Stuff It In

A guide to stuffing your backpack for an extended trip to South America.

From insect repellant to moisture wicking underwear, I believe I thought of everything I’ll need.

I figure the most important thing to think about before you go backpacking is if you’re really going backpacking. In Europe, I feel like you can call it backpacking but actually bring a small rolling suitcase because the roads are generally paved. I hear that this is not the case in South America, so I headed over to Eastern Mountain Sports during their end-of-the-summer sales and went HAM on some outdoorsy gear, everything from nearly toxic insect repellant to a portable water filtration system to SO MANY wool socks. But first I needed the backpack. After trying on a few adult sized ones ranging from $200-$300, the kind sales associate suggested that I try on the youth backpack, due to my short torso, whatever that means. It fit perfectly and was $100 cheaper. I stuck a pin on it, a gift that was given to me by my Australian friend who volunteered with me in Sicily, and proceeded to buy more things to stuff in it. Here’s my list:

Clothes: (the key terms we are looking for here are moisture-wicking and quick dry. Gotta keep all your junk fresh.) I hear layers are very important in South America, especially in countries like Peru where the weather does what it wants and you either have to remove to keep cool or put on to keep warm.

  • 6-7 tank tops in slimming black and gray
  • 2-3 t shirts
  • 2 long sleeved shirts
  • 1-2 sweatshirts (one stuffed in my bag, another around my waist)
  • 1 cardigan (in case I need to cover my shoulders in a church, or something)
  • 1 thin rain jacket (that my mom bought me from Costco)
  • 4 pairs of quick-dry (there it is again) leggings
  • 1 pair of SICK, SEXY cargo pants/shorts with scandalous removable legs
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 8 or so pairs of undies (if you can’t afford to buy 8 pairs of $20 underwear like the super-hot pair shown below, cotton is also a breathable fabric)
  • 3 sports bras, 1 normal VS bra
  • 8 pairs of socks (preferably wool)
  • 1 pair of sandals (I packed my $2 pair of Old Navy flip flops. Hope I don’t lose them in a swamp)
  • 2 pairs of shorts- 1 jean, 1 workout style (3 if you count my transformers)
  • 1 pair of pajamas (mine consist of a pair of boxers, flannel pants, and a large Irish Yoga tshirt)
  • 1 black skirt, 1 cute sundress
  • 1 pair of ridiculously comfy hiking boots that I will probably wear errday


  • fast-drying towel
  • a first aid kit/personal pharmacy
    • lip balm with spf, sunscreen 30spf or higher, cough drops, neosporin, PEPTO BISMAL, hand sanitizer, rehydration salts, PAINKILLERS, flu meds, bandaids, Emergenc-E, etc.
  • tampons and pads…amrightladies??? Also birth control packs…ain’t nobody got time for cramps
  • insect repellant with deet
  • some makeup- I’m mostly going au natural, bringing along a tinted moisturizer with SPF for smooth skin, mascara for my utter lack of eyelashes, concealer for my other bags, and some lipstick
  • Sunglasses and a hat (imma buy the hat down there so I look like a local)
  • eye mask and ear plugs (so I don’t hear myself or other travelers snoring and rustling with their plastic bags)
  • Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, razors…
    • I also bought some special pH soap that I can use as anything from bodywash to laundry detergent
  • flashlight, lock, money necklace (I still have mine from famous Long Island water park SPLISH SPLASH)
  • small messenger purse for my passport and other things
  • a sink plug so you can do your own laundry
  • universal power adapter
  • headphones, chargers, a good digital camera (mine is an Olympus E 420), iPad, and an iPad camera connection kit so ya’ll can see my pretty pics
  • notebook and pens (for the sentimental stuff I don’t want you all reading)

I’ll let you guys know how this worked out for me! Wish me luck.

my limited attire
my limited attire, rolled up to preserve space
bundle of bras (and socks and undies)
bundle of bras (and socks and undies)
ooh la la
these ExOfficio undies boast being able to last for “17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of underwear (ok, maybe two).” I’ll let you know how that works out for me.
fancy pants
fancy pants
a gift from a friend
a gift from a friend
a youth backpack
a youth backpack
“I open at the close.”


some other things
some essentials, including (whore) wipes, a waterproof bag, quick-dry towel, notebook, hand sanitizer, lock, mini water purification system, sink plug, first aid, and some games.
a great gift from family
the cash and journal were much needed gifts from family. the red thing is my money necklace from Splish Splash water park


by Rebecca Bellan