The Ultimate Colombia Packing List (54+ Things You Need for Colombia)

The Ultimate Colombia Packing List (54+ Things You Need for Colombia)

Looking for the BEST Colombia packing list!?

This post is all about what to pack for Colombia.

colombia packing list

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

Packing for Colombia was a daunting task. For years I’ve backpacked across Europe and the Middle East, but never South America.

I felt like I was entering a new arena in the hunger games – totally unprepared with blurry expectations.

We’re talking mosquitos, hiking, extreme heat, and remote destinations.

Even after loads of research and personal recommendations from seasoned Colombia backpackers, I still felt like there were some things I needed, and some I didn’t.

My experience backpacking 1-month through Colombia helped me create the most perfect Colombia packing list for your trip.

Don’t forget your FREE Colombia Packing List printable so you don’t forget a single thing!

colombia packing list

Here is the Ultimate Colombia Packing List

While this was my personal Colombia packing list for a 30-day backpacking trip, your list might look a little different from mine.

I hope these recommendations will help you successfully pack for your Colombia trip.

Basic Essentials

1. Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack

The holy grail of all backpacks. This magical bag will hold everything you need and passes as a carry-on size on most airlines.

I’ve had this bag for years and wouldn’t dare look at anything else!

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2. Travelon Anti-Theft Day Pack

My new travel product obsession!

I noticed this backpack on the backs of some fellow travelers and instantly fell in love.

While it may look tiny, this pack is mighty. I use it as my “electronics bag” and it fits my laptop, large drone & remote, DSLR, journal, kindle, passport, wallet, and so much more.

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3. Compression Packing Cubes

I’ve always been anti-packing cubes until I ran across the compression kind! These cubes will help you stay organized without taking up any extra space.

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4. Lifestraw Water Bottle

Whether it’s Lifestraw or a different brand, I highly recommend getting some kind of filtered water bottle for your Colombia travels.

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5. Foldable Bag

I know what you’re thinking.. yet another backpack!? Yes!

This foldable backpack is so tiny that it takes up NO room. It’s worth packing even if you never use it. I use it specifically for hiking when I don’t want to get my nicer bags dirty.

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6. Travel Toiletry Bag

Finding a hanging toiletry bag is essential, especially if you are staying in hostels. This bag is compact and has loads of room.

I use it to hold all my toiletries and medicine.

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Toiletries / Shower Essentials

7. Microfiber Travel Towel

My personal favorite travel towel. The sizes do run very small so size up (1 or even 2)! I personally have an XL to use as a shower towel and beach towel.

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8. Facial Microfiber Towel

A small microfiber towel is handy just to wash your face.

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9. Laundry bag

A bag to keep your dirty laundry in is essential! This is something I refuse to travel without.

Most of the time compression cube packs come with these bags, but if not you’ll want to grab one of these!

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10. Laundry detergent

At times in remote destinations, it can be tricky to get your laundry done. These Laundry strips help me in between proper washes.

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11. Hairbrush

This dainty hairbrush will keep your hair looking fresh without taking up much space in your bag.

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12. Manicure Set

Keep groomed while on the road. You won’t want to leave for Colombia without these often overlooked essentials.

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13. Small Comb

This is my “nights out” comb. It’s so small it fits perfectly in a purse or fanny pack for evenings out at the club (or a jungle party!)

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14. Contacts & Solution / Glasses

Like so many of us, if you aren’t one of the lucky ones with 20/20 vision, pack extra contacts & glasses for the duration of your trip.

You can buy more contact solution at the pharmacies, but it’s best to bring a small pack to last you until you get to one.

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15. Friction Stick

This was such a common problem among so many women I was hiking with. I was so thankful that I brought a friction rub! I used it on days I wore dresses and went on long walking tours or hikes.

I’ve used both the Arm & Hammer brand and the body glide, and the Arm & Hammer works much better.

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16. Makeup Remover Wipes

These are the only makeup remover wipes that don’t sting my skin. Also, I love how they aren’t liquid-based, perfect for traveling!

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17. Facial Cleanser & Moisturizer

My favorite travel cleanser & moisturizer is The Ordinary. Their products come in small sizes and are super affordable.

