Peru Travel Information & Packing List

This document is meant to be an introductory guide for a typical trip to Peru, including Lima, the Andes and the Amazon.  Other sources for more detailed information include the US State Department (travel.state.gov), World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/ith/precautions/en/), and Lonely Planet or similar country guides.  In terms of packing, be mindful of what you usually need while traveling to evaluate whether you need everything on this list or if you may need to bring items not on this list.  

Travel Information

Safety Matters

  • Arrange for taxis with reputable location such as your hotel or a taxi stand.
  • Bring only the cash (and credit card) you expect to need when going out for the day, keep it hidden.  Keep smaller bills and coins separate to allow you to pay for small purchases such as public transit without pulling out your wallet/money belt.
  • Wear minimal jewelry.
  • Use hotel safe for storing valuables, including passports.
  • Ask your hotel about safety of walking neighborhood at night, as well as any areas that should be avoided in general.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.  If you think you are being watched and/or followed, consider looking at them to make it clear you see them and/or heading into a hotel or restaurant.  
  • Keep a firm grip on your backpack if you are carrying one.  If you are seated somewhere with a pack, put it on the floor with your leg through a strap.
  • Be mindful as a pedestrian crossing streets.  Don’t trust that drivers will follow streetlights.  If crossing is chaotic, try to follow what a local does.
  • If someone offers unsolicited assistance, be comfortable saying, “No gracias” and moving on.  

Health Matters

  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic at least 4 weeks before departure.  Take your list of destinations with you so that they can determine which vaccinations you will need, if any.  Ask for an International Certificate of Vaccination to bring with you, which is optional but not required if you are only going to Peru.
  • For minor health issues, pharmacies (indicated with a red or green cross) can be a great resource and are found throughout cities and larger towns.  Visitors can describe symptoms and the pharmacist is able to provide recommended medication.  If you know what you want to purchase, it can be helpful to do a quick search online for the Peruvian equivalent before you go in.
  • If you are traveling to the Andes (Cusco & Machu Picchu for example), plan on taking time to adjust to the altitude.   Symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, malaise, insomnia and loss of appetite.  Taking slow strolls around town, staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol and eating lightly can help mitigate altitude sickness.  If you have severe symptoms, or they last for more than 24 hours, see a pharmacist or doctor.       
  • Do not drink tap water in Peru.  Drink bottled water from reliable sources.  
  • If you need to see a doctor, your hotel will likely be able to suggest a clinic with English-speaking staff. 

Money Matters

  • Contact your bank(s) prior to travel to notify them of your travel plans.  Many banks offer this service through their app or online.
  • Find out if your bank has partner banks in Peru that allow you to take out money without charging a fee.  Banco de la Nación does not charge fees to take out cash, although your bank may charge a fee for using an out of network ATM.    
  • Bring your bank contact information (non-1800 numbers) in case you need assistance while traveling.  Consider leaving a document with these numbers and your credit card numbers with someone at home in case you lose this information during travel and need it.
  • The currency in Peru is the sol.  As of June 2019, the value of 1 US dollar is 3.3 soles.  
  • You do not need to exchange money ahead of time.  Bring US dollars and an ATM card. 
  • Both soles and dollars are available at most ATMs.  Expect to pay in soles at smaller shops and in markets.  Many hotels and tourist services accept dollars.  
  • Use ATMs that are located inside the bank.  Banks have armed guards, as is typical in many countries.  
  • Guidelines for tipping:
    • Porters in hotel – about 3 soles per bag
    • Taxi – none
    • Upscale and/or larger restaurant – 10% of bill (but look at bill to see if service charge has already been added)
    • Budget/Moderate restaurant – round up a few soles
    • Bus baggage handler – none
    • Day tour guide – 15-30 soles per day, tip at end of tour
    • Short tour guide – 5-10 soles
  • Bargaining in markets and small shops is the norm.  A general rule of thumb is to offer half of what they ask for and then negotiate from there.  

