forget to pack comfortable sleepwear for a good night’s rest.
  • Hat and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun by packing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.

Remember to choose clothing in neutral colors that can be easily mixed and matched. This will give you more outfit options without taking up too much space in your luggage. Putting together a few versatile outfits will help you stay comfortable and stylish throughout your South America adventure.



Choosing the right shoes for your South America trip is crucial, as you’ll likely be doing plenty of walking and exploring. Here are some essential shoe options to consider:

  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: Invest in a pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers with good arch support to keep your feet happy during long days of sightseeing.
  • Hiking Boots or Shoes: If you plan on hiking or exploring more rugged terrains, pack a pair of sturdy hiking boots or shoes for better traction and support.
  • Sandals or Flip-Flops: It’s always a good idea to pack a pair of lightweight sandals or flip-flops for beach visits, relaxing at your accommodation, or simply giving your feet a break from closed-toe shoes.
  • Water Shoes: If you anticipate water-based activities like snorkeling, rafting, or exploring waterfalls, consider packing a pair of water shoes for added safety and comfort.
  • Dress Shoes: Depending on your itinerary, you may have a few occasions that call for dressier attire. If so, pack a pair of comfortable dress shoes that can be worn with nicer outfits.

Regardless of the shoes you choose, make sure to break them in before your trip to avoid any discomfort or blisters. It’s also a good idea to pack some blister prevention products, such as moleskin or blister gel pads, just in case.


Remember to pack socks that are suitable for the shoes you’re bringing. For hiking boots or walking shoes, opt for moisture-wicking or wool socks to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.


By choosing the right shoes for your South America adventure, you’ll be able to explore comfortably and make the most of your travels.



Accessories can both enhance your travel experience and make your trip more convenient. Here are some essential accessories to consider packing for your South America adventure:

  • Daypack or Backpack: A sturdy daypack or backpack is essential for carrying your belongings during day trips, hikes, or exploring cities. Look for one with comfortable straps and enough compartments for easy organization.
  • Travel Adapter: South America uses a variety of plug types, so be sure to pack a travel adapter to charge your electronics and keep them powered.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is important during your travels. Carry a reusable water bottle to fill up throughout the day, helping you save money and reduce plastic waste.
  • Travel Towel: A quick-drying and compact travel towel is useful for beach visits, water activities, or if your accommodation doesn’t provide towels.
  • Portable Power Bank: Keep your electronic devices charged on the go with a portable power bank. This is especially handy during long days of exploring or when outlets are scarce.
  • Travel Pillow and Eye Mask: For long flights, bus rides, or uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, a travel pillow and eye mask can provide much-needed comfort and rest.
  • Travel Locks: Protect your belongings by packing travel locks for your luggage and lockers in hostels or hotels.
  • Reusable Shopping Bag: Reduce your environmental footprint by packing a reusable shopping bag for groceries or souvenirs.

Other helpful accessories to consider include a microfiber cloth for cleaning your glasses or camera lenses, a pocket-sized flashlight or headlamp for emergencies or outdoor activities, and a money belt or neck pouch to keep your valuables safe.


Remember that packing accessories should be practical and lightweight, adding convenience without weighing you down. Choose items that fit your specific needs and activities planned for your South America trip.



When packing toiletries for your South America trip, it’s important to balance practicality and weight. Here are some essential toiletries to consider:

  • Travel-sized Bottles: To save space and comply with airline regulations, transfer your favorite shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and other liquids into small, travel-sized bottles.
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste for maintaining good oral hygiene.
  • Deodorant: Stay fresh throughout your travels by packing a travel-sized deodorant or antiperspirant.
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by packing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF value.
  • Insect Repellent: Depending on your destination, mosquito or insect repellent can be a lifesaver. Look for a product with at least 20% DEET to effectively ward off bugs.
  • Travel-sized First Aid Kit: Prepare for minor injuries or illnesses by packing a basic first aid kit that includes band-aids, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any prescription medications you may need.
  • Menstrual Products: If applicable, pack enough tampons, pads, or menstrual cups for the duration of your trip.
  • Hairbrush or Comb: Keep your hair manageable with a travel-sized hairbrush or comb.
  • Other Personal Care Items: Depending on your personal needs, consider packing items like contact lenses and solution, glasses, razor, floss, or any special skincare products.

