Packing list: South America

After spending about 5.5 months in Asia, I returned to the US for a couple of weeks. I used the time to prepare for a few months in South America. My packing list for South America overlapped a lot with my list for Asia, but one major difference was that I had to pack heavier clothing for the cooler weather.

For my main backpack, I’m sticking to my beloved Tortuga V2. It served me very well in Asia, and I see no reason to switch it out.

For my secondary bag, I’m bringing a daypack instead of a handbag or tote. I got annoyed with my tote in Asia, and a daypack will be more useful for treks. I chose the Aer Flight Pack since it seemed compact and versatile. I can wear it as a backpack or shoulder bag, and it has the added bonus of not being completely hideous.


Don’t let me down, daypack.

Below is a list of the contents in the two backpacks.


  • 2 tank tops
  • 4 short-sleeved t-shirts (1 for sleeping)
  • 2 long-sleeved t-shirts
  • 2 pairs of casual shorts
  • 3 pairs of athletic shorts (1 for sleeping)
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 romper
  • 2 pairs of jeans
    • One of these may be tossed if I need more room in my bags.
  • 2 pairs of leggings
  • 1 casual black dress
  • 1 belt
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 10 pairs of underwear
  • 4 bras (3 everyday and 1 sports)
  • 2 swimsuits
  • 2 pairs of short socks
  • 2 pairs of long socks
  • 4 pairs of shoes (1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair of boat shoes, and 2 pairs of sandals)
    • I had to buy new sneakers and boat shoes. I loved the boat shoes that I wore in Asia, but they were too worn to bring to South America. I don’t love my new pair as much, but I’ll manage.
    • I got a couple of shoe bags, which should help keep my bags more organized. Plastic bags wore out really quickly.


  • 3-1-1 bag:
    • Moisturizer
      • I used this moisturizer with SPF in Southeast Asia, which was amazing. I applied it once in the morning and reapplied in the afternoon, and my face never got sunburned. Unfortunately, I didn’t think ahead and forgot to order this moisturizer for my South America trip. I bought another moisturizer the day before I left for Bolivia. To my horror, I didn’t notice this moisturizer had no SPF until after I had already opened and used it.
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
    • Face wash
    • Toothpaste
    • Body lotion
    • Eye cream
  • Brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Floss
  • Retainer
  • Makeup
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Razor


  • Antacid
  • Advil
  • Band-aids


  • Laptop
  • Camera
  • Go Pro
  • Phone
  • Chargers and adapters
  • Power pack
    • New addition for South America. I plan on doing some treks, so I thought this would be useful to charge my electronics.
  • Extra memory cards and batteries
  • Earphones


  • Small crossbody bag
  • Wallet
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand mirror
  • Half of a compact mirror
    • This broke in half in Asia, but I could still use it, so I didn’t bother buying a new one for South America.
  • Travel towel
  • Headlamp
  • Ear plugs
  • Kleenex
  • Plastic bags for dirty clothes
  • Pens
  • Backpack rain cover
  • 5 TSA locks
  • 4 packs of Ice Breaker mints
    • Thank goodness I got to restock these.
  • Playing cards
    • Bought a new pack, and they’re Harry Potter-branded!
  • Ziploc bags
  • Mesh laundry bags
    • I did my own laundry only a couple of times in Asia since wash-and-fold services were the norm at hostels. I didn’t always have time to hand wash my delicates, so I would send them to the laundry service and pray that they wouldn’t get ruined. I don’t know how often I’m going to use these mesh bags, but at least they’ll provide some protection for my delicates.
  • Passport
  • Folder for documents

Both of my backpacks are bursting at the seams (I blame the thicker clothes), so I won’t have room to pick up things on the road. Thank goodness I’m not a souvenir person.

packing cubes

Everything in cubes and bags.

tortuga aer

Ready for round two!

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