How to Pack for 3 Months

A sweet send-off note from our friends

How do you pack a backpack for three months, you might ask?

A few people have asked us this question recently, so I searched my computer and found this packing list I made the week before we left for South America.

(And although this post feels long overdue, I decided to put it up anyway since it was all typed up and ready to go!)

Now, I am not in any way saying that we are experts in the area of packing. 

We probably could have gotten away with far less than what we brought. But we also could have packed much more… Roller suitcase, anyone? 

We can say, though, that we felt prepared for just about every situation we encountered. Plus, we were both pretty proud that we were able to carry everything on our backs, with room to spare – thanks in part to our amazing, magical packing cubes.

These pictures say it all:

Katie's clothes before...

...and all squashed down in the packing cubes! Yes, this is ALL OF MY CLOTHES! 

Ben's Clothes before...

... and all squished down!

Oh, and don't forget food! We brought some dried fruit, trail mix, beef jerky and Cliff bars... which lasted all of four days...

So that's everything! It all fit in two big backpacks and two day packs!

Our Packing List

The Gear:



  • 7 basic tanks (This was too many! They packed up super small, so it wasn't too big of a deal but next time I would bring less.)
  • 1 dressy tank top
  • 2 athletic tank tops
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeve “nice-ish” shirt
  • 1 long sleeve athletic shirt
  • 1 zip-up hoodie
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 lightweight dress


  • 1 pair yoga pants
  • 1 pair leggings
  • 1 pair lightweight trekking pants
  • 1 pair Nike leggings
  • 1 pair jean shorts
  • 2 pairs athletic shorts
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 short skirt
  • 1 long skirt


  • 12 pairs of underwear
  • 3 lightweight socks
  • 2 wool socks
  • 3 sports bras
  • 2 regular bras
  • 2 swim suits 


  • Hiking Boots
  • Lightweight sneakers
  • Sandals
  • Comfy flats
  • Shower sandals


  • Raincoat
  • Columbia Omniheat Shell Jacket


  • 3 pairs of earrings
  • 2 necklaces
  • 2 headbands
  • Watch


  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Bar of soap
  • Face wash
  • Facial wipes
  • Vaseline 
  • Deodorant
  • Collapsible toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Razor and extra blade
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail file
  • Lotion
  • Small mirror
  • Hair elastics
  • Bobby pins
  • Collapsible travel hair brush
  • Small solid perfume
  • A couple makeup items: waterproof mascara, chapstick, etc.



  • 7 t-shirts 
  • 3 tank tops
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 quarter zip long sleeve


  • 1 athletic shorts 
  • 1 pair of khaki shorts
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of hiking pants


  • 10 boxer/briefs
  • 4 light socks
  • 2 wool socks
  • 1 swim suit


  • Hiking boots
  • Lightweight sneakers
  • Pair of Vans
  • Sandals


  • Raincoat - Later stolen :(
  • Columbia Shell Jacket


  • Shampoo
  • Bar of soap
  • Deodorant
  • Chapstick
  • Face wipes
  • Collapsible toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Electric trimmer



  • Diamox (for altitude sickness) -never used this
  • Dramamine (for motion sickness) - never used this
  • PSI bands (these plastic bands are worn on pressure points on your wrist to alleviate motion sickness)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Stoppers and Goers (if you don’t know what that is, look it up) - never used this
  • Tums
  • Antibiotics
  • Neosporin
  • First Aid Kit (Super compact kit from REI that has EVERYTHING we could possibly need. And more.)

Important Documents:

  • Passports
  • Extra passport photos
  • Vaccination documentation (we got the vaccination for Yellow Fever and Typhoid)
  • Credit cards
  • Copies of all documents saved in "the cloud"

Don't forget vaccinations!


“Luxury” Items:

  • Collapsible cups
  • Bottle opener
  • Harmonica
  • ENO Hammock (this was one of our favorite wedding presents! Although we only used it a couple times, it was amazing!)


  • SteriPen (Sterilizes 1 liter of water in 90 seconds using UV light. This was one of the best purchases we made before our trip. We saved tons of money because we rarely had to buy bottled water!)
  • 2 Headlamps - later stolen :(
  • 2 REI super absorbent travel towels
  • Mini lantern
  • Leatherman
  • Rope
  • 2 large combination locks
  • 2 small combination locks
  • 4 carabineers
  • Deck of playing card
  • Spanish Phrase Book
  • 2 Notebooks and pens

Non-Packable Items:

  • Amazon Cloud account - This is where we backed up all our pictures and important documents
  • Traveler’s Insurancefor roughly $70, we were both covered for three months with traveler's insurance. Although we would really only be able to use it during emergency situations, it made us feel better knowing we would be covered if something went terribly wrong. Plus, when we had a few things stolen, our insurance reimbursed us for some of the cost.