Remember to transfer your liquids into a clear, zip-lock bag to comply with airport security regulations. To save space and reduce the chances of leakage, consider using travel-sized toiletries or investing in reusable silicone travel containers.


If you’re unsure about what toiletries to pack, consider the availability of certain items at your destination. It might be easier to purchase toiletries locally once you arrive.


By packing the right toiletries, you can maintain personal hygiene and feel fresh throughout your South America adventure.



When traveling to South America, it’s important to be prepared with any necessary medications to ensure your health and well-being throughout your trip. Here are some essential medications and health-related items to consider:

  • Prescription Medications: If you take any prescription medications, be sure to pack enough to last the duration of your trip. It’s also a good idea to carry a copy of your prescriptions or a letter from your doctor, especially for controlled substances.
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Include common over-the-counter medications like pain relievers, antacids, anti-diarrheal medicine, motion sickness tablets, and any other medications you typically use for minor ailments.
  • First Aid Supplies: In addition to a basic first aid kit, consider including items like adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, and any other supplies that may come in handy for minor injuries.
  • Malaria Prevention: Depending on your destination and activities, you may need to take malaria prevention medication. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate medication and dosage.
  • Altitude Sickness Prevention: If you’ll be visiting high-altitude destinations, it’s wise to carry altitude sickness prevention medication or supplements like acetazolamide. Consult with your doctor for guidance.
  • Allergy Medications: If you have known allergies, pack the necessary allergy medications like antihistamines or an Epinephrine auto-injector, if prescribed.
  • Motion Sickness Bands: If you’re prone to motion sickness, consider packing motion sickness bands to help alleviate symptoms.
  • Personal Medical Supplies: If you have any specific medical conditions, don’t forget to pack supplies related to your condition, such as insulin, syringes, or glucose monitoring devices, if needed.

It’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before your trip to discuss any health concerns and ensure you have the necessary medications and precautions. Check the expiration dates on your medications and make sure they’re properly labeled.


While traveling, be mindful of food and water safety, and consider carrying hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes to maintain good hygiene practices. Remember to have travel insurance to cover any unexpected medical expenses during your trip.


By being prepared with the right medications and taking necessary precautions, you can enjoy a safe and healthy journey through South America.



When packing electronics for your South America trip, consider the activities you’ll be engaging in and the electrical outlets available in the region. Here are some essential electronics to consider:

  • Smartphone: Your smartphone is a versatile tool for communication, navigation, and capturing memories. Make sure to bring a reliable charger and consider downloading useful travel apps.
  • Camera: Capture the stunning landscapes of South America with a digital camera or GoPro. Don’t forget spare batteries, a charger, and a memory card with enough storage capacity.
  • Travel Adapter and Voltage Converter: South America uses various electrical outlets and voltages. Therefore, it’s crucial to bring a travel adapter and voltage converter to ensure your devices can be plugged in safely.
  • Laptop or Tablet: If you need to work remotely or want to stay connected during your travels, consider bringing a laptop or tablet. Don’t forget the necessary cables and chargers.
  • E-book Reader: For book lovers, an e-book reader can be a convenient way to carry a library of books without taking up precious luggage space.
  • Portable Speaker: If you enjoy listening to music or watching movies, a portable Bluetooth speaker can enhance your entertainment experience during downtime.
  • Headphones: Whether you’re listening to music, watching inflight movies, or blocking out background noise, a pair of comfortable headphones is a must-have.
  • Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot: A portable Wi-Fi hotspot can provide internet access on the go, ensuring you stay connected even in areas with limited connectivity.

When using electronics, be mindful of safety and security. Keep your devices secure and be vigilant in crowded areas. It’s also a good idea to have your devices backed up and protected with password or fingerprint lock features.


Remember to check the voltage requirements of your devices before using a voltage converter to avoid damaging them. Additionally, keeping your electronics organized and protected in a travel organizer or padded case can help prevent damage during transportation.


By packing the right electronics, you’ll be able to capture memories, stay connected, and make the most of your South America adventure.


