Ultimate Peru Packing List : Tried & Tested!

By on Published: April 30, 2020 | Last Updated: May 4, 2020 in Latin America, PERU, South America, Travel Gear & Packing with 0 Comments

The Ultimate Peru Packing List - Tried & Tested!

Oh Peru, the land of magic, mysticism, mountains and Machu Picchu!

And that’s not forgetting Peru as the land of the Amazon jungle, the Pacific coast, the Arequipa Desert, Lake Titicaca, the Inca heartland, some amazing colonial cities and a ton of epic foodie fun – all of which just didn’t quite fit into the alliteration in my first sentence!

But despite them not beginning with the letter M, these things are all still very important, because they show you just how diverse Peru is and therefore, just how packing for this country really does need some thinking about it.

Having spent 2 months in Peru, and covered the length and breadth of this country, I’m delighted to say I’ve got a good grip on what you do and don’t need to pack for your travels in this country.

And so here it is, my ultimate Peru packing list – tried and tested!

Perfect for those looking to keep things simple, this packing list for Peru not only covers what you’ll need to enjoy your time across this country, but is also designed to be lightweight – ideal for those who want to fit everything into a backpack too!


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A Word About This Peru Packing List

Peru, Travel Costs, Entrance Fees

Before I get onto the actual checklist of what you should pack for your trip to Peru, I wanted to write a few quick tips that cover some specific questions you might have.

These include what women, especially, might need to think about when they are packing for a trip to this South America country, particularly around the area of leggings!

I also talk about packing for the particular season you’ll travel in Peru, as conditions vary greatly in this country depending whether you visit in the dry or rainy seasons.

I’ll then answer questions about packing items if you plan to hike in Peru (which you def should FYI). This includes items for those wanting to walk the Inca Trail, or any other multi-day treks to Machu Picchu, as well as those who simply want to day hike.

And after this, I share some of my top packing tips, including how I travelled South America for 4 months, with just a 50l backpack, as well as what I recommend wearing when long-haul flying to this continent and what to wear when enduring long bus rides in Peru too.

And finally, I’ll give you my full Peru packing list – yes an item by item list of what I recommend you pack for this amazing country, based on my own experience so you can be assured it’s tried and tested!

Let’s hook in…

 

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Women’s Packing List for Peru

Peru, Arequipa, Woman in Market

When it comes to the question around what women should wear in Peru, the answer isn’t that difficult.

It’s leggings!

Ha ha, it’s not, well it kind of is, but more on that later.

No seriously, as Peru is not that conservative as  a country, women don’t need to worry about covering up legs, chest or arms for religious or cultural reasons.

What’s more likely is that you’ll do this for climate and weather regions – yup up in those Andes it can get a bit chilly!

So if you do get cold easily, like me, having a good insulated jacket, hat, scarves, gloves and some thick socks are a must for Peru packing, especially if you’re travelling in the dry season in the mountains.

Of course, I also recommend you travel with an eco-friendly menstrual cup too ladies – wouldn’t go anywhere without mine and Peru is no exception.

Apart from that, that’s not too much other stuff women need to think about and my checklist for Peru packing has been constructed with female adventurers in mind, so read on to learn more.

 

Is It Ok to Wear Leggings in Peru?

Peru, Travel Costs, Me in Huaraz

The answer to this question, which I know is a common one for women when it comes to what they should wear in Peru, is… HECK YEAH!

In fact, leggings are the number 1 thing I wore in Peru!

I mean, I love a legging at the best of times, but with cool mountain air and lots of active days, leggings really were the answer to my Peru packing list prayers.

As such, in the checklist below, you’ll see I recommend 2 pairs.

Don’t skimp on leggings is my advice!

Oh and get a natural fibre set if you can.

I love my black bamboo-fibre leggings from Boody which I basically lived in during my time in Peru thanks to their comfort, flexibility and durability.

 

Packing for Dry Season

Peru, Sacred Valley, Cactus

Now we come to the question of seasons in Peru, which can definitely be a little tricky.

Learn more about Peru’s complex seasons and the best time to visit Peru in this article I wrote all about that.

