Planning the epic Alaska-Ushuaia ride, or simply heading South to ride the Andes and the wilderness of Patagonia? Packing lists may vary, but these three essential must-haves for South America will save you a lot of trouble:

Attitude

Loose the stress. You may be used to Western efficiency and order, but now, you’re entering the territory of “manana”: South America is famous for its laid-back attitude, and there is no amount of Western frustration that will ever change that.

You may feel stressed out or even angry at the slow-moving border officials, crazy traffic, windowless hotels, tour guides that show up an hour late, or bureaucracy rules that seem to make no sense. But here’s the thing: all that stress and anger is only harming you and no one else. You will not change they way people live, drive, or process paperwork in South America, so loose the attitude, accept the new reality, and just enjoy the ride!

Wet Wipes & Hand Sanitizer

Many major cities and towns in South America – from Medellin in Colombia to El Calafate in Argentina – are incredibly modern, clean and jaw-droppingly gorgeous. But if you steer away from the beaten path and head for the more remote Andean or Amazonian regions, keep in mind that simple things like toilet paper or hand soap may not be available (even in hotel rooms, let alone gas station or roadside restrooms). Carry some wet wipes and hand sanitizer with you to avoid nasty germs and food poisoning!

Warm Layers

There’s this widespread misconception that South America equals hot sunny beaches and muggy jungle climate. And while it’s certainly true in some regions at the Pacific Ocean and in the Amazon, you won’t be hot all the time: the Andean weather can be cold, if not extreme, and in Patagonia, the chilling winds can be brutal.

Pack some thermal layers of even a heated jacket to stay warm!

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