April 30th, 2014
What to Pack for Peru: Vacation Packing List
Don’t say hasta luego to home until you’ve packed these seven travel must-haves for your Peru adventure!
Peru is the land of steamy jungles, sandy deserts, high-altitude Inca ruins—and tons of topography requiring different types clothing, shoes, and travel accessories. Peru has crammed a planet’s worth of diversity into one country, and now you need to work the same magic with your travel bag. While you’re setting aside your passport, confirming your vaccinations are up-to-date, and folding your hiking pants, take a moment to add these less-than-obvious items to your travel pack.
No more opening your bag after a long flight to find a shampoo explosion awaiting you. No more hauling heavy liquids. No more plastic bottles heading into a landfill! Lightweight, eco-friendly solid shampoo is a traveler’s best friend—especially in a country where weight restrictions are often an issue (luggage is weighed on the train to the Machu Picchu as well as on boat rides to remote jungle lodges). Really loathing liquids? Consider toting solid sunscreen, and solid bug repellent too.
If you’re planning to hit the Inca Trail, Colca Canyon, or any of Peru’s other famous hiking trails, you’d better be well prepared. It’s a developing country and it’s not easy to find hiking essentials like trekking poles and sunhats once you’re there. Don’t forget a small headlamp, a reusable water bottle or water bladder (and spare mouthpieces), a good water purifier (make sure to filer all of your water unless it is a sealed bottle of water), as well as several of your favorite protein bars.
Your packing needs for Peru will be as diverse as the country itself – swimsuits for the northern beaches, hiking thermals for the highland towns, and long-sleeve lightweights for the dense jungles. Keep your wardrobe and accessories arranged and organized—and yourself sane—with packing cubes. Mix and match Pack-It Half Cubes, Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes, and Pack-It Specter Cubes until your portable closet is complete. Bonus – you won’t have to unpack your entire bag to find your sleep shorts on an overnight layover in Lima.
Yellow Fever Vaccination Card
Planning on heading to Peru’s lush jungles? Make an appointment for a Yellow Fever Vaccine—and pack the certificate proving you’ve had it along with your other important travel documents. While it isn’t required in order to enter Peru, you may be asked to show it upon entering other South American countries, or re-entering your own. Travel clinics often have the highest prices, while your local county health clinic or county health department should offer more reasonable rates.
Peru is rife with day trip opportunities, from bike tours through Lima to a dune buggy trips through the sand dunes of Huacachina. You’re going to need a travel daypack for those activities to tote your camera, sunscreen, and other miscellaneous items. Save yourself from having to unpack your primary bag every time you head for the door with an Eagle Creek Packable! These palm-sized packing-savers come in backpack, tote, or duffel form and will easily slip into the smallest of suitcase pockets when not in use.
Somewhere in the history of travel, jeans got a bad reputation and were cruelly replaced with zip-off pants, athletic leggings, and khaki capris. Buck the trend. It’s always a good idea to blend in with the locals, and South America is a denim-clad continent. In Lima, especially, you’ll want something that feels at least semi-sophisticated. On the same note, be sure hiking boots aren’t your only footwear.
Transportation Sanity Savers
Peru is a massive country and many destinations lack airports, meaning that most travelers will end up with their bum in a train or bus seat at some point during their journey. While luxury bus companies like Cruz del Sur take most of the misery out of long-distance bus hauls, it never hurts to pack your own travel pillow, eyeshade and earplugs. You never know when you’ll get stuck on a less comfortable bus with a loquacious llama-herder as your seatmate.
Travel Tip: Pack electrolytes, hand sanitizer, extra toilet paper, and a small first aid kit. They will come in handy.
Make sure to check out our South America Traveler’s Checklist before you go.
Have you been to Peru? What could you not live without, and what do you wish you left behind? Let us know in the comments section below!
Alexandra Baackes is a traveling writer, designer, and underwater videographer. She is currently in her third year of living as a full-time nomad -- follow along at alexinwanderland.com!