Getting Ready for Peru

Getting ready for my very quickly approaching 17 day trip to Peru has been WAY more stressful than I expected. I’ve never in my life taken a trip like this, so didn’t know exactly what would go into it. The only other places I’ve been on vacation are to the beach, and I basically just showed up with myself, a bathing suit, and a few other things and relaxed away. This time, I booked my ticket from DCA to Lima, Peru because flights were cheap ($650 round trip) without doing TOO much research into exactly where things were in Peru or what went into preparing for the trip. Not necessarily the best way to plan a big trip like this, but it forced me to make it happen.

Before getting ready for the trip, I had to:

  • Schedule an appointment with a travel medicine clinic. Here I got a Hepatitis A vaccine as well as a yellow fever vacine, and a prescription for Cipro (an antibiotic) in case I develop typhoid symptoms (fever, diarrhea, fun).
  • Schedule an appoint with my PCP. She prescribed me malaria medication, altitude sickness medication, and some medicine for my anxiety around traveling on sketchy buses. In retrospect, I could have gone to the travel medicine clinic for all of these things, but I had to see my primary care doctor anyway, so it wasn’t a huge deal.
  • Renew my passport. It expired in January, and I took care of getting a new one in March so I had plenty of time.
  • Book a domestic flight. Flying in and out of Lima was great and cheap, but I realized that most of where we wanted to go was located much closer to Cusco, so we had to book an additional flight from Lima to Cusco, which ended up costing about $350, so airfare is around $1000 total.
  • Plan the itinerary. When looking to book tour groups, they were asking for close to $3,000 for as few as 8 days of travel. This did NOT include flights, and when I was looking at the prices, I knew that wasn’t the way I wanted to go. So, instead, we did a lot of research and booked things ourselves.

What we came up with:

  • June 21: Fly from DCA to Lima and stay overnight at a hostel near the airport
  • June 22: Fly from Lima to Cusco and stay in a hostel in the city
  • June 23 – June 29: Get picked up at our hostel, and take a 7 day, 6 night guided tour of the amazon jungle. I negotiated the price and we were able to get the trip (which includes the tour, all accommodations, and all our food) for $750 USD each.
  • June 29 – July 5: 5 nights in an apartment in downtown Cusco through airbnb.com. We were able to find a nice apartment with a kitchen, wifi, laundry, and everything we could need for $56 USD per night right in the center of the city.
  • July 1 – day trip to Machu Picchu. This cost about $250 USD per person, and includes transport to and from, entrance fees, and the tour itself.
  • July 5: Fly from Cusco back to Lima, stay overnight in a hostel in the city center, spend 2 full days in Lima
  • July 7: Fly from Lima back to DCA (just after midnight, so no need for a second night in a hostel)

It seems like a LOT of traveling when I look at it put down like this, so I am really glad we have those 5 nights at the same place in Cusco. Hopefully we will take a few days just to relax and explore.

Packing

I am bringing a large hiking backpack that I am borrowing from my sis, and plan to bring just that, so wanted to pack really light. We made sure to have laundry in our apartment in Cusco, so will be able to do it on day 8/9 of the trip – just about half way through. June is winter in Peru, and it seems like the temperatures vary a lot – from in the upper 60s during the day, to the low 30s overnight. This means one thing – dress in layers! Since I am trying to pack light, I wanted to make sure not to bring anything more than I needed, so I did a ton of research on what to bring during that time of year. I was able to bring the list down to a reasonable amount which all fits in the backpack. For the jungle tour portion, the company is giving us a duffle bag that we will fill with what we need just for the jungle (mostly hiking stuff and toiletries), and then we will leave the rest of our items at our hostel in Cusco.

backpack1

Here’s the full list:

Documents:

  • Passport
  • Yellow fever vaccine confirmation
  • Itinerary with hotel/hostel names/addresses/phone numbers + flight info
  • Peruvian Currency

Gear:

Clothes:

  • Socks
  • Bathing suit
  • 2 maxi dresses
  • 1 convertible skirt/dress
  • Black jeggings
  • 2 pairs hiking pants
  • 4 long sleeve shirts
  • 4 tanks for layering
  • 4 short sleeve shirts
  • Rain Jacket / Windbreaker
  • 10 pairs underwear
  • 2 Sports bras
  • 2 regular bras
  • Sarong
  • Pashmina
  • Scarf
  • Hiking sandals
  • Flip flops
  • Flats

Medical Kit:

  • Chapstick
  • Pepto
  • Immodium
  • Advil
  • After Bite
  • Bandaids
  • Blister Pads
  • Tissues
  • Benadryl
  • Malaria Meds
  • Altitude Sickness meds

Toiletries:

  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Hair tyes
  • Hair gel
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo (bringing a few hotel sized ones and will throw out as I go)
  • Conditioner (bringing a few hotel sized ones and will throw out as I go)
  • Body Wash (bringing a few hotel sized ones and will throw out as I go)
  • Face wash wipes
  • Wet Naps
  • Makeup

Miscellaneous

Not so bad for 17 days! It actually doesn’t even look like a lot when it’s all laid out.

gear1

Now, just to figure out how to get it all in the backpack…

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken?



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34 Comments on Getting Ready for Peru

  1. Dana W.
    June 19, 2013 at 9:10 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Beth. I’m really looking forward to recaps of your trip. I’m tentatively planning a trip to Peru next year so when I saw you were going, I got excited.
    If you have a few minutes, I’d love to know where you found such cheap flights and who you booked the Amazon and Macchu Picchu tours with.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 19, 2013 at 11:38 am (1 year ago)

      Hi Dana! I’ll definitely be recapping my trip upon my return! This is my first international trip in ages, and also my longest vacation ever!

