Getting Ready for South America

WATCH your goofy GypsyNesters as we prepared for the South America!

We're so excited!

You voted for it – and we delivered!

We live-bloggied our South American journey through Ecuador, Peru, The Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Cusco and much, much more!

Click here to see our South American live-blog!

Map provided by Road Scholar, click on map for detailed itinerary:
Road Scholar Map for our trip

We traveled with Road Scholar, a not-for-profit organization – who provides educational travel programs for like-minded folks wanting to learn as much as they can about the areas they are visiting. Our journey had only fourteen other fellow adventurers, so we were very excited that we could participate in a program like that AND still feel like our low-to-the-ground traveling selves.

Luggage we're taking to South America

In keeping with our “One Trip Rule“, we packed so we could easily carry everything at once from plane to cab to hotel to train to boat.

Veronica had a small backpack and her rolling bag that is small enough to carry on airplanes.

David had a large backpack that he checked.

What we've packed for South America

As usual, we had a change of clothes, toiletries, cameras and laptops with us in our carry ons. We never pack things we we’ll immediately need upon arrival in our checked luggage, in case it’s lost or delayed.

Normally we don’t check anything, but since we spent such a long time in South America, we opted to bring our large backpack. We also had to keep in mind that there is a 44-pound weight limit on flights from Quito, Ecuador to The Galapagos, so even though we had the extra space, we still had to watch our weight.

Click here to see our South American live-blog!

Packing for South America - large zip-lock sandwich bags our your friend!

Large zip-lock sandwich bags are our friends! For many reasons:

Convenience. We moved from hotel to boat to hotel to train, and having a bag just for travel-sized toiletries is easy and convenient for on-the-fly packing.

Moisture and sand. We were in some wild and wet places! Having a small cache of baggies help keep our belongings dry and clean.

Cord management. We always have a soft cord bag with us. Inside the bag, we separate cords into plastic baggies. Camera, phone, airplane headsets, laptop and wireless accessories all have separate baggies. Keeps cords from tangling!

Note on electronics: Most laptops are dual voltage (look at the excruciatingly small print on your charger – usually on the “box” on the cord). If it can handle both 220 and 110, your laptop will become your personal power station. We use a small travel adapter (adapters don’t change the voltage, a bulky TRANSFORMER would be needed to convert the power) and use our dual voltage laptop to charge our cell phone, camera, I-pod and the like via USB cords. Cool, eh?

Packing for South America - Roll your clothes!

Veronica’s packing secret: Roll clothes!

By rolling clothes and setting them vertically in the suitcase, the ability to see everything packed is achieved! No more unpacking to find things!

Two-quart zip-lock plastic baggies filled with bathing suits and undergarments go in the upper compartment (once packed, sit on them to squeeze all of the air out) with shoes. Keeps stuff separated and clean. We brought extra large plastic zip bags for dirty/wet clothes.

Learn more about how we pack and our always-adhered-to “One Trip Rule”!

What we wore on the plane:
We experienced a huge range of climate variation on our trip, from islands on the equator to chilly nights two miles high in the Andes, so we had a few hours of discomfort at the beginning of the trip by wearing WAY too many layers. And our coats!

By wearing our bulky stuff we make more room in our luggage. Later in the trip, coats and sweaters make great extra blankets/pillows on airplanes/buses/trains and can be draped over luggage, affixed to backpacks or tied around our waists when we don’t need them. We always bring a blow-up neck pillow too – nothing like a sore neck to ruin a long distance trip!

Underwater camera practice!

Most exciting! We’re now the proud owners of underwater camera gear! We had a chance to snorkel (with turtles and penguins and sea lions!) in The Galapagos Islands.

Don’t forget to watch the video above to see how we “trained” for capturing underwater moments!

David & Veronica,

Click here to see our South American live-blog!

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41 thoughts on “Getting Ready for South America”

  1. Great advice, and it looks like you’re geared up for an amazing trip! I love the advice on ziplock bags–I carry these around ALL THE TIME and I don’t know why this advice doesn’t top more travel lists. Pop in your phone, passport, etc. and it doesn’t matter how bad it’s raining or how much the wind is blowing!

    Enjoy your trip, and thanks for this great post!

