A few handy hints
Luggage and bags: Shoe- and bag-aholics - leave room in your suitcase - this place is accessory heaven. All that beef means all that leather and the shops are full of the most gorgeous shoes and bags.
Laundry is so cheap you can afford to leave some of the clothes you'd planned to bring behind, keep your bag to a resonable size and still have room for those divine sandals.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Buenos Aires is a very style-conscious city - you want to be comfortable but dressing quite smartly - especially when you're sightseeing in the centre - will win you brownie points . You'll fit in better, and you won't be the obvious target for street crime that dressing too casually or scruffily will make you. There are same-day laundries everywhere, and they're very cheap so you can maintain a clean and well-pressed appearance without packing a trunk or breaking the bank, great in summer when natural fibres are so much cooler but also more prone to creasing.
Try to find room for at least one "dressed for best" outfit, you'll be glad you did when you go out on the town.
Comfortable walking shoes are a must - you'll be pounding those pavements and not only is that hard on the feet, their upkeep leaves a lot to be desired and one trip on a broken pavement slab could ruin your whole holiday. However - this is not the place for hiking boots (see my first point) - a little more style is definitely in order.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Don't forget any prescription medication you take and, if you're a hayfever or sinus sufferer, bring some nasal spray, anti-histamines - whatver you use at home - as they can be hard to find and expensive.
Sunscreen's expensive too - you might want to slip in your own supply. Be sure to pack it in your check-in luggage.
Photo Equipment: If you're still using film, bring a good supply. It's expensive, as is most photographic equipment.
Miscellaneous: You may need an electrical adaptor when you arrive - the plugs here are different from most other places and standard adaptors may not fit.
If you wear glasses, make sure you have a spare pair with you. I forgot mine and when I damaged the arm of my European frames I couldn't find anyone to repair them, import duty in Argentina made them too expensive for the local market.
Sunglasses, a combo lock, etc
Miscellaneous: I had no idea how much I would use my sunglasses even in the colder months. The city is not the cleanest, so they helped protect my contact lenses from the pollution. Here's the packing list I used:
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Layers are definitely the way to think, especially if you're visiting in Spring (September, October, November), justifiably the most popular season both for the climate and the effect it has on the city - all those beautiful flowering trees make it an absolute delight. Chilly mornings can turn into surprisingly warm days, and the evenings can cool down quickly.
The same layers are the thing to pack in autumn (March, April, May).
Summer can turn very hot, and the sun can really burn, so a hat's a smart idea.
It rains all year round, so pack a little umbrella or a rain jacket even in the summer.
Finally, winter (June, July, August) - take a look at the photo here. August 2008, Those ladies watching the piper aren't just wearing coats for fun. MrL was there and it was COLD.
Put a Little Spice in Your Life
Luggage and bags: Bring a lot less luggage than you usually do. Laundries are on every corner and they are very inexpensive, about $3 US for a whole washer load. They'll usually have clothes ready the same day. Since Buenos Aires is a very casual city, you don't need much in the way of fancy dress. Bring comfortable clothes and do a load of laundry every few days. it will make your life much easier than hauling large suitcases filled with clothes you don't need.
Miscellaneous: Buenos Aires is a great city and Argentina is a terrific country, but one thing they don't get is "picante." They love pizza, but don't have any dry chile peppers to spice it up. They have tons of delicious empanadas and meats, but only have timid chimichurri sauces to titillate the taste buds. Bring a small bag of dried red chile flakes and a small tube of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce. Use them surrepticiously if you must, but you'll be glad you have them with you.
Things you should bring
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Buenos Aires gets very hot in the summer, while the spring and summer are very tolerable. The weather is very similar to Paris. Just remember that the seasons are opposite those of the northern hemisphere. Even if you are traveling during the warmer months, bring a pair of dress shoes and a nice outfit to go out. Many of the Argentina's best restaurants will not let you in with shorts.
I would advise against packing a lot of clothes, however. Leave extra space in your luggage so you can buy clothes in Buenos Aires. Most of the clothes are high quality and cost a lot less than in the United States or western Europe.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Other than prescriptions, you can find all basic items in Buenos Aires. And the prices are likely to be much cheaper than they would be in your home country. So don't bother packing extra rolls of toilet paper.
Photo Equipment: Film can be expensive and the quality varies, so bring plenty of film from home.
Fall in Buenos Aires
Luggage and bags: If you plan on doing some serious leather shopping, you might consider packing an extra collapsible bag. We always pack one for our dirty clothes and then we have room for souvenirs and gifts in our luggage.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Buenos Aires is a terrific walking city, we rarely took any form of transportation when we could walk so bring along good walking shoes. In late March, I was able to still wear good walking sandals.
I didn't notice many people wearing shorts but the sun was very warm and I was glad to have light colored pants. In the evenings and early morning you might want a light sweater, I didn't need one but then again I had just come from freezing temperatures!
Portenos dress much more elegantly in the evening than we are accustomed to in Chicago, if you want to go see tango shows or a show at the Teatro Colon, you might want to pack a nice outfit or two.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Even the top notch hotels don't provide much in the way of toiletries so you might pack your own. Our hotel only had soap, shampoo and body lotion
Photo Equipment: Bring lots of film or memory, I took lots of photos of the architecture and street scenes
Miscellaneous: I only used one ATM at the airport but I suspect they are common and credit cards seemed to be widely accepted (we use Visa).
