20 Top Peru Packing List Items + What NOT To Bring (2017 Update)

Getting ready for a trip for Peru can be difficult. The popular South American country is geographically diverse with everything from sunny beaches to mountainous regions and even the Amazon rain forest. Here is a list of things you should consider packing in your backpack for your trip.

What to bring to Peru

1) Travel Insurance – Before you start packing you will want to make sure you have travel insurance. While being a relatively safe place to travel Peru does have its dangers. From theft to hiking injuries or even tropical diseases such as Yellow Fever and Malaria you should be covered in case of an emergency. World Nomads is a reputable travel insurance provider that I recommend. You can even get cover if you have already started your trip, or extend if you decide to change your schedule.
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2) Lonely Planet Peru – In a country as diverse as Peru a good guidebook is a must. As internet is not always a guarantee, it’s very handy to have up-to-date information always available. Lonely Planet publish an annual Peru edition featuring in depth travel related information for all the regions popular with travellers.
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3) Spanish Phrasebook – While many people in the tourism industry will speak english, it’s very likely you will need to interact with many locals in Peru who do not. A Latin-America specific Spanish phrasebook will provide you with all the common words and phrases you will need to navigate. It’s worth buying this in advance so you have time to practice.
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4) Hiking Boots: Mens and Womens – You are never too far from a good hike while traveling in Peru so good hiking footwear is essential. Highlights include the Inca Trail, Colca Canyon and of course the Amazon rainforest. Make sure your boots are water resistant as it can get very wet.
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5) Altitude Sickness Tablets – Many of the popular destinations in Peru are high above sea level. High altitude affects people to varying degrees. You will want to be prepared before it’s too late. Altitude sickness tablets greatly reduce the chances of falling ill.
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6) Insect Repellent – Mosquitoes in Peru are an issue. You will want to avoid being bitten to save yourself from itchy skin or even malaria. Make sure you have insect repellent from the start and use it regularly if there are mosquitoes in the area.
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7) Peru Power Adapter – Peru outlets take both US style 2 flat type prongs and two rounded prong styles. If you are coming from the US most of your devices will already work in Peru. If you need to use something that is not dual voltage you will want to use a voltage converter. If you are coming from Europe or a country that does not use US style outlets you will need an adapter.
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8) LifeStraw – Much of the tap water in Peru is not drinkable for visitors. While bottled water is readily available the LifeStraw can be a lifesaver if you run out while hiking. The small, lightweight contraption filters water using suction as you drink it.
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9) Travel Backpack – Whether hiking or exploring the cities of Peru you will need to be able to carry everything you need for the day. A good, lightweight travel backpack is essential. Look for something with enough space for your essentials but still portable enough to carry for the full day.
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10) Flashlight – A decent flashlight is a good idea for Peru. Not only will it come in handy on treks, it will also be useful if you stay in any rural towns and villages where the street lighting is not extensive.
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11) Power Bar – There will be times when you need to charge all your electronics at once. I recommend taking a travel sized power bar. Some budget accommodation may only have one outlet in the room so you won’t need to choose what to plug in. It is also advised to choose one with a built in surge protector. Electrical storms in Peru are common so it’s worth protecting your electronics.
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12) Activated Charcoal – With non potable water and lower hygiene standards than most of the western world it’s not uncommon for visitors to suffer with stomach issues. Taking activated charcoal at the first sign of trouble will save you a lot of discomfort.
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13) Rain Jacket: Mens and Womens – South American storms can be brutal and so you do not want to be caught in one unprepared. A good waterproof jacket is essential if you are planning on exploring Peru. I recommend a lightweight one that can be packed away as in many places it can still be very hot and humid while it’s raining.
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14) Camera – Peru is full of beautiful scenery and wonderful places to visit. While serious photographers will want to take a DSLR, for most a compact camera will do the job. I recommend a sturdy, waterproof model such as the “Panasonic DMC-TS30K LUMIX” as travelling in Peru can be tough on cameras.
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15) Sarong – A sarong is one of the most versatile and lightweight pieces of clothing you can travel with. It can be used to cover shoulders or legs when visiting religious sites or even an emergency towel. Best of all, they usually pack up small so can be carried everywhere.
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16) After Bite – Even taking the best precautions in Peru you are likely to get a few mosquito bites. Using after bite can provide relief and lower the risk of infections.
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17) Motion Sickness Tablets – The roads in Peru can be rough, especially in remote regions. Coach, car or even boat journeys can leave you feeling under the weather. Motion sickness tablets are a must for anybody who gets even slightly queasy on the move.
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18) Kindle – While your days in Peru may be spent adventuring, there will still be times when you want to relax with a book. The Kindle can hold more books than you could ever read in a lifetime and has excellent battery life. The portable nature of the kindle makes it perfect for travel. The backlight means you can even read in low light. With an internet connection you can even download new books from anywhere in the world.
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19) Power Bank – You will want to keep your electronics charged so it’s a good idea to carry a power bank. The Jackery Titan can charge an Iphone over 6 times and can charge two devices at a time so you can use your phone as much as you like without fear of running out of battery.
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20) Hat, Scarf and Gloves – You need to expect cold weather in Peru especially if you are travelling outside of summer. Many of the high altitude places experience a significant temperature drop at night. A few warm accessories can make all the difference.
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Other Packing List Items

What to wear in Peru

The best advice for how to dress in Peru is to dress in layers. The mornings and evenings can be very cold, but it can get very hot in the afternoons so you need to be able to shed a layer or two as the day heats up. Peru’s cities have some very nice restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. While you don’t need to dress super fancy, it’s worth packing a couple of smart-casual outfits for the evenings.