  2. This may be a bit late now, but we are planning the same trip as yours this spring. Your blog has been amazingly helpful in understanding what to expect. Can you provide some comments regarding what to take/not to take (clothes, types of shoes, other stuff) (unless I have missed this in the blog)

      1. Thanks for the speedy response. Given the weight restrictions we are trying very hard to reduce what we normally take on a trip. I assume the 44 pound limited applies to checked bags and you can still take additional carry-on bags. Were you able to get by with only one pair of good runners or did you need back-up? And how about other “essentials” like detergent – any lists to consider?

        1. We did just fine with one pair of walking shoes, and used soap or shampoo for washing clothes. The boat supplied heavy duty clothes pins for drying outside. We brought one pair of jeans each and light weight pants for lighter packing. We believe the 44 pound limit was for checked bags. We did fine with small backpacks and a small rolling bag each. We only brought one outfit each for nice dinners.

  3. We are truly on the same path! I love the tips in this blog post. I do the same type of thing before and after the trip. What I think will work, what did/didn’t. I just returned from a month long cruise to the Mediterranean, saw wonderful things. My request from you: tell me how you work your internet connections. I struggled with the satellite available onboard. Maybe too many users on the ship? Luckily I had IE, Firefox, and Chrome on my laptop. Firefox saved the day. IE suffered miserably. Will follow to see how you are doing on the daily transmission. Enjoy!

    1. Hey Ladee! We’ve also had trouble with ships and internet, so we can relate. We’re in Quito, Ecuador right now and I’m happily writing to you from my hotel room. Now, things will no doubt change drastically when we go to the Galapagos Islands in a few days. Could be the worst live blog ever during that portion of the journey! 😉 We’ll keep you updated.

  4. Hi, Just returned April 6th from that same RS trip and it was fantastic!! Hope you have Franklin for your guide in the Galapagos. If so, tell him Hi from Pat from Minnesota who swam with a sea lion friend. Have fun!

  5. I found your site through Road Scholar. I just got back from a fantastic Road Scholar adventure to China. The Galapagos/Peru trip is next on my list. I will be following your blog.

    1. Hey Beth – great to have you along for the ride! We’ll do our best to “pave the way” for you. 😉 So glad your trip was fantastic – we’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about Road Scholar.

      1. Our group was also a small one – only 13 of us. My first (but not my last) Road Scholar trip. Now I have to get my husband to join me on the next one…I am looking forward to your blog. So far I note that your packing is just my style.

        1. Yeah – I’ve got packing down to a science! 😉 Did you have a traveling companion or did Road Scholar help you find one? I heard that they help with that and was curious how it works out. -Veronica

  6. Sounds like a blast, can’t wait to hear about Galapagos Islands! its on the bucket list! Looks like, this the Easter Islands and a carribean tropical resort needs to be planned soon! Then there’s Europe… the list is never ending..

      1. Check out The Nazca Lines, mummified elongated skull found in the city of Andahuaylillas, the walls of the Sacsayhuaman complex, the city of Ica has a museum with alien honored artifacts and Machu Picchu’s the “Main Square” where the tops of mountains have been flattened with no sign of rubble beneith. Rumored to be a landing strip for aliens.

  7. Have a wonderful trip! I am especially interested in the history and your first hand experience of Machu Picchu, so I particularly look forward to that part of your trip. Your blog is always fun, informative and chocked full of beautiful videos and pictures….well, the prairie oysters…not so much. So “Break a Leg” in the figurative sense and have one more spectacular adventure. Hugs, Jan (Pat too)

    1. Thanks Jan! We’ll be on the lookout for weird foods for you – it’ll be hard to beat the prairie oysters…BUT we’ve been doing some research and have already dared each other to eat something (which we won’t reveal until the time comes, lest we lose our nerve!).

  8. so jealous! have always wanted to take a trip to the Galapagos – love you guys! Have a great trip!!!!

  9. No red wine in Cuzco–that with the altitude is a guaranteed major headache. We visited Cuzco and Machu Picchu on our honeymoon in 1982. Machu Picchu might be more crowded now that there are tourist accommodations in Aguas Calientes, but I’m sure it’s still magical since a lot of the tourists have to head back to Cuzco on the afternoon train. I’m looking forward to your reports and photos.

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