The Complete South America Packing List

The Complete South America Packing List

Exploring South America is a dream come true for many people. However, it can quickly turn into a less than pleasant experience if you pack impractically or overlook essential items.

If you’re visiting South America soon, or preparing for a dream South American adventure sometime in the near future, we’ve compiled the perfect checklist for you. Tailor this South America packing list to your specific travel plans and preferences and you’ll be more than ready for anything.

South America Packing Tips

Here are a few quick tips to make sure the whole process is as smooth as possible. You can probably apply these tips to other adventures too!


  1. Don’t overpack.
  2. Don’t carry everything in one place, such as essential documents and passports.
  3. Don’t leave money or cards in your suitcase.


  1. Pack light.
  2. Bring enough personal medication to last your entire trip, and then some.
  3. Pack according to climate conditions.


The first step, as with any journey, is to select the right type of luggage.

Wheeled Suitcases for South America

You’re bound to find plenty of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain when you travel to South America, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a wheeled suitcase with you. In fact, it’s actually an excellent option to choose if you don’t plan on heavy-duty hiking. If you’re sticking with cities and popular tourist destinations, a wheeled suitcase is a great choice.

Backpacks for South American travel

A travel backpack is probably the most versatile choice when planning a trip to South America. It provides mobility that you can’t get from a wheeled suitcase, allowing you to explore different terrain, from bustling cities like Rio de Janeiro to the remote corners of the Amazon rainforest with ease. Check our packing list for city break!


A daypack is a fantastic alternative to a backpack, just in case you’re planning to travel to South America with a hard or soft shell suitcase and still require some versatility. A daypack is compact and lightweight, making it easy to move around while keeping your essentials safe, organised, and easily accessible.


It’s important to choose the right clothing for your trip to South America. Take into consideration the climate, the activities you’ll be doing, and some durability for the more adventurous travellers.

Image by drobotdean on Freepik


You’ll want to pack casual tops that go easily with different bottoms. This allows you to create versatile and stylish outfits for all facets of your South American adventure. If you’re coming in the summer, take lightweight and breathable fabrics to stay cool in the warmer climates.


Pack comfortable trousers or shorts, especially if you’re looking to hit the trails across and do a bit (or a lot) of hiking. Jeans are a good option for wandering around the city but not ideal for trekking through the jungle or climbing mountain trails. Durable shorts are a must.


There’s a good chance you’ll end up on at least one hike while in South America. Therefore, pack a lightweight fleece to accompany you on your journey. If you’re coming in the rainy season, prepare a waterproof outdoor jacket to stay dry during unexpected downpours, and consider bringing waterproof trousers if you have them.


A comfortable pair of trainers is a great choice if you’re looking to do some urban exploration. On the other hand, sandals or flip-flops are a must if you’re planning to bum around the beach or just lounge by the pool. Hiking boots are essential for any hardy treks.

Sunglasses and hats

The sun shines bright in South America, so you’ll want to pack one or two pairs of sunglasses, along with hats that suit your style.


Your visit to South America is not complete without a day on the beach. Pack at least two swimsuits, so you’ll always have a clean, dry option ready.

Other Travel Essentials

There are plenty of other miscellaneous travel essentials that must be on your South America packing list.


Pack personal toiletries of your preferred brand, and pick up the more basic items as you travel. You’ll be able to find most essential toiletries throughout your journey.


If you’re currently taking medication, ensure you pack enough to last the entirety of your trip. Keep in mind that it’s important to check legalities around certain kinds of medications when crossing borders.


Even at higher altitudes, the sun can be intense. Applying sunscreen remains the best defence against sunburn and skin conditions, so opt for 30-50+ SPF sunscreen as a minimum.

Microfibre towel

Whether you are a casual traveller or a regular adventurer, adding a microfiber towel greatly adds to your list of South America travel essentials. This type of towel is compact, dries quickly, and is versatile, enhancing your overall travel experience.

Insect repellent

You don’t want to get bugged in your travel. Therefore, pack insect repellent and spray it on your exposed skin before venturing into areas with a high likelihood of insect activity. You can also spray it on your clothes for extra protection.

Filtered water bottles

Only some South American countries have potable water from the tap, so it's advisable to take precautions to ensure that the water you consume is safe and free from contaminants. A filtered water bottle is a valuable travel accessory to ensure your water safety and it’s convenient to use, especially on hikes or overnight trips.

Laundry bag

A laundry bag is a simple yet indispensable travel accessory that can help maximise the overall convenience of your travel by separating dirty and clean laundry. It keeps your hygiene standards high and prevents unpleasant smells in your luggage.


The right electronics are a must when putting together a backpacking packing list for South America.

Image by pvproductions on Freepik

Camera or other photography equipment

Even if you’re not a photography enthusiast, you’ll need to be adequately prepared to take plenty of photos. Luckily, phone cameras are excellent these days - but a camera never goes astray. Remember to bring the right lenses and a tripod if necessary.

Charging gear

There are at least four types of electrical outlets in South America, depending on the country you’re visiting. Be sure to add a universal travel adapter to your South American travel essentials, as well as power banks and power strips for easier charging of multiple devices.


There’s nothing like reading a book on holiday, for those literary enthusiasts out there… but carrying more than one novel in your luggage can be a hassle. A kindle is a game-changer for travelling book lovers as it saves space and it also allows you to adjust font and lighting.

A flashlight

A flashlight or headlamp is always a good addition to your packing list for South America, since trails can become challenging to navigate in low light.

Safe travels!

Now that you’ve packed everything on our comprehensive South America packing list, we’ve got no doubt you’re ready to tackle one of the most intrepid continents in the world. If you’re still looking for the perfect luggage, take a look at our full range here.