My Latin Life's Minimalist Packing Guide To Latin America

 

Hey there gang!

I've got some time, so I thought I'd put together a fun little post outlining some of the items I pack to go to Latin America. 

Around 2012/2013 I threw out, sold or donated most of my stuff. Since then I've adopted somewhat of a minimalist lifestyle. I'd say about 90% of what I own, I travel with. The other 10% stays in storage in Canada and consists mostly of things that hold sentimental value.

These days, instead of buying more things, I just replace the things that I already have when they break or break down. I'm conscious of never unnecessarily increasing my personal belongings.

I'm happier this way.

For this reason, I always recommend bringing as little as you can possibly manage, even if you'll be abroad for a long time. You'd be surprised at how little a man needs to get by in this world. 

So, without further ado, here's much of the gear you'll find me with in Central and South America.

I know folks that travel with a lot less - there's a lot of weird shit that I bring along that I don't really need. But I figure, hey, may as well fill my suitcase to the rim since I'm bringing the motherfucker along anyway.


 Inexcusably indulgent to bring 3 pairs of shorts, but I like 'em.

Inexcusably indulgent to bring 3 pairs of shorts, but I like 'em.

 Two hats. Simple (I hate logos).

Two hats. Simple (I hate logos).

 Nicaraguan muscle shirt. Goes against my no-logo rule but it otherwise serves its purpose. I'll usually buy a pack of wifebeaters when I reach my destination (goes well with the shorts in hot weather).

Nicaraguan muscle shirt. Goes against my no-logo rule but it otherwise serves its purpose. I'll usually buy a pack of wifebeaters when I reach my destination (goes well with the shorts in hot weather).

 3 pairs of jeans. Again, 3 is a bit indulgent, but I rarely wear any other kind of pant.

3 pairs of jeans. Again, 3 is a bit indulgent, but I rarely wear any other kind of pant.

 LtoR: Casual, Boot, Exercise. I've swapped out these bulky brown books for some sleeker black ones.

LtoR: Casual, Boot, Exercise. I've swapped out these bulky brown books for some sleeker black ones.

 Jacket. For the colder nights. Swapped this out for a black cafe racer (jacket had to match the new boots)

Jacket. For the colder nights. Swapped this out for a black cafe racer (jacket had to match the new boots)

 For when I need to blend in as a narco-playboy. I don't normally like to dress flamboyantly, but some occasions call for it.

For when I need to blend in as a narco-playboy. I don't normally like to dress flamboyantly, but some occasions call for it.

 A shitty backpack to blend in with the locals (locals often have shitty backpacks). I've since changed this out out for a plain one. Fuck logos.

A shitty backpack to blend in with the locals (locals often have shitty backpacks). I've since changed this out out for a plain one. Fuck logos.

 Cheap and basic watch from Amazon. Nothing too flashy.

Cheap and basic watch from Amazon. Nothing too flashy.

 I keep it basic with the accessories. Historically, I've brought a couple bracelets and other necklaces, but I never end up using them. Might cut accessories out completely for my next trip.

I keep it basic with the accessories. Historically, I've brought a couple bracelets and other necklaces, but I never end up using them. Might cut accessories out completely for my next trip.

 For drowning out the ever-present cacophony.

For drowning out the ever-present cacophony.

 Ab Wheel. Good workout, easy to pack. If I have room, I'll pack those perfect push-up things as well. I'm not a huge fan of gyms. Would rather do what I can at home or on outdoor equipment. 

Ab Wheel. Good workout, easy to pack. If I have room, I'll pack those perfect push-up things as well. I'm not a huge fan of gyms. Would rather do what I can at home or on outdoor equipment. 

 Aftershave/cologne. This one is a bit "down market." I'd suggest a slightly classier scent. Usually a good idea to go with something *without* a ship on the bottle...

Aftershave/cologne. This one is a bit "down market." I'd suggest a slightly classier scent. Usually a good idea to go with something *without* a ship on the bottle...

 Razor and brush. Not really necessary, but been shaving like this for years and enjoy it. It's a ritual for me; a form of meditation.

Razor and brush. Not really necessary, but been shaving like this for years and enjoy it. It's a ritual for me; a form of meditation.

 Basic bag for bathroom stuff.

Basic bag for bathroom stuff.