But briefly, if you’re heading to Peru, to spend most of your time in the Andes or the Amazon, then the dry season is the best time to visit and this generally runs from April to October.

However, this is also winter in Peru when temperatures are at their lowest, so things can get pretty chilly in the Andes at this time (the Amazon is always hot).

In general therefore, packing for dry season will involve less waterproof items, but more warm layers, especially if you’re hanging out in Cusco, Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley.

At this time, think thick hiking socks, merino wool base layers, insulated jackets, thermal hats, gloves and a good alpaca scarf!

 

Packing for Rainy Season

Peru, Huaraz, Women with Umbrellas

Conversely, the rainy season in Peru runs from November to April.

This is when it rains most in the Andes and the Amazon, but is dry on the coast in places like Lima.

It’s also warmer across the whole country.

This means bring clothes that can wick-away sweat for any time you may spend in the steamy coast or the Amazon – these quick-dry tops are a good option – as well as a cap to keep the sun off your face.

The Andes will still be cool at night during the rainy season, but not freezing, so less insulated layers will need to be replaced by lots of waterproof clothing, as it can seriously bucket down up here.

A dry bag might also be a good idea therefore!

Also, less hiking clothes will be required on your Peru packing list in rainy season because many trails, like the Inca Trail, are simple inaccessible at this time.

 

Packing for Trekking – Day Hikes & the Inca Trail

Peru, Sacred Valley, Camping

So while we’re on the subject of hiking, it’s worth pointing out that the main checklist below does detail everything you need if you plan to hike a lot in Peru, as I did.

The main overall advice however is to bring layers, that you can easily strip on and off as you walk – because that’s just what you’ll do.

A thin, light waterproof / windproof jacket will be very handy when packing for hiking in Peru and, as always, I recommend garments with lots of pockets so you have easy access to things like tissues, camera, sanitiser, snacks etc.

A sleeping bag will also be useful, especially if you enjoying multi-day treks like the Inca Trail, and no matter whether you’re tackling a big one like this or just day hikes, an action camera like the Go Pro Hero 8 will be ideal with its waterproof, compact and durable attributes.

 

Other Top Peru Packing Tips

Peru, Huacachina, Me

Packing For Your Flight to Peru

It’s also worth taking some time to think about what to wear on a flight over to Peru.

Making sure these items tie in as much as possible with the checklist below, will help you keep your packing light as you won’t be doubling up or carrying unnecessary things you won’t wear again until the flight home.

Quite simply, layers are key.

You never know how hot or cold a plane might be and if you want to get some sleep, comfy clothing is king.

This is especially true given flights to Peru from North America, Europe or Australia / New Zealand are long haul, so I’d certainly advise wearing things you feel at ease in.

Ladies, I always wear leggings on long-haul flights and love these natural bamboo fibre ones from Boody, which I now never travel without!

I pair them with either a thin cotton top or dress (depending how much coverage you want) and then also take a sweater and a scarf on the plane for extra cosy layers.

The travel wraps from Sholdit, which have a hidden security pocket, are perfect for travel adventures and I love mine!

Compression flight socks are also a must in my book when it comes to long haul flying as they help you avoid the possibility of DVT and I pair these with a lovely eye maskand ear plugs to ensure I get some good zzz.

A travel pillow will also help you here and I love this one from MLVOC, which I just bought and I’m already in love with thanks to its memory foam, high-sided design.

FYI, a travel pillow will also come in handy if you’re taking any long bus or train rides in Peru too… which you definitely will!

Gents, if leggings aren’t your thing, then loose-fitting jeans or comfy cargo pants might be a good option, with a t-shirt and thin sweater on top.

 

Peru, Arequipa, Monastery

 

Small Essentials Kit for Journeys

I always travel with a small bag of essentials when I take long haul flights.

Normally this is a small, plastic ziplock bag (so it passes airport security liquid checks) including toothbrush and toothpaste, floss, small facewash, small moisturiser, lip balm, tissues, wet wipes, spare underwear and compression flight socks.

Learn more about why I travel with compression socks in this article about DVT.

But it’s not just on flights I used this in Peru.

