My program advised that I “pack lightly,” but for me, the words “packing” and “lightly” don’t fit in the same sentence. “How will I know exactly what shoes I will want to wear with each outfit when I go out? I’ll just bring a few heels to choose from.” “Wow! I love this shirt that I just discovered in the back of my closet. I know I’ve never worn it, but maybe I’ll wear it while I’m abroad? Packed.” “Even though I haven’t worn this in over a year, it’s so cute; I just can’t leave it behind!” If any of those thoughts sounds familiar, keep reading.
Bring about half of what you think you need. If you don’t wear it in the states, you won’t wear it here. Bring things that are versatile, comfortable, and easy to match. You definitely want to bring some cute dresses, but focus on bringing the more basic pieces from your wardrobe. Although 5 months is a long time, you don’t need more than 2-3 sets of pajamas (laundry machines exist in South America) . Bring one or two swimsuits, not more. Although Buenos Aires is on the coast, the nearest swimmable beach is a 4-5 hour bus ride away. If you have clothing which is on the verge of its last season (from being too worn out), bring that so you can throw it out at the end of the trip and carry less home. If you will be in Argentina for February, bring enough shorts; it gets HOT. If you plan on arriving at the end of February, you have skipped most of the hot summer season and only need a few things for hot weather. I recommend bringing one large duffle and one large backpacker bag, which will come in handy when traveling through South America. If you think you have too much stuff to fit in just a duffel-bag and a large backpack, then you’re right—you have too much stuff, so take less.
There are certain things from the United States that you will probably miss abroad, and might want to bring with you. The first is pretty well known: peanut butter. It’s hard to find here, and quite expensive. The pens here are very expensive for their poor quality—if you love pilot pens, bring them. Tampons with applicators are scarce and expensive, so unless you really want to get to know yourself better, pack tampons with applicators. Some other missed-items are Reeses peanut butter cups, tootsie pops, microwave popcorn, maple syrup, bagels, and brownies (however your parents can surprise you with a CAREPACKAGE which includes many of those items!).