Peru was the first country I ever visited solo. Do you remember what you packed for your first ever solo trip abroad?
I remember mine so vividly that I could probably list everything I packed off the top off my head here and now! It would be called “The longest and most ridiculous Peru packing list that ever existed” because OH MY WORD it was atrocious! I had no idea what to pack for Peru and was so nervous about taking the wrong type of clothes, not having enough socks, not being able to charge my iPad and so many other silly thoughts that I would have packed the kitchen sink if it would have fit!
And it probably would have, actually, as I had SO MUCH LUGGAGE. I had a Vango 60+10 backpack that was absolutely bursting at the seams, it was so full, and on top of that I also had a 10Kg holdall as hand luggage to keep my electronics, books and 3 changes of underwear “in case my luggage got lost”. This was all for just a 6-week trip, FYI!
My Girl Scout level of preparation came in handy, though, as my luggage did get lost and those 3 pairs of underwear saved me during my first 3 days in Peru waiting for LAN to rescue my backpack from Chile.
As a somewhat seasoned traveller now, I look back and cringe at all the useless crap I packed for Peru. I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t even bother searching online for Peru packing lists or consulting with my Lonely Planet guide about what sort of things I would need to pack for Peru. I just went with the flow, and that flow very nearly
Still, you live and you learn, right?
I’ve returned to Peru twice since that first journey as a pack mule, and like to think that in that time I’ve perfected the art of the Peru packing list. You won’t catch me packing 14 pairs of socks anymore (for real, I did that and I’m hanging my head in shame!).
So to save you having to lug around a bunch of useless crap, I’ve put together everything I’ve learned about what to pack for Peru (and more importantly, what NOT to pack for Peru) into this useful little (okay, not so little…) post.
You might want to grab yourself a cup of coffee as it’s a bit of a long one, but I want to not only tell you what you need to pack for Peru but also to explain WHY it’s an integral piece of your Peru packing list. If you don’t feel like reading it all, you can click here to download our FREE printable Peru packing checklist.
What to Pack for Peru
Peru packing list essentials
So before you starting packing for your trip to Peru, you’re going to need something to put all of your lovely new goodies into.
We’re talking backpacks, people!
Seriously, unless you have major back problems I’d definitely consider leaving the wheely suitcases at home. The streets of Peru aren’t exactly suitcase friendly, and it’s much easier to just pop your backpack on your back and take off running after that bus that’s left you behind.
Originally I was using a Vango 60 + 10 women’s backpack but that was actually too big for even the longest of my trips!
In advance of my 9 month trip around the world (including a few weeks in Peru!), I purchased the Quechua Forclaz 50L backpack (pictured) and I haven’t looked back since!
I find it the perfect size for any trip, and have used it for trips as short as 2 weeks up to as long as 9 months. My stepdad also borrowed it for a weekend-long music festival and said it was absolutely perfect for that!
If you’re planning on hiking in Peru, you’re also going to likely need a good day pack.
What is a day pack?
Pretty simple, really. A day pack is a smaller backpack designed to carry a day’s worth of gear. They’re especially useful for when you’re doing one-day hikes (of which there are plenty in Peru!) or going on any of the country’s wonderful day trips.
My favourite brand of day packs are Osprey as they’re specially designed to sort of mould into your body, making them all the more comfortable to lug around all day. Day packs are typically small enough that they can also double up as your hand luggage for the plane.
IMPORTANT: When purchasing a backpack (especially for the first time!) it’s extremely important that you get one that fits your body type. Carrying the wrong size or type of backpack could really cause some damage, especially if you’re carrying out long-term! I always find the best deals for backpacks online, but before purchasing I make a note of the name and brand and pop into an outdoors store to ask them to check the fit.
The ladies in particular may want something small and lightweight just to carry around your phone, money and bits and pieces while meandering around Peru. A bit like a handbag, you say? Yes, exactly!
Well, take my advice and don’t bring one to Peru.
Did I really just say that?
Yes, I did! The markets of Peru have so many beautifully crafted bags of all shapes and sizes – leave your boring Louis Vuitton at home and buy one from the local market. Not only practical, but also doubles up as a fab souvenir!
Or something you can offload to your little sister later on….
Packing cubes are either going to be your best friend or your worst enemy.
