Susan just contacted us and asked if we could send her a packing list of must haves.
She’s going to South America with her family (so she has some technical must-haves). So, we compiled our list of things that we’ve used most.
They have become our must-have list when traveling outside the US (and even some when traveling in the US).
Here it is:
- Voltage adaptors: multiple adaptor plugs (i.e. buy at least one set more than the number of people on your travel – you’ll be happy you did.) Included in this (if you have anything that has 3 prong plugs) should be 3 to 2 prong converters. Also get voltage converters if you have anything that doesn’t convert voltage internally. Most laptops convert electricity with the box that is on the power cord. (Avoid electric razors and hair driers and curling irons. They blow up converters and are unnecessary while traveling.)
- Backpacks with laptop pockets inside, and neoprene sleeves for our laptops. We like this backpack. It is super sturdy, and feels really light on your shoulders – but can carry the world. It also has a specially designed laptop pocked to keep your computer safe.
- Collapsible Umbrellas (The cheapy kind is fine $3-$5), but have it handy (in the side pocket of a backpack). Sudden rainstorms are more common than you might imagine.
- SteriPen (with correct batteries = lithium). We only used it in India (so far), but have been SO happy to have it. (SteriPen is a water purification stick. It’s always better safe than sorry.)
- Watches: Our first three months we traveled without watches because I didn’t like wearing a watch. I still don’t like to wear one, but always do now. This one is Carrie’s, and there is a man’s version of the same one. It’s handy because it’s waterproof (we scuba dive with ours), you can set 2 different time zones, an alarm, and a stopwatch.
- 12 foot Ethernet Cable. While Wifi is generally accessible in South America, it’s best to also travel with a cable. I have used one significantly more often than I thought I would.
- Wireless Router (not necessarily necessary, depending on whether you’re planning on staying in an apartment for a longer period of time). If you do travel with a wireless router, I recommend this one because it’s small, compact, and light.
- Pillow and towel. Towels are so useful. Pillows are bulky, and a friend of ours just uses a Snuggy. It is a nice thing to know that even when your bed is hard, at least your pillow will be comfortable (and clean).
- No fancy shoes, just good walking shoes!
- In South America, a Spanish/English dictionary is always helpful, even if you speak Spanish.
- Carrie reads extensively. She would recommend a Kindle. I’ve only used her Kindle once for two hours on a night train in India (while she read a paperback), but was very happy to have it.
- General well-being kit: Band-aids, antiseptic cream, small bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and nu-skin (In one big Zip-Loc). I have no idea if you can get all of these things all over, as I’ve not had to look – we’ve used our supply rarely, but been very happy to have these items the couple of times we’ve needed them.
- Ear plugs: These take up very little space – i.e. squishy, but we bought 500 pairs. This should be the #1 item on the list as earplugs have come in very handy most places.
- Throw in a roll of toilet paper into a backpack, and then just find places to buy more along the way. But ALWAYS have toilet paper with you, even if it’s just a bit in your pocket. You can pretty much count on not having toilet paper in any bathroom.
- MP3 Player (of some kind – OPTIONAL)… I go through phases using mine, but when I do, I’m happy to have it.
There may be more, but those are the must-have (or close to must-have) items on our list.
- 3 pairs of pants (1 nicer, but not dress-nice; 1 pair that zips into shorts, 1 other comfortable pair (lightweight – jeans are too hot in the summer)
- 5 shirts (1 long sleeve lightweight cotton, 4 short-sleeve)
- 6 pairs of socks
- Undies (more than you think you’ll need…they’re small and don’t take up much room)
- Swimming suit (I travel with 2 – because I like to swim)
- 1 pair of tennis shoes for everyday use
- 1 pair of flipflops (mostly in case I need them for a shower that looks iffy)
- 1 pair of pajamas (something comfortable that used to be Jonathan’s)
And that’s it…
Some people may find it difficult to travel with so few clothes, but it’s not so bad. It’s actually pretty nice to not have to worry about what to wear. Your choice is pretty much made for you everyday.
I am more comfortable in pants, but if you like dresses, throw a sundress in as well. But, be sure that when you’re going sightseeing that your shoulders and knees are covered, otherwise some places won’t let you in.
Also, avoid the temptation to bring a fancy dress and nice shoes. If you do find yourself in a situation where you’ll need that, you can always buy it there. But, in 2 years of traveling, I have yet to truly need either.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other or more specific questions!