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18. Dental Hygiene Products

Keep your teeth healthy with my go-to dental products.

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19. Sunscreen

Believe me, that Colombia sun is meant to BURN! I like to be prepared with just a little bit of sunscreen for when I arrive and buy more when I get to a pharmacy.

If your first destination is a city, sunscreen will be easy to find. However, if you’re heading to more remote destinations in the North or the South, stores are not always accessible.

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20. Hair Accessories

As I’ve mentioned. that Colombia heat will get to you. If you have long hair, you’ll need plenty of options to pull your hair back.

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21. Chapstick

This is the chapstick I swear by! While it may seem a bit expensive for lip balm, I am a total chapstick junkie and need the very best.

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22. Soap + Soap Holder

A bar is my preferred soap to travel with while backpacking. It cuts down on my liquids and lasts longer. One bar of soap lasted me exactly one month.

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23. Shampoo & Conditioner

Again, shampoo and conditioner are products you can totally buy when you get to Colombia. I just prefer to have some on hand so I’m not scrambling to find it first thing when I land to my destination.

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24. Razor

If you usually have a razor at home, you’ll need one on the road! This razor is my favorite and doesn’t irritate my skin.

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25. Small Jars/Bottles

These small containers are great if you want to take your favorite products from home.

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26. Medications

Ibuprofen and Imodium are two essentials you must take with you to Colombia.

Be sure to take any contraceptives or vitamins that you take regularly as well.

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27. Feminine Care

This is truly one of the most underrated things that should be packed in your bag! What some women don’t know is that feminine care products are different in every country.

Meaning – different chemicals, applicators, and materials.

It’s best to bring some of your own that you’re comfortable with.

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28. Health Misc.

Don’t forget these handy items like bandaids and cotton swabs.

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29. Germ-X + Lysol Wipes

Don’t you dare leave to travel without some Germ-X and disinfecting wipes!

My personal favorite germ-x is the mini bath & bodyworks scented bottles because they just smell SO good! I also love these scented lemon Lysol wipes to wipe down anything that might be icky.

Your luggage may also need more frequent wipe-downs than usual in Colombia’s dewy climate.

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30. Lotion

Lotion may be considered essential for only a select few, but for my insanely dry skin, it’s a must!

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31. Small Makeup Bag

I am obsessed with these small pouch bags. I typically end up bringing two of them on my travels. They can really help you keep organized.

One for makeup and one for feminine care products.

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32. Condoms

Always best to be safe and prepared!

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Shoes

Shoes are probably the most important thing that will be in your luggage.

You can easily buy anything you’ll need abroad, except for your favorite shoes.

I’ve made the mistake of buying a brand new pair of shoes before leaving for a trip and it’s such a mistake! Make sure you purchase shoes with plenty of time to break them in before your departure.

When you’re walking over 10 miles a day, it’s essential that you have comfortable and versatile shoes in your bag.

33. Hiking Shoes / Tennis Shoes

If you’re planning on doing the Lost City hike, then you might want to bring your hiking shoes over tennis. Otherwise, you should be good with just a pair of tennis shoes! I went on four hikes and was happy I didn’t bring my bulky hiking shoes.

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34. Comfy Sandals

Birkenstocks fit my style and comfort, but any reputable walking sandal will work.

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35. Cute and Comfy Sandals

These Steve Madden sandals are my favorite go-to travel sandal. They are so comfortable and look perfect with sundresses. They also take up hardly any room.

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36. Shower / Beach Flip Flops

If you’re planning on staying in hostels or visiting any beaches, you’ll need to pack some cheap flip-flops. Thin classic flip-flops are perfect for taking up the least amount of space in your bag.

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Gadgets

This portion of the list will vary greatly depending on what kind of traveler you are.

As I am someone who works remotely, I obviously needed my camera and laptop. If you can live without these things, the less you pack is always better.

37. Unlocked Phone

If you are looking to get a sim card so your phone will work, contact your phone company to ensure you won’t have any issues.

For iPhone users, your phone should be unlocked, which can only happen after you’ve had your phone for six months.

