Colombia Backpacking Packing Checklist

Colombia Backpacking Packing Checklist
What to bring – Travel essentials

The following packing list is ideal for trips of about one month or more. There’s lots of places to do laundry in Colombia, so don’t worry about bringing enough clothes to last for your entire trip.
Remember to pack light, don’t over pack. Lugging a heavy bag around is a hindrance.  Pack the essentials, and leave a little room to bring back souvenirs!
Also check out my Colombia Preparation Checklist

important-stuff If you remember nothing else remember these few essentials

Passport
( + photocopy )
This is important, in case you lose your passport
Passport Photos
Again you may need these if you lose your passport
Money
In the form of cash, card, or travelers cheques
(I always recommend bringing some cash (Colombian Pesos) to get started, and a card (or travel card))
Boarding Pass/ Travel Tickets
Remember all boarding passes and travel documents and consider having photocopies of these
Travel Insurance Documents
If you have purchased travel insurance (which I recommend you do) make sure you bring a copy of your travel insurance documents in case of emergencies

clothesRemember, the weather varies significantly in Colombia.  It is much much hotter in the North, compared to Bogota. At night time in Bogota you will need a jumpers, and sometimes even hot water bottles to keep warm! Read about the varying weather here.

• 2/3 x    T Shirts or Tops
• 1/2 x    Shorts
• 1/2 x    Light Trousers or Leggings
• 
7 x    Underwear
• 5 x    Socks
• 
2 x    Swimwear
• 
1 x    Sun Hat

• 1 x    Raincoat
• 2 x    Warm Jumper
• 1 x    Jacket
(if you plan to reach high altitude)

shoes

• 1 x   Flip Flops
(If you plan to visit Colombia’s beaches)
• 1 x   Casual shoes (i.e. Trainers)
• 1 x Walking Shoes/ Boots

Whether you choose to bring shoes or boots depends on how much hiking you think you will do.
If you feel you are likely to hike mountains and long trails, a pair of boots may prove invaluable. 

For walking boots i took a pair of Brasher Hillwalkers.  I would highly recommend these, they were comfortable, waterproof and easy to walk in.
For walking shoes (as boots are often bulky and difficult to carry) I recommend a pair of Tevas.  For every day walking and small treks they are comfortable and extremely resilient. Try these for women, or these for men.


toiletriesTo carry your toiletries, take a look at my Patchwork World Map PouchTravel

Shampoo
Shower Gel
Toothbrush/ Toothpaste
• Baby Wipes
• Deodorant
• Sanitary Products
• Hair Brush
• Hair Bands
• Makeup
Hand Sanitizer

And any other products you deem to be essential in your day to day life


electronics

Camera
Many people chose to take pictures on their smart phones, if you don’t, bring a camera to document your trip.
Also remember your camera case, to protect your camera while travelling and any chargers/ batteries.
You may also consider bringing a GoPro. Or for a cheaper alternative I have an Apeman!
• Phone
• Tablet
Not everyone chooses to bring a Tablet travelling, but I find it very useful for when I have no access to a  computer. You could chose an Ipad Mini. Or if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative that you don’t mind breaking, I recommend this Fire Tablet.
• Adapter
Colombia uses type A or B sockets. I recommend bringing a worldwide adapter.
• Chargers/ Batteries
For long bus/ train journeys or treks you may also want to bring a portable charger.

else

• Medication
Including Malaria Tablets!
Not everywhere in Colombia has a high risk of Malaria. Check Fit for Travel to see if you need Malaria tablets.
 • First Aid Kit
Plasters and antiseptic are important for emergencies, always travel with a first aid kit, just in case.
Try this travel size first aid kit or have a look in your local drug store (or Boots/ Superdrug)
• Sun Cream

