What To Pack For Peru – Your Ultimate Packing List
Now I don’t know about you, but for me packing for a trip is always a source of stress; Have I packed enough? Have I packed too much? Have I missed anything? What do I even need for this adventure? The list of questions I ask myself goes on and on…. I don’t think you are ever fully prepared for a trip until you’ve been, come back and at this point have discovered the things you needed, the things you didn’t and the things you didn’t pack but wish you had! So, having been to the land of the Incas, I have decided to help my fellow travellers out there and create the ultimate packing list! Struggling for what to pack for Peru? Well, look no further because this post should have everything you need!
First thing’s first, there’s a few things to consider which will affect your packing; 1. How long you’re going for, 2. What season you are going in and 3. What you plan on doing. If you’re planning a 2 week trip to the mild Peruvian coast in summer your packing list will be very different to if you plan on spending a month hiking in the Peruvian mountains in Autumn. Keep this in mind when planning what to bring and how much to pack!
The weather in Peru is very changeable, one minute the sun was out and we were sweating and stripping off to baselayers, the next minute the wind picked, up the sun went in and we were shivering in hats and scarfs. My tip would be to bring multiple layers that you can easily pop in a bag and take on and off as required.
Here is a list of essentials I would recommend:
- Underwear (obviously) at least 1 week’s worth plus a few extras – in this time you’ll usually have found an opportunity to wash your clothes somewhere.
- Thick, warm socks are a must if you’re planning on doing any hiking of which there are many fantastic opportunities to do so in Peru.
- Sports bra – for you ladies out there with a more generous cup size (not something I have ever had to worry about, unfortunately!) you may appreciate the extra support if planning on taking on any of the hikes.
- Base layers – merino wool is the best as they are more breathable than synthetics
- A packable waterproof, windproof jacket.
- Swimwear- probably not necessary if you only plan to hike around Cusco and see Machu Picchu, but if you’re thinking of heading to the coast or visiting any of the natural hot springs, make sure you’re ready for a dip!
- Scarf, hat and gloves – try to find some that are warm but aren’t bulky to pack, the buff style skiing neck warmers are ideal for this rather than a traditional wool scarf. As well as things for the cold, a sun hat is also advisable because sunburn is never pretty, especially on your scalp!
- Some t-shirts or vest tops for warmer weather
- Hiking trousers, thick warm leggings or jeans
- Comfortable shorts for hiking in the heat.
- Hiking boots – ensure they’re comfy and well worn in before your travels, trekking the Inca trail is no time to be getting blisters!
- Trainers or other comfy shoes – the streets of Peru are often cobbled and even when we weren’t hiking, we found we still did A LOT of walking so ensure your non-hiking shoes are still sturdy and comfortable.
- Jumpers or fleeces – again another handy layer to strip on and off as the temperature changes.
- At least one nice outfit – sometimes it’s nice to dress up and there are plenty of opportunities in Peru to have a nice meal or go somewhere that warrants a little more finesse than hiking gear provides.
- PJs – especially if you’re in communal hostels!! I’d ideally ensure they’re warm as we found Peruvian hostels were often quite cold so be prepared and maybe pack some sleeping socks, your feet will thank you!
- Flip Flops or Sandals – again comfort is key but sandals or flipflops can be a versatile footwear option that don’t take up too much room.
It’s a must to have copies of all important documents in case anything goes awry on your trip. This is a list of things to bring with you and have hard copies of. I am a fan of hard copies just in case anything happens to my phone (like for instance if you chuck it in a waterfall…Speaking from experience, whoops!), but I always ensure I have all the documents downloaded onto my smart devices too so I always have access to all my documents in some shape or form.
Another handy tip is to give someone at home a copy of everything too. I always give my mum this because A. it stops her worrying about me too much on my travels as she always knows roughly where I am and how to contact me and B. if anything should go wrong, someone can get hold of your documents for you.
Here are the things I would always have copies of:
- Passport and travel visas (if required)
- Travel Insurance documents
- Vaccination records and any relevant medical history e.g. if you have allergies or are on any long term medication.
- Hotel/hostel reservations
- Tickets for any tours or transportation booked
- Money – both Peruvian and your own country’s currency
- Money card – I am much happier using a travel money card abroad than taking my credit cards. These often come with an app so you can manage your account on your phone and it’s one of the more secure ways to handle larger sums of money abroad.
