How to Prepare for Your South America Trip

If you are considering a trip to South America, you should do as much research as possible to get ready for your travels.

Regardless of if you want to explore the nightlife of Buenos Aires, see the extraordinary beauty of Machu Picchu, or take a backpacking trip across Bolivia, you’ll need to do some planning. To make things easier, you can simply browse through our guide on how to prepare for your South America trip and check out our travel tips!

Why Knowing What to Pack When Traveling to South America Is Important

Firstly, knowing what to bring with you to South America is important because of several practical reasons.

There are 12 countries on this huge continent. If you prefer to move around a lot and explore multiple countries, you’ll need to get ready for various climate shifts and different environments. If you’re only going to one country, you may want to try some adventures like hiking, climbing, snorkeling, etc.

Remember that you can travel from the sunny ocean coast, mountain villages, humid jungles, searing deserts, to busy cities. There are tons of diverse activities and environments in South America. You should put together a packing list of your clothes and other travel essentials according to your destinations.

Also, you have to consider the length of your trip. Think about how much stuff you actually want to take along with you when you travel to South America. Of course, in case you leave anything behind, you can simply buy it when you arrive. However, you could end up spending a lot of money on various items due to high import taxes.


If you’ve decided to travel for a couple of weeks or more, consider a backpack. You can get a large travel backpack or a few smaller ones. Backpacks are usually great for long-term adventures (RELATED: 7 Curses of Long-Term Travel). You can easily carry them around and store just about anything inside them. If you already have a backpack, consider getting some dry bags and packing cubes. Those accessories will enable you to organize your stuff and keep it safe from water.

Also, if you’ve left your backpacking days behind and you prefer suitcases, they may not be such a great idea. Rigid cases are heavy, bulky, and they can be hard to transport. Instead, you could take a soft travel bag. They are quite light and take up less space.


When it comes to clothes, try not to pack too many. Always choose the items that aren’t too valuable. If you bring high-quality clothes, you’ll constantly worry about them. Plus, there’s always a chance that you could lose some pieces.

As we’ve said, you’ll encounter various environments and weather conditions on your trip. That’s why comfortable clothes are simply essential. They will need to withstand hot temperatures, rain, humidity, and winds. So choose functional items like T-shirts, tank tops, hiking trousers, leggings, and waterproof jackets. If you’re tempted to bring a poncho or some bulky hiking shoes, it may be better to leave those items at home and purchase them when you arrive.


You should bring some essentials like toothpaste, deodorant, creams, or anything else that you use every day. However, try not to overdo it. Toiletries can be heavy to carry. They can take up a lot of space.

You can purchase most toiletries for reasonable prices when you arrive in South America. Still, some essential items can be quite expensive. That includes sunscreen or mosquito repellent. A travel towel or first-aid kit are also highly recommended.


If you want to bring some gadgets, only choose the ones that you use the most. For example, you can take a camera and snap some beautiful photos of your surroundings. If you prefer shooting videos, a GoPro camera will work wonders in all weather conditions. You can also pack your laptop if you have to work remotely. Additionally, if you love to read, a Kindle or another eReader will save you a lot of space.

As always with any gadget, don’t forget extra batteries, power adapters, cables, and other accessories. What’s more, try not to bring too many gadgets. You’ll have to take care of them constantly, and they could turn out to be a distraction.

Documents and Money

You should always keep your valuables safe and store them to avoid theft. You can use a money belt, bra pocket, or document bag to hide your cash, cards, and other important items. Of course, you’ll have to take your passport and visa, but you should also print out your booking confirmation. Also, don’t forget your travel insurance documents when preparing for travel.

Concerning money, you could take cash and exchange it into local currency. In most cases, you’ll be able to do this in banks, airports, and licensed exchange offices. What’s more, you can also use cards since there are plenty of ATMs in South America. However, note that the exchange rates and fees on ATMs are quite high.

First-Aid Kit and Medicines

If you have a medical condition, always buy your prescribed medicine in your home country. This is crucial because the medicine may not be available when you travel. As we’ve said, a first-aid kit is a great idea. However, it doesn’t have to be enormous, and you could only pack some essentials. That includes ibuprofen, paracetamol, disinfectant, and band-aids.

Remember that South America is generally quite humid, so you’ll need some insect repellent that will keep you safe from pests. Regarding any other medicine or first-aid item — you can simply buy it when you arrive.

Emergency Contact Numbers

We’ve already mentioned that it’s a good idea to print out your booking confirmation and bring travel insurance. However, it’s important to keep your emergency contact numbers close to you on your travels. It’s best to note down the numbers of your country’s embassy and keep them with you in case of an emergency.

Also, write down the contact information of your family and friends so that the authorities can contact them if something goes wrong. You can print out your emergency contact numbers before your trip. Alternatively, you can simply write them out on a piece of paper and store it in your wallet.


And there you have it! It’s quite easy to prepare for your trip, regardless of if you’re considering a walk on the Inca Trail or a drive through the hot Atacama Desert. Simply follow our tips, and you’ll be ready to visit South America and cross it off your bucket list! Have fun!