I’ve tried them and at first, I didn’t get them. They seemed to make my backpack lumpy and bizarrely I ended up being able to pack less things while using them.
But then I realised I was using them wrong. And it turns out even if you buy a pack of 6, you don’t have to use all 6 at the same time! Who knew?!
Packing cubes are great for compartmentalising your things and keeping your luggage neat and tidy – a nigh-on impossible task while backpacking! I predominantly use mine to keep my dirty hiking shoes away from my nice clean clothes, and to keep my socks and underwear all in one place. But they’re incredibly versatile, so you could use them however you see fit!
Now we’ve sorted where you’re going to keep everything on your Peru packing list, let’s work on filling those shiny new backpacks up! Before we move onto the fun stuff like clothes and electronics, these are a few useful bits and bobs that I would definitely recommend packing for your trip to Peru!
Water filter bottle
Tap water in Peru is not considered safe to drink, so to avoid speeding up the end of the world by investing in an innumerable amount of single-use plastic bottles, and save money at the same time (kaching!) make sure to invest in a good quality refillable filter bottle before you go.
Sleeping bag liner
I don’t know why these little packages of goodness aren’t featured in more travellers’ packing lists but trust me when I say that you NEED to pack one for Peru. You can thank me later.
Sleeping bag liners are great for SO many reasons! First up, hygiene in some hostels can be… questionable… and a sleeping bag liner is the perfect way to guarantee you don’t catch cooties from your fellow travellers. I’ve also used mine to sleep on buses and trains and to cover myself up while changing clothes on transport.
Because sitting in the same clothes for 72 consecutive hours is almost as grim as getting changed in a bus toilet). I always go for the more expensive silk liners, but there are some excellent quality more affordable cotton liners that work just as well.
Obviously these are only required if you plan on doing some kind of at least semi-hardcore trekking or hiking.
I haven’t actually done that much trekking in Peru, but I did spectacularly fail at hiking Mt Misti once and boy, do I wish I had my own trekking poles! They were essential for the hike and as I didn’t have my own had to rent some from the company.
The ones they provided weren’t adjustable AT ALL and I’m quite short so they ended up being much more of a hindrance than a help.
Growing up in a former mining community, I always thought headlamps were reserved for going down the mines and exploring caves. Nope, as it turns out headlamps are SO useful as a traveller!
Get one of these beauties and you’ll be sorted for LIFE! I’ve used mine to find my way around the Amazon in the dead of night, while hiking Mt Misti, to get to Machu Picchu for sunrise and just fumbling my way to the toilet in an unfamiliar hostel.
If you’re travelling solo this could be one of the most important things to pack for Peru!
Having a pack of cards or other travel game with you is a surefire way of making friends at your hostel, bus, train or wherever you are.
These days you can get a portable version of almost every game out there, but I especially like the look of Backpacker as it’s a game but with a twist of travel.
Peru Guidebook & Phrasebook
As much as I do love getting all of my information from blogs, nothing can beat flicking through a guidebook on your way to a new destination.
I swore by my Lonely Planet Peru guidebook on all three of my trips to Peru, and it’s been read so many times that the pages are starting to fall out!
Another essential for your Peru packing list is a Latin American Spanish phrasebook. I have a degree in Spanish yet even I struggle sometimes, so it’s always reassuring having a pocket-sized fountain of knowledge to hand when I need it.
What to wear in Peru
Deciding what clothes to pack for Peru is a bit of a nightmare.
Trust me on this one.
Before my first trip to Peru I packed and unpacked my backpack every Sunday from February until I left at the end of June. I took out a pair of jeans, put in 2 pairs of leggings. Added a hoodie and took out a pair of flip-flops. It was never-ending.
Packing for Peru is particularly difficult when compare with other countries as Peru has so many different climates to prepare for.
When you’re planning what to pack for Peru you have to consider that you’ll likely be visiting tropical rainforest, Mediterranean-esque coastal regions, at times freezing cold Andean highlands and the rest! Packing for Peru is like trying to pack for Antarctica and Antigua at the same time.
Seemingly impossible, right?
Actually, it’s not impossible as long as you know what you’re doing. And just keep reminding yourself that when it comes to Peru and it’s many climates, layering is key! Follow this Peru packing list to the tee and I promise, you’ll be fine.
