10 Essentials Items for Backpacking South America
Read our curated list of the 10 essentials items for backpacking South America. These are the 10 items that saved our lives during our 5 months traveling through South America, from Chile to Bolivia.
After five months traveling through South American, in cold and hot weather, sleeping in nice hotels and very basic hostels and eating every type of food under the sun, we feel like we can share some honest advice!
As almost everyone who embarks in a long term backpacking trip, we overpacked, but there were a few things which we honestly thanked the stars we actually brought with us. You will be able to buy pretty much everything you might need in any city you encounter on your trip, but it might not exactly be as you want it or up to your standards, so read along to know the 10 essential items to bring backpacking through South America.
It very much depends on the country, but very often the tap water is not drinkable at all or not very safe to drink (at least for our fragile European stomachs). In order not to buy plastic water bottles, your best option is to buy a water purifier like The Grayl. You will be able to purify water any time you want, even from rivers or sketchy taps. This water purifier is probably the best investment we made and completely changed the way we travelled, reducing to the minimum our plastic waste.
Antibiotics for intestinal infections
Not to scare you, but after two months on the road we had to use antibiotics twice, both of us. The struggle is real guys! We are not sure what the causes were, either the water or something we ate (even though we never ate from places that seem bluntly unclean). Regardless, having with us antibiotics for stomach viruses and bacterias is hands down the best thing we’ve done and we strongly recommend you pack a box too.
You will take endless bus rides, lots of them during the night (very smart way to save money as you don’t need to pay for accommodation). The buses are generally comfortable but a proper neck pillow (and eye mask if you are sensitive to light) will make the idea of the next night bus a little less painful.
This has been another item that has come handy so many times. Most likely during your adventures you will be going from beaches to mountain peaks. You will encounter rain, sun and air conditioning. A lightweight puffer jacket is really a life saver, when you less expect it. Make sure to buy one that can fold up easily and that doesn't occupy much space.
You will notice that the idea of 'no single use plastic' has not yet landed on these shores. You will be offered plastic straws even to drink water, so the best thing you can do is learn how to say 'no straw thank you' in spanish (sin pajita gracias) and bring your own metal, bamboo or any other non plastic straw!
During our month in Chile, when our budget was actually quite tight, we had to make ourselves food almost everyday and one of the easiest and most delicious thing to prepare was avocado sandwich. That’s when our pocket knife and cutlery came very handy. Even if you’ll be able to eat out always, we can reassure you that these items will be useful at some point!
Depending on the country and the places you stay you might need to use your own towel. Many hostels in South America do not provide towels while most hotels do. Additionally, it will be very useful when you want to jump in that waterfall!.
A dry bag comes in handy in many ways. We used it to carry our things at the beach and during our hikes, in case we had to jump on a boat or a ferry. It is also a very safe way to carry around your valuables as it's very difficult to open once it's locked and
strapped around your body.
If you need any more tips or help packing just drop us a message!