Vamos Expeditions

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Chile > What to Pack?


To reduce the risk of damage to your luggage, please do not lock your bags when checking in for international flights from or through the U.S. 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


You are restricted to 44 pounds on flights within Bolivia. In any case, 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!


Your luggage consists of the following pieces:

Day pack or small 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. For people walking the Inca Trail: his day pack will be carried by you during the walk.

Large duffel bag or soft-sided luggage. All of your clothing and gear must fit in one duffel or piece of luggage. Look for heavy nylon fabric, wrap-around handles and a heavy-duty lockable zipper. You can now buy a duffel bag with built-in wheels, from Patagonia, L.L. Bean, and elsewhere. Space is limited in our mini-buses, so please do not bring a rigid suitcase.

Small duffel bag. Fold this into your large bag. To make our traveling lighter, we store your large duffel several times in the hotel, and carry overnight gear in this small duffel

Inner bags. You can use plastic shopping bags, nylon stuff sacks or smaller zipper duffels 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.

Packing Your Carry-On Bag

Use your day pack / small backpack as you carry-on bag for your flights. In it pack a change of clothes, camera gear, all medications, several changes of socks and underwear, and other irreplaceable or breakable items.


You can assemble a “Personal Medical Kit” yourself. Below are some key contents of the “Personal Traveler” kit that we feel would be useful to carry. Remember, what to bring is your decision. You may not need every item, but this list of suggestions is a good start. Your Trip Leader will have a first aid kit on hand if you are missing anything.

Prescription Medications:
• Ciprofloxicin or another antibiotic for diarrhea.
• Diamox (acetazolomide) for altitude illness.
• Lariam (mefloquine), an oral medication, for prevention of malaria.
• Your own prescription medications.

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

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.


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.

Extra Film and Memory Cards
To be sure that you achieve good or great results, a few helpful points should be kept in mind. 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 File Sizes
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.

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.

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.

Battery Charger
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.

Telephoto Lens
Besides these basic points, a few technical tips may be helpful. 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.

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.

Airport Security
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.

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

Video Cameras
Bring at least two, and preferably three batteries. Recharging is sometimes difficult due to a lack of outlets and interruptions in electric service. Bring two or more plug adapters.