Given the long distance bus rides which are a fundamental part of South America travel, and which often take place at night, I found it very handy to keep this small essential kit packed and ready to go with me throughout the trip.

Instead of packing it away, as I normally do when I arrive in a destination, keeping this small pack of essentials constantly topped up and included as part of my hand luggage in Peru was so handy for when I had to catch long distance / night buses.

Knowing I could always brush my teeth, or have toilet paper handy, was a game-changer and I strongly recommend you having a similar, essentials kit with you throughout your time in Peru too.

 

Peru, Huaraz, Snowy Landscape

 

Packing Cubes and Backpack

And now seems like as a good a time as any to tackle the notion of packing cubes and rucksacks, 2 key components in this Peru packing list!

If you want to compress your gear to take up less space, as well as have it nicely organised, then packing cubes are the answer my friends!

Yes a godsend to disorganised packers everywhere, I absolutely love these packing cubes from Arcido and personally would never consider heading off to South America, or indeed anywhere, without them.

And if you manage to condense your stuff down well, then my whole Peru packing list below should fit into a 40-50l backpack.

I never take anything bigger, even when I’m travelling for 6 months at a time!

This 50l Atmos backpack from Osprey makes a great option.

 

Ultimate Peru Packing Checklist

Peru, Colca Canyon, Me at Lookout

And so finally here it is – my item by item checklist for exactly what to pack and wear in Peru.

Geared towards those who want to travel light and be active, this list is especially ideal for thrifty backpackers who like to hike and is, of course, tried and tested following my 2 months in the country

So here goes…

 

Clothes

1x Insulated Puffer Jacket – Crucial for staying warm up in the Andes. When considering what to wear in Peru, this is a must. Choose a packable, travel version like this one.

1x Thin Waterproof / Windproof Jacket – Two jackets might seem excessive, but if you want to do any hiking, a thinner jacket you can layer on or off when being active makes a lot of sense. I love the North Face Venture 2, which gets even better when you learn it is made from recycled, post-consumer plastic.

3x Thick Hoodie / Sweater / Fleece – Again key to keeping warmer in the high altitude areas, some thick, cosy sweaters to add layers is a must. A good insulated one, like this Columbia thermal fleece is well suited to the job as it designed for active travellers.

3x Thin Long-Sleeved Top – Good for cooler days or when hiking / travelling, thin long sleeved tops are also good when you need to layer as they can be worn under thicker jumpers. Choosing an insulating natural fibre like merino wool is a good choice for budget vs warmth and comfort. This fabric also makes for an excellent hiking base layer.

7x Singlets / T-Shirts – Choose tops that match the trousers / leggings / shorts you’ve packed and consider quick-dry options. T-shirts are good for covering shoulders and offering sun protection.

2x Pairs Long Pants / Trousers – Great for going out in the evening or wandering around cities when it’s a bit cooler / wet, a couple of pairs of versatile trousers are a must when it comes to what to wear in Peru.

2x Pairs Leggings / Hiking Pants – One of my travel essentials, leggings are so helpful for putting under trousers if cold, for hiking or exercising, for being comfortable, for extra nightwear or for under a casual dress in the evening. If you have room, take 2 pairs and make them bamboo fibre ones if poss! If you don’t like leggings, hiking trousers or loose-fitting pants will do instead as they are also good for travel days and if you plan to undertake any volunteer work.

2x Pairs Shorts – You’re going to need something to wear during those beach / desert days in Peru!

1x Light Dress / Tunic – Again a good item for beach days. Or, if you want to dress up a bit during the evening, you can wear this over a pair of leggings! You see, so versatile!

1x Sarong – You can’t take enough sarongs travelling in my opinion as they are so light, compact and versatile, I can’t recommend them enough. Perfect for using as a beach towel, a scarf, a beach dresses, a sheet, a laundry bag… the list goes on. Check out my post about the 20 reasons why you should always pack a sarong to learn more.

2x Wraps / Scarves / Buffs – As well as a sarong, I recommend a couple of wraps / scarves / buffs which are great when hiking or trying to keep your neck warm or sweat out of your eyes! This merino wool buff is a great packing item for Peru.

