If you’re anything like me, you love to pack. If you’re not like me and you have no idea how to pack, especially for Peru, then I’m here to help. As someone who has traveled frequently and for extended periods of time in very different climates with only a backpack, I have learned about some hacks and essentials for traveling. I’ll share what I have learned and my guide to packing for Peru. I packed for more than three months, but whether you are staying for a week or a few months, packing can be quite similar.
Okay, so let’s start with clothes. Like any mountainous place, the weather tends to be unpredictable. This means layers. In one day, it can start as super sunny and hot (for the mountains) and then change completely in an hour to cold temperatures, wind, and rain. Being in rural Peru, it is better to dress a little more conservatively, which works well with the weather here anyway. This means no tank tops, shorts, or short skirts and dresses. Pants, leggings, and t-shirts are perfect.
I am an extremely light packer, so I try to make everything I pack have two purposes. The t-shirts I packed (four total) work both for casual wear and hiking/ physical activities. This also goes for the four long sleeve shirts I packed. For pants, I packed one dry fit, one legging, and two jeans. This means two pants that can be used for hiking and other activities and two pants that are for everyday casual wear, of course the leggings and dry fit pants can be worn any day too. I packed one sweater to layer over another shirt, planning on buying a nice alpaca sweater in Peru. I plan out my souvenirs to also be practical and usable, or to not take up too much space.
For shoes, I packed hiking shoes, Chacos, tennis shoes, and Converse. Chacos are always an essential packing item for me: good for walks, showers, leisure, water activities, and pretty much any weather (although you have to accept the socks and sandals look — take pride in it). This brings me to socks: I packed 7 pairs, most of them taller, two are wool (good for hiking), and then two pairs of short socks. As for coats, I packed a down jacket (to be used at higher altitudes and at night), a raincoat (that I carry with me at all times), a down vest, and a light weight fleece. All of these can be layered. I also threw in a baseball cap, a beanie, and a pair of gloves.
The most important item to bring is a camera. It is always so important to have something to record memories with. Peru is so beautiful that a camera is a necessity; it’s the only way to harness all the beauty you are surrounded by. There is so much hiking to do in Peru, that a good, comfortable, and appropriately sized backpack is necessary. This can also be used for weekend trips to Cusco or other surrounding places, if you are going to be a volunteer like me, based in Ollantaytambo..
As for little additions to your pack that are helpful and not always thought of: bandanas (many purposes, good for hiking), duct tape (hack: wrap it around your water bottle), paracord (many uses as well, like laundry lines, strapping things to the outside of your backpack, etc.), pocketknife, travel mug, books, playing cards (good way to bond with fellow travelers), carabiners (numerous uses), and of course a journal. I believe it is very important to write about your experience as it allows you to process, but also gives you something to look back at and remember your experiences.
Life is too short to not take it all in and make sure you are appreciating all that you have. Peru is a great place to experience the amazing people, scenery, and culture. I believe that packing less equals having less worries, allowing you to focus more on the place that you are traveling within and the experiences you are having.