When visiting one of Peru’s many religious sites it is advised to dress conservatively and cover up shoulders or bare legs if possible. Swimwear should be reserved for the beach and poolside only.
Make sure you are always prepared for the rain, especially if hiking. Lightweight long pants and long sleeves will come in very handy to stop mosquito bites.

What NOT to take to Peru

1) 🚫Expensive Jewellery: As a tourist in Lima you will already stand out. Do not draw even more attention to yourself with expensive jewellery. Flashy goods can make you a target for thieves.

2) 🚫Unnecessary Electronics: Although you will still want to keep connected with home, if you carry too many electronics it will make you a target. Only take what you need, it will be easier to keep track of aswell.

3) 🚫Lot’s of Cash: Peru has ATM’s, while it’s OK to take a small amount of emergency cash do not carry around large sums. Lots of places take credit card too, there is no reason to carry around large sums.

4) 🚫Sleeping Bag: Hotels and hostels will provide all the bedding you need. Even if you are planning on camping, they will have the equipment. Even if you find some of the bedding a little old, a simple travel sheet should do the trick.

5) 🚫Heavy Books: They take up lot’s of room and they inevitably get damaged. Apart from the odd travel guide you should avoid carrying a library in your backpack.

6) 🚫Mosquito Net: Although mosquitoes are a problem, in the places that need them, the hotel, hostel or guesthouse should provide them. Nets are simply too bulky to carry around with you.

Peru FAQ

1) Will People Speak English?

Many people working in hotels or restaurants will speak good English. Most people will know basic words or phrases but many will only speak Spanish. Having a basic grasp of common phrases, numbers etc is recommended. Do not be afraid to try speaking Spanish, locals will appreciate the effort.

2) Do I need to Tip?

Most restaurants have an automatic 10% gratuity on the bill, look for the word “propina”, if they do not it is customary to add 10% if the meal and service was satisfactory. You do not need to tip taxis however hotel porters expect a small tip.

3) What is the best way to get around?

Peru is quite a large country with many of the main attractions spaced out and many natural barriers. If you want to save time, inter-city flights are the fastest way although not the cheapest. The bus network is extensive and varies in quality. It’s by far the cheapest way to get around but you do need to pay more for better quality buses. Many of the routes offer overnight buses which can save a day of travel and hotel costs overnight. Theft is a problem on buses in Peru so keep your belongings close.

Some areas are served by train lines. Most visitors use the train system in and around Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. The trains can be expensive but the most comfortable way to do the rural scenic journeys.

Within cities taxis are inexpensive by western standards. The local transport systems differ by cities but the buses are usually busy but cheap and regular.Many cities also have collectivos, shared mini-vans for both long or short journeys. These can be cramped but relatively cheap and faster than buses.

4) Is Peru dangerous?

While most people travel in Peru without incident, thefts and muggings are still an issue. Take precautions with your valuables and do not carry too much cash. Be careful when visiting non tourist areas of bigger cities, especially after dark. Make sure to read up on the areas before you book a hotel, some neighborhoods are safer than others. Always do research before visiting any city of their specific safety concerns.

5) What is the best way to visit Machu Picchu?

If you are fit and have the time, hiking the famous Inca Trail is a popular way to visit Machu Picchu. Tour companies run various multi day hikes finishing at the Incan ruins leaving from Cusco. You need to be able to complete a challenging hike and happy to camp overnight.

You can get to the nearby town of Aguas Caliente by train with a local bus most of the way up to Machu Picchu. So if you want to visit but cannot do the trail, you can make your way there with limited hiking.
If you are visiting during the busy season make sure to book everything in advance to avoid disappointment. There are limited spaces on trains, tours and the local government even limit the daily visitors to Machu Picchu itself.

6) Are there any common scams in Peru?

The main “scam” in Peru is simply overcharging. Make sure you have a good idea of what goods and services are worth before you hand your money over. Always agree a price before accepting a service, such as a taxi ride as you leave yourself open to them making up a high price.

Many of the souvenirs are priced highly as “handmade” or “artisan” when much of it is cheaply mass produced merchandise. Be wary of overpaying for your trinkets.

7) Can I drink the water?

For the most part NO. Use bottled water if you do not wish to be ill. Some nicer hotels will have drinkable water but for the most part you should stick to bottles. Be careful with ice and ask wait staff if they get fresh ice delivered or use freeze from the tap.

8) Do they have ATM’s?

All larger cities will have ATMs and most of the rural places will have at least one. However some small villages or towns will not have any so make sure you do research before you set off. Some guesthouses that accept cards in places that do not have ATMs will let you take cash out on their machines for a fee.

9) Do I need malaria medication?

Most people travel in Peru without taking Malaria medication without issue. The side effects from Malaria medication can be discomforting. If you decide not to take medication make sure to take all sensible precautions from getting mosquito bites.

The Amazon Basin and Brazilian border region have a higher Malaria rate. The risk is still there but it is up to you to decide. Consult your doctor before buying any medication.

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