If you’re planning on doing any sort of hiking in Peru, you’re going to need to pack a good quality pair of hiking shoes.
You can’t hike Peru in flip-flops or cheap-ass running shoes – trust me on that.
My go-to brand are Merrell as I find them to be great quality and affordable for someone who doesn’t want to spend a fortunate on hiking shoes but also doesn’t want to die slipping over the edge of a volcano.
I personally prefer low-rise hiking shoes in an athetlic style as opposed to boot, but that’s just because I have weird shaped ankles that get stuck in high-rise shoes. Same thing goes for hiking shoes as with the backpack – get properly fitted!
An absolute essential for your Peru packing list especially if you plan on spending any length of time in hostels. Because shared showers are gross!
I used to be a budget 99p pair of cheap as chips flip-flops from Primark kinda gal. And then my sandal broke on Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil. Of course, with it being Brazil there was a Havaianas store right there. I bought a pair of Olive Oyl adorned flip-flops and the rest is history!
Moral of the story?
Don’t be a cheap ass and make sure you invest in good quality flip-flops, preferably Havaiianas because they’re ace!
Comfortable day-to-day shoes
You’re going to want a pair of shoes to wear just while out and about. Not doing any strenuous activities and not lazing around the hostel, but for when you’re doing some non-hardcore exploring.
When planning what shoes to pack for Peru (or any country!) think about what you would wear at home. What kind of day-to-day shoes would you wear to the supermarket? The park? Wandering around town?
Chances are they’re also suitable for Peru! In my case these are either going to be Vans or Converse, the only 2 brands I tend to wear on my feet.
Honestly, I only ever pack the above 3 shoes on any trip I take. Occasionally I’ll add a pair of decent sandals if I’m heading somewhere hot, but that’s it.
Think about what else you plan on doing in Peru. If you know you’re going to be eating at expensive restaurants and maybe going out dancing, you may also want to pack a pair of fancy pants shoes for the occasion. Or if you’re into salsa, maybe a pair of salsa shoes? I mean, if salsa even needs a separate pair of shoes?
A rainproof jacket
Believe it or not, it does rain in the Southern Hemisphere. This was a shock to me when I first visited Peru as I was convinced rain only happens above the equator? Apparently not.
If you’re planning your trip to Peru on a shoestring budget you’re going to be tempted to forgo a decent quality, reliable rain jacket in favour of a £5 jobby that fits in your pocket. Don’t do this.
On every one of the trips I’ve taken in the past, I’ve done this. And I’ve always ended up soaked to the skin because apparently there’s a difference between rainproof and showerproof.
For my current trip to New Zealand, I finally splashed out on a decent Trespass jacket (similar to the different brand pictured) and OH MY DAYS it is SO good.
Not to be dramatic or anything but packing a good rainproof jacket might actually save your life.
For most warm clothes such as jumpers, fleeces, hats and scarves etc., I’d recommend waiting until you’re in Peru to buy them from the markets. However, one thing that you should definitely include on your Peru packing list no matter which parts of the country you plan on visiting is a fleece pullover.
Zip off hiking trousers
Do they have to be zip off? Not really. You can go for straight down hiking pants if you prefer, but there’s something oh-so satisfying about undoing that zip and ripping off half of your trousers!
These are great not just for hiking, but also for spending time in the Amazon. You can even get insect repellent trousers for the latter, which absolutely blows my mind!
If you’re not planning on doing any major hikes in Peru, hiking trousers are still a good idea as it’s what most people wear and I mean, you want to blend in, right?!
Other essential clothing items for your Peru packing list
- A lightweight down jacket – one more time for the guys at the back: it can get suuuuper cold in Peru!
- 1 pair of jeans – mainly for the cities and if you plan on having a night out with all your new hostel friends
- 2 pairs of leggings – great to layer up when cold and also for the less demanding hikes that don’t require full on hiking gear. Not sure what the men’s equivalent of leggings are though?
- 1 pair of loose trousers – think floaty cotton-type stuff. If you’ll be spending more time in the Amazon consider packing more than 1 pair!