Packing List

Documents

  • Passport (with photocopies, I also suggest leaving a photocopy with someone at home)
  • Flight confirmation email/e-tickets (may be required at border)
  • Itinerary* (printed) including flight info, lodging, activities, transport
  • Travel Insurance info* (printed)
  • If you are traveling solo with your child(ren), you may be asked to provide a notarized letter from their other parent that it is OK to take them out of the country
  • International Certificate of Vaccination (if you have it)
  • Driver’s license

*Available in Pocket Travel Consultant App also

Clothes:

If you are traveling for more than a week, I recommend packing for approximately 5-7 days.  Laundry services in hotels and in major tourist areas are common in Peru.  

  • Fleece top/sweater
  • Footwear – hiking shoes or sturdy sneakers,, sandals/flip flops, casual footwear
  • Water-/windproof shell
  • Sun hat
  • Warm hat and scarf for nights and early mornings in the Andes
  • Bottoms: 2 pairs of long pants (including at least one pair of hiking pants), 2-4 shorts/skirts
  • Tops: 4 short sleeve or sleeveless shirts, 2-3 long-sleeve lightweight shirts
  • Sleepwear
  • 1-2 casual nice outfits (simple dress, polo/button down shirt, etc.) for exploring cities/towns and dining out, if you like
  • 5-7 pair underwear, 5 pair socks (+ 1 pair knee-length socks for using rubber boots in Amazon)
  • Bras
  • Towel
  • 1 swimsuit

Toiletries

  • Sunscreen and  lip balm with sunscreen 
  • Insect repellent (I like Cutter All Family Mosquito Wipes if you have younger children, available on Amazon, but you may want to consider stronger repellent if you have older children)
  • Wet wipes/antibacterial gel
  • First-aid kit (travel size portable kits are available at Target or on Amazon and include bandaids, tape, antiseptic cream among other useful items)
  • Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, or other fever reducer/pain reliever (adult and child/infant)
  • Antihistamine
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Rehydration powder (for example, Pedialyte Electrolyte Powder)
  • Cortisone cream
  • Shampoo/conditioner/soap
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/floss
  • Feminine products
  • Shaving supplies
  • Nail clipper
  • Hairbrush, hair supplies
  • Deodorant
  • Contact lens supplies
  • Prescription drugs as needed

Other Essentials:

  • Cell phone, cell phone charger (and plan for use in Peru: roaming data plan or purchase SIM card in Costa Rica)
  • Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
  • Battery power pack/portable charger (for recharging phones on long travel days)
  • Watch or travel clock if you don’t carry a cell phone.
  • Moneybelt (I personally don’t use a moneybelt for most travel, but know many travelers do)
  • Day pack (for hikes/walks/excursions and for destinations such as Amazon and Inca Trail)
  • Plug adapter and/or voltage converter – Two types of outlets are found in Peru: one that fits USA style plugs (but only the kind with same-sized prongs) and one that fits European style plugs (two round prongs).  Voltage is 220, but many moderate and above hotels have outlets for 120 volts.  Additionally, many items travelers may have, such as cell phone plugs and laptops, are able to use both voltages.  It’s best to confirm the voltage capabilities of any item you plan to bring.  
  • Sunglasses
  • Ear plugs
  • Personal entertainment for each family member (Reading and writing materials, cards, small toys, sticker books, headphones, etc..)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Umbrella
  • Handwashing laundry detergent (such as woolite or tide), sink drain cover, and portable drying line
  • Gallon-sized ziploc bags or similar, 2 per person (for all sorts of uses while traveling – from storing your electronics to separating clothes.
  • Binoculars
  • Flashlight/headlamp

Family/Child-related Items:

  • Carseat (or a plan to rent if using )
  • Portable high-chair seat (Amazon has My Little Seat Travel High Chair)
  • Diapering supplies for first few days (and plan to stock up when in larger cities such as Lima and Cusco)
  • Lightweight travel stroller
  • Formula & 2 bottles, washing liquid
  • Sippy cup
  • Baby carrier
  • Travel crib (or plan for using hotel cribs/beds)
  • Goggles, packable pool/beach toys (if you are staying at hotels with pool)
  • Food pouches, granola bars, other individually packaged snacks
  • Nightlight

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