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Colombia Packing Guide

Colombia Packing Guide - Tattered Passports
Colombia Packing Guide

Below I have compiled a packing guide for teaching abroad in Colombia. Keep in mind, these are my personal suggestions and what I wish I had known before packing.

 

Backpack or rolling suitcase?

 

I’ll admit, we over-packed. Between Kon and I, we both used our travel packs and shared a large, rolling suitcase. However, it is difficult to try to fit everything inside a travel pack. If you do opt to use a rolling suitcase, make sure to bring a backpack for weekend trips! (I use Osprey’s Farpoint 55 pack with a detachable day pack. I’m obsessed. BEST.PURCHASE.EVER. I even made Kon get one.)

 

First, a few tips about Colombia

 

  • – Colombians are stylish! People here take pride in how they look. Dressing like a backpacker didn’t seem appropriate for me.
  • – Clothes here are not cheap! You won’t find fun, cheap clothes like the markets of Thailand. Think $20 USD minimum for a shirt.
  • – Shoe sizes here are small. Ladies and gents with the big feet (me included), don’t rely on finding some new sneakers once you arrive.

 

Clothes

 

  • Orientation
    • * Jacket- Bogotá stays around 60-65 Fahrenheit (15-19 C).
    • * Jeans– or a pair of pants (something you can also use for school, like cropped jeans)
    • * Layers– light sweater/hoodie or a light, long-sleeved top.

 

  • Teaching– Most schools require semi-conservative dress. Think knee-length or longer pants and dress. Sleeveless is okay but avoid anything low-cut or back exposing. You don’t have to dress fancy– don’t worry about heels, ties, etc.
    • * Sleeveless dress shirts
    • * Breezy dress shirts
    • * Linen pants!
    • * Capris or long skirts

 

  • Coastal Climate
    • * Jeans – GASP- what?! In hot, humid weather? Yep. Everyone here wears jeans. I have a cropped pair with and I  wear them to school often.
    • * Tops– Colombian women love wearing the off-the-shoulder look. I brought a few to wear outside of school.
    • * Dresses/rompers– throw one on, outfit=done.
    • * Swimsuit– (hell, I brought 3. But don’t be me)
    • * Plenty of underwear– did I mention its HOT? To prevent swamp ass, you’ll want enough fresh undies.
    • * Optional: Nice out fit. I brought a few for the nights we went out dancing. Think cute, black dress that can be dressed up or down. You don’t need full-on clubbing clothes.

 

Footwear

 

  • Athletic shoes
  • Flats (“school shoes”)- It was okay to wear sandals (NOT flip-flops) at my school but I was happy to have my  Converse with.
  • Sandals (x2)- I brought a brown and black pair of gladiator-style sandals and have almost worn them out.
  • Optional: fun shoes. I packed a pair of black, strappy heels (SHORT heel) and I don’t regret it. There were plenty of nights where I wanted to dress a little nicer for dinner or clubbing.

Toiletries

 

  • Prescriptions– We weren’t approved for the Colombian insurance (EPS) until our third month in Colombia. Bring enough for a month or two.
  • Sleep-aids– The only medication we could find was way too expensive. We couldn’t even find melatonin so we resorted to LOTS of “sleepy-time” tea.
  • Ear plugs– You’ll be sharing a room with at least three people at orientation.
  • Contraceptives– I’ve heard you can find birth control pills in Colombia, but I didn’t try. Condoms are also quite  expensive here.
  • – Make-up: I brought a fresh batch of everything. However, you can find brands like Covergirl here for about the same  price as the U.S.
  • Razor and refills– Most razors here are cheap, disposables. If you prefer a stubble-free shave, I’d bring a decent one from home.

 

Bottom line: You can find most toiletries in Colombia. I chose to bring most of mine so I didn’t have to spend the stipend on stocking up. But if you forget something, it’s not the end of the world.

 

Me struggling to pack for Colombia. I want to spare you this pain.

Tech

  • Portable charger– We use ours ALL.THE.TIME.
  • Laptop (Optional)- I used mine to write lessons for school, to work on my Spanish, to work on our blog, and catch up on Netflix.
  • Flash drive (if you have a laptop)- Useful to bring worksheets, music, documents, etc to school.
  • EXTRA IPHONE CHARGER– Apple products are scarce here. If you have an iPhone, I would suggest grabbing an extra charger, just in case.
  • Optional: Portable speaker. We didn’t have one and regretted it. It would’ve been useful in the classroom, to play music at home, or hanging out by the pool.

 

Bottom line: We also brought a DSLR camera and GoPro to document our travels but they are, obviously, unnecessary. My Kindle has been nice to have along. (Hint- you can download ebooks from your local library at home to read while you’re here!)

 

Miscellaneous

  • Sunglasses– You can find sunnies cheap here but the quality isn’t ideal.
  • Pens (black ink)
  • Notebook
  • –  Optional– Trinkets for students. Some fellows brought small things like stickers or pencils with English writing.

What can I (easily) get in Colombia?

  • – Crocs (Hah! But seriously, it’s the coastal Colombian shoe of choice. Not that you should follow suit)
  • – Hat
  • – Sunscreen
  • – Bug spray
  • – Toiletries
  • – Towels
  • – Yellow Fever vaccination (At the airport (for FREE) or clinics in your placement city)

 

Have any questions on what to bring? Comment below and we’ll help guide you!

 

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2 Comments
  • Natalie says:

    Wait …. You can get the yellow fever shot at the airport for free?

    They’re charging like $150 CAD in Canada!

    Crazy!

    • Kondwani Phiri says:

      Yup, you sure can! They offer it free of charge at the airport in Bogota. We would recommend waiting, if possible, until you arrive in Colombia to get your Yellow Fever vaccine and use that $150 CAD that you save on an adventure instead 🙂

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