- 1 thermal base layer (top and bottom!) – again, it can get pretty darn chilly in Peru, so these are perfect for layering up with the rest of your clothes
- A couple of tank tops – again, layering is key in Peru and these can be worn under things, over things or on their own
- 3-4 lightweight t-shirts – a mix of long and short sleeves are good. If you’re going to the Amazon, take more long-sleeved as the mosquitoes are a bitch!
- 1 dress – so this one is evidently aimed at the ladies (no judgement if any men are considering it, though!) but for a nice night out in Cusco or Lima, or even for just a day spent wandering around a city a dress can be perfect! It’s also nice to have something feminine – you know, just in case! For the guys I guess this would be a nice shirt and trousers?
- Enough underwear for 1 week max. – no matter how long you’re going for, 1 week’s worth of underwear is enough as Peru has plenty of launderettes to help you clean your literal dirty laundry as you go.
- 3-4 pairs of good quality, thick socks – think of all the exercise your feet are going to be doing. Don’t you want them to feel good? If you’re going to be hiking a lot, look into specially designed hiking socks
- For the ladies: a sports bra! Actually, make it two. Some of the activities you’ll be doing in Peru are kinda high impact so you want to protect your gals. Also, ya know, a couple normal bras wouldn’t go amiss
- 1-2 swimsuits. Unless you’re planning on spending most of your time in Peru on the beaches, you won’t actually get much use out of your swimsuit. But to enjoy the country’s various hot springs as well as the Amazon river, you’re going to need one!
- A sunhat or one of those cool wide-rimmed outdoor hats that hikers and fishermen wear. If you’re one for the latter, you may want to hold off until you get to Peru as they sell them EVERYWHERE! I wish I’d bought one with a little embroidered Machu Picchu on it, but I didn’t, and that is something I have to live with for the rest of my life.
- A light scarf that can double up as a sarong. Girls will know what I mean when I say that these things are INCREDIBLE. I use mine to cover my shoulders when entering places of worship, for a bit of added warmth on buses and to sit on whenever there’s no seat.
More important things to pack for Peru
First aid kit
One of the most important things you can pack for Peru, and something that’s too often left off of other packing lists is a well-stocked first aid kit.
Not to point out the obvious, but carrying a first aid kit could, like, literally save somebody’s life. Sure, most guided tours and treks you go on will have one but for peace of mind I always carry my own.
And it’s come in handy more times than I care to count! Contrary to what most believe, first aid kits don’t have to be bulky. I mean, you’re probably not a paramedic and we’re not expecting you to carry a defibrillator everywhere you go
First aid kits don’t have to be bulky. For my first trip to Peru I purchased a mini first aid kit which I still use today! Although obviously I’ve restocked it since then.
If you’re a bit of a worrier you may want to consider a hidden money belt as a way to keep your valuables safe. I only ever packed one during my first trip to Peru, as I felt incredibly safe from then on and carried my belongings the same way as I do back home. However, I do know plenty of people who have been pick-pocketed or robbed on a bus in Peru. Perhaps better safer than sorry?
As well as the usual suspects you’d pack for a trip anywhere (toothpaste, soap etc.) there are a few extra things you should pack for Peru that you may not have thought about before.
- Sunscreen – I know I’ve droned on about how cold it can get in Peru but it can also get bloody hot. And even when it’s cold the sun still burns. Sunscreen can be expensive in Peru, so it’s better to bring some in if you can.
- Mosquito repellent & anti-itch cream – those itchy buggers aren’t just resigned to the Amazon and you’ll find yourself being bothered by some critter or another almost everywhere.
- Hand sanitizer – I don’t think this really needs an explanation, right?
- Toilet paper/tissues – in most bus stations in Peru you have to pay extra for a few sheets of toilet paper, so it’s worth bringing your own. I mean, you don’t have to transport it all the way across the world with you and could buy it in Peru but ya know, it’s important.
- Medication – as well as any regular medication you take, you’ll also want to bring anti-sickness tablets, anti-diarrheal tablets, anti-histamines and regular old painkillers. All the anti’s, basically.
And of course, to keep everything together you’re going to need a toiletry bag. Hanging toiletry bags are great for travellers, as you can take them into the shower with you instead of having to leave it out by the sink.
Camera, kindle, charger: the 3 electronics I always take with me on any trip. I obviously also take my phone (duh!) but that’s always in my pocket so don’t even have to think about it!
