Whether you’re preparing for Peru’s various microclimates, or looking for advice about how to pack light, you may be wondering what gear is most essential for your trip to South America.

Here are 5 travel essentials. And we included a list of things you might want to leave at home.
(we're assuming you know you have to bring your entry tickets and the same passport you used to buy your entry tickets, to get in to Machu Picchu)

What To Bring

1. Backpack
To keep various small and large objects organized, and avoid rifling through your pants and jacket pockets, invest in a durable backpack. Choose from lightweight backpacks for short day hikes, or a specialized bag to protect your camera gear. No matter what size you get, we recommend a backpack that is waterproof and sturdy enough to stand up to assorted weather conditions. Having a bag that’s compact enough to wear under your poncho or rain jacket is recommended for day hikes and short treks for 2 to 3 days. (Maximum size 24 liters women / 28 liters men for day hikes) Link to an example on Amazon

2. Rain Jacket/Poncho
Everyone is advised to pack a rain jacket or poncho, even during the dry season. (April - Nov). Except in the coastal desert region, Peru’s rains are unpredictable year round. A rain jacket can be used as a windbreaker when needed, and an extra layer if the temperature drops. Rain jackets roll up or come with stuff sacks to easily stow in your backpack until needed. For multi-purpose functionality (draping over a backpack, covering gear, etc.), a poncho is more versatile than a fitted jacket and can be purchased cheaply in Cusco.

3. Sturdy Footwear
When walking through Peru’s beautiful landscapes, who doesn't want to focus on the sights, culture and history, not foot pain from ill-fitting shoes? Pack flat, grippy-soled footwear that is water-resistant or waterproof. With a casual dress code in Cusco, you can wear the same shoes you hike in when you hit the town! For people who plan to do multi-day hikes, we recommend sturdy hiking boots. It's ideal to break-in all your footwear before you travel. Wearing new shoes is the most common cause of foot pain. (My personal favorite all around hiking shoe is Oboz low top. Link to an example on Amazon)

4. Reusable Water Bottle (optional Built-In Filter)
Staying hydrated is the key to adjusting to the high-altitude. Coupled with exposure to the sun and staying active all day, it's easy to get dehydrated, which can intensify fatigue and darken your mood. Who wants that on their vacation? Having access to drinking water all the time is important. Bring a reusable water bottle, or bladder, that can be carried with you all the time. Ideally, it will fit nicely in an outside pocket of your backpack for easy access. We invite you to bring a bottle with a built-in water filter if you want to avoid buying drinking water in single-use plastic bottles. Having a reusable water bottle is cheaper in the long run and reduces plastic waste. My favorite reusable bottles are actually pouches. I wrote another blog post about water bottles which you can see here.

5. Mobile Accessories
Whether you need to checkin for your flights or take photos of your amazing adventure, a dead cell phone battery brings everything to a screeching halt. Even if it's only temporary. Believe me, in spite of weeks of advance planning, it happens! Always travel with a fully charged portable external battery charger and at least 2 charge cables, so you have one as a backup. Keep your phone, camera and other devices ready-to-go all day. A protective phone case can safeguard your phone from moisture, dust and damage while you use it on the go.


What Not To Bring

1. Favorite stuffed animal
2. Harry Potter Book Collection
3. Office Supplies
4. Drum kit (but a harmonica might be ok!)

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