10 things to pack for your trip to Peru

10 things to pack for your trip to Peru

October 12, 2018

There are some amazing itineraries for your epic bucket list, but any that includes a trip to Peru gets filed under  “Trip of a Lifetime”. There is something so unbelievably magical about this place. However, there seem to be so many questions when it comes to what you REALLY need to have a great trip.  These are some of the things that made our trip so special that we decided to take students back on an 11 day tour of Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and the Amazon 

  1. Chunky Bottomed Shoes:  To hike up Machu Picchu (up the mountain, not the 4 day) standard running shoes are fine.  It’s more Stairmaster-on-steroids than anything else. But the streets in Cusco? We were sure that there had to be a group of city workers that came out to polish the streets every night and then had some camara oculta to capture tourists falling on their butts.  Either way, well-grooved, rubber bottomed shoes are a MUST for walking around the city. Seriously.  A must.
  2. Electrolytes:  Apparently the real problem with altitude sickness is dehydration.  I had heard that taking electrolytes would combat nausea and the effects of the altitude, and it completely worked.  I took two pills or a fizzy tablet in the morning, and didn’t feel sick even once. They also prevent a hangover if you take one after too many pisco sours. A friend told me.
  3. A travel backpack:  In cities like Lima, this probably won’t be the case, however in the highlands and the extremely hilly Cusco, you may find that you don’t have an elevator, depending on the luxury of the hotel that you choose.  So, even if you don’t use the backpack for intense backpacking, it is convenient to avoid dragging your suitcase up the stairs. Or worse, watching it tumble down the stairs once you’ve loaded it with your alpaca blanket souvenirs. This is the one that I have, and I love it...although that flower is still somewhere on a tarmac in Lima, I'm sure.
  4. Your CASTELLANO to peruano dictionary:  You know that there are a number of countries that prefer “castellano” to “espanol”. Peru is one of them.  Also, there are significant dialectical differences in Peru that we weren’t aware of. They will definitely understand you if you order aguacate, but that ensalada de palta is just that...avocado salad.  In other words, it’s avocado with dressing.  
  5. Layers:  Being that most itineraries include trips to Machu Picchu and Cusco, heed this advice: bring multiple layers. Cusco is COLD in the shade, and can get warm in the sunshine.  Nights are perpetually frigid (I mean, we are from southern California, but we DID grow up in the Midwest, so…). Machu Picchu may seem chilly, but if you walk up the mountain, you’ll want to peel off some of those layers on Hiram Bingham’s original stairmaster.  
  6. Comfy clothes: While the story is different in the metropolis of the capital, through the rest of your typical itinerary, you’ll find that most people don’t dress up excessively.  So leave the 19 pairs of shoes at home and opt for jeans and weather appropriate shirts. You’ll likely do tons of walking as you explore the different cities, since each corner seems to have something amazing to offer, so comfortable leggings or pants will be your favorites as well.  We are big fans of a night out, but in most places, something you love wearing is just fine.
  7. NO hats.  Buy one when you get there.  For just a few soles, you can buy a chullo with or without the iconic earflaps, so leave your hats at home and buy your first souvenir when you arrive.
  8. A lightweight water bottle:  This is no time for your double walled, metal, condensation-free water bottle. That sucker is heavy.  Grab a lighter weight one like this or this to carry with you through your day trips.  Remember, altitude sickness is related to hydration.
  9. A food diary:  The culinary landscape of Peru is out of this world, and you will want to remember it.  I will forever regret not recording where I had the best ceviche on my first trip, so my food diary will definitely be joining me on the next one, to accompany the 1000s of pictures that I will undoubtedly take of each dish.
  10. Cash:  Either take it out of the ATM in country or exchange to Nuevos Soles before you go.  However when you go to the amazing restaurants there, you’ll note the cultural difference in service when you pay the bill.  Time is not of the essence for the servers, but yours, as a traveler, is limited. So maximize your time by paying in cash and not needing to wait for change.

I’m sure I’ll have to add a million more things in the comments, but this is the short list of the things that I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t been there first!  Did I miss anything?

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