Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil: Packing for Rio de Janeiro + Iguazu


Scott and I are headed to Brazil tomorrow for a belated celebration for his recent milestone birthday. As I’ve talked about in a few recent posts, we’ll start with three days at Iguazu Falls before making our way to Rio de Janeiro for the final five days. Instead of last-minute packing this go-around, I started a few days ahead of time to begin the editing process. After a bit of internal debate (do I really need heels and wedges?!) I’m pretty proud to say that I’ve packed for 8 days in Brazil in a carry-onSeriously. This is a major accomplishment.

I did it earlier this year in Honduras, and then again for a quickie weekend in Puerto Rico, but I had half assumed that Brazil would be a different beast. We’re visiting a couple of different locales with different climates so I accepted that we’d likely be checking a bag for the long journey from St. Maarten. If my packing list serves me well (I’ll check back in with the success of my packing after the trip) I’m in for an easy carry-on journey ahead. Considering we have four (yes, four) connections on flights operated by three different carriers, I’m pretty happy to avoid checking. Continue reading to see what’s in my bag:

Packing for Rio de Janeiro

Packing List for Rio de Janeiro

1. Hats // One felt hat + a simple white Panama hat to help with blocking sunshine and tempering bad hair days. I’m wearing one, and then have one in my carry-on bag. Doesn’t everyone look a bit more chic in a hat and sunglasses?

2. Tops // I have about 9 tops that I’m taking and while that seems like a lot, they’re all super lightweight so they take up very little space in my bag. About half of my tops are tanks, and half are blousy tops that can transition from day to night pretty easily. They all work well with shorts or skinny jeans and are mostly neutral tones (black, navy, white) with a couple bright pieces.

3. Shorts // It’s autumn in Brazil which means Rio will be in the mid-70s according to weather reports. I have four pairs of shorts for day and nighttime use: a nice black pair, plus a few casual pairs in denim, camo, and white.

4. Shoes // This is where I’m kind of amazed honestly. I have four pairs of shoes packed: one pair of flip-flops, one pair of tan wedges, one pair of ankle boots, and a pair of tennis shoes. Somehow these all fit beautifully in my carry-on. I’ll wear the boots on the plane to conserve space.

5. Pants // I’m bringing three bottoms: one pair of dark skinny jeans (perfect for evenings), one pair of black leggings, and a pair of black harem pants. Dark skinnies are probably the most versatile bottom ever – great for daytime strolling or dressed up for nighttime outings.

6. Rompers // I have three rompers in tow: one brightly colored ombre romper that’s great for day or night, one strappy pink romper for daytime, and one royal blue romper that’s a bit dressier (aren’t rompers the new LBD anyway?). Not everyone loves rompers and jumpsuits but I absolutely adore them – there’s zero thought that goes into matching anything; it’s a top and bottom in one!

7. Bathing Suit // You can’t go to Rio without a bathing suit, right?! I’m bringing two suits + a sarong for poolside lounging.

8. Dress // For good measure, I have one bright dress that’s great for daytime or perfect with wedges for nighttime. I haven’t brought any sexy/clubby dresses at all and am assuming we won’t be in a situation where that’ll be needed. I’m packing  clothes with my footwear in mind, too. No heels means no dresses that will need stilettos.

9. Workout Gear // I always travel with tennis shoes, workout pants and my ToeSox for in-room Barre3 workouts, the hotel gym, and/or outdoor experiences. I always feel a bit better if I can sneak a few workouts into vacation — it makes those Capirinhas feel justified!

10. Accessories // I’ve packed a cross body bag that will be good for evenings out plus a set of gold and silver-toned jewelry. I’m not bringing anything super valuable because of all of the warnings we’ve heard from travelers to Rio. Whether or not we’ll feel concerned about safety when we’re there I can’t be sure, but there’s no reason for us to make ourselves targets by wearing expensive baubles. Other accessories include a few pairs of sunglasses and a scarf for cooler settings.

And yes, all of that fit comfortably into a carry-on bag! I also have skin care and a toiletry bag that fit in my carry-on with plenty of space.

Not pictured: electronics. My Canon T2i (with my new Capturing Couture strap!) plus charger, iPad and iPhone plus chargers, my laptop plus charger, a universal adapter.

Do you have something to add to this list? What are some clothing items that you think are necessary for Rio and other parts of Brazil?


Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.