Few things to always bring
Luggage and bags: Leave space in your bags, at 3-1 ratio peso-dollar you can shop a long way here.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: I would suggest rubber soled shoes in Buenos Aires. Some sidewalks can be slippery, a lot are broken (which leads to the famous splash of water when you step on it). Plus there's plenty of dogs and noone picks after them. As far as clothing, go mid-season and you'll be fine. With the exception of August it's never really cold, but it can get very hot and very humid near the summer. Also, tuck in one of those rainjackets that folds into a pouch - rain storms can happen throughout the year and there is no definitely dry season.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: You can find pretty much anything in the local supermarkets, and of the same brands as abroad. Well, almost everything - I always have the hardest time finding decent floss, so bring enough (especially with all that steak you'll be eating). Razor blades are also pricey so bring from home.
Photo Equipment: If your camera is APS / Advantix, bring film from abroad. It's not widely available in Argentina (you can find it in Buenos Aires, but at much greater cost). I also hold back from developing until I reach the US, due to cost.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: Bring some sunscreen in the summer, it's not cheap in Buenos Aires (a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic will run you 10 dollars)
Miscellaneous: Alkaline batteries are also pricey, so bring enough along.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Only a few things you can't buy there
Luggage and bags: Bring an empty duffel bag to carry home all the beautiful new shoes you'll buy.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: If you are a woman who wears anything larger than a size 8, forget shopping for clothes in B.A. The women are tiny and the clothes run really small. So bring enough clothes to get you through your trip.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: There isn't a huge variety of medicines you can buy over the counter. Even in a pharmacy, I tried to get Claritin-D or Advil Sinus and it's hard to find. I did find regular Claritin. So if you have allergies or sinus problems, be sure to bring your own meds.
Photo Equipment: I brought my digital camera and had no problem. I used a converter/transformer from Radio Shack to recharge my batteries.
Miscellaneous: Bring your own magazines and crossword puzzles if you want them in English! Magazines in English cost $30 pesos!Related to:
- Women's Travel
Buy a Good Travel Guidebook
Miscellaneous: Before you go on a major trip, I find that it is essential to invest in a good travel guide book. In my case, I really did not have much detailed knowledge of Argentina so I knew that I was going to have to do some serious research to figure out where to go and what to do during our Argentinian trip.
Although I actually prefer the 'DK Eyewitness' series of guides because of their colour photos and tips, they do not do a guide for Argentina as far as I could determine. Consequently, I ended up paying about US$32 (with tax) for the April, 2002 edition of the Lonely Planet guide to 'Argentina, Uruguay & Paraguay'.
This 744-page book, almost entirely in black and white except for a map or two and a few photos, is packed full of useful information. It told me about the Visa requirements and lot's of local customs (like 'empanadas' in my Restaurant tips, for instance). I have no regrets for having bought it and I don't think you will either!Related to:
- Family Travel
ear plugs are needed if you are a light sleeper
Miscellaneous: if you are a light sleeper and you are in Argentina during the Christmas and New years celebrations pack some ear plugs as they love to set off firecrackers in the streets during this period and it goes on most nights till all hours of the night.Related to:
- Family Travel
Miscellaneous: Time Out's city guide to Buneos Aires is the bible of where to go and what to do. After a quick rundown on the history of the city the majority of the book is dedicated to highlighting the best of the city. It's particularly strong on nightlife and restaurants - the second edition was published this year so it's completely up to date. The book also contains detailed colour maps of the city with the subte laid out over them so it's very easy to navigate your way around the huge metropolis.
Several other travellers also agreed this was the best guide book to the city - but it's surprisingly hard to find once you arrive so best to buy in advance. It's superiority is probably down to the fact it is written by experts living in the city rather than 'travel-writers' who passed through.
The company also do a Patagonia guide - but if you plan to travel far beyond Buenos Aires you might want to consider the Lonely Planet (see my Argentina page).
October - Umbrella & Jackets a Must
Luggage and bags: Nothing special
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: If you are travelling in October. I must say that you must pack an umbrella and a jacket or sweater.
Some days it poured rain as through the heavens opened up. Any kind of unbrela would not have helped. Thats just a day you are better of sitting home with hot choclate (even thought its your vacation)
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Most stuff can be bought. If you have special medication do take it with you.
Photo Equipment: Bringing any kind of Camera is safe. I carried around a professional Nikon camera all over and shot and never felt unsafe.
Its very, very safe. Just don't be a stupid tourist when not shooting throw the camera in the bag.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: If you plan on going camping.
Miscellaneous: Carry some basic medical kit like cough/cold medication. I had one hell of a experience explaining my symptoms to the pharmacist who knew only spanish.
Sleepless city stuff
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Make sure u throw in some nice clothes to go out at night along with your dancing shoes cos even if you re going out just for dinner you ll want to look nice... Portenos like looking good and elegance is a little overrated in Buenos Aires.
Photo Equipment: Bring ur camera or buy one here, the same with films...
Miscellaneous: Make sure ur electrical things are ok for 220 volts.
Laundries and Dry Cleaning
Miscellaneous: When it comes to getting your clothes taken care of while on vacation, it's best if you have an idea of the different options available. If you're in a hotel, it really doesn't matter as they, in most cases, can take care of your laundry without problems. But if you're in an apartment, then you'll have to hit the street.
There are basically two different options; Dry Cleaning (Tintorias) and Laundries (Lavadero Autoservicios). I made the mistake of taking some jeans and t-shirts to the Tintoria and that was a huge mistake. Not only do they charge about 10X more than a laundry, but you'll clothes will be totally streched out.
After making the mistake of using a Tintoria for my drawers, I found a Lavadero that was excellent: Lave-Rap. They have locations all over town, and the one I used was at Castex 3380 near Salguero.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
- School Holidays
prepare for long flight
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: dove facial disposable wash cloths-to wash face and underarms
summers eve disposable feminine cloths-to wash private places
toothpaste/mouthwash combo for breath
there really is no need to smell frowsy on long flights anymore
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