• Mosquito Repellent
To accompany your malaria tablets you should apply mosquito repellent frequently, especially at night.
• Sun Glasses
• Ear Plugs & Eye Mask
Hostels and night buses can be very noisy, ear plugs and eye masks will make it easier to sleep. Try this ear plug and eye mask combo.
• Money Belt
Money Belts are recommended for security while travelling, placed under your clothes it is unlikely that thieves will see and take your money belt.  Keep important things in here (like your passport or spare cash) when out.
For a simple money belt try the  Samsonite Double Pocket Money Belt
Also Take a look at our 10 Best Stylish Bumbags for Travelers!
• Seeping Bag Liner
Most hostels come with bed linen, however if you plan on camping or are worried about the cleanliness of the bed linen then consider bringing a sleeping bag liner.  Liners are lighter and easier to carry than sleeping bags, and are cooler in hot climates. (Silk liners are more desirable, but also more expensive)
Try this poly-cotton liner, or this silk liner.
• Travel Towel
You can bring a normal towel, however microfiber towels dry much quicker and fold smaller, and so are easier to transport while traveling.
• Mosquito Net
Particularly important if you are planning on camping in Malaria zones. Try this net.
• Padlocks
Padlocks are important for hostel lockers to keep valuables safe.  You may also wish to padlock your suitcase while traveling. Try this.
• Guide Book
When travelling I like to have a guide book.  Lonely planet guides are concise and interesting; providing information on what to do, where to stay and where to eat.
Try: Lonely Planet Colombia 
Or alternatively: The Rough Guide to Colombia
If you don’t speak Spanish you may also want to consider taking a phrase book.  Try: Lonely Planet Latin American Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary.
• Waterproof Passport Holder
Not strictly essential, but with rugged travelling I find it important to protect your passport and other travel documents with a waterproof cover. Alternatively you could try these DriStore bags.
• Plastic Bags
Plastic bags always come in handy when travelling; for example to store dirty washing or muddy shoes.  When packing my rucksack i separate things into plastic bags, this makes it easy to unpack and repack your backpack with ease.
• Travel Journal
Not essential, but i personally like documenting my travels in a journal to keep a nice record of my trip. I use the Luckies of London Travelogue
• Penknife
This is not essential, but depending on how much hiking you plan to do, a penknife will often come in handy.  I used a penknife to carve and eat a coconut that had fallen from a tree. This Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife has been given very good reviews!
• Torch
Not everywhere you travel will have streetlamps.  I needed a torch especially in the national park. I prefer to use a head-torch.
• Dry Bag
There are loads of water based activities to try in Colombia.  For this, a Dry Bag to keep your valuables dry is advisable.

Now you will need two bags to carry everything in

• Suitcase/ Backpack
I took a 42l Lowe Alpine Crag Attack rucksack, which I can highly recommend.
42l proved big enough to fit everything I needed, and was easy to carry.

• Day Bag
I recommend an Eastpak backpack; they are surprisingly spacious, stylish and rugged, with a long guarantee.
Jan Sport Backpacks are also recommended. 
Take a look at my 10 Best Stylish Backpacks for Travelers!

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Colombia Backpacking Preparation Checklist

Colombia Backpacking Preparation Checklist
What to do – How to prepare

Planning a tip to Colombia? Below is a full preparation list to help you plan your trip!
Also check out our Colombia Packing Checklist
  • Check Government Travel Advice

Most holidays in Colombia are completely trouble free, and i did not experience any trouble during my month long visit.
However it is recommended to check Government travel advice before travelling.
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/colombia

The map below shows which regions of the country are safe to travel in:

Web

(Last updated 10 March 2015)


  • Book Vaccinations

Vaccinations must be organised at least a month and a half before your trip as most courses take a month to complete

Free Vaccinations you require:
-Hepatitis A & B
-Tetanus/Diphtheria/Polio

Paid Vaccinations you should consider
– Rabies
– Typhoid
– Yellow Fever (*Note that no Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Colombia.)
(I recommend these jabs for peace of mind on your trip)

Make sure you are up to date on all regular vaccinations as well.

Check the Fit For Travel website to check what vaccinations you may require.

  • Consider Getting Malaria Tablets

Getting a prescription for malaria tablets is essential for travel in some parts of Colombia.  To check if the area you are travelling to is effected by Malaria check the Fit For Travel website.

Malaria Map (Last updated March 2015)

Most doctors offer three different types of Malaria tablets, from cheapest to most expensive:
Mefloquine
Doxycycline
Malarone
Personally I recommend Doxycycline, it is relatively cheap and no serious side effects were experienced.  Read reviews and side effects carefully before you make your decision.  And make sure you have enough tablets to last for the duration of your trip, and the allocated time for after your trip.

  • Book Flights

Use the Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights on the day you want to travel.  Either book a return ticket, or book a one way ticket and plan to book your return flight when you are away.
Remember to print your Boarding Pass and keep it safe.
Check airline reviews and prices before you make your decision.

  • Apply For A Visa

UK Citizens do not require a Visa for a stay of up to 180 days.  Check whether you need a Visa to travel to Colombia here.
Also ensure that you have a blank page in your passport for a Visa on entry, and that your passport is valid for 90 days following your departure date.
You should see if you need a Transit Visa for any of your connections here.