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38. Microsoft Surface Laptop

A Laptop might not be essential on everyone’s Colombia packing list but as a digital creator, it was for me.

Microsoft Surface Laptop is what I use. I LOVE how light it is!

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39. Travel Adapter

Colombia uses A, B type outlets, which are the same as in the United States. So if you’re coming from a country that uses different outlets, be sure to take this international adapter with you.

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40. Kindle

I can’t go anywhere without my kindle! It’s the perfect alternative to packing heavy books.

Even if you aren’t a reader, if you are traveling to more remote parts of Colombia (like the North) you will want to bring something to do that doesn’t require WiFi. I was without stable internet about half the time I was in Colombia.

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41. Headphones

Of course, you can’t leave for a trip without a solid pair of headphones.

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42. Portable Charger

Being without a phone in a foreign country can be scary. I always keep a portable charger on me.

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43. Extra Phone Chargers

I feel like my chargers always break when I’m on a long trip. It’s best to keep just a couple on you.

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44. Camera (optional)

As I mentioned, your packing list might look slightly different from mine.

I travel with this DSLR camera and take most of my blog photos with it.

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Misc.

45. Passport Holder

A Passport holder is a must for me. I keep my paper covid-vaccine inside along with a piece of paper containing my contact info so that if someone finds it, they can contact me.

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46. Personal Alarm

One of the biggest complaints I hear of solo female travelers is that they wish they could travel with pepper spray or a knife to help them feel a little safer.

While most safety tools are not permitted on airlines, personal alarms are! I carry this with me when I’m traveling or going out at home. It helps me feel just a little more secure, especially if I’m walking home alone.

This device works by quickly detaching the top handle if you feel in danger and a VERY loud siren goes off, drawing attention to you.

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47. Luggage Tags

Keeping your luggage labeled with your information is essential if it ends up being misplaced or stolen.

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48. Light Rain Gear

Whether you’re an umbrella gal or rain-jacket cat – take your pick (or pack both)

Rainy season in Colombia is April to May and October to November, And when it rains, it pours!

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49. Writing Utensils

I like to have a pen, pencil, and sharpie when I’m traveling to write in my journal or label things.

50. Journal

Be sure to bring a travel journal to document your exciting trip to Colombia!

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51. Travel Insurance

I never leave for a trip without buying travel insurance. My preferred choice is Allianz. However, World Nomads is fine as well.

52. Personal Bag

Having the right bag can make or break your chances of getting your belongings stolen as an everyday tourist.

If you opt for a purse, make sure it has a zipper or clasp that would be tricky to swipe items out of.

Bum bags are also very popular and a great way to keep your phone and money close to your body.

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53. Sunglasses

Sunglasses should be at the top of everyone’s Colombia packing list! Protect your eyes from that intense sun with a pair of sunglasses.

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Clothes

Every suitcase will look different when it comes to packing clothes for a trip.

I personally hate shorts so I opt for more dresses and skirts, but you might have a totally different style.

54. Here’s a breakdown of what clothes I packed for Colombia.

4 dresses

3 skirts

2 cropped tanks

2 cropped tops

1 pair of loose pants

2 pairs of pajamas

1 long-sleeved top

2 bras

1 t-shirt

4 pairs of socks

1 pair of jeans

10 pairs of underwear

1 workout/hiking outfit

2 swimsuits

Planning your trip to Colombia? Check out my post 13 things to do in Cartagena.

colombia packing list
13 Bucket List Things to do in Cartagena, Colombia

13 Bucket List Things to do in Cartagena, Colombia

This post is all about things to do in Cartagena.

best things to do in Cartagena

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

Colorful colonial buildings line the streets as a whiff of empanada greets your nose and music echoes all around you. Welcome to Cartagena.

Cartagena is undoubtedly the most beautiful city in Colombia.

With its picturesque buildings, nearby islands, and ample exquisite culinary options, it’s no wonder why Cartagena is the most popular city in the country.

I’ve compiled a list of 13 things to do in Cartagena that you can’t miss.

Don’t forget to print this FREE Cartagena Checklist for your trip!

