It was a great idea to travel from the US going to South America.
But it slipped my mind that US lies on top of the equator, and South America is at the bottom.
Summer in the north, and winter in the South.
That’s why I had difficulty packing for this trip.
|The sunny streets of LA. Wind is cool. The parked cars are cooler.|
I decided to go travel with a wheeled luggage instead of a backpack. If that strips me of the “backpacker” label, so be it. I chose my back's health over labels.
I knew for sure that there will be shopping done in Los Angeles. I packed the smaller suitcase inside the bigger suitcase.
Your layering skills will be tested in these terrain. In Peru and Bolivia, the day starts out extremely cold (close to 0 deg C). As the day progresses, it becomes hotter. In MP, I removed the outer layer (a windbreaker) during mid-morning.
In the Salt Flats tour, the vehicle gets stuffy inside during the day. Once you step out, a cold gust of air strikes you. The nights are the worst. Our hostels had no heating (most of them don't) and it was really really really cold. Layers of socks and stockings still kept my toes cold. The sleeping bag I rented game me enough warmth to fall asleep, even with cold toes.
Some oversharing. Here’s what I packed (all brands mentioned are my personal preference):
Merrell Shoes. You need a good sturdy pair of all-around terrain shoes. I used this for a lot of backpacking trips.
Merrell Sandals. Love them. Highly comfortable. Used it LA and the airports.
A pair of slippers.
One pair of black jeans
One pair of brown jeggings
Three flimsy-type (read: cheap) leggings (brown, black and nude) for layering
One Uniqlo Airism exercise pants leggings (I bought a new one for this trip. I thought I could use a durable pair of leggings).
Three Uniqlo Heattech long-sleeve innerwear
One bra-tank top
One tank top
Three wool stockings
Two pairs of knee socks (black and tan)
One pair of mismatched Uniqlo Heattech socks
One pair of normal socks
A pair of gloves (I lost them and bought a new one)
Wool scarf (I like accessories! Hence the 3 scarves)
Shorts (‘twas summer in LA!)
Two dresses (I was gonna watch the Phantom of the Opera)
“Woven” top (? I don’t know what it is called, or what it is made of)
One light cardigan
One heavy fleece jacket (bought second-hand for my Korea winter trip)
Sets of underwear
Sunglasses (I bought a new one, the shock-resistant type)
Two sachets of laundry detergent (I should’ve paid for laundry instead of this)
Padlock (for dorm lockers)
Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, kikay kit, lotion)
Microfiber tower (Towelite) and head turban (Aquazorb)
First aid kit
Gadgets (camera & accessories, laptop, Ipod, cellphone, tablet)
Philippine flag!!! (for the Salt Flats)
Fashion Fail. It is difficult to mix and match and accessorize when you are thinking of how to survive the cold. I bought three scarves and I utilized one scarf that really did the job. I only wore stud earrings despite bringing dangling ones. Vanity has no place in this trip.
|If hindi pwede maging fashionable, daanin na lang sa posing!|
Packing does not only mean what to bring. It also means how to pack. No, not the roll-em-up or the army-fold. You have to somewhat strategize what goes in your day pack, your luggage, and if there are any stuff to leave in lockers or in hostels. I’ll expound further when I get to the series per country.
For USD, I simply bought them in money-changers. For the Peruvian Soles (S/.) and Bolivianos (BOB), I did a mix of ATM withdrawals and dollar exchanges. It will be better if you can correctly estimate the amount of solesand bolivianos that you need, so that won’t need to spend leftovers. Also, BOBs cannot be changed in the US and PH. I was able to exchange my remaining soles in LAX. Coins are not accepted. Avoid them or spend them.
Call up your bank and inform them that you will use your card overseas. Especially if you plan to do some (major) shopping in the US. Make sure to include stopover airports.
I borrowed the tablet of my sister so that I can read Ebooks (now I want a tablet for myself). As nice as books are, it is difficult to carry them around when you travel. Considering that I had long flights and travel times for this trip, I knew I would be reading a lot of E-books (I was able to finish 3 and started with another one).
|This windbreaker because part of my standard outfit.|
Still with me is my handy Canon Powershot S95 who takes almost-SLR-like photos. It withstood the shifting temperatures across countries, day and night. As a good measure, I bought a spare battery - an original Canon battery (NB6LH) for Php 2,650 at the Canon store. It was worth it. Despite taking loads of photos during the day, the battery lasted for FIVE days. I also did not need to charge it when I was in the Salt Flats tour in Bolivia.