10 Essentials for Backpacking in South America


  1. Deck of Playing Cards- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used my playing cards during my trip because I’ve lost count. Whether it was in the tent after a day of hiking, in the grass waiting for a bus, or in the hostel while enjoying some alcoholic beverages, cards are always handy and they don’t take up much space.
  2. Battery Pack for Cell Phone- This definitely proved more essential in trekking but was also very nice to have during long bus rides especially if I was using my phone for things like listening to music or watching downloaded netflix movies which tended to use the battery quickly. FC5BDA58-CF4C-4655-BFCE-4E3718B35E39
  3. Roll of Toilet Paper-a lot of the bathrooms don’t have toilet paper. Enough said.
  4. Baby Wipes- again these proved most useful in trekking but I’m not going to lie, showers were not always a frequent occurrence so these were great to have in the in-between.
  5. Hand Sanitizer- I would say there was soap in maybe 10% of the bathrooms I used so again pretty self explanatory. IMG_1112
  6. Chlorine Tablets for Water- This was actually something I forgot but luckily my friend had a ton. In Chile and Argentina they aren’t necessary but were definitely useful in Bolivia and Peru. You can also buy bottled water but this is cheaper.
  7. Sunscreen-Typicaly while backpacking you are going to be outside a lot even if you don’t hike. There is still a lot of sun exposure just walking around the city. Definitely something I used almost daily. IMG_0744
  8. Applications: maps.me has to be one of the best travel applications ever. You download the pre-calculated geographies and it contains everything from hostels, to atms, to restaurants. WhatsApp is another necessary app. It allows you to call and send texts via wifi and EVERYONE in South America uses it plus its nice for calling home as well.
  9. Paperback Book- Typically you need to pass the time while in the bus somehow and reading is a great option. I started out with my iPad but sent it home because I had my phone and computer. Having a paperback book was great to exchange at the hostel book exchanges and I could also take it trekking without being worried about it getting wet. IMG_9048
  10. A Good Attitude- traveling always has ups and downs aka all the buses are sold out and you have to take another route that adds a day to your trip, or the bus is two hours late arriving to pick you up (or two hours late getting to your destination), or your friend gets lost overnight while hiking and you have to go to the police to help look for him, these things have all happened during my trip but I tried to take it all in stride. While these situations are never ideal, I never let it ruin my experience and I tried to focus on how lucky I was to have this opportunity to travel.
I hope this helps if you are planning a trip to South America!

Author: jordansjourneys92

Hi! My name is Jordan Gurkin and I am currently traveling around the U.S. and working for a non-profit called Compassion International. I just finished spending a year backpacking and teaching English in South America. I'm a travel blogger focused on bringing you budget travel advice, travel tips, and some of my recommendations on places to visit!

3 thoughts on “10 Essentials for Backpacking in South America”

  1. good post and informative. After reading your blogs, i finally started feeling great attraction for hiking. I would soon start and this blog is definitely helping 🙂 cheers.


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