Your Comprehensive Packing List for Peru
Considerations for Packing for Peru
Planning for trips that last several weeks is stressful. On top of that there are additional challenges with a Peruvian itinerary.
The temperatures are varying
Temperatures vary greatly in Peru. One minute you’re boiling in the desert, another you’re freezing in the Andes. If you’re going to be exploring some of the remote areas there’s likely no heating. Plus at higher altitudes, the sun is particularly harsh. You need to pack for these extremes.
The climate is unpredictable
If you venture into the Andes or are out on Lake Titicaca, there’s really no way of planning for the weather. You’ll have to assume a thunderstorm could happen at any moment. When we were on the train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca we experienced a blizzard! Peru has two main seasons:
May-September: Peruvian winter. This is the driest season but also the coldest. You’re going to need really warm clothes especially if you’re doing any of the homestay or overnight camping activities.
December-March: Peruvian summer. It’s hot and rains heavily.
October/November and April: Shoulder season. It’s a gamble, but I normally take the gamble to avoid crowds. I went for three weeks in November. It rained once when I was high in the Andes and once on the train. Not saying it will always be like that but I guess I was lucky.
Sometimes you have to get fancy
OK, “have to” may not be the best term but in the 2-week Peru itinerary I developed I mixed in some luxury with my outdoor adventure. For fine dining occasions (like Maido or Central) I wanted to look presentable. I also took a luxury train ride from Cusco to Puno and while I didn’t need a ball gown I did want something classier than jeans and hiking clothes.
my packing list for 2 Weeks in Peru
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Layering is the best approach. Pick pieces that can easily mix and match. Neutral colours will go a long way. Avoid fabrics that will wrinkle or that are high maintenance (sorry silk, you’re staying home).
3 light sweaters
1 heavy sweater
2 tank tops
1 wrinkle-free dress
1 pair of shorts
2 jeans (a skinny and boyfriend)
Enough underwear and bras
One pair of pj pants and two pj tops
Hiking & Outdoor Clothing
If you’re going to do any hiking, you’ll want to be prepared for the terrain.
1 pair of thermal pants (to be worn under regular pants)
1 pair of leggings/yoga pants
1 thermal shirt
1 dry-fit long sleeve shirt (to protect against the sun)
1 dry-fit t-shirt
Foldable down jacket
A pair of gloves
Scarf (this is great for the plane too)
Pro Packing Tip
Use packing cubes to keep your items organized. This is how I used mine:
Shirts + jackets
Activewear and pj tops
Pants (normal, rain, pjs, active)
Thick sweaters, dress and hat
Bras and sportsbras
Hiking boots (water resistant)
Comfortable walking shoes
Suimsuit (good for places that have a pool or spa)
Moneybelt (good if you’re taking the buses)
Baggage locks (with TSA symbol so they don’t cut your lock)
A spork (for street food, when you’re in doubt about the cutlery sanitation)
Water bottle (saving the planet one plastic bottle at a time)
1 small umbrella
Toiletries & Snacks
Medication (keep in your carry on)
Stomach medication (for traveller’s diarrhea)
Reef safe sunblock (face and body SPF 30+)
Insect repellent (mosquitos are bad on some of the hikes)
Tissues (you need toilet paper on certain trails)
Wet wipes (also for the trails, you’ll need to bring all waste with you)
Toothbrush and Toothpaste tablets
Granola bars and beef jerky
Consider snacks with fibre (traveller’s constipation is a real thing)
Skincare products (try to limit 12 steps to no more than 3)
Contact lenses and solution (if needed)
Copies of all your important documents (e.g. passport, ID, credit cards). I also take photos and send to my email.
Camera gear (reference below for how to pack camera gear)
Best Luggage for Backpacking Peru
Backpack Vs. Suitcase
The first question most people ask themselves is, “should I bring a backpack or suitcase?”. This really depends on your travel style, how much you’re moving around and the types of transport you’re using.
For my plans, a suitcase would have been inconvenient so I opted for a backpack. Even though I relied mainly on drivers for getting from point A to B, most of the roads in the smaller cities aren’t paved and wheeling luggage would have sucked.
