Vamos Expeditions

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  • High Integrity

    “Vamos Expeditions helped to shepherd 80 business school students of varying levels of fitness through multiple countries and the extreme conditions of Patagonia. They delivered a well planned and executed trip that was an experience of a lifetime. The next year Vamos helped plan an... see more

    Sandeep Chivukula
    Argentina
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Argentina > What to Pack?

KEEP YOUR BAG LIGHT

To reduce the risk of damage to your luggage, please do not lock your bags when checking in for flights! The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens every piece of checked luggage at commercial airports throughout the U.S. According to the TSA, baggage handling agents may require access to the contents of your luggage and will break locks as required. Also, remember to pack extra rolls of film in your carry-on bag, as screening equipment will cause film damage. Placing film in a lead-lined bag will only subject luggage to further scrutiny, as baggage handling agents will not be able to see the bag’s contents. For more suggestions from the TSA, visit their website at www.tsa.gov/public.

You’ll be better off if you can tote your bags yourself for short distances. And you might like to have extra room left over for souvenirs! Most travelers pack too much. Choose clothing with multiple uses. Find toiletries in sample sizes. Remove all disposable material from your gear before you leave home. Every little bit helps!


LUGGAGE

Large daypack/backpack. Keeps your hands free and is the most comfortable bag to walk with. Use it for your water bottle, camera gear, sunscreen, etc. Look for a bag with several small zippered pockets. Store camera gear and important papers in plastic bags to protect them from dirt and moisture.

Large duffel or soft-sided suitcase with wheels. All of your clothing and gear must fit in one checked large piece of luggage. We suggest a heavy-duty nylon duffel or soft-sided suitcase with wrap-around handles and a heavy-duty, lockable zipper and built-in wheels.

Inner bags. You can use nylon stuff sacks or smaller duffels, plastic shopping bags or large (2-gallon) Zip-Loc bags to separate clothing and gear inside your duffel. Isolate liquid toiletries in heavy-duty Zip-Loc bags. Bring a few spare bags, including one for dirty laundry.

Luggage tags and locks for duffels.

A second, empty lockable duffel or tote bag folded into your main duffel. You can use this second bag to carry souvenirs home at the end of the trip.


ESSENTIAL GEAR

• Headlamp or flashlight, with extra batteries and bulb. Remember that you will be staying in places with no electricity, so you need a light at night.

• Lightweight binoculars. Very highly recommended if you want to appreciate the jungle birds and flora, 10x42 is the best, with a lens diameter of 20 or more for low-light levels in the forest.

• Folding umbrella. Superb for hiking in a tropical rainstorm, with your hood down, and your rain jacket comfortably open.

• Narrow-mouth water bottle, such as Nalgene.

• For eyeglass wearers: spare eyeglasses, eyeglass straps, and spare prescription sunglasses (or clip-ons)

• Insect repellent

• Sunglasses, 100% UV block

• Sunscreen cream, SPF 15 or more.

• Sun-blocking lip balm

• Money belt, neck pouch or waist pack • Photocopies of passport, visa, air ticket, and credit cards, plus phone and fax numbers to report stolen cards. Store copies separate from originals.

• Cold-water hand-wash laundry soap, such as Woolite

• Extra passport-sized photos

• Ziplock bags for camera equipment, clothing and other items (due to the humidity of the Amazon rainforest)


Toilet Kit: Look for travel sizes:

• Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss

• Small bar of soap.

• Shampoo. Small bottle.

• The rest: Moisturizing lotion, hairbrush, shaving gear, etc. Bring whatever you need, but try to keep it light!


OPTIONAL GEAR

• Sturdy notebook and pens. A travel journal is your best memento. Even concise entries evoke vivid memories years later. Try it!

• Photo gear, with spare batteries

• Favorite snacks

• Photos and postcards from home

• Books about Central America

• Spanish phrase book

• Sewing kit (needle, thread, buttons)

• Eye mask, for sleeping on flights

• Personal repair kit: short length of duct tape, safety pins, small pliers, eyeglass repair items, etc.


PERSONAL MEDICAL KIT

Adventure Medical Kits (AMK) makes several kinds of medical kits for travelers, intended for visitors to developing countries. You can find them in any adventure store.

Or you can assemble a kit yourself using the items listed below. You may not need every item, but this list is a good start. If you make your own kit, you can add a compact first-aid manual. Each of the following books is superb:

• Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicine by Eric Weiss, MD

• Pocket Doctor by Stephen Bezruchka, MD. Available from Mountaineers Books at http://www.mountaineersbooks.org or 206-223-6303 ext. 107 or ext. 130.


Prescription Medications:

• Ciprofloxicin or another antibiotic for diarrhea, as prescribed by your doctor

• Tylenol with codeine, or another strong medication for pain, for use in emergencies.

• Your own prescription medications


Personal Medical Supplies

• Pepto-Bismol tablets

• Ibuprofen or aspirin

• Sudafed, Dristan, or other cold remedy

• Benadryl or other antihistamine

• Immodium or other antidiarrheal

• Dramamine or other motion sickness medication (if you are susceptible)

• Band-Aids or other bandages. Several sizes.