 White, Black and Grey t-shirts. My daily drivers in LATAM. Also got 'em in blue, green and brown.

White, Black and Grey t-shirts. My daily drivers in LATAM. Also got 'em in blue, green and brown.

 E-reader. Worth its weight in gold.

E-reader. Worth its weight in gold.

 Big wallet for storing extra money, cards, photocopies, etc. I throw my credit cards and a chunk of cash in here and half-heartedly hide it in the  casa . If you plan on getting drunk and don't trust your judgement on the moral standard of girl you might bring back (definitely not talking about me here....), hide this in the vegetable crisper in your fridge under a pile of apples or potatoes or something. Bitches will never look there.

Big wallet for storing extra money, cards, photocopies, etc. I throw my credit cards and a chunk of cash in here and half-heartedly hide it in the casa. If you plan on getting drunk and don't trust your judgement on the moral standard of girl you might bring back (definitely not talking about me here....), hide this in the vegetable crisper in your fridge under a pile of apples or potatoes or something. Bitches will never look there.

 Notebook and pen. For jotting down my observations to share with all you lovely people! Also for blog/business ideas.

Notebook and pen. For jotting down my observations to share with all you lovely people! Also for blog/business ideas.

 Hair clippers. Not essential because haircuts in LATAM can be had cheap, but I prefer doing it myself.

Hair clippers. Not essential because haircuts in LATAM can be had cheap, but I prefer doing it myself.

 Indispensable. This is good if you're not bringing a lot of clothes or if you just got slippery hands.   

Indispensable. This is good if you're not bringing a lot of clothes or if you just got slippery hands.

 

 All my stuff fits in this....and...

All my stuff fits in this....and...

 ...this

...this


Not Pictured

The obvious stuff: passport, wallet, phone, underwear, socks. A few more clothing items, including a couple v-neck t-shirts (black and white), another button-down shirt, a blazer - best worn on the plane so it doesn't wrinkle -  exercise clothes, bathing suit, microfibre towel and sweater. Small point-and-shoot digital camera, additional electronic gear (computer, cables, USBs, power bank, adaptor if needed), multitool, lock and keyPercolator, condoms, mini flashlight, chef's knife, fish oil, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, portable speaker, fold-up laundry hamper, fidget spinner, dildo.

...only kidding on the last two. Just wanted to make sure you were listening.

A few more random odds and ends, but that's pretty much it. Soap and other basic bathroom stuff I buy at my destination. I used to bring hiking gear, but I wasn't using it enough to justify it. These days, it usually stays behind.

Suit rentals are reasonable in Latin America, so if I ever have to attend a fancy event like a wedding, I go that route. Doesn't come up very often.

If I have more space, I fill it up with good, strong coffee or a few more clothing items.

 

 

 

Conclusion

As you can see, I keep things simple, particularly in terms of attire.

But simple doesn't have to mean ugly!

It's astounding how easy it is to stand out in a plan white or black tee shirt and nice jeans these days. Most guys are wearing graphic tees and pants that are two sizes too big.

Also, most furnished apartments you rent in Latin America will come with an iron and ironing board. Don't be afraid to use it.

Dressing to impress in Latin America really isn't difficult.

When it comes to packing for a trip abroad, there's no need to overthink it. At the end of the day, all you really need are the clothes on your back, your passport and credit/debit cards. Almost anything you happen to forget, you can buy south of the border.

If you're debating whether or not you'll need an item, air on the side of not bringing it. You'll always be happier living and travelling with as little as possible.

For me, that means only a large suitcase and a duffle bag (maybe a small carry-on bag too, just because I can). If you have a lot of camera gear or other electronics, make use of a second carry-on to fit under your seat on the plane. Packing like this is much less awkward and less dorky than a 100000 litre backpack. Unless you plan on walking 12 miles a day or changing locations every few minutes, there's little point in carting around all your worldly possessions like that.

It's also much easier to keep track of your stuff in a suitcase than it is in a narrow, gigantic backpack...I've never understood the utility of those things unless you plan on doing a ton of walking with a bunch of your shit.

Personal preference, I suppose.

Regardless of what you choose to pack your stuff in, just pack light. There's nothing like being able to get all your personal goods together in 5 minutes and get the fuck outta wherever you happen to be.

A truly liberating feeling.

 

 

Cheers,

Vance

Want more information about Latin America? Check out my city guides


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