Colombia has thrown of its reputation as a “no go zone” and risen to become one of the most exciting and happening backpacker destinations in the world today.
It is easy to see why. The nation offers a lively party scene, Caribbean beaches, lush jungles and epic adventure options. With so much diversity, packing for Colombia can however prove pretty tricky.
And we’re here to help, friends! We’ve put together this Colombia survival guide with you all your needs in mind. We’ll take you step-by-step through a comprehensive what to pack for Colombia plan.
Let’s get started…
The Ultimate Colombia Packing List
Your Colombia packing is made easy thanks our awesome list. Let’s find our what to bring to Colombia.
The Backpack and Luggage: Nomatic Travel Bag
Before you even take on the task of figuring out what to pack for Colombia, you’ll need an amazing backpack to pack it all into. For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag.
The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for Colombia checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.
You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
Our number two selection for an epic travel backpack is the AER Travel Pack 2. Like the Nomatic Travel Bag, this AER backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, and tough enough to last years of travel abuse.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase. If you can travel on, then you can take full advantage of cheap domestic flights operating within Colombia.
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities.
But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.
It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode).
Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your time exploring here.
If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.
What To Pack For Colombia: Personal Gear
Colombia’s climate does vary depending upon where exactly you are. For example, Bogota can get rainy and cold, Medellin is generally pleasant and the Caribbean coast has the full raft of tropical weather from exhausting heat to flood rains.
You also need to be mindful off not dressing like a tourist and trying to blend in as much as possible. This is not exactly easy but it is still worth trying as it will reduce your chances of being targeted by criminals. Factor all of this in when deciding what to wear in Colombia.
When packing for Colombia, take a look at some of these top picks.
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
Chances are you trip to Colombia will involve a lot walking. The cities themselves are pretty big and pretty hilly, the mountain villages perfect for hiking and then there is the famous Lost City 4 day trek which you cannot miss.
I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear. But they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about town. I mean, your body is already going to be suffering enough from all of those beers and aguardiente’s.
The countryside of Colombia is lush and beautiful and best explored on two feet. So get your walking shoes on!
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
Good Rain Jacket – Arcteryx Beta AR
Did you know that the surface of the earth is over 70% covered in water? And you know how that water got there? Yep because it tends to here rain here on planet earth quite a lot! Colombia is lush and green and therefore, it gets a lot of rain! Bogota stays kinda rainy all year round and other regions experience full on wet seasons so be prepared.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wing gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear.
This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars.
From Caribbean beaches to hostel pools to natural springs, Colombia will present you with a lot of opportunities to get into your swimwear.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.
You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
Ok, you can’t pack travel insurance in your backpack, but you can take out a cheap policy to insure yourself against theft, flight cancellations, accidents, etc.
Colombia can still be a dangerous place. There is no shortage of crime and tourists are often targeted. Stolen phones and cameras are sadly all too common. Furthermore, if you have an accident or get sick then hospitals sometimes ask for proof of insurance beofore they even help you (I know…).
We use either World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did if the time comes to use it.
Sun God Sunglasses
A reliable pair of sunglasses is undoubtedly one of your Colombia packing essentials. Our favorites are SunGod Sunglasses because they deliver on quality and style. When packing for Colombia, don’t forget your sunnies!
They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lense and frame colors to reflect your own style. Plus they’re covered by SunGod’s lifetime guarantee of free repair. Check our in-depth review here.
Suncream: Thinksport Safe SPF 50+
By now, all of us are as pasty as the driven snow from sheltering in place for the last six months. Am I right? This means we are even more vulnerable than usual to the sun’s fierce rays. Packing sunscreen for Colombia may seem like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many sun-burned cocktail-toting people you see wandering around.
Thinksport Safe SPF 50+ sunscreen gives folks strong sun protection in a non-oily formula that’s free of gluten, paraben, phthalates and biologically harmful chemicals.
Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential. Your packing for Colombia is not complete without a toiletry bag.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
You will need a passport to enter Colombia. Make sure yours is in order and that it has 6 months left to run on it.
You will need to produce it each time you check into accommodation and when booking transport.
It is be worth carrying a few copies with you and keeping one on your person at all times as this is required under Colombia law and can save you “fines” from police officers.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
As we said, Colombia can be dicey and tourists are targeted. If you are robbed, the thieves will empty out your pockets and take your wallet. Therefore, hiding some cash in a money belt is a wise move.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
A Good Daypack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Plus
If you intend on doing any hiking or day trips, then bring a day pack. They are great for carrying water, hat’s and gloves and for packing sandwiches for lunch. We love Osprey products and this daypack is our personal pick.
The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh-covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimizing contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack.
Check out our full review of the Osprey Daylite plus for more details.
Additionally, you can attach it to other Osprey packs in case you want to add more capacity and carry just one piece of luggage… but the reviews on this feature are mixed. Your packing for Colombia is not complete with a good daypack!
Sleeping Bag – Nemo Disco 15
At some point in your trip to Colombia, you will probably go camping or at the very least will spend a night at a hostel with insufficient bedding, or with dirty bedding that you would rather not lay in. Therefore bringing a sleeping bag is often a great investment. I used mine in Bogota as the nights were a lot colder than I expected.
There are a LOT of sleeping bags on the market today and we have tried a lot of them. The quality and standards varies and not always in correlation with the price – pricey does not always mean better. The Nemo Disco 15 is a great all rounder sleeping bag packing in warmth, durability and a reasonable price tag.
The Basic Stuff To Pack For Colombia
On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack for a trip to Colombia:
- 1-2 pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
- A few pairs of socks
- (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
- Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
- Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
- Phone charger
- Amazon Kindle for reading by the pool
- Copy of your passport just in case
- Cash (not too much, there are ATM machines everywhere
- Packable Towel
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Colombia
And there it is, amigos – you complete Colombia survival guide. With this, you have everything you need to know about what to pack for Colombia. As you continue trip prepping, remember that you have a top-21 needs packing list to refer back to with tips on what to wear in Colombia and how to pack for the different regional conditions. Plus, you have some packing recommendations for women and men – including what NOT to pack for Colombia.
Just focus on where you plan to go, what you plan to do and pack smart. Less is more! But, just follow our main tips, and you’ll be ready for anything and everything that magical Colombia throws your way!
We wish you safe and happy travels!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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