1x Beanie / Warm Hat – Great for when you’re at altitude, camping or hiking as it will keep you amazingly warm.

1x Pair Gloves – Ditto the above. Check out this lightweight, thermal pair.

1x Cap / Sun Hat – Something to shield your face, neck and ears from the strong UV rays.

7x Pairs Underwear – Small and compact, 7-8 pairs will save you a lot of handwashing!

2x Bras – Try to go 1 if you think you can and make extra use of your bikini or sports bra!

1x Sports Bra – Small and great for hiking, I really love this black, padded one from Nike.

1x Bikini / Swimwear – You’ll need something to enjoy the ocean / surf with!

5x Pairs Socks – Make sure you take ones of various lengths / thickness, include ankle socks for city days and good, non-blister socks for hiking activities.

1x Pair Sunglasses – Make sure they offer UV protection.

Nightwear – You can always double up on your daywear here to save room!

 

Peru, Arequipa, Building

 

Shoes

1x Pair Hiking Boots – Depending on your plans (i.e. are you making the stair-heavy Inca Trail or just enjoying day hikes in the Sacred Valley?) either hiking boots, hiking shoes or trail runners might do. Check out this post I wrote to learn more about which to choose.

1x Pair Flip Flops / Sandals – Essential. Personally I’d never travel anywhere without my Arizona Birkenstocks.

1x Pair Trainers / Runner  / Day Shoes – Either converse, pumps or sneakers for exploring cities and towns on foot. These New Balance black trainers are great all-rounders.

 

Peru, Huacachina, Oasis

 

Toiletries

Thin Toiletries Bag with Hook – A light wash bag is also essential for keeping the weight in your backpack down. This one is a great, affordable option.

Shampoo & Conditioner Bars – I always go for shampoo and conditioner bars when I travel to save the plastic and keep the space down! Although they are a bit pricey, they last for ages. Say goodbye to mid-travel spillages and bulky bottles people, this is the eco-friendly future!

Anti-Bacterial Soap – Keep in a ziplock bag to prevent from getting soap slime on everything you own! I suggest an anti-bacterial bar as they are great for keeping you clean in tropical climates where you’re likely to be sweating a bit!

Deodorant – I always pack a natural crystal deodorant as they last forever (great if you’re travelling for a few months) and are free from many nasty chemicals.

Face Cleanser, Toner & Moisturiser – Great for bringing your skin back to life after days in the strong sun or the desert!

Natural Sunscreen – Choose a 30 SPF or higher for those helluva-strong rays in Peru and go natural if you can – keeps the chemicals out of your skin.

Natural Bug Repellent – See my post about how to make your own DEET-Free insect spray. Otherwise there are plenty of ready-made, great products on the market, like this one.

Aloe Vera – This doubles as a great moisturiser, soother and aftersun. Buy some here.

SPF Lip Salve – Very important for those strong UV conditions and keeping your lips healthy and happy. Burt Bees are always my go-to as they never dry out my lips.

Tea-Tree Essential Oil – A powerful anti-septic, anti-mould, anti-fungal treatment, it’s great to throw in a few drops with your washing and ideal for freshening up smelly bags / laundry etc. Get an organic tea-tree oil if you can.

Tiger Balm – An ideal remedy for headaches, sore muscles and insect bites, tiger balm is super versatile and a must on my Peru packing list, especially if the mosquitoes love you as much as me!

Paracetamol, Anti-Septic Cream & Band-Aids – The only medicine you need to take. Honestly, there’s so many pharmacies in this country you’ll be able to get almost anything you need over there!

Menstrual Cup – The best way to deal with your time of the month when travelling ladies. Check out the best prices for them here.

Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss

Razor & Spare Blades

Nail Scissors & Nail File

Tweezers

Cotton Buds / Pads

Hair Bands

Safety Pins

Glasses / Contact Lenses if you wear them

 

Peru, Lake Peron, Boat

 

Other Things!

Eye Mask & Earplugs – Key for sleeping in hostels and on those long South American bus rides, this eye mask from Alaska Bear is super comfy… go on treat yourself!

