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 (you could also bring some hand wash or a wash bag), 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 passportMONEY
 (In the form of cash, card, or travellers 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 theseTRAVEL 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.pngRemember, 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 jumper, and sometimes even hot water bottles to keep warm! Read about the varying weather here, and make sure you check weather reports before you travel.

• 2/3 x    T SHIRTS OR TOPS
• 1/2 x    SHORTS/ SKIRTS
• 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/ COAT
if you plan to reach high altitude

Shoes

 • 1 x   FLIP FLOPS
 Especially if you plan on visiting Colombia's beaches
 • 1 x   CASUAL SHOES (i.e. Trainers or Converse)
 • 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. You could also try Regatta.
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.


Toiletries.png

To carry your toiletries, take a look at my Patchwork World Map Pouch

 • MEDICATION Including Malaria Tablets
SUN CREAM
 MOSQUITO REPELLENT
Especially if you are travelling in a Malaria zone
SHAMPOO
SHOWER GEL
 TOOTHBRUSH & TOOTHPASTE
 • BABY WIPES
 DEODORANT
 • SANITARY PRODUCTS
 • HAIR BRUSH
 • HAIR BANDS
 • MAKEUP (Optional)
 HAND SANITIZER

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


Electronics.png

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, which I love! 
• PHONE & Charger  
• TABLET (Optional) 
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, I recommend this Fire Tablet. 
• ADAPTER 
For Colombia you will need a type A or B adapter. I recommend bringing a worldwide adapter. 
• CHARGERS/ BATTERIES 
For long bus/ train journeys or treks you may also want to bring a portable charger.

Everything Else.png

 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 GLASSES  

• EAR PLUGS & EYE MASK 
Hostels and night buses/ sleeper trains can be very noisy, ear plugs and eye masks will make it easier to sleep. Try this ear plug & 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! 

SLEEPING 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
This is particularly important if you are planning on camping. I recommend this net.

 DRY BAG
There are lots of water based activities to try in Southeast Asia (For example Tubing in Laos). A Dry Bag will help keep your valuables safe in the water.

• PADLOCKS 
Padlocks are important for hostel lockers to keep valuables safe.  You may also wish to padlock your suitcase while traveling.

• TORCH
Not everywhere you travel in Southeast Asia will have streetlights. A torch is essential for safety, particularly in rural areas. I prefer to use a head torch!

PENKNIFE (Optional)
This is not essential, but if you are planning on doing a lot of hiking a penknife may come in handy. I used a penknife to eat a coconut that fell from a tree! 

• GUIDE BOOK 
When travelling I like to have a guide book, although you can research most places online.  Lonely planet guides are concise and interesting; they provide information on what to do, where to stay and where to eat. 
Try: Lonely Planet Colombia
Or alternatively: The Rough Guide to Colombia
You may also want to 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 without fuss. 

• 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 advisable.


Now you will need two bags to carry everything in

• MAIN 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 the ever popular Eastpak backpack; they are surprisingly spacious, stylish and rugged, with a long guarantee.
 Jan Sport Backpacks are also very popular. 
 Or take a look at our 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

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 18 June 2017)


Plan a Route

This is the exciting part!

Start planning where you want to go. You may not have a strict route, but it is useful to have a vague idea of what you want to see and where you want to visit. Bear in mind that your plans will almost certainly change!

Start reading guidebooks and looking online and write down a proposed route.
 Once you have decided where you would like to visit, think of a suitable travel route. Indietraveller has some useful route planning advice.

Book Flights

Once you've decided where you want to go you'll want to book your flights! You may not want to book any internal flights, but you'll need at least a flight from home to Colombia, most probably Bogota. I use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights on the day I want to travel, or to explore the cheapest month to travel.  I

f you know how long you are travelling for, and where you'll be when you want to return, book a return ticket, otherwise you could book a one way ticket and plan to book your return flight when you are away. STA travel offer a MultiFLEX pass, starting at £29 these passes let you change your flights; this is good, as you may wish to stay longer than you initially planned!  Flights through STA are usually a good price.

Get Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is essential.  It is often difficult to find travel insurance which will protect you for an elongated holiday. On my most recent trip I booked through Go Walkabout, but World Nomads is also highly recommended.

Apply for Visas

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.

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 definitely recommend getting the Rabies and Typhoid jabs)

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.

Get 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.

colombia

 (Last updated August 2017)

Most doctors offer three different types of Malaria tablets, from cheapest to most expensive: 
• Mefloquine Doxycycline Atovaquone/Proguanil 

I ordered my tablets from nomadtravel , but, especially if it is your first time travelling, you should consider having a consultation with your doctor to see which tablets are right for you.  Personally I recommend Doxycycline, it is relatively cheap and I haven't experienced any serious side effects. 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. Even with Malaria tablets it is important to take bite prevention precautions, read about how to avoid bites at Fit For Travel.

Get Money

For long trips I do not recommend that you bring enough cash to last your entire trip, as you risk having it lost or stolen!  Instead I recommend that you bring enough Colombian Pesos to last 1 week, and a few US dollars.  You can compare exchange rates here. 

Then bring a card, or travel money card to withdraw money for the rest of your trip.  If your bank does not offer competitive exchange rates consider a Caxton Fx currency card or an STA Travel Money Card.  These card boasts no withdrawal fees at ATMs, and you load them with money as you go, so that if they are stolen, you do not have to worry about all the money being withdrawn from your bank. You can also get someone at home to load the money onto your card for you. Take a look at this website to review other currency cards. 
There is access to  ATMs through most of Colombia, excluding some national parks.

Book Accommodation

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. I usually book through Hostel World or Agoda. You could also try Booking.com or Trivago. Find and print out detailed directions to your accommodation from the airport and show these to your taxi driver.

Photocopy Documents

Just before you leave you should 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.