First things First
- Make a list. Don’t rely on memory alone in those final crazy hours before a vacation. A list will help you remember everything you need.
- Don’t over pack. It’s tempting to bring half of your closet, so you have plenty of choices. But having fewer options actually makes things easier on your travels.
- Keep your ID, laptop and liquids handy.
- It’s recommended to leave all unnecessary valuables and jewelry at home.
- Notice for Machu Picchu: Only 1 small bag of hand luggage (5 kg/11 lb. max) is allowed on the train to Machu Picchu. Only 1 piece of checked luggage (23 kg / 50 lb. max) can be put on the luggage car.
Clothing should be lightweight, hand-washable, and quick-drying, preferably moisture-wicking, and non-cotton. No matter where you are headed, you need to be prepared. For example, if you plan on spending a few days in Cusco, weather can shift dramatically. During the day, if the sun is shining, temperatures can get uncomfortably hotuncomfortably hot. However, once the sun sets, it’s a whole ‘nother story as things can cool down quite rapidly. That’s why it’s a great idea to dress in layers you can peel off and then replace as the temperatures shift throughout the day.
As for hats, gloves, and scarves, you can wait until you get here for that… Peru is known for its textiles and you can easily pick these mementos of your trip up quite cheaply. They won’t be waterproof, however, so if you’re trekking, bring some appropriate gloves and a rain hat.
Speaking of rain, it’s always wise to have a waterproof jacket with you no matter when you are traveling. Waterproof shoes will come in handy as well. If you’re coming between December and March, they are essential. If you’re trekking during those months, you’ll want to bring waterproof pants (zip-off pants are very useful) as well.
Essential Clothing List
-Long pants (zip-off pants are very useful)
-Shorts, mid-thigh or longer
-Light and thick socks
-Sweater, jacket, windbreaker
-Bandana (for dust, washing, etc.)
You can pick up most toiletry items here. Always bring your own personal medications, as it’s best to be prepared for those unfortunate encounters with the local bacteria that may occur while traveling. For example, many travelers will experience some type of upset stomach/diarrhea no matter how careful they are, so it pays to have something on hand for those unwanted situations.
Essential Toiletries List
-Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
-Moist towelettes (hand-wipes)
-Lotion (Badger foot balm is also helpful)
-Lip balm with sunscreen
Other Important Items to Consider
Of course, it goes without saying (but never hurts to have on your list to be safe) to have extra batteries/memory cards for your camera. You can buy memory cards in Peru, but they may be more expensive. Batteries, of course, can be trickier, depending on the model you have.
Flashlights are a handy item to throw into your bag. Even if you aren’t going on a hike, they can be handy if the power goes out, which does happen on a fairly regular basis in Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu. They can also be useful if going on a night walk in the jungle. Binoculars can be of major use to witness exotic wildlife and to observe the finer details of the scenic vistas that you’ll find everywhere throughout Peru.
Sunscreen is extremely important, particularly when you are at higher elevations. This can also be purchased in Peru, but you won’t necessarily find the brand you prefer. It’s also wise to have insect repellant on hand. You won’t need it in Cusco, but it will save you when you’re on your private tour to Machu Picchu.
A daypack is also something to consider to easily carry the items you’ll need for the day while walking around. Tours around Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu require lots of walking and contain many stairs, so you’ll want to carry water with you and possibly a small snack.
Speaking of all those stairs, comfortable walking shoes are an absolute must. If you need to buy new ones, be sure to give yourself time to break them in. You don’t need anything fancy, in terms of clothes or shoes, except perhaps one outfit for a nice dinner out in Lima. Laundry is easy and cheap to have done, so there’s no need to over pack. You can typically find a place that will wash, dry and even deliver within a whole days’ time.
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