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Bogotá’s backpack essentials to explore the city!

Traveling to Bogotá
Isabela Gómez

Isabela Gómez

A creative designer who loves to write, travel and is ready to explore everything that is around!

Take your most comfortable backpack and let’s fill it to the top with essential things you should have to be a step ahead during your visit to Bogotá.

Normally when you go to another country, you use a purse, backpack, fanny pack or anything that can fit all your essentials inside, but during your visit to Bogotá, things will change, you will have to walk in order to explore the city, experience almost all the seasons in one day, be fascinated by the handcrafted stuff that is around and you will be trying the delicious food that is on every corner. For all this and more, you have to be prepared and be comfortable at the same time, so it’s more convenient to go with a backpack or kind of a crossbody bag with the Mary Poppins purse depth. I know you are asking yourself, what should I put inside, and here is where I am going to help you, by telling you the essentials you should have during your visit to Bogotá.

Umbrella / Rain poncho or Cagoule (Paraguas / Poncho para lluvia)

Nowadays, both of these things are designed to fit in almost every bag and in Bogotá you can find them on almost every corner, especially when we have rainy weather. The reason I recommend buying one is because Bogotá can go through all the seasons in one day and being a step ahead by having one of these two things will let you continue your walks around this amazing city, mainly around the Old Town such as Usaquén, La Candelaria, Teusaquillo and others.

Costs in Bogotá:

Umbrella $20.000 COP ($6 USD approx.)

Rain poncho $15.000 COP ($5 USD approx.)

Water bottle (Botella de Agua)

I know this might sound unnecessary, but you won’t believe how thirsty you can get when exploring Bogotá. Because of its altitude, it is closer to the sun, plus you will be so focused on every single detail that you will forget about your needs. So it’s important to have a bottle of water with you to remain hydrated during your visit. We also have delicious juices and milkshakes in almost every corner, my favorite is “curuba milkshake” from the restaurant “Casa vieja” and “Salpicón,” a bunch of fruits mixed with strawberry and orange juice, which you can find at food carts around the Old Town or Sundays in Usaquén and all along the “Ciclovía.”

Costs in Bogotá:

Water bottle (600ml) $2.000 COP ($0,66 USD approx.)

Juice $2.000 – 8.000 COP ($0.66 – 3 USD approx.)

Scarf / Vest / Gloves (Bufanda / Chaleco / Guantes)

I get very cold easily, so I always carry gloves with me. I normally use them when I ride my bicycle or if I stay late at an event. Besides a coat, I carry with me a scarf and my husband’s vest, because things like this will save you from a cold night without losing style! Be sure that your coat, jacket and vest  is waterproof and/or a windbreaker.

Antibacterial / Wipes (Antibacterial / Toallitas húmedas)

Because you will be outdoors discovering new places, interacting with new things and new people and probably touching things and tasting new flavors, it’s a must to have these two things to clean your hands, your face or if you have a bathroom emergency. Sometimes public restrooms don’t always have soap or even toilet paper available so I always make sure to carry some of my own.

Cost in Bogotá:

Antibacterial 5.600 COP (2 USD approx.)

Wipes 10.900 COP (4 USD approx.)

Lip Balm / Sunscreen / Sunglasses (Bálsamo labial / Protector Solar / Gafas de sol)

As I said, when the sun comes out in Bogotá, you have to protect yourself because it burns! What I recommend is putting on sunscreen and having it in your bag to reapply it later if needed. A lip balm will also help keep your lips moisturized no matter if it is a sunny or a rainy day, you should used them in either case and add sunglasses to finish your sun protection shield. Remember Bogotá is a tropical country!

Cost in Bogotá:

Lip Balm $13.900 COP ($4.60 USD approx.)

Sunscreen $40.000 COP ($13 USD approx.)

Wallet with cash, credit cards and ID (Cartera con dinero, tarjetas e identificación)

Of course you need your wallet with all the basic things inside! But I have to remind you how important is to have it everything there, such as cash, cards (credit or debit) and your country ID (the license can be an option). Bogotá is trying to be cash free, so you won’t be able to find an exchange place all the time, but there still are some places where cash is the only option, like at food vending carts or the artisan markets, so you should always have a little bit of cash in your wallet besides the cards (credit or debit). Having your ID with you is extremely necessary, in almost every store when you pay with a credit card they will ask for your ID to see if you are the owner of the credit card. also to go partying, so be sure to have it with you.

Quick Tip:

Be sure to have extra money (cash/cards) and your passport in a safe place where you’re staying for any emergency.

Bus card (Tarjeta para el Bus)

Do you want to try public transportation? Then don’t forget your bus card, the bus card called “SITP” will allow you to use the “Transmilenio” and the “SITP” buses, you can buy this card in most “Transmilenio” stops or in some stores that have a “SITP” sign in their window. Save this card in your wallet or in an easily-accessible pocket.

Cost:

SITP card: $5.000 COP ($2 USD approx.)

SITP bus trip: $2.100 COP $(0.70 USD approx.)

Transmilenio bus trip: $2.300 COP ($0.76 approx.)

Notebook and pen (Libreta y esfero)

Yes, this might be old school, but this has saved me from a lot of things! A little notebook and a pen has been substituted by cell phones, but when it has no battery, or you don’t have signal or wifi, here are this two vintage items that can save you!

Write down important numbers like your country’s embassy, travel health insurance, family members contact information, the place you are staying and also directions. Another thing you should write down are important notes, for example places you loved and a few words or phrases in spanish.

Cell phone / Camera (Celular / Cámara fotográfica)

The most obvious, I know! But just in case, don’t forget to have your cell phone or camera fully charged and an extra battery (if you have one). You can use just the charger, but sometimes finding a place to plug it in is a little bit difficult unless you are in a restaurant, a café or in a mall and you have to be next to it while it’s charging. Carrying other accessories can be helpful too, such as headphones, a selfie stick, traveller conversion plug, a Colombian sim card and also, you can download apps that you will use a lot too, like google maps (having a real map can also be useful), Uber, moovit, etc.

Quick Tip:

Be sure to take your electronics out only when you are going to use them and be careful when you take them out.

Ecobag (Bolsa ecológica)

Despite Bogota being a big city, it is also on its way to be an ecocity! So when you go to do your grocery shopping or buy some new clothes (not all fashion stores), they will charge you for your plastic bag, so be prepared to have yours in your backpack or save space inside of it. What I have in my purse is a medium bag that you can fold into the size of your fist. I bought it in “Carulla”.

Ecobag: $3.000 to 5.000 COP ($1 to 2 USD approx.)

It might seem like it’s too much stuff to carry in a backpack or in your luggage when traveling, but it isn’t. Nowadays, you can find many of these items in travel-size and bag designs that fit everything and still look fashionable. So be comfortable and keep your hands free for a great new experience in Bogotá.

Now you know what I have inside of my bag! It’s your turn to share your essentials that aren’t listed here in the comments below, so we can help each other out.

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