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

( + photocopy )
This is important, in case you lose your passport
Passport Photos
Again you may need these if you lose your passport
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)


• 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

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


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.


• 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!


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.

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


(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

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:
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:
-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.