Also, backpacks can more easily fit into cars. If you’re travelling with a group you won’t be able to fit 4 suitcases into a car, you’ll have better luck with backpacks.
How to Choose a Backpacking Bag
My backpacking bag is from my youth. It’s heavy and not ideal which is why I’m not recommending it. Even though it’s quite large, it’s deceiving because you’ll fill it and that makes it even heavier.
Find a travelling backpack that is:
Has water resistant fabrics
Has a sturdy back so that the items inside aren’t poking you
Designed for you - Men’s and Women’s backpacks are generally designed differently. It’s likely going to fit better if you go with the version for your sex
I love going into the stores (Patagonia is my favourite) and trying them on with a knowledgable salesperson. They’ll make sure the backpack is hitting your back at the right places.
Don’t forget your Day Bag
For both the day hike to Machu Picchu and the homestay on Amantani Island we couldn’t carry our large backpack. For those overnights we packed everything into a day bag. You’ll want to follow the same buying rules as above. Your bag should be able to fit a lunch, rain gear, camera gear, overnight toiletries, sweater, pjs and a change of clothes. A 25L backpack worked great for me.
Travelling with Solids
This is a no brainer for me. I always travel with solid shampoo and body wash and I recently swapped my regular toothpaste for toothpaste tablets. Not only am I saving a huge amount of space, I don’t have to worry about liquids leaking in my bag and ruining my clothes, nor do I have to worry about airline requirements.
I love the Lush shampoos, body wash bars and toothpaste tabs.
Pro Packing Tip
Limit your liquids with reusable silicone bottles. You can fill them with body lotions, soaps, toners, balms, laundry detergent, anything really. Then when you use them they only get smaller, freeing up space in your bag. It’s magic!
Remember, every free bottle of soap you use at a hotel is just another piece of plastic getting thrown out. Unless the hotel reuses the bottles, try to avoid them.
Plan your Laundry
The great news is that laundry in Peru is fairly inexpensive. Half way through the trip, in Cusco, we did a laundry day. We dropped it at our hotel reception in the morning and picked it up in the evening and it only cost us about $10.
To keep things smelling fresh I use a spray around the underarms. This helps preserve my tops and allows me to get a few wears out of them. I also bring a wash and stain bar. This way, if I get a stain I just wet the fabric and rub in the bar to prevent it from setting. It can also be used to wash your items in the sink if you can’t get to a laundry.
Pro Packing Tip
Pack some dryer sheets in your bag to keep things smelling fresh.
Pick your Camera gear wisely
The most challenging thing for photographers is deciding what gear to bring and, more importantly, what to leave behind. Missing a shot because you’re not equipped can put a serious damper on your day.
The key is to plan ahead so you know what types of shots you’re going to be getting.
For Peru, I knew I’d be capturing landscapes, street, some people and food in situations with indoor light. I travelled with my 16-55mm f/2.8 Fujinon lens which is my go-to for long trips. As a backup I brought my favourite 35mm f/2. This one was great for restaurant shots when I needed a bit more light and didn’t want to look like a dweeb shooting my food with a massive lens.
I also packed the following gear and accessories:
Cleaning fluid, wipes, puffer, brush
6 x 65GB SD cards (I didn’t use them all but one went corrupt on me, so it’s better to bring more than less)
A durable case for my cards
A solar-powered battery charger (this isn’t something I usually bring but because I was doing a homestay on a remote island with little chance of electricity, it was a great way to charge my camera and phone. The solar panel can attach to your bag and charge throughout the day.
My Peak Design hiking clip - I rave about this and use it on every hike. It’s a great way to secure my camera to my backpack and free up my hands.
Tenba protective wraps - I wouldn’t normally use these because my backpack is a camera bag that protects my gear, however I needed a bigger backpack for this trip so I used the wraps to protect my lenses.
I decided to leave my tripod at home, which may not be everyone’s decision. But since I was backpacking and with a group who probably wouldn’t want to wait around for my shot, I really didn’t want the extra weight.
If you’re looking for a travel camera feel free to reach out. I love my Fujifilm and am happy to guide new photographers with their purchase. You can read more about my travel photography gear here.
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