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Travel Outfits for South America ~ What to Pack

Travel wardrobe clothes packing tips Chile Argentina Uruguay Snow capped mountains Ushuaia Argentina South America

Your travel wardrobe clothing for a trip to South America depends a lot on where you are going to in South America, a continent with many climate zones.

The weather changes from north to south; the seasons are opposite from North America or Europe.

One trip, I was in Chile (Patagonia) and south Argentina (Tierra del Fuego), where even in their springtime it's chilly. I needed several layers and a windproof jacket to keep warm.

Then I flew a few hours north to Buenos Aires and on to Iguazu Falls, where the weather is hot and humid much of the year. Back into my lightweight summer clothes.

I knew that I had to pack for both climates, and that it would be tricky not to pack too many clothes. But I did pack light, though it took some forethought to get all I needed in one small suitcase.

Note: Airline Luggage Weight Restrictions: If you intend to fly on domestic South America routes, you must pack light. These planes are smaller than those on international flights, and the baggage limits are much lower. Target weight is 22 kg (48-50 pounds). See How to Pack Suitcase.

  • If you are traveling to Antarctica your tour operator will have a list of suggested proper clothes to bring.

Palm trees and hot weather clothing for Iguazu Argentina at the Falls.

What to Pack South America: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay

Here is the short packing list for what I took with me. Click the title links to get more details.

  • Pants / Skirts : My target number of travel pants or skirts for all trips is 3 bottoms, and I kept to it.
  • My cargo travel pants were roomy enough to wear leggings underneath for warmth in southern South America.
  • I also took a pair of black pants that I wore on the plane to from South America, and a pair of khaki pants (that I wore only once, I think).
  • I pretty much lived in my travel pants. I could wash them out at night, and they'd dry fast, and they didn't show dirt or wrinkles.
  • Tops / Sweaters / TShirts / Blouses : My target is 5-7 tops total, depending on total weight and bulk. I took 4 lighter weight tops for tropical Iguazu, and a turquoise cashmere cardigan that I got in Hong Kong for warmth under my light jacket, if needed, or for wearing at night in Santiago when it cooled down.
  • I also took a dressy tunic length blouse that went with the black slacks for a business meeting, and a black Tshirt for outerwear or sleeping in.
  • Rain / Snow Jacket : I packed a tech jacket, lightweight but fairly warm that I had used with success in Ethiopia when the nights got very cool in the Highlands. I also  packed a rain jacket that fit over this tech jacket and if needed, cashmere cardigan. This layering made it waterproof and windproof, like a mini-parka.
  • All jackets/ rainwear were light enough to tuck away in my suitcase when I was in hot climates, such as Iguazu and Punta del Este, Uruguay. I was also traveling to from Toronto in Winter, so needed a jacket to get to from the airport.
  • Underwear / Bathing Suits / Shoes: I followed my usual packing tips on those pages (3,1,2 respectively). Although I only wore the bathing suit once, at my hotel in Buenos Aires on Christmas Day, it was well worth bringing it along .

More info for Travel Outfits for South America

See full index of my Travel packing tips.Torres del Paine Park in Chile can be very chilly all year. Pack warm and waterproof clothing. I followed these guidelines when packing for a three week trip to summertime South America (December, January).

Then I continued on to Australia for three weeks, also in their Summer (January). I took one small suitcase  for Australia and South America combined with a few items in my back pack.

On a six week long trip over three continents, spanning winter and summer weather, it was a challenge! But I know from long experience that sometime in the last third of a long trip, my suitcase starts to feel like it weighs a ton.

The lighter I can pack at the start of a trip, the lighter the suitcase will feel at the end. And even packing as light as I did, I still had several tops I never wore once!