Travel Documents

Before embarking on your South America trip, it’s crucial to have all your necessary travel documents in order. Here are some essential travel documents to ensure a smooth journey:

  • Passport: Check the expiration date of your passport and ensure it’s valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure from South America. Make a photocopy of your passport and keep it separately from the original.
  • Visas: Depending on your nationality and the countries you plan to visit, you may need to obtain visas in advance. Research the visa requirements for each destination and apply accordingly.
  • Flight Tickets: Print out or have digital copies of your flight tickets, as well as any necessary e-tickets or boarding passes. Double-check the flight details, including dates and times.
  • Travel Insurance: It’s highly recommended to have travel insurance that provides coverage for medical emergencies, trip cancellations or interruptions, lost luggage, and other unforeseen circumstances. Keep a copy of your insurance policy and emergency contact information.
  • Itinerary and Accommodation Details: Keep a printed or digital copy of your itinerary, including the dates, times, and addresses of your accommodations and any planned activities. This will be helpful in case of any confusion or if you need to provide your details at immigration checkpoints.
  • Credit Cards and Cash: Carry your credit cards, debit cards, and some cash in the local currency. Notify your bank and credit card company about your travel plans to avoid any issues with card usage abroad. Keep a copy of emergency contact numbers for your bank and credit card company.
  • International Driver’s License: If you plan on driving in South America, check if you need an international driver’s license and obtain one if necessary.
  • Travel Guides and Maps: It can be helpful to have travel guides or maps of the cities or regions you plan to visit. These resources can provide valuable information about attractions, transportation, and local customs.

It’s a good idea to have both physical and digital copies of your important travel documents. Keep the physical copies in a safe place, like a travel document organizer or a secure compartment in your luggage. Have digital copies stored securely in cloud storage or email them to yourself for easy access from anywhere.


Remember to check the entry requirements and any travel advisories for your South America destinations before your trip. Stay informed of any necessary travel documents, health regulations, or visa updates to avoid any last-minute surprises.


By keeping your travel documents organized and readily available, you’ll be able to navigate smoothly through your South America adventure.


Money and Banking

Managing your finances and understanding the local currency are essential for a smooth trip to South America. Here are some important considerations when it comes to money and banking:

  • Local Currency: Research the local currency of the countries you’ll be visiting and familiarize yourself with the current exchange rates. It’s advisable to carry some local currency for small purchases or situations where cards may not be accepted.
  • ATMs: ATMs are widely available in most South American cities. Look for reputable bank ATMs to withdraw cash in the local currency. Be aware of any associated fees and inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid your card being blocked.
  • Credit Cards: Major credit cards like Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in many establishments in South America. However, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash as backup and to use in smaller establishments or areas with limited card acceptance.
  • Travel Money Belt or Pouch: To keep your cash, cards, and important documents safe, consider using a travel money belt or pouch that you can wear discreetly under your clothing.
  • Currency Exchange: If you need to exchange currency, it’s best to do so at reputable exchange offices or banks. Avoid exchanging money on the street or at unauthorized locations to prevent scams or receiving counterfeit bills.
  • Budgeting and Tracking Expenses: Create a budget for your trip and keep track of your expenses to ensure you stay within your means. Consider using budgeting apps or keeping a travel expense journal.
  • Travel Insurance Coverage: Review your travel insurance policy to understand what expenses are covered and any relevant requirements for reimbursement. Familiarize yourself with the process for making claims if necessary.
  • Emergency Funds: Carry emergency funds in a secure location, such as a hidden pocket or separate wallet, for unexpected situations or if your primary source of funds is inaccessible.

It’s also a good idea to research tipping customs in the countries you’ll be visiting. In some South American countries, tipping may be expected in restaurants, taxis, and for other services.


Overall, being mindful of your spending, keeping your money secure, and keeping track of your finances will help ensure a worry-free and enjoyable trip through South America.