- Student ID – if you’re a student bring a valid ID card as you can enjoy sizable discounts on many attractions across Peru.
I don’t really think this needs any explanation. If you’re travelling with someone maybe try and share these out between you rather than doubling up on everything, it will save you both some space when packing.
- Hairbands, grips and any accessories
- Shampoo and conditioner – The bars are really handy and take up much less space than bottles, ensure you have some sort of tin to pack them though so they don’t drip soap all over your bag.
- Soap – again we found this was less clunky than shower gel.
- A razor
- Sun cream – despite Peru often feeling deceivingly chilly, you’re very close to the equator and the sun is very strong, so protect your skin!
- Moisturiser and lip balm- because of the changeable climate I found my skin suffered so bring something to give it some TLC.
- Make up – Peru isn’t the place to go mad dolling yourself up, but if you’re anything like me you’ll want some pictures from your trip and you’d like to look at least a little presentable so just pack a few essentials.
- Nail file, tweezers and nail clippers
- Light microfibre towel – much more packing friendly than your average towel and cheaper than hiring one at hostels each time.
You never know when you’re going to sustain a minor injury; cuts, blisters, a dehydration headache are all common occurrences when travelling. Having to troll around the streets looking for a pharmacy for something as simple as paracetamol can be a pain so pack the essentials! Again if travelling with someone share the items between you to make for lighter packing.
- Buscopan and some sort of diarrhoea stopper like Immodium – dodgy tummies are never fun and unfortunately quite common when travelling. Be prepared so it doesn’t ruin your trip!
- Travel and seasickness pills – the roads are winding and the sea is often rough so if you’re sensitive to motion sickness come armed!
- Oral rehydration sachets – excellent for dehydration, sunstroke or tummy upsets
- Any prescription medication
- Anti-histamines for bites, stings and allergies
- Mosquito repellent – at least 50% DEET
You’ll definitely want to document your journey and have some amazing momentos to look back on when you’ve returned home. Technology is also a way to keep in touch with friends and family and let them know you’re still alive – a must if you have a mother like mine who’d be sending out a search party if I didn’t get in touch regularly!
- Tablet – great for pre-downloading audiobooks and films to watch on long journeys, of which there are many when exploring Peru.
- Go-pro / waterproof action camera
- All appropriate chargers
- Packable tripod if you’re big into photography
- Waterproof case for phones and cameras
- Portable Hard drive
- Memory Cards
Here are things I found useful but which didn’t seem to fit in any other category:
- Travel diary and a pen or two – if you like documenting your travels as you go like I do
- Sunglasses – when the sun is out it’s bright!
- A hairdryer – as mentioned above, Peru is quite cold and the air is quite damp so clothes don’t dry very easily. If you choose to hand wash or need to dry out some water-logged gear we found a travel hairdryer came in infinitely useful on our trip.
- Travel clothes wash and clothes pegs – for when you want to do a quick wash of a few things and don’t want to use the laundrette
- Heavy-duty padlock – In Peru we found many of the hostel lockers didn’t have a lock so it was best to bring your own.
- Packing cubes – I found when using a backpack this made packing and unpacking so much easier. I tried to have a system to what was in each packing cube so if I needed something I knew where it was. I found it much simpler than having to delve into the bottom of my bag to search for something and found everything stayed much tidier and less crumpled.
- Plastic bag for wet clothes – if you end up not able to dry some clothes out in time or have some wet swimwear, just having a simple plastic bag so the rest of your bag doesn’t get damp too.
- Re-usable water bottle – some of the water in Peru isn’t safe to drink unless boiled but we found many of the hostels would provide a station for water where you could fill up freely. This saved a lot of money and also helped to reduce our single-use plastic consumption.
- Laundry bag – to keep your dirty laundry separate from your clean stuff and prevent that fusty backpacker smell!
- Plastic wallet – for travel documents and souvenirs
- Day bag – a small backpack just for the essentials when out exploring.
So there you have my ultimate packing guide for Peru. I hope this has provided you with a handy tick list to help you ensure you’re ready for your adventures! Good luck, have an amazing time and if you think I’ve missed anything out, comment below, I’d love to hear your input. Happy Travels!
If you’d like more travel inspiration for your next trip to Peru, check out my other tips and guides here!