I have been living in South America for a little over two months now and between short treks to nearby cities and faraway jungles, I have learned that there are a few things that are nice to have by your side such as clean underwear, shampoo, a small bottle of lotion, and maybe some bug repellent. However, out of all these “things” I have found that there are three essential things that no-one traveling to South America should ever leave home without.
Yes. This should be a given, but I cant tell you how many times I have traveled to the most barren pueblos in South America and been stuck without toilet paper. It leaves one in quite a predicament, as it is not unusual for toilets in South America to lack soap or running water. You can certainly drip dry, but bathroom trips are usually quick and you probably wont enough time to “dry”. I think having a damp crotch may top the list as being one of the most uncomfortable feelings in the world, so take my advice and bring toilet paper wherever you go.
They don’t have to be clean, they just have to be dry. Warm socks are one of the top three things you should never leave home if you are planning a trip to South America. My last 18 hour bus ride back from the steamy jungle to through the snow-covered Andes could have been exponentially more comfortable if I just had a pair of warm socks. The topography of South America is diverse and if you are traveling by bus or plane you will most likely experience a range of contrasting climates. Be prepared and bring at least one pair of warm socks. If your feet are happy, you will be happy.
If you have ever read The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy you will know that a towel is probably the most important item you can travel with. I will have to agree and say that the multipurpose use of a towel goes a long way when you are backpacking through South America. Beach towns: check. Jungle Tours: check. Hostels that don’t provide blankets: check. A towel will become your best friend while traveling on the road. My only advice? Make sure you dry your towel thoroughly before stuffing it back into your backpack or invest in a quick-dry travel towel.
What are your most important items while traveling?