Preparing to travel to South America? Here is our essential South America packing list for a 10-14 day trip (excluding an Inca Trail or W Trail hike).

The number one thing to consider when packing for South America is to dress in layers. High-altitude cities coupled with heat-intense jungles, mild beaches, and cooler evenings mean temperatures can fluctuate within the span of a day.

South America packing list for men and women

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South America Packing List

Pants & Shorts

  • 2 pairs of durable nylon or cotton pants or pants that convert to shorts, for hiking (Men | Women)
  • 1 pair of shorts, if you do not have convertible pants (Men | Women)
  • 1 pair of comfortable lightweight pants, for travel days (Men | Women)
  • 1 pair of jeans or other casual long pants, for horseback rides and estancia visits
  • 1 pair of trousers or long skirt, for evening activities (Men | Women)

Shirts & Dresses

  • 2 comfortable long-sleeve shirts, for layering (Men | Women)
  • 2 short-sleeve t-shirts or tank tops for women (Men | Women)
  • 2 casual short-sleeve shirts (Men)
  • 1 swim shirt or swimsuit coverup, if visiting a coastal region (Women)
  • 2 nicer shirts or dresses, for evening meals


  • 1 lightweight, waterproof rain jacket with hood. If traveling to Patagonia, consider packing one with a down insert. (Men | Women)
  • 1 fleece for cooler evenings (Men | Women)

Shoes and Accessories

  • 1 pair of lightweight hiking or walking shoes (Men | Women)
  • 1 pair of comfortable soft-sole shoes for wearing in the room, the spa, or around the hotel pool
  • 1 pair of water-resistant sports sandals, like Tevas or Chacos (Men | Women)
  • 8-10 pairs of socks
  • 8-10 pairs of undergarments
  • 1-2 swimsuits (Bring more than 1 if traveling to the Galapagos, as the humidity will not allow them to dry easily.)
  • 1 sun hat with brim protection and head strap
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • A water-resistant daypack 

Additional Recommendations

Many hotels, ships, and lodges will have these items on offer, but if you have a preference and the room in your luggage, by all means take it with you.

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Ready to travel to South America?

You can find the full list for men and women on our Amazon Storefront. Then the last -- and most important -- thing to pack is your passport (plus a colored photo copy). Also, be sure to check out of Pre-Trip Travel Preparation Checklist to ensure your trip goes off without a hitch!

Contact your Ker & Downey travel designer to book your South America adventure today.