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What to Pack for Colombia: Tayrona National Park Beach

What to Pack for Colombia: The Ultimate Colombia Packing List

Colombia Packing

Stunning Caribbean beaches, mountain hikes, exploring the muddy Cocora Valley, chasing waterfalls, exploring the nightlife in the fashionable “city of eternal spring” in Medellin… Colombia’s list of attractions is a mile long, but the sheer variety of things to do and climates to experience means that deciding what to pack for Colombia can be a bit tricky.

In Cartagena, it’s all about shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits.

In Medellin, you’ll want a light jacket to break out at night.

In the mud of the Cocora Valley, hiking boots will make your life much easier.

Planning a trip to charming Colombia? Here’s what we suggest adding to your Colombia packing list!

Bear in mind that this packing list for Colombia is designed for a trip lasting 2-4 weeks that covers multiple climates in Colombia, and can easily be adapted to a larger packing list for South America if you’re continuing through the continent!

It also includes some of our personal preferences, like bringing our computers along (since we work on them, it’s a must!).

Packing List for Colombia: Cartagena Old Town

What to Pack for Colombia: The Ultimate Colombia Packing List

What to Pack for Colombia: Actual Luggage

Our sturdy North Face Jester Backpack has been downgraded after almost a decade of hard use–we still have it, but it’s looking a little worse for the wear these days.

We updated to a swanky Swiss Gear backpack for our daypack, which has several different pockets including a laptop sleeve, and offers a little more protection to our laptops and camera gear while in transit (one of these days, we’ll start carrying an actual camera bag).

We’ve been carrying the same backpacks since we initially purchased them for a 2015 Europe trip, and we are thrilled with how well they have held up! Almost two years of full-time travel later, they still look almost like new, minus one small hole in Jeremy’s Gregory bag.

We recommend both of them highly, though if we were purchasing today we’d probably go 5-10 liters smaller each.

  • Medium Sized Zip Purse

What to Pack for Colombia: Camera Gear

Virtually all of the photos we take for the blog and social media these days come from our Nikon D3300–our little starter DSLR has served us well. We have learned so much on this camera, and we thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking to get into manual shooting for the first time.

At a price point of around $450 for the camera body and kit lens (or a little more if you go for the recently released and updated D3400), you really can’t beat it!

These days, we shoot all of our photos in RAW and edit them in Lightroom.

 

The key to good selfies of both of us together:: at less than $10.00, it’s a bargain.

Colombia Packing List: Cat in Minca, Colombia

What to Pack for Colombia: Other Electronics

As we work online and earn our incomes on the road, it’s incredibly important to us to have our computers and other electronic gear with us as we travel.

If you prefer to disconnect more on the road, absolutely consider leaving your laptop at home–but that would never work for us

What to Pack for Colombia: Miscellaneous Gear & Travel Essentials

We talk about our Steripen a lot on the blog–it’s one of the most useful items we carry! We save tons of money, time, and environmental waste by sterilizing tap water as we travel instead of buying bottled water as we go.

The tap water is safe to drink in some areas of Colombia (like Medellin), but not others (like the Caribbean coast). Always double check when you get to a new area!

I can’t even count how many times these things have come in handy on the road–they’re so lightweight and easy to pack, and they will always be on a packing list for anywhere that we might swim.

Obviously, you’ll need to skip this one if you’re a carry-on only traveler, but if you check a bag, they come in so handy on the road.

We love our Pacsafe!

Whenever we leave our lodging for the day, we put our laptops and other valuables into this sturdy safe, attach it to the most secure thing in the room (like a pipe), and leave with peace of mind about the safety of some of our most valuable items.

I love this journal–for five years, you write just one line each day. Every matching date (ie, every February 3) is on the same page, so you can watch your life change year over year.

It may not be the most practical thing to carry abroad, but it comes with me everywhere these days.

  • Pens
  • Pocket Tissues/Toilet Paper x3
  • Copies of Passports
  • Actual Passports
  • Yellow Fever Vaccination Cards

The US recommends Yellow Fever vaccinations for entry into Colombia, though it is not required as of the time of writing.