  • Purchase Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is essential on a holiday of this nature.  It is often difficult to find travel insurance which will protect you for an elongated holiday.
I booked through Cover For You, but World Nomads is also highly recommended.
Remember to print and keep your travel insurance documents safe.

  • Secure Cash

As it is unlikely that you can carry enough cash to last you through your trip it is best to bring a debit card with you.  If your bank does not offer competitive exchange rates consider a Caxton Fx currency card; this card boasts no withdrawal fees at ATMs.
Take a look at this website to review other currency cards.

Most areas in Colombia have frequent ATMs, excluding some islands.
Make sure you have some of the local currency, the Colombian Peso for your first destination.

  • Book Your First Hostel

It is important to book your first few nights accommodation, so that when you arrive in your first destination you are not lost and vulnerable.
Consider booking through Hostel World.
Find and print out detailed directions to your accommodation from the airport.

  • Photocopy Important Documents

Photocopy all important documents twice:
-Passport
-Travel Insurance Details
-Flight Boarding Passes
Take one copy with you and leave one at home in case of emergency.

  • Plan a Route

Think about planning your travel route.  Research the places you would like to visit using the internet or travel guides like the Lonely Planet Colombia Guide.
Once you have decided where you would like to visit, think of a suitable travel route.  You can find the route I took here.
Understand that your route may change as you travel, but it is always nice to have a lose plan.

My 10 Favourite Pieces of Womens Travel Swimwear

If you’re looking for sun and sea, stylish swimwear is a must pack essential!  Here is my list of my ten favourite pieces of swimwear this summer.

1. Mexican Night Print Tie Front Swimsuit

Available here -£30

mexican-night

 

2. Bead Mirror Embellished Panel Swimsuit

Available here – £40

beaded

 

3. Wallpaper Print Frill Bikini

Top Available here – £18
Bottom Available here – £14

 

 

 

4. Mismatch Scallop Trim Bikini

Top Available here – £16
Bottoms Available here – £12

 

 

5. Hobie Multi Colour Hand Crochet High Neck Bikini

Available here – £61

 

 

 

6. Tropical Frill Bardot

Available here – £20

 

 

 

7. Ruched Halter Swimsuit

Available here – £35

red-halter

8. Ikat Print Bead Embellished Trim Halter Swimsuit

Available here – £48

ikat-bead

9. Monki Polka Dot Frill Bikini

Available here – £23

 

 

 

10. Vero Moda Frill Detail Floral High Neck Swimsuit

Available here – £34

floral-swimsuit



10 Best Stylish Bum Bags For Travelers

Here is my list of the ten best stylish bum bags for travelers.  When travelling it is important to keep your valuables safe, and bum bags are a perfect way to do this!
Also check out my 10 Best Stylish Backpacks for Travelers

 1. Herschel Sports Waist Pack

I love these cute Herschel bum bags.
Available here – from £19.50

2. Eastpak Springer Bag

Eastpak bum bags are very durable and very spacious!
Available here – from £15

3. Kipling Presto Waist Pack

This great little bag has lots of little compartments, and comes with a cute monkey key chain!
Available here – from £37

4. New Balance Bum Bag

This classic New Balance bum bag wipes clean! perfect for travelling.
Available here – for £15 – in Grey, Blue or Pink.

5. Mi-Pac Sport Waist Pack

I love Mi-Pac’s cute designs.
Available here – for £11


6. Mi-Pac Metallic Bum Bag

I also love these Mi-Pac metallic bum bags!
Available here – For £16.99 – In Rose Gold or Silver

 


7. Eshow Waist Pack

This stylish bum bag comes in three great colours.
Available here – for £11.99

8. Tinyat Waist Pack

These pastel coloured bum bags are good quality, made with nice material!
Available here – from £4.99

 9. Vans Patch Bum Bag

I love this cute Vans fabric bum bag. Especially the traveler-esq patches!
Available here – for £25

 


10. Ryaco Waist Pack

The Ryaco waist pack only comes in two colours, but is good quality and very spacious!
Available here – for £10.99



Please leave your own reviews and recommendations in the comments section!

10 Stylish Backpacks for Travelers

Here is my list of the ten best stylish and comfortable day backpacks for travelers.  These are not intended for rugged hiking, but for everyday travelling life; exploring new towns and countryside. Perfect for gap years!

