Reasons to think the entire country of Colombia is a tropical paradise: Colombia is in South America, Cartagena is on the Caribbean, and everyone knows there is plenty of jungle inside its borders.
But Bogota and Medellin are not exactly resort towns. First of all, they’re located at a high elevation. In the capital, Bogota, the temperature typically stays within 40°F to 65°F. In Medellin, city of eternal spring, the temperature stays within 60°F to 80°F. So if you are planning to spend a week in Colombia and are wondering what to wear in Medellin and/or Bogota, pack as if it’s early spring in the Northern hemisphere. Note that you can pack slightly lighter for Medellin if you’re not making a stop in Bogota (which is entirely possible, it’s not exactly a tourism magnet).
Second, these are big cities, with a worldly, fashionable populace that wouldn’t look out of place in New York or L.A., albeit with a subtle (subtle) Latin flair. The women here put a lot of effort into looking modern and sexy. Think perfect makeup, long straightened hair, and curve-conscious jeans and dresses.
ADAY also offers a packable capsule with five of the items I list below, if you want to pull this off in one fell swoop!
With all that in mind, here’s my packing list for Bogota and Medellin:
On the Plane
- Black leggings – These are my tried and true favorites – comfortable, flattering, versatile.
- White t-shirt – I have one by Ably Apparel that is stain resistant, great for traveling!
- Leather jacket – perfect for layering in both Bogota and Medellin if you’re going out at night.
- City-style tennis shoes – Veja is the best eco tennis shoe brand, hands down.
- Scarf – for wrapping around your neck or hair
- Comfortable undies in natural fabric
- Wool socks – I love merino wool for traveling because it wicks away moisture and odor
- Mini crossbody purse – I’ve started carrying a mini crossbody purse when I travel, because it gives me quick access to my passport, wallet, and tickets, without me having to take off my backpack. O My Bag has a ton to choose from.
- Sunglasses – here’s my shopping guide to the best eco sunglasses
- City style backpack – This one can can go from the city to a hike, and the back pocket is hidden from pickpockets, which is a huge plus!
- Mini travel wallet – there’s lots to choose from at O My Bag
- Portable phone charging battery and charging cord
- Reusable water bottle – the water is safe to drink in Colombia, so you’ll make good use of this!
- SPF chapstick
- Chico reusable bag with stuff sack
- Portable spork – so you don’t have to use a disposable one. Make sure it’s plastic so it doesn’t get confiscated by airport security.
- Mini bottle SPF moisturizing day cream – It’s so great to have this in your backpack or purse at all times, because you’ll find yourself walking around and think, oops! Should have put on sunscreen! Here are my favorites.
- Reusable handkerchief
In Your Suitcase
- Long-sleeved tee – I like these from Saint James
- White button down blouse – A recycled polyester one from H&M, this one at Belvele, Tradlands, or find a variety at Grammar
- 2 tanks to wear underneath your button downs – I like the scoop necks from Groceries Apparel
- A cute top for going out to dinner or a cocktail bar – I like the selection from Apiece Apart.
- Pants – I like the wide-leg silk pants from MATTER or more crisp ones from Vetta
- A light sweater or cardigan – Find sustainable ones at Callina, or Nadaam
- Slim cut jeans – Here’s my roundup of my favorite denim brands
- A day-to-night dress that is either long-sleeved, or can have a long-sleeve tee layered underneath – I like Ode to Sunday, or Vetta
- Tights – If you’re going to Bogota, bring Swedish Stockings to wear under your dress.
- Ankle boots – here’s my roundup of my favorite boot brands.
- Pointed-toe flats by Rothys
- Sandals – you certainly could go pretty and metallic for Colombia, but I personally like my Pons Avarcas
- Packable wide-brimmed hat
- Kayu clutch – super cute and durable clutch for taking the essentials with you to dinner.
- Pajamas – I like ones from People Tree because you can wear the pieces separately as a tee or shorts.
- Colorful and fun jewelry
- 1 bathing suit – If you spend a weekend at the lake at Guatape. Look through all my favorite brands of eco swimwear here.
- 3 bras and 8 pairs of underwear. Here’s my 5 rules for packing undies for travel.
In Your Toiletry Bag
- Argan oil – I can’t live without argan oil for making my hair shiny and smooth, plus sealing in moisture on my face after a shower.
- Coola Tinted SPF BB cream – This is my absolute favorite tinted SPF cream
- Micellar water – I prefer Micellar water to face wash. I like Yes to Cucumbers, which you can find in the travel size in your local CVS or Walgreens.
- Reusable cotton pads
- Deodorant – here’s my roundup of my favorites
- Mini hair iron, curling iron, and/or hairdryer – you’ll especially want this in Colombia, because Colombian women don’t usually do casual wavy hair.
- Mini hair brush
- Hair elastics
- Reusable nail file
- Jane Iredale lipstick in red – I love the look of rich red lipstick in South America
- Eye makeup
- Multipurpose soap – this one by Akamai is amazing for shaving as well as cleansing.
- Soap box
- Shower cap
- Safety razor and razor blades – I switched to this because it’s easier and more affordable to find razor blade replacements, then the fancy heads that come with whatever fancy razor blade you can get from your drugstore in the U.S. Just be aware you have to check your luggage if you’re bringing this – security will confiscate it.
- Dr. Bronner’s soap – great for if the place you are staying doesn’t provide hand soap, or if you need to wash your clothes in the sink.