Theoretically, you need to present the card to enter Tayrona National Park, but our understanding is that this is very rarely enforced (we weren’t checked).

Regardless, the shot is good for 10 years (some agencies are now saying forever–always check updated research before traveling) and will absolutely be necessary if you’re headed further into South America, so it’s a good idea to have it taken care of.

We never leave to travel abroad without travel insurance, and Colombia is no exception. We use and recommend World Nomads for most trips around the globe, including to Colombia.

Read Next: The Ultimate Guide to Salento (+ Best Things to Do!)

What to Pack for Colombia: Pozo Azul

What to Pack for Colombia: Portable Pharmacy

While some people advocate for simply buying medication as you need it, we definitely prefer having basic medication as part of our packing list for Colombia–and after I got terribly ill in Minca, a town with very little familiar medication available, that feeling was definitely reinforced (and the Pepto Bismol is definitely on this Colombia packing list because I didn’t have any and desperately wanted some!).

These bands have been a game-changer in my lifelong battle with motion sickness–if you’re prone to motion sickness, definitely shell out the less-than-$10 reasonable price tag and try them out!

… But as a backup, natural dramamine is always good to have on hand.

  • Excedrin Migraine
  • Ibuprofen
  • Imodium
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Allergy Medication
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Bug Spray

Bug spray is a must while in Colombia! The humid jungle areas are full of mosquitos that love to eat tourists alive–and the legs of tourists walking around town provide ample evidence of that.

What to Pack for Colombia: Female Packing List for Colombia

Kate’s Clothes

  • Dresses x 4
  • Skirts x 1
  • Harem Pants x 1
  • Jeans x 1
  • Shorts x 2
  • Tank Tops x 4
  • Short Sleeve Shirts x 3
  • Long Sleeve Shirts x 2
  • Light Jacket x 1
  • Fleece Pullover x 1

 

Odds are, you’ll be SO glad to have this in the Cocora Valley!

 

  • Underwear x 10
  • Socks x 5
  • Bras x 2

 

  • Sports Bras x 2
  • Yoga Pants x 2
  • Work Out Shorts x 1
  • Work Out Shirt x 1

 

There’s a lot of debate among travelers regarding whether hiking boots are worth the size and weight they take up–for a Colombia packing list, our vote is a resounding YES, especially if you’re planning on doing a major hike like the Lost City Trek.

However, even for the Cocora Valley, we were so glad to have them.

  • Baseball Cap x 1
  • Earrings x 1

Kate’s Toiletries

  • Electric Toothbrush x 1 (with plastic head over case)
  • Toothpaste
  • Retainers & Case
  • Floss

 

  • Lush Solid Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap & Soap Case
  • Razors
  • Shaving Cream

 

  • Contacts
  • Contact Solution
  • Contact Case
  • Glasses

 

Probably not necessary for a two-week trip, but for anything longer, I love having this on hand. Our Colombia trip is a bit longer than a month, so it definitely goes on my list!

 

  • Hair Ties
  • Wide Tooth Comb

Kate’s Makeup

As someone who doesn’t wear makeup every day, I always feel a bit silly carrying so much of it around–but I love having it on hand when I want it, and I’ve never been bothered by throwing it into my purse while traveling. YMMV.

Colombia Packing List: Medellin Square

What to Pack for Colombia: Male Packing List for Colombia

Jeremy’s Clothes

  • T-shirts x 7
  • Long Sleeve Waffle Shirt x 2
  • Light Jacket x 1
  • Fleece Pullover x 1

 

  • Khakis x 1
  • Jeans x 1
  • Casual Shorts x 2
  • Belt x 1
  • Work Out Shorts x 1

 

  • Flip Flops x 1
  • Boat Shoes X 1
  • Hiking Boots x 1

 

Odds are, you’ll be SO glad to have this in the Cocora Valley!

 

  • Socks x 5
  • Underwear x 10

Jeremy’s Toiletries

Clearly, we share some of our toiletries (like shampoo) and don’t pack doubles, but for clarity I’m going to list them all out here.

