What to Pack for Summer in Santiago

Travel Tips — By Bearshapedsphere (Eileen Smith) on October 22, 2011 at 2:33 pm

It’s practically unfathomable, that it’s summer here while it’s winter there, but as you’re taking out your sweaters and rubbing your hands at night against the cold while you wait for the bus, here in Santiago we’re flinging the windows open and dusting off last year’s sandals. So you’re not caught unaware by the Santiago summer, here are some things you’ll want to pack.

A hat: It is likely that you will look like a gringo, a foreigner, a non-Santiaguino. Wear one anyway. The sun is much stronger than at home, and you’re very likely to get a sunburn if you don’t wear one. Hats in the summer are starting to catch on, so be on the cutting edge of this trend.

Sunglasses: Again, the sun is very strong. Especially if you are planning on going up into the mountains where there may still be snow, “real” sunglasses are your best bet, and there is almost no such thing as “too dark” when it comes to sunglasses. Beware knockoff sunglasses with no UV-protection, ast hese can do more harm than good.

Sunscreen: You can buy sunscreen here, but good brands are pricey. Assume you’ll want to wear at least 30 regardless of the tone of your skin, all day, every day. Reapply every two hours for maximum protection. And that “moisturizer with sunscreen” you use? Not good enough. Trust me.

Light clothes: People are wearing shorts in recent years in Santiago, in informal settings, with men usually preferring longer twill (not jean) shorts. Another option is thin pants, linen or cotton, which will dry in about three miutes should you need to wash them during your trip. If you wear a tank top, consider a thin shirt to put over it for when you are in the sun.

Sandals: Men and women wear sandals, with men preferring leather ones that cover their toes (kind of a woven shoe). Tak a few practice runs in yours so you can figure out if they give you blisters.

A cardigan/sweatshirt: Yes, you read that right. In Santiago, the temperatures can drop some 20 degrees from day to evening, and when the sun goes down and a breeze kicks up, you’ll get chilled if you don’t have a sweater or cardigan to wrap around you. Paricularly up on Cerro San Cristobal at night, you’ll want some protection against the “cold.”

A water bottle: It’s gringo-fabulous, but if you want to keep healthy and cool in the summer months in Santiago, you’d do best to have a bottle of water on hand most of the time. It’s dry here, and between the travel, the sun and the low humidity, it’s easy to get dehydrated, even if you’re drinking water with every meal. The water is potable in Santiago (and drinkable everywhere in Chile, though in Antofogasta and other places in the north people tend to drink bottled water due to high turbidity and heavy metals presence in the water), and it is more ecologically conscious (and cheaper) to bring and refill a water bottle than to continuously buy and discard plastic bottles.

Feature photo by stigeredoo on flickr.

Tags: Chile, Santiago, summer, travel