Safety and Security

While South America offers incredible travel experiences, it’s important to prioritize safety and security during your trip. Here are some essential tips to ensure a safe and secure journey:

  • Research your destinations: Before traveling, research the safety situation in the countries and cities you plan to visit. Stay updated on any travel advisories or warnings issued by your government.
  • Stay aware and vigilant: Be mindful of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas and tourist sites. Keep a close eye on your belongings and consider using a money belt or travel pouch to secure your valuables.
  • Use reliable transportation: Opt for licensed or recommended transportation services, such as registered taxis or trusted ride-sharing apps. Avoid unmarked or unofficial taxis, especially at night.
  • Protect your documents: Keep your passport, travel documents, and copies stored safely. Consider making digital copies and storing them securely in the cloud for easy access if needed.
  • Be cautious with personal information: Avoid sharing sensitive personal information with strangers or on public Wi-Fi networks. Use a virtual private network (VPN) for added security when accessing online accounts.
  • Stay connected: Share your travel itinerary with family or friends and regularly check in with them. Stay connected with reliable internet access and inform someone if your plans change.
  • Follow local customs and laws: Familiarize yourself with the local customs, traditions, and laws of the countries you’ll be visiting. Respect local culture and customs to avoid inadvertently causing offense or legal issues.
  • Have emergency contacts: Keep a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities, your embassy or consulate, and your travel insurance provider. Save these numbers in your phone and keep a hard copy in a safe place.
  • Stay updated on health precautions: Check if any vaccinations or health precautions are recommended for the countries you plan to visit. Follow guidelines for food and water safety to avoid common travel illnesses.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels unsafe or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. Prioritize your personal safety and well-being.

Remember that safety is a shared responsibility, and it’s important to be aware and considerate of the local communities and environments you’ll be visiting. By taking precautions and staying informed, you can enjoy a safe and secure trip through South America.


Miscellaneous Items

While packing for your South America trip, there are a few miscellaneous items that can come in handy and enhance your overall travel experience. Here are some additional items to consider including:

  • Reusable Water Filter: If you’ll be traveling to remote areas or participating in outdoor activities, a portable water filter can be valuable for ensuring access to safe and clean drinking water.
  • Travel-sized Laundry Detergent: Having a small supply of travel-sized laundry detergent can be useful for cleaning clothes during your trip, especially if you’re planning an extended journey.
  • Travel Pillow and Blanket: For long-haul flights or bus rides, a travel pillow and blanket can provide comfort and help you get much-needed rest.
  • Travel Guidebooks: Consider packing travel guidebooks specific to the countries or cities you’ll be visiting. They can provide valuable information, recommendations, and insights into the local culture and attractions.
  • Zip-lock Bags: Pack a few different sizes of zip-lock bags for various purposes, such as storing snacks, organizing small items, keeping electronics protected from moisture, or packing wet clothes.
  • Portable Umbrella or Rain Poncho: Be prepared for unexpected rain showers by packing a compact, foldable umbrella or a lightweight rain poncho.
  • Phrasebook or Language App: While English is spoken in some tourist areas, having a phrasebook or language app can help you communicate better and show respect for the local language.
  • Travel Sewing Kit: A small sewing kit can come in handy for minor repairs to clothing or accessories while on the road.
  • Travel Journal and Pen: Capture the memories and experiences of your South America adventure by keeping a travel journal and a pen to jot down your thoughts and reflections.
  • Travel Insurance and Emergency Contact Information: Carry a hard copy of your travel insurance policy and emergency contact information with you at all times in case of any unforeseen situations.

These miscellaneous items may seem small, but they can add convenience, comfort, and practicality to your journey. Remember to pack based on your specific needs and preferences to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip through South America.



Congratulations, you’re now equipped with a comprehensive packing list for your South America trip! By carefully considering each essential item, you can ensure a comfortable, organized, and enjoyable travel experience.


From clothing choices suitable for various climates to the right accessories and toiletries, you’re prepared for any adventure South America throws your way. Remember to prioritize safety and security, stay informed about local customs and laws, and be prepared with the necessary travel documents. Additionally, managing your money and taking care of your physical and mental well-being are crucial aspects of a successful trip.


While this packing list covers most of the essentials, it’s always wise to personalize it based on your specific needs, preferences, and planned activities. Don’t forget to leave room in your luggage for souvenirs!


Now that you’re well-prepared, get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and incredible experiences that South America has to offer. Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, trekking through lush rainforests, or relaxing on beautiful beaches, your packing list will ensure you have everything you need for your South America adventure.


So pack your bags, grab your passport, and get ready for an unforgettable journey filled with new discoveries and cherished memories!