  • Electric Toothbrush (with plastic case over the head)
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss

 

  • Lush Solid Shampoo
  • Soap & Soap Case

 

This shaving soap comes in a solid puck, is easy to pack, and lasts forever for a fraction of the cost of traditional shaving cream–Jeremy swears by it!

  • Contacts
  • Contact Solution
  • Contact Case

 

  • Deodorant

 

As you can see from our packing list for Colombia, we are definitely not carry-on only packers or even particularly light packers… but after almost 2 years of full-time travel and approaching a month in Colombia, we can solidly say that we stand by everything on this packing list for Colombia.

It absolutely works for us… and hopefully for you, too!

Read Next: 2 Weeks in Colombia: The Ultimate 14 Day Itinerary

What to Pack for Colombia

18 Comments Write a comment
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18 Comments

  • Lisa February 19, 2018

    I’ll take your advice and definitely take a rain poncho! You’ve listed some great items here, especially the portable medicines. I always need dramamine and never travel without. Hope to make it to Colombia one day.

    • Kate Storm February 26, 2018

      Agreed–I sure wish I wasn’t afflicted with motion sickness all the time, but alas!

  • Heidi February 19, 2018

    That’s a very thorough packing list! You guys carry quite a bit more gear than we did but it does look like you’re prepared for everything 🙂 Packing meds to go with you is always a really nice tip.

    • Kate Storm February 26, 2018

      Haha, yes, no one will ever mistake us for light packers.

  • Aditi February 20, 2018

    That’s an interesting list. You have covered every essential item for the varying weather condition. I’ll make sure I carry a compass to avoid getting lost 😉 Cheers!!

    • Kate Storm February 26, 2018

      Only if you’re hiking! We never use it in cities, but love having it in the woods.

  • Dann Castillo February 20, 2018

    This is such a complete list! It is good to know that boots are necessary for the muddy terrains. Also, I have heard so much about the solid shampoo from Lush, but haven’t actually used it. Is it good? Does it leave your hair soft?

    • Kate Storm February 26, 2018

      We like it! I haven’t noticed any quality difference in my hair between that and typical liquid shampoos, but I do still use a liquid conditioner. 🙂

  • Lois Alter Mark February 20, 2018

    What a great, comprehensive list! I always hate packing and am very happy to just follow someone else’s list! I’m a huge fan of Lush but haven’t used their solid shampoo yet. It seems like a better idea than liquids which can easily spill.

    • Kate Storm February 26, 2018

      They can definitely spill–and they’re also heavy! Solid is a big plus–even more so for people who want to travel carry-on only.

  • Ha February 20, 2018

    Such a comprehensive packing list! I’ve never been to Colombia but now I know what to bring when I visit that country. I think the Power Bank is really necessary for the trip and having bathing suit and sunglasses are definitely necessary!

    • Kate Storm February 26, 2018

      The Power Bank definitely comes in handy on those long bus rides!

  • Abigail Sinsona February 21, 2018

    I highly appreciate this packing list – I think I have a few items in there to add to my own. Although I am not going to Colombia soon, I will be headed for Singapore in the coming week. I could refer to this packing list especially the medicine ones. Being sick on travel is not fun but it is always important to have these medicines ready.

    • Kate Storm February 26, 2018

      Singapore sounds like fun! Definitely a very different place than Colombia, but a lot of our medicines/travel gear in general does cross over regardless of destination.

  • Rashmi and Chalukya February 21, 2018

    You have some great tips for the camera gear, we are looking for camera options and Nikon 3400 sounds like a good option. In electronics, we definitely cannot go without Apple MacBook and Power Banks. Medicines and document copies are definitely important too. Thanks for this comprehensive packing list!

    • Kate Storm February 26, 2018

      Good luck with your camera search! It’s definitely not an easy one. Our D3300 has been amazing to us.

  • Francesca February 22, 2018

    Such a great detailed list! Thanks for this. Planning to visit Colombia next year. It’s so important to keep in mind there are microclimates where as you said you may need a sweater in one place, shorts in another, and hiking boots somewhere else!

    • Kate Storm February 26, 2018

      Good luck with your planning!! Colombia definitely requires packing for lots of weather, but it’s an amazing destination!

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