• Zip-loc bag for your first-aid kit


Packing Your Medical Kit:

To reduce the bulk of your medical kit, remove all boxes and packing material. Reduce all quantities to take only what you need. If you toss all the boxes out, you can fit all the items here into a large zip-loc bag.


TIPS ON PHOTO GEAR AND VIDEO CAMERAS

One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling to new places is the chance to photograph and thereby capture and bring home some of the wonders of that experience. You will be able to share them with others, relive some of the moments, and savor them for years to come.

To be sure that you achieve good or great results, a few helpful points should be kept in mind.


Film

The first being to bring enough film! Or in the case of the new digital cameras, bring enough memory cards. In many countries film can easily be purchased as needed, but in others the film will be expensive or difficult to find on short notice. Black and white film can be very difficult to find if not impossible. The same is true of the proper memory cards for your digital camera.


Digital
One way to maximize the capacity of a digital camera´s memory card is to set the file size to a lower size. Higher sizes mean better sharpness, less pixelization and the possibility of larger enlargements, but you fill up the memory card sooner. Prices for these cards have come down so you can now own one as large as 1 gigabyte for as little as $100. With a memory card of this size, and with a photo file size of 1 Mb, you can shoot 1,000 shots.

Batteries
Always be sure to bring enough batteries. Many of the newer cameras being sold today use special batteries that are not AA and will need to be re-charged, so having an extra on hand is a good idea. That way, one can be charged while the other is in use. Or two can be brought along on an extended trip and be ready at a moment’s notice. Remember that using the flash on a camera will drain the battery much faster than you would expect.

Flash
Be sure to learn how to turn off the flash when not needed, this way you will not frighten animals at dusk, or blast unsuspecting people when flash is really not necessary. Many digital cameras have a setting for AUTO ISO (film speed) so the camera will automatically increase the film "speed" as the light decreases, allowing non-flash photography when desired. Be sure to turn the flash back on when needed, such as in a backlit situation or in a very dark room. Be aware that a flash really only is useful about 10 feet or less from the camera; after that, it falls off. Therefore, if you are shooting a sunset, there is not much reason to have your camera flash, wasting battery juice.

Plug Adapter
This brings us to the point of being sure your camera´s battery charger will work with the local electrical current. As with many appliances, a special plug adapter may be needed to plug your charger into the wall socket; then a special converter transforms the voltage to one your camera will accept. Be sure to check your charge every day – a dead battery will bring your photographic fun to a quick halt. If you are going to be traveling by car while overseas, a cigarette lighter adapter could be helpful to charge things along the way. All cars are 12 volts the world over.
Besides these basic points, a few technical tips may be helpful.

Zoom
When photographing wildlife, a telephoto lens is often necessary to capture the shot. Most cameras today ship with zoom lenses that are not interchangeable, and these cameras have only a 3x or 4x "optical" zoom. This means that the lens is actually magnifying the image to bring far away objects closer. Some cameras have 10x optical zooms. Often an extra adapter can be purchased which will also magnify and aid in shooting photographs of animals that are either too dangerous to get closer to, or a bit further away than you’d like.

Telephoto
When using telephoto lenses be careful to avoid vibration during the exposure. To help guard against the blurriness that results from vibration or movement, you can use a tripod, prop the camera on a fence or table, or simply hold it if you have a very steady hand. Be aware that blurred photos are easier to accidentally achieve with a telephoto lens than a wide lens.

UV Filter
Protecting your lens with a UV filter is a very good idea. When traveling it is easy to get dirt or moisture on the front of your lens, which could permanently damage it. A simple screw in filter can protect the lens, and if the filter were to be damaged, it is much less expensive to replace. It is also a good idea to have a protective case for the camera itself and/or a small camera bag to protect your gear from the elements, harsh sun, and excessive vibration. Today’s cameras are very sophisticated, which allows them to take very good pictures, but they are also built to be lightweight and therefore are sometimes easily damaged if dropped.

Ziploc Plastic Bags
Security at airports has become much more stringent and some of the x-ray machines are potentially powerful enough to fog or damage film. You can ask that the film be hand inspected, but the film must be removed from the canister -- so ziplock plastic bags are vital. Bring one for exposed film and one for unexposed film. This is another reason to make the switch to digital cameras, as x-rays do not damage digital data. The other reason is that you will never have to buy film again, so every time you take a photograph, the camera is saving you money. Most digital cameras have small preview windows on the back so you can gauge your skills and immediately re-shoot if you do not like the shot – something that is not possible with traditional film cameras.

Lastly, bring along your camera´s instruction manual. You may find that while traveling you have time to actually read it!

Video Cameras & Video Systems
Electricity in Central America is 110-120 volts AC, 60 Hz. (the same as in the US). Because electricity is unreliable in some locations, bring at least two, preferably three batteries. Central American countries also use the NTSC system for VHS tapes, the same as in the U.S.


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