Also check out my 10 Best Stylish Bum Bags for Travelers


1. Fjällräven Kranken Rucksack

Fjällräven is a Swedish company specialising in outdoor equipment. The name means the Arctic fox. Fjällräven was founded in 1960 by Åke Nordin. The company make a lovely durable backpack!
Available here – From £39

fjallraven-logo_1


2. Herschel Casual Daypack

I love these strapped backpacks.  Reviews say that they are made from good quality material with a tough inner pouch.
Available here – starting at £65

logo

 


 3. Eastpak

Eastpak backpacks are profoundly comfortable and surprisingly spacious.  Tried and tested by me, travelling for 4 months through South East Asia, I really liked this backpack.  Reviews say that this bag is extremely long lasting, and perfectly spacious, without looking bulky.
Available here -starting at £30

eastpak


4. Jansport

Solid and stylish, with a 30 year guarantee.  Similarly to the Eastpak, this bag is deceptively spacious, fitting everything you would want to carry for a day trip.  Well made with nice, comfortable material.
Available here -starting at £30

jansport


5. Mi-Pac

A good budget option is the cute Mipac. The quality may not be quite as exquisite as some of the more high end choices, and so durability may be an issue for some.  However reviews of this backpack are good, and I love the way it looks.

Available here – Starting from just £7.50

mipac

6. AmazonBasics Backpack

Keep it simple with this AmazonBasics Backpack. This simple but stylish backpack comes in a range of colours, and is all you really need!
Available here – for just £13.89

7. BagBase Heritage Backpack

BagBase is a good budget option. Great reviews say that this backpack is excellent value for money!
Available here – From just £11.50

logo


8. Kipling City Pack

This spacious bag comes with a cute monkey key chain! Very roomy, with lots of pockets to compartmentalise.
Available here – from £60


kipling


9. Spiral Backpack

I love these galaxy patterned backpacks. These spacious bags have earned themselves a 5-star raring.
Available here – fro £24.25
spiralwebsite

10. Kaukko Canvas Rucksack

I love the unique design of the Kaukko Canvas Rucksack. The bag is very sturdy, and comes in a range of khaki colours.
Available here – for £36.99


 
Please leave your own reviews and recommendations in the comments section!

Southeast Asia Backpacking Packing Checklist

Southeast Asia Backpacking Packing Checklist
What to bring – Travel essentials

The following packing list is ideal for trips of about one month or more. There’s lots of places to do laundry in Southeast Asia, so don’t worry about bringing enough clothes to last for your entire trip.
Remember to pack light, don’t over pack. Lugging a heavy bag around is a hindrance, especially in the Southeast Asian heat.  Pack the essentials, and leave a little room to bring back souvenirs!
Before you travel also make sure to check out our Southeast Asia Preparation Checklist

important-stuffIf you remember nothing else remember these few essentials

Passport
( + photocopy )
This is important, in case you lose your passport
Passport Photos
You will need passport photos to get Visas in some countries
Money
In the form of cash, card, or travelers cheques
(I always recommend bringing some cash (in the currency of your arrival destination) to get started, a few dollars, and a card (or travel card))
Boarding Pass/ Travel Tickets
Remember all boarding passes and travel documents and consider having photocopies of these
Travel Insurance Documents
If you have purchased travel insurance (which I recommend you do) make sure you bring a copy of your travel insurance documents in case of emergencies

clothes
• 2/3 x    T Shirts or Tops
• 1/2 x    Shorts
Most places in Southeast Asia are not conservative enough to mind tourists wearing shorts. But always remember to be respectful, check the rules, and never wear shorts in Temples.
• 1/2 x    Light Trousers or Leggings
(Bare in mind that you will probably buy at least one pair of Elephant Pants in Asia)
• 
7 x    Underwear
• 5 x    Socks
• 
2 x    Swimwear
• 
1 x    Sun Hat

• 1 x    Raincoat
• 1 x    Warm Jumper
Night buses are often air conditioned far too strongly, and a warm jumper will prove invaluable for keeping you warm on these journeys!

shoes

• 1 x   Flip Flops
You might buy these in Asia, they are usually much cheaper!
• 1 x   Casual shoes (i.e. Trainers)
• 1 x Walking Shoes/ Boots

Whether you choose to bring shoes or boots depends on how much hiking you think you will do.
If you feel you are likely to hike mountains and long trails, a pair of boots may prove invaluable. 
For walking boots i took a pair of Brasher Hillwalkers.  I would highly recommend these, they were comfortable, waterproof and easy to walk in.
For walking shoes (as boots are often bulky and difficult to carry) I recommend a pair of Tevas.  For every day walking and small treks they are comfortable and extremely resilient. Try these for women, or these for men.

toiletriesTo carry your toiletries, take a look at my Patchwork World Map PouchTravel

