What to Pack for Colombia: The Ultimate Packing Guide

What to pack for Colombia: the ultimate packing list for this South America travel destination. Everything you need to backpack in Colombia!

Packing for a trip to Colombia can be really challenging. After all, Colombia is home to about every diverse landscape you can think of: the tropical Caribbean northern coast; the hot, humid Amazon; Medellin’s “eternal spring;” the cool, mountainous region around Minca and Santa Marta, and the cold, high-altitude city of Bogota. Yup, packing for Colombia is not easy! But after spending a month in Colombia, we’ve got all the tips you need to pack your bags and go. Our Colombia backpacking essentials are especially useful for hostel-hopping backpackers who travel on a budget. You can get most of what you need in Colombia, but frankly, there are a few things that you should definitely bring with you rather than trying to find in a supermercado! Here’s everything you need to know about what to pack for Colombia!

By the way, we’ve also made a super handy printable checklist to help you pack for your trip to Colombia! Just enter your email below and we’ll send it straight to your mailbox, along with some tips to help you plan your trip.

Please note: this is NOT a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and I paid my own money for everything that we brought to Colombia. However, this post does include Amazon affiliate links. We greatly appreciate you using our links, which will give us a small commission at no extra cost to you and help pay for the costs of running the site.

Stunning Guane is next to Barichara, the so-called most beautiful town in Colombia. They're both a great day trip from San Gil, Colombia! Read more on our ultimate itinerary for backpacking in Colombia.
Stunning Guane is next to Barichara, the so-called most beautiful town in Colombia. They’re both a great day trip from San Gil, Colombia!

Essential Backpacking Must-Haves for Colombia

If you’re going backpacking in Colombia, here are are absolute, most important, top 3 must-have essentials. If you don’t bring anything else on this list, bring these!

Parque Tayrona, Colombia: an idyllic beach tucked into the jungle. You have to walk 2 hours to get there, but it's SO worth it! Read more at our ultimate Colombia backpacking itinerary.
Parque Tayrona, Colombia is an idyllic beach tucked into the jungle. You have to walk 2 hours to get there, but it’s SO worth it! Original photo credit: “IMG_0749” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Diana Solyna

What to Pack Your Stuff in for Colombia

You can get away with a suitcase full of bunched-up clothes, but you’ll be much happier with a well-organized backpack – especially if you’re travelling for a longer period of time or visiting multiple destinations! Unpacking and re-packing every few days is such a chore, and staying organized will make it a LOT less miserable, so you can spend more time actually exploring Colombia!

The Valle de Cocora hike is as beautiful as it is treacherous. Know what to expect before you hike the Valle de Cocora hike in Salento, Colombia.
Beautiful Valle de Cocora in Salento, Colombia in is home to the tallest palm trees in the world. The hike is difficult but well worth it for these amazing views! Feature photo credit: “Valle de Cocora” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by descubriendoelmundo

Laundry, Toilet Stuff, etc

Just because you’re backpacking doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be clean and presentable! Here are our tips for doing your laundry on the go, staying fresh down there, and everything else you’ll need to not look like a hot mess.

La Serrana Hostel in Salento, Colombia is one of the best hostels in Colombia!
La Serrana Hostel in Salento, Colombia is one of the best hostels in Colombia. We highly recommend staying there! Original photo credit: “P1050183.JPG” (CC BY 2.0) by clandestino_20

Colombia Hostel Necessities

Whether you’re staying at one of the best hostels in Colombia or just an average run-of-the-mill budget hostel, you’ll definitely want to bring these hostel necessities with you.

Salento is a town in the heart of the Coffee Region of Colombia. It's incredibly scenic with rolling green hills and farms ... and the tallest palm trees in the world! It's a must-see on any Colombia backpacking itinerary.
Salento is a town in the heart of the Coffee Region of Colombia. It’s incredibly scenic with rolling green hills and farms … and the tallest palm trees in the world! It’s a must-see on any Colombia backpacking itinerary. Photo credit: “Colombia – Coffee Triangle 073 – Salento” (CC BY 2.0) by mckaysavage

What to Wear in Colombia

Clothing is one of the hardest things to pack for travel. On the one hand, you don’t want to look like a hot mess (or an obvious tourist). On the other hand, you don’t want to be totally unprepared and end up hiking in jeans, freezing in chilly Bogota, or sweating in tropical Cartagena. Here’s the best clothing to pack for Colombia (for men and women, and everyone in between)!