Travel Towel – I recommend Latrek when it comes to the best travel towel, because they are cheap, compact, soft and don’t smell. Love, love, love mine. Read my full review here.

Day Pack – Definitely needed for hiking, sightseeing and active adventure days, this one from Osprey is perfect for the job.

Combination Padlock – Very useful for locking up bags and valuables when staying in hostels or on bus rides, these don’t have to be expensive, just reliable! Best to get a TSA-approved one in case of any hassle at the airport.

Filter Water Bottle – Seeing the amount of plastic bottles in Peru is disheartening at best. Try not to add to the problem and consider travelling with a filter water bottle like this one from LifeStraw. Not only does this mean you can safely and easily drink the tap water, but it will also save you the money and hassle of having to buy bottled water. Much cheaper and more environmentally friendly, the LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottles have an amazing technology that filters out 99.9% of harmful bacteria and the filter lasts for 4000 litres, which means you’ll likely only have to replace it once a year!

Travel Handwash – Great for doing emergency washing, such as underwear in a sink, travel handwash is always a must when I backpack anywhere.

Dry Bag – So useful in Peru for the rainy season, these small and compact guys are great for keeping your electricals equipment dry in case of tropical downpours or Amazon humidity / boat rides! Check out this top-rated one for ideas.

Silk Liner & Sleeping Bag – If you’re doing any hiking, these will come in very handy. I always recommend a silk sleeping bag liner to keep you sweat-free and a Season 2 Snugpak sleeping bag, which packs up really small and is perfect for backpackers.

Latin America Phrasebook – Having a little bit of Spanish under your belt will go a long way in Peru and you can’t beat the Lonely Planet phrasebook in my opinion.

 

Peru, Wolf Totem, Me

 

Electricals

Smartphone & Headphones – Taking your smartphone to stay in touch with those at home, checking maps, booking accommodation and uploading some pics while you’re in Peru is a great idea. Also download some audiobooks and music onto your phone before you leave home – a great idea for journey days. I recommend Amazon Audible and Spotify Premium for these purposes and wouldn’t travel without either these days.

Portable Power Pack – Portable power packs are great when travelling, especially if you’re out sightseeing all day and worried about your phone or camera battery lasting. I recommend the Anker Powercore, it’s light and can charge my iPhone 7 around 5 times!

Camera – I love my Sony A600 mirrorless camera, which I used throughout my travels in Peru and beyond. Light, compact and sturdy, it’s perfect for travelling. A GoPro Hero 8 is also a great idea to help capture the more active adventures you might have in this country. It’s also great for video!

Lens, Spare Battery, Memory Card & Charger –  All essential for the camera.

Adapter – Peru uses European style outlets, so get a Skross World Adapter that won’t fail you!

Headlamp & Spare Batteries – I never travel anywhere without a headlamp and recommend you choose a product that uses commonly found batteries and has a red night light function to avoid the bugs. I love my Black Diamond Storm, which served me very well across South America, especially during those occasional powercuts!

 

 

Important Bits!

Passport & Photocopies – Definitely take a colour copy of your passport with you to Peru and keep it with you at all times. Taking a photo of your passport and storing it safely in your email account / cloud storage is also a good idea.

Visa Documentation – Depending where you’re from of course.

Immunisation Documentation – Always good to have with you wherever you travel.

Travel Insurance Policy – Can’t go wrong with the excellent travel insurance from World Nomads in my opinion. I’ve used them during my time in Peru because they cover you at altitudes over 3000m – a must for this Andean nation, especially if you’re planning on visiting Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, Huaraz etc.

Credit Cards and Debit Cards – If you’re from the UK, the Starling Banking app can provide you with a current account and debit card that doesn’t charge you for transactions or ATM withdrawals in Peru.

Hidden Cash in Small Thin Purse – Take some USD cash with you that can be exchanged into Peruvian Sol in case of an emergency.

Flight Information

 

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So that’s it, my ultimate Peru packing list!

Designed to be practical, while keeping things light, I hope I’ve got all you travellers, hikers, backpackers and adventure lovers covered with this item by item checklist

Have any questions about what to wear in Peru?

Did I miss anything out on this packing list?

Then please drop them into the comments box below…

 

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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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