Shampoo
Shower Gel
Toothbrush/ Toothpaste
• Baby Wipes
• Deodorant
• Sanitary Products
• Hair Brush
• Hair Bands
• Makeup
Hand Sanitizer

And any other products you deem to be essential in your day to day life


electronics
Camera
Many people chose to take pictures on their smart phones, if you don’t, bring a camera to document your trip.
Also remember your camera case, to protect your camera while travelling and any chargers/ batteries.
You may also consider bringing a GoPro. Or for a cheaper alternative I have an Apeman!
• Phone
• Tablet
Not everyone chooses to bring a Tablet travelling, but I find it very useful for travelling in places with a lack of computers. You could chose an Ipad Mini. Or if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative that you don’t mind breaking, I recommend this Fire Tablet.
• Adapter
You may encounter a few different plugs in SE Asia, so I recommend a worldwide adapter.
• Chargers/ Batteries
For long bus/ train journeys or treks you may also want to bring a portable charger.

else
• Medication
Including Malaria Tablets!
 • First Aid Kit
Plasters and antiseptic are important for emergencies, always travel with a first aid kit, just in case.
Try this travel size first aid kit or have a look in your local drug store (or Boots/ Superdrug)
• Sun Cream
It is very important to bring as much sun cream as you will need for your holiday.  Sun Cream  in most countries in Southeast Asia contains skin whitening chemicals! Read about Asia’s craze for skin lightening here.
• Mosquito Repellent
To accompany your malaria tablets you should apply mosquito repellent frequently, especially at night.
• Sun Glasses
• Ear Plugs & Eye Mask
Hostels and night buses can be very noisy, ear plugs and eye masks will make it easier to sleep. Try this ear plug and eye mask combo.
• Money Belt
Money Belts are recommended for security while travelling, placed under your clothes it is unlikely that thieves will see and take your money belt.  Keep important things in here (like your passport or spare cash) when out.
For a simple money belt try the  Samsonite Double Pocket Money Belt
Also Take a look at our 10 Best Stylish Bumbags for Travelers!
• Seeping Bag Liner
Most hostels come with bed linen, however if you plan on camping or are worried about the cleanliness of the bed linen then consider bringing a sleeping bag liner.  Liners are lighter and easier to carry than sleeping bags, and are cooler in the Asian heat. (Silk liners are more desirable, but also more expensive)
Try this poly-cotton liner, or this silk liner.
• Travel Towel
You can bring a normal towel, however microfiber towels dry much quicker and fold smaller, and so are easier to transport while traveling.
• Mosquito Net
Particularly important if you are planning on camping. Try this net.
• Padlocks
Padlocks are important for hostel lockers to keep valuables safe.  You may also wish to padlock your suitcase while traveling. Try this.
• Guide Book
When travelling I like to have a guide book.  Lonely planet guides are concise and interesting; providing information on what to do, where to stay and where to eat.
Try: Lonely Planet Southeast Asia on a shoestring
or: Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand

 

You may also consider bringing a phrasebook.
• Waterproof Passport Holder
Not strictly essential, but with rugged travelling I find it important to protect your passport and other travel documents with a waterproof cover. Alternatively you could try these DriStore bags.
• Plastic Bags
Plastic bags always come in handy when travelling; for example to store dirty washing or muddy shoes.  When packing my rucksack i separate things into plastic bags, this makes it easy to unpack and repack your backpack with ease.
• Travel Journal
Not essential, but i personally like documenting my travels in a journal to keep a nice record of my trip. I use the Luckies of London Travelogue
• Penknife
This is not essential, but depending on how much hiking you plan to do, a penknife will often come in handy.  I used a penknife to carve and eat a coconut that had fallen from a tree. This Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife has been given very good reviews!
• Torch
Not everywhere you travel will have streetlamps.  I needed a torch especially in the national park, and when walking in the middle of the night to watch turtles hatch. I prefer to use a head-torch.
• Dry Bag
There are loads of water based activities to try in Southeast Asia, Tubing in Laos for example.  For this, a Dry Bag to keep your valuables dry is advisable.

 Now you will need two bags to carry everything in

• Suitcase/ Backpack
I took a 42l Lowe Alpine Crag Attack rucksack, which I can highly recommend.
42l proved big enough to fit everything I needed, and was easy to carry.

• Day Bag
I recommend an Eastpak backpack; they are surprisingly spacious, stylish and rugged, with a long guarantee.
Jan Sport Backpacks are also recommended. 
Take a look at my 10 Best Stylish Backpacks for Travelers!