Note: we didn’t list out everything here (though it is on our downloadable checklist) so make sure you have plenty of underwear, tops,+ pants, and a bathing suit.

The colorful streets of the Candelaria district in Bogota, Colombia are also a hotbed of theft and can be dangerous after dark! Follow these basic travel safety tips to prevent theft while traveling.
The colorful streets of the Candelaria district in Bogota, Colombia are also a hotbed of theft and can be dangerous after dark! When planning a trip, be sure to research things that will help you avoid theft and minimize risk.

What to Pack to Stay Safe in Colombia

A lot of people get really worried about travelling Colombia because of its unsafe history. One of the most common questions that we’re asked is “Is Colombia safe?” Y’all, yes. Colombia is safe! The Medellin Cartel was shut down like 20 years ago and all of the guerrilla groups are now political parties working together to achieve their goals the legal way. Obviously, if you go looking for trouble – like wandering through the jungle or asking strangers if you can buy drugs from them – you’re going to enter some unsafe territory. But if you follow basic travel safety guidelines, you’ll be as safe in Colombia as you will anywhere else in the world (particularly the USA).

The Colombian flag flying high in Bogota, Colombia. Everything you need to know about what to pack for Colombia!
The Colombian flag flying high in Bogota, Colombia.

 Printable Colombia Packing Checklist

Don’t risk forgetting something! Use this handy dandy checklist to help you pack. We’ve included everything we wrote about here on our packing checklist, plus the basics so you definitely won’t leave anything behind. Sign up below and we’ll send the printable checklist straight to your inbox!

More Colombia Resources

We’ve got a BUNCH of posts about Colombia! Here are some of our most useful resources for Colombia travel.

Planning a trip to Colombia? Where are you headed? Drop us a comment below!

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Going backpacking in Colombia? Here's what you need to pack for this amazing South America dream destination. Plus a FREE printable checklist! Packing guide | Colombia travel | What to pack Colombia | South America Travel

10 Comment

  1. Wow such a detailed packing guide! I am super impressed, will be saving for my trip to Colombia 🙂

  2. Carrie says: Reply

    This is such a great list! I’ve gotta pick up some wool clothing. I keep hearing how great it is for all climates, but had no idea it was quick-drying too.

  3. Anna says: Reply

    Now THAT’S a packing list! Thanks for sharing!
    I really like the idea of bug repellent lotion rather than spray. I bet it stays on for longer and I am always getting bitten. I’ll definitely give it a go!
    Did you see many people with DSLRs while you were there? I think it would be a shame not to take mine but I do understand completely about not wanting to be a target.

    1. Lia says: Reply

      We saw a few travelers with DSLRs in the really touristy spots, but not elsewhere. Also something to note is that there is a lot of cultural stigma around having your photo taken here – you want to avoid taking pictures of people without their express permission, and most of them will say NO. I’ve heard a lot of reasons as to why, much of it having to do with superstition or religious belief, but we did our best to respect it.

  4. Jas says: Reply

    This is such a comprehensive packing guide, love it! Also really enjoy your organization with the table of contents section (super helpful). I’ve been dying to visit Columbia for some time now and needless to say I’ve definitely bookmarked this for when I do visit. Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. Sierra says: Reply

    This is SUCH a good, comprehensive guide to packing for Colombia! Amazing job putting it all together. Definitely saving for the future and to share with any friends going on similar trips!

  6. Cherene Saradar says: Reply

    Really great guide as usual:). It looks like you need a little of everything for multiple weather situations! Your pics are truly gorgeous too!

  7. This is very useful guide. very informative who travel to COLOMBIA. Your pics are truly gorgeous too!

  8. Those Steri-pens interest me so much! I guess I just need to try it to believe it but I totally take your word for it! And I love the idea of the bug spray that goes on fabric. That could be pretty useful just every damn day. (Your pictures in this post are phenomenal by the way!)

  9. This is such a great list! I’ve gotta pick up some wool clothing.

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