When preparing to travel to a foreign country, especially if you are planning to stay for a month or two like studying Spanish in Buenos Aires like me, you don’t know what the country has or doesn’t have. It’s normal that you want to be as prepared and bring as many of your daily, familiar products as possible, for the just-in-case moments! Needless to say, I overpacked by a lot when I packed for Buenos Aires, and I wish there was someone or a simple guideline to give me some ideas of what I really need to bring and what not. So here is my attempt of creating such list of items from personal experience and I hope you, the future travellers, will find it useful!
1) Medicines/supplements – unless you need special prescriptions from the doctors, you don’t need to bring pills for any common nuisances like cold/flu, headaches, diarrhea etc. You can find all those here. There are many 24hrs pharmacies in the city, and in fact, Argentine’s medical services and technologies are at the forefront of the world’s standard.
2) Clothings – of course you need to pack clothes, but what I wanted to point out is that clothes here are not that cheap for what they are, especially for guys. You can definitely find very cool outfits but it’ll also cost you. If you are used to H&M, Forever21 or Topshop, then you will be in for a disappointment. So, if you have something neat and it’s of your style that you want to show off. Bring it!
3) Girls’ products – Buenos Aires has pretty much everything. Unless you are very picky or have very particular needs, you can find most of the big brands like Oval, Lancome, Mabelline, Revlon, Neutrogena etc in pharmacies. Special ones like L’Occitane and Khiel’s have stores here too. And then, there’s falabella, which is like any department store that has all the well-known cosmetics, perfumes, beauty products available. If somehow among all these choices, yours is still not in the mix, you can definitely find a good alternative. Moreover, if you are an o.b. girl, you are all set. If you aren’t, thank to the arrival of Playtex last year but you may have to walk a few more blocks to the right pharmacies.
4) Electronics are very expensive here. Their prices are almost doubled compare to those of Europe and North America. So, if you have room and you can’t live without them, go ahead and bring your hair iron, hair dryer, electric razor etc. Remember to watch the voltage though. If you need a converter, buy one from home since they’d cost more here. However, for adapters (the plugs), they are very cheap and you can find them easily in hardware stores or even on the streets.
5) Bring your cellphone but UNLOCK it before your trip. It’ll most likely cost you much less and much less headaches if you get that done back home. And according to point #4, if you plan to buy the cheapest cellphone instead and not to bother with unlocking your phone, sure, but just bare in mind that you will end up paying for the most basic phone you have ever seen.
6) Map of Buenos Aires – unless you already have the guidebooks and use the map that comes with, no need to track down a BA city map before your arrival. When you ‘re in town, just get your hands on a copy of the Guia T, which is around AR$10 nowadays at any newsstand. That will be all you need to navigate the city like a pro.
7) Spanish books/dictionary – leave yours at home. You can easily and economically buy one here. It’s a Spanish-speaking country after all! And you’ll probably find more versions here than just the typical Oxford and Webster. (I have book weight issue now when I head home.)
8 ) Last but not least, food items! If you like spicy, bring your own hot sauces and spices. Spicy food is not part of the Argentine diet. Peanut butter is already old news, which you could find them quite easily in big supermarkets, but maple syrup still hasn’t made it to the shelves. (Argentines have their own type of syrup which is eaten with the dessert flan. It’s yummy but not close to be a replacement for maple syrup.) If you are a big tea drinker and are picky with your strong tea, bring your own too. The regular tea options here are mostly red tea, and are pretty mild (putting in 2 bags still don’t cut it). You can find Twinings tea and other ‘gourmet’ teas, but they will cost a lot more than you are used to.
If I’ve missed something, please chime in and let’s make the list better!