Packing the Essential for Barranquilla - Colombia
Packing for Barranquilla could be tricky. One of the reasons is because beside of staying most of the time in the city, you must be also planning to travel around Colombia… and this country, has every different climate zone possible. Temperatures in Colombia can range from above 30 Celsius degrees in Cartagena, to below freezing on certain nights in the mountainous regions.
We recommend think in layers when packing for Colombia. That means for example, bring shirts that could be used under a sweater in case you visit a colder city and you still feel comfortable, warm and pretty. But let’s focus on the north coast.(Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barranquilla and surroundings ) Hooooot and humid; So you will be sweeting and shining like an ¨Empanada¨ But no worries, there's nothing that a cold coconut water can’t fix.
¨ If you are going to be an empanada, at least be a happy one.¨
So, with the intention of saving space, looking good and feeling prepare to rock it in Barranquilla, we prepared a list with the top essentials for Colombia exchange experience.
WHAT TO WEAR:
There are no rules in general, however to avoid sticking out remember that the clothing style in Barranquilla is chic, more like a mix between elegant and relaxed ( if that make sense ) think about light colors and fresh fabrics.
Remember that you will be sweating a lot so you might want to wash your clothes often… good quality cotton shirts could be a smart option for long lasting clothes. From other point of view, cheap ones could be easier to dispose… not very environmental friendly but it all depends on your preferences.
Clothes - Cotton skirts, comfortable not too thick jeans, sandals, flip-flops (for shower in hostels when traveling), flats, light snickers, shorts and a pair of heels or soft loafers if you fancy event.
Swimsuit and cover up - Are essentials. You can also get one in Barranquillla. There are plenty of local designers that offer beautiful pieces ( for men and women) Good quality at affordable prices. What we in Colombia love to call the 3 B’s Bueno, Bonito y Barato.
Sunglasses - Bring a pair of casual, more like modest ones, ( you can also find a cheap ones on the street and practice your bargain skills to get a pair - even though no-one will respond for the quality )
SPF 30 or higher - Take your own SPF. There is a growing variety in sunscreen brands here, but they are still pretty expensive. You will need it. Even on what seems like an overcast and chilly day. UV indexes run very high in Barranquilla.
General products - While you can find these here, they are often expensive or hard to come by. If you want travel size items (shampoo, toothpaste, etc...), bring them from home.
Lady's hygiene products - The variety of brands and options is expanding rapidly, if you have a preferred brand, you may want to bring it with you as the most common brands are still Colombian brands, and they may be a bit more expensive than what you'd be used to paying for them back home. We recommend the use of mestrual cups since is way friendlier with the local garbage disposal system. Get the cups here might be a challenge since is not very common and still very expensive.
Bring your student card to get discounts at many of the museums, national reserves and tourist sites in the country. You might also get one card here if you are doing an exchange with a local university.
Create an Online scan of all your personal documents and bring copy of your passport to always be carried on your wallet. That way your passport could be secure at home.
Travel Insurance and Vaccines - This one doesn’t have to be explained. Is a must. Toca... (Slang to say you have to)
Driving license - You never know when you'll drive a car.
REPELENTE - Colombian mosquitos are thirty bastards and they don’t give a F* about foreign repelentes. The blood party starts between 4:30 and 6:30 (sunrise) The second round goes between 16:00 and 19:00 (sunset) and you are the special guest. We advice to set an alarm in your phone and use your new perfume repelente some minutes before these periods of the day. Some of the brands we recommend : Nopikex around 3.000 and 5000 COP you can find it in any local drugstore or supermarket Another option is to get B1 vitamin and start taking it 2 weeks in advance your arrival.
Dryfast bath towel - BYO. easy to carry, lightweight, cleaner and it could be a challenge to find one here.
A warrior Mini backpack - you might need one when exploring the surrounding areas of the coast, some trips could be of 2 or 3 days.
Adapter colombia uses type a or b sockets. we recommend bringing a worldwide adapter.
Chargers/ batteries for long bus/ train journeys or treks you may also want to bring a portable charger.
Padlocks - Padlocks are important for hostel lockers to keep valuables safe. Remember to get a small one, not only is lighter, but is also easier to fit them in hostel lockers.
Small travel journal, not essential, but is always nice to go to the beach in Barranquilla with a ¨cervecita¨(as small beer) next to you and write the local slangs you’ve learnt or the places you are planning to visit.
Cash - Is always good to carry a few USD or € to change at the airport and grab a snack or pay your taxi but if someone will pick you up and you won’t need any cash for the airport transport, is better to change your cash in an exchange place with a better rate.
Just a couple blocks from Casa Vrde (click to see the exact location) you can find around 5 different exchange places, just choose the best offer.
Cards - You can also withdraw with your debit or credit card in Colombian pesos. If your card does not work in some atm’s we recommend to try in City Bank or Banco Av Villas ATM. (click on the bank name to see the closest to Casa Vrde)
DO NOT BRING:
Tha' Bling ! - Unfortunately, you are a target for robbery when you wear that fancy watch or ring. Leave them at home and wear a great smile instead.
At last but not least, is always nice to let a piece of you anywhere you go. So try to bring something nice to give to the special people you will meet. Something that defines you or make them remember you.
Bracelets or pins are always a good idea. We colombians love those ¨maricaditas¨ (In this context : useless cheap object with a sentimental importance for us)
We hope this essentials list will make an easier packing time for you.
If you have more questions about what to bring, email us.
Remember that this is based on a long stay in Barranquilla even though most of the essentials work in the country, warmer clothes could be also needed in some other cities like Bogotá or Medellín and is better to bring those from home.