Packing for your trip to Colombia? Click here for my Colombia packing guide.

Where to Stay in Cartagena

There are so many beautiful and affordable accommodation options in Cartagena. I personally stayed at Life is Good Hostel, and would definitely recommend it for backpackers or budget travelers.

Life is Good Hostel

Here are a few more options if you’re looking for a hotel experience:

$ – Casa Movida Hostel or Life is Good Hostel

$$ – Sophia Hotel

$$$ – Movich Hotel

My Cartagena Essentials

I traveled to Cartagena at the end of April and it was BLAZING hot.

My essentials were definitely light dresses, lots of sunscreen, and my favorite anti-theft travel backpack.

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Best Things to do in Cartagena

One can enjoy Cartagena by doing all the touristy things or by just simply walking around admiring the architecture and feasting on spinach and cheese empanadas (my fav!)

Here are 13 bucket-list things to do in Cartagena, Colombia.

1. Explore the Old Town

Waltz through the streets of Cartagena’s historic old city. Closed in with walls and decked out with colonial architecture, the old town is visually stunning.

2. Monumento Torre del Reloj “Clock Tower”

The original main entrance to the historic city is certainly a statement piece. You can find the famous clock tower between Plaza de Independencia and Plaza de Los Coches.

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3. Plaza de la Aduana

After you’ve passed through under the clock tower, turn left to be greeted by the largest open space in Cartagena; Plaza de la Aduana.

While there are several plazas and parks in Cartagena, I thought this one was the most beautiful.

Also, it’s worth mentioning the bank of Colombia is located here, so it’s a secure spot to use the ATMs located inside.

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4. Take a Free Walking Tour

Free walking tours are my favorite way of getting to know a city.

I signed up the day before my tour here.

Of course, with walking tours, you’re always expected to tip at the end of the tour. In Colombia, it’s customary to tip around $10 for a 2-3 hour tour (40,000 COP cash only).

5. Book a Boat Excursion

I was skeptical about booking this boat excursion because it was quite pricey, but it was highly recommended to me.

So, I decided to try it out and it ended up being one of my favorite days in Cartagena! This boat excursion is well worth the price.

6. Eat at La Cocina de Pepina

Recommended by the locals in the neighborhood of Getsemani, this little restaurant is a must-try.

I had the Posta dish, which is a traditional dish that Cartagena is famous for. During my 1-month in Cartagena, this restaurant was the best. I still catch myself drooling over the rich and saucy Posta.

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7. Party at Alquimico Bar

Rated one of the best clubs in South America, partying at Alquimico is a must!

Featuring 3-levels, including a swanky rooftop, you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic night out.

Try to arrive before 10 pm on weekends to avoid the line (you’ll be waiting for hours!)

8. Visit the Getsemani Neighborhood

Venture outside the old city walls to the more authentic (and artistic) side of Cartagena.

In the neighborhood of Getsemani, you’ll see streets lined with food vendors, music, and art murals.

I personally think that the food is better on this side of town!

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9. Abaco Library Cafe

For a tasty cup of coffee and a studious scene, check out Abaco Library.

There isn’t any wifi at this cafe so prepare to..read!

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10. Visit a Nearby Island

The Rosario Islands make for a great escape from the city. I visited Isla Grande and the beaches were spectacular. Other island getaways close to Cartagena include San Andres or Baru,

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11. San Felipe Castle

San Felipe Castle was built in 1536 and has been an iconic Cartagena landmark ever since. Seeing this fortress is one of the top things to do in the city.

12. Visit a Rooftop

Cartagena is famous for its rooftop views.

Cafe Del Mar offers one of the best views in the city. However, if you can’t score a spot at the famous cafe, there are many other rooftop options.

Movich Hotel, Sophia Hotel, and Townhouse Boutique Hotel rooftops all offer gorgeous city views.

I took this photo at Sophia Hotel. We weren’t even guests and the rooftop technically wasn’t open yet but they still let us in! They are so friendly.

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13. Eat Street Food

The street food scene in Cartagena is seriously tasty. Try an empanada or an arepa from a food stall in Getsemani or inside the old city.

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