Camera – You really, really really DON’T want to leave your camera behind! And Peru is so photogenic you’re going to want more than your old 16 megapixel point and shoot Fujifilm (trust me, lol). If you’ll be doing more adventurous things you might want to go so far as to get a GoPro. I don’t have one yet but it’s on my list for next year!
Kindle – I’m a lover of books so never thought in a million years I’d be a Kindle convert, but ever since my stepdad got me one for Christmas a few years ago, I’m in love! Of course I still buy paperbacks, but when you travel as much as I do a Kindle can be invaluable for keeping your bookworm identity.
Portable charger –As well as a regular old iPhone charger, I also try to make sure I always have a portable charger with me if I’m heading anywhere for a considerable amount of time, as you never really know where and when your next opportunity to use a plugpoint will be. These are especially handy if you travel mostly overland!
Other electronic equipment to pack for Peru:
- Universal plug adaptor
- Tripod (especially if travelling solo!)
- Laptop if you need it – I work remotely so this is a must for me
- Unlocked mobile phone and charger
- Whatever electronics you take, make sure you have a waterproof bag or case to keep them in
What not to pack for Peru
Now you know what clothes to add to your packing list, let’s talk about what you should leave behind.
Short shorts. There won’t be any call for them. I had a pair during my 2nd trip to Peru but only wore them once while sand-boarding in Huacachina, which turned out to be an awful idea as #sandburns.
Hat, scarf and gloves. I see these on EVERY Peru packing list but seriously, unless you want some super incredible gear endorsed by Bear Grylls and Levison Wood, wait until you’re in Peru. Knitted gear is Peru’s jam and you’ll be able to find some decent stuff in the market that can then double up as souvenirs.
Microfibre towel. I might be in the minority here, but I HATE these guys! I find that they take so much longer to try than a normal towel, which is odd as they’re supposed to be quick-drying and boy, do they STINK. Also, my hair is beyond waist-length and it does absolutely nothing to dry it! I much prefer to take a medium-sized “normal” towel with me. It doesn’t take up much more room than microfibre, and I find it saves me so much time post-shower.
Mosquito net. The only place I probably could have done with one of these was the Amazon and honestly, as long as I stayed in my sleeping bag liner I wasn’t bothered. Mosquito nets can be bulky and a bit of a nightmare to squeeze into your already full backpack, so I don’t bother these days.
Expensive bling. This is self-explanatory and the same goes anywhere in the world really, but if you look like a rich tourist, people might just try to rob ya! A few bits and pieces are fine, but if you have really expensive or sentimental pieces of jewellery you’re best off leaving them at home.
A few things to remember before you go
Aside from everything listed above, you’re also going to have to consider other things you may wish to pack for your trip to Peru. I’m never without a notebook and pen to jot down bits and pieces as I traverse through a new country. I know some people take sleep spray or lavender sachets to combat difficulty sleeping in a new environment, but these are all personal choices.
One thing that you shouldn’t leave the house without under ANY circumstances is travel insurance. I’m not going to do the influencer thing here and recommend a company I’ve never actually used just for the commission, but as somebody who works in the travel insurance industry I cannot stress enough just HOW important a good quality travel insurance is.
It’s more than just protection for your valuables, it’s protection for yourself. So do shop around to get the best deal, but make sure you understand what coverage you’re getting before you commit. Call up and speak to somebody if you have to, but don’t just pay for something based on recommendations of a stranger on the Internet without looking into it yourself first.
Hopefully this packing list for Peru has given you all the inspiration and advice on what you need to pack! The items listed above will cover you for most areas of the country, but obviously for the Amazon you’re likely to need a few extra bits and bobs (gumboots if your lodge doesn’t offer them, a penknife if you fancy yourself the next Bear Grylls and a rainproof backpack cover, just in case).
For more tips and advice for your Peru trip, check out these articles:
- How to Spend 2 Weeks in Peru: The Ultimate Itinerary
- 10 Day Trips from Cusco You Just Can’t Miss!
- Hiking Huayna Picchu & Machu Picchu Mountain: Everything you need to know!
- 10 Incredible Places to Visit in Northern Peru
Or check out my Peru archives.
One more thing… if you found this post useful and want to download a printable Peru packing list, just pop your details in the box below and it’s all yours!
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