Moving To South America: What Should I Pack?

Tressa Sanders @ Travel Star Magazine

Hell, if I know... I thought it would be fun to write about what I'm packing for South America before I leave and then write about it again after I arrive so we can all get a good laugh if I've made any silly packing choices. How is that? 

I'm a simple gal. I've packed some dresses and fancy dress shirts I've never worn... Before you roll your eyes, keep in mind that I've never worn them because I currently live in snoreville and believe I will get a chance to wear these items when I get to South America. If not, we'll all have a laugh won't we? 

I've packed 6 pairs of jeans, 3 pair of shorts, lots of lounge wear, 3 pairs of shoes, googobs of casual shirts ranging in quality from crap to nice, socks (even a pair with bacon on them. I'm sure they will impress), two snuggies and an all-purpose winter jacket. I also packed a minimal amount of toiletries and medicines as well as a few "quick setup" bathroom items like a shower curtain, hooks, bath rug and towels. They sell all of this stuff there but hey, I already have it, it fits easily in my bags and I'm arriving on a cargo ship so it's not an expensive haul.

Because I have no idea what size bed I'll have access to when I get there (assuming I will rent a furnished place), I decided not to bring my own sheets. As long as I have access to nice fabric, I can make my own sheets if needed. Which brings me to the next item I had to pack... I'm bringing my sewing machine and as much fabric as I could pack into one medium sized packing cube. Surprisingly, I was able to fit a lot of fabric in there, including a 30' x 10' piece. Singer makes this really nice carrying bag that seems big enough to fit two of my sewing machines in it. So my machine and the packing cube of fabric fit perfectly in the bag along with all of my notions, the machine manual and two sewing books.

Packing is hell. It's hell because I know I can bring a ton of baggage given that I'm traveling by cargo ship yet at the same time, I have to think about hauling a ton of baggage out of the port and possibly into the city. In light of this, I've decided to leave behind so much that I really really wanted to bring. Every now and then I get the urge to add one more bag, because I can, but have to stop and imagine what I would look like hauling all of that through the port in South America.

I was planning to bring all of my filmmaking and photography gear including my darkroom supplies. Now I have to leave most of it in storage until I get settled. I'm packing my Bolex H16 Rex4, Ricoh KR-10 and Kiev 88CM (of course with lenses and various films). I usually travel with these items in Pelican cases but I'm just going to put them in junk bags. No need to draw attention with a cart full of Pelican cases holding mediocre camera gear.  

It's so weird. Now that I've written this, it feels like I'm not taking much of anything.... I don't have a whole lot in storage; just about 4-5 stackable bins I can easily come back for. But it just feels like a lot when you're trying to decide what to take and what to store .... and what to sell. I do have a lot of stuff at my house but 90% of it is being sold or donated. Every weekend I've been taking donations to the community thrift store since I started packing.

There was also a number of things I needed or wanted to buy for the trip that I didn't have. I bought a Steripen, binoculars, sweet sweat bands for my wrists (wink), several USB drives, small, rugged, portable harddrive, external DVD player, an adjustable luggage cart, WiFi booster, packing cubes, etc. I'm sure there are a few things I missed and few I will be buying before I leave. We will revisit my choices once I arrive in South America.


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