Female packing list for 5 months in South America

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re currently nearing the start of your backpacking trip around South America which is so exciting! South America is a massive continent with a number of beautiful countries that have varying climates throughout the year. This makes packing a tricky task, but don’t fear, I’m here to help.

When I was packing for my trip, I found blogs like this extremely helpful as this was my first backpacking trip (and I’m a serial over-packer so I knew I needed to nip that in the bud from the off so I didn’t break my back).
Included in this post is a breakdown of everything I packed in my 60-litre backpack; clothes, shoes, toiletries, electronics and all miscellaneous items. I’ve made sure to link everything I thought would be of help and added various notes with items that I found were must-haves/lifesavers (⭐), things I wish I hadn’t bothered with or if I wish I had more/less of a particular item. I’ve also included the link to a particular blog I found most helpful when I was packing, so you can be doubly sure of your final list.
backpacking

That being said, let’s get into it…

Luggage

1 x day bag – I made a massive mistake with the day bag I took. When I was packing, I was determined that I didn’t want to constantly look like a backpacker, so I decided this would be a great day bag. Light grey/practically white? Dirty after the first flight, bad times. I was jealous of everyone who had these bags, because they don’t massively scream backpacker and they’re waterproof, all in all, a much better option. In hindsight, I should have taken a proper day bag and also a nice over the shoulder bag/small tote for times when I didn’t need to carry much.

Underwear/swimwear

6 x knickers
3 x bras (2 sport 1 normal)
3 x trainer socks – I wore my Birkenstocks and flip-flops whenever I could, but one more pair of trainer socks would have been helpful
2 x walking socks
3 x swimwear (2 bikinis 1 one piece) – 1 bikini and 1 one piece would have been enough

Top half/layers

6 x tees – I actually set off with only 5 tees plus 1 strapped top and had to make a trip to a mall after a couple weeks because it just wasn’t enough (South America has Zara ladies, don´t fret!)
2 x strapped tops
1 x long sleeve ⭐
1 x half zip ⭐
1 x cardigan ⭐
1 x sweatshirt jumper/fleece ⭐ – don’t underestimate these layers, you won’t regret taking them
Additionally to the above, I wish I’d packed a nicer, dressy top for evenings out.
Bottom half
3 x shorts (1 sports 1 fabric 1 denim) ⭐
1 x skirt
1 x midi dress
1 x playsuit
1 x jeans – I took black skinny jeans and hated myself for doing so… When you’re used to wearing shorts and loose-fitting clothes, skinny jeans become ridiculously uncomfortable. I’d recommend a pair of mom jeans that are still flattering but a more comfortable fit
1 x floaty trousers ⭐- perfect for when it was hot and mosquitoes were about
Other than the jeans situation, I felt like I nailed the bottom half of my packing.

Nighttime

2 x pyjamas (1 long 1 shorts) – I’d recommend packing an extra allocated tee for sleeping in. I didn’t (for some reason) which meant I was always a tee down
1 x eye mask ⭐

Cold and wet ⭐

As much as you don’t want it to happen, it will rain and be chilly at some point during your travels…
1 x coat (link)
1 x thinner waterproof pack it jacket
My boyfriend only packed one ‘shell’ like jacket which was waterproof and had a fleece lining, he regretted this as when it rains in South America it’s usually still hot. Having a coat and thinner waterproof as two separates was much better.

Shoes

1 x flip flops
I didn’t take walking boots with me and I’m personally glad I didn’t bother. We only needed them for the Inca Trail and there are tonnes of cheap places in Cusco where you can rent great quality ones. This meant we didn’t have to lug them around for those 4 days and spend loads of money. That being said, the reason I didn’t need them in other instances is that I’m not a hiker. If you are and you’re thinking of doing areas of South America which include a lot of hiking, e.g. Patagonia, then you’ll need them.

Toiletries to keep you going

1 x shampoo/conditioner
1 x shower gel
1 x razor
1 x deodorant
1 x travel toothbrush
1 x toothpaste
2 x packs of hair bands (1 thicker and 1 pack of elastic ones)
1 x hair oil treatment
1 x face moisturiser
1 x Suncream
1 x after sun
1 x hairbrush
1 x box of tampons / pads
1 x bug repellent spray
1 x bug bite cream
1 x make up remover wipes
1 x antibacterial wipes
1 x hand sanitiser
1 x basic first aid kit
1 x basic grooming kit this kit includes tweezers and nail scissors for a fiver
I didn’t bother with travel sized toiletries and went in with full sizes. Although this meant my backpack was heavy at first, they lasted so long that I only needed to replace a couple of items.

Basic makeup bag

1 x mini mascara
1 x mini highlighter
1 x small bronzer
1 x Mac cc cream
2 x mini real technique brush
1 x mini body spray

Electronics

1 x iPad
2 x headphones (1 over ear 1 normal headphones for backup)
2 x phone cords for the charger (1 for backup)

Other

2 x padlocks 
2 x plastic wallets (1 in day bag with passports and other important docs 1 in a backpack with backup documents)⭐
1 x rubber sink plugsuper handy for when you need to hand wash some smaller items
1 x dry bag for electricals in a backpack⭐ – great to use as a bag if you´re heading to a beach or a public pool as you can safely take it in the water with your valuables in 
4 x packing cubes – keeping that big rucksack organised!
2 x prescription glasses (good to have a backup)
2 x prescription sunglasses (good to have a backup)
1 x purse or wallet
1 x cap
1 x laundry bag
2 x notebooks with a pen
A blog that I found helpful:

I hope this packing guide has been helpful to you, even if you’re not heading to South America.

Let me know if there’s anything else you’d pack or if you have any questions x

P.s A couple of these links are affiliate links, which means I get a teeny tiny contribution when you buy from them! Thank you for reading and your support.

1 Comment

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