      I booked both flights through Priceline.com – DCA to Lima is on American Airlines, and the internal flight is through TACA, which I’ve heard is a good, reputable one in Peru. The jungle tour group I’m going with is: http://www.bonanzatoursperu.com/ for the 7 night, 6 day Reserve Zone tour. I negotiated with them from 980 per person to 750 pp. The one day MP trip is through: http://www.andinatravel.com/

      Reply
  2. Becky
    June 19, 2013 at 9:26 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Beth,
    The best vacation I’ve ever been on was my honeymoon. We went on a cruise to Italy, Turkey and Greece. I had never been to Europe before and it was incredible. For a first time traveler to Europe a cruise was definitely the way to go. My favorite place that we went was a toss up between Venice and Santorini. If you ever get a chance to go over there I definitely recommend it. Your Peru trip sounds wonderful! I’ll be looking forward to your vacay recaps. One of the best parts about traveling to a different country is the opportunity to unplug. Turn off your phone and don’t turn it on again until you are landed back in the US!

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 19, 2013 at 11:39 am (1 year ago)

      Wow that sounds amaaaaazing! The Mediterranean is definitely far up on my list of places i want to go – especially Greece and Turkey!

      When I’m in the jungle, we’ll have no internet (obviously) so I’m going to be completely unreachable for 7 days! I’m excited, but also scared – it’ll be quite a big adjustment for me!

      Reply
  3. Carrie
    June 19, 2013 at 11:26 am (1 year ago)

    Nothing as exotic as this, but my mom and I went on an 7-day small-boat cruise through Cape Cod and the islands (Nantucket and Martha’s Vinyard). Really amazing trip.

    Have fun and be safe!

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 19, 2013 at 11:39 am (1 year ago)

      That sounds lovely! I’ve actually never been to the cape, but want to go.

      Reply
  4. leah k
    June 19, 2013 at 11:28 am (1 year ago)

    I did a 5 day trek from Cusco to Macchu Picchu… bring hand sanitizer that you can carry with you at a times. Sunscreen because you are SO close to equator and elevation that you will burn. And you will want bugspray that is 99% deet (REI has it) because 25%-50% won’t cut it (trust me ;) )

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 19, 2013 at 11:33 am (1 year ago)

      Hi Leah – thanks for letting me know about the bug spray! I just ordered some from amazon to be overnighted. :) I have Purel too – do you think 30 SPF is high enough for sunblock?

      Reply
      • leah k
        June 19, 2013 at 11:50 am (1 year ago)

        Oh yea 30 is fine- don’t forget ears and scalp ( i missed those there.. and regretted it!) Also does your chapstick have spf in it? That’s a key thing too.. I was not prepared for that ;)

        I had brought 50% deet spray with me and my friends who I backpacked with had 99% stuff and I ended up only using theirs… and still got bite haha. Long sleeves and pants really is the only protection sometimes! I think they called them sand flies there? yea.. SUPER itchy and lasted way longer than mosquito bites.

        Hope this helps! It is a trip you will never forget!

        Reply
  5. leah k
    June 19, 2013 at 11:29 am (1 year ago)

    ohhh and pack it all in jumbo ziplock bags! It helps reduce the size of it all (suck air out) and helps keeps things clean things clean and dirty things away from clean things!

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 19, 2013 at 11:33 am (1 year ago)

      I already did this so got one thing right!! I’m bringing several extra as well.

      Reply
  6. Melissa @TryingtoHeal
    June 19, 2013 at 11:53 am (1 year ago)

    Hey Beth! So excited you’re taking a trip to Peru! I spent all of last summer there working at a high elevation rainforest research center and visiting Cusco several times! A few things I can suggest for you:

    -I also recommend a higher DEET bug spray as they can be very very bad. I worked in the Amazon jungle and if you’re going to be bush wacking, put that stuff EVERYWHERE! I used to spray along my belt line, sock line, pant line, neck and arms because not only are the mosquitoes and tiny flies bad, but there are also very bad sand flies that can give you leishmaniasis and mites that are very very hard to get rid of (They are like scabies, but worse).

    -Be very careful when you arrive in Cusco because the elevation is dramatic and I have seen all degrees of altitude sickness, even with the meds taken as prescribed. When you come back for your 5 day stay take your time walking as much of the city can be very hilly and wipe you off your feet in exhaustion! There are a few ruins to see just outside the city and my favorite place was Huacarpay, which is nice. It’s a lagoon that has some great places to see birds and ruins. It’s a bit of a trek to get there, but whatever you do, don’t take a taxi! Ask the hostel you’re staying at how to get there as it’s much cheaper to take a bus with the locals. Just make sure to bring small currency with you wherever you go when you travel (taxi drivers like to rip you off for all your worth, say from the airport to the center of town, which should only cost you about 4 soles and not 15-20 which they will try to make you pay).

    -I know you’re bringing water tablets which is good, but just make sure never to drink the water no matter what, even to brush your teeth with (That’s how I got sick and came home with an amoeba; yuck!). If you’re going to try the juices at say, San Pedro Market (which is good for everything and has all the local cuisine and stuff) or anywhere else always ask them to use boiled water so it’s been decontaminated from the boiling, otherwise that can make you sick too!

    Sorry this is so long! I guess that after spending over 4 months there, there are a lot of things to be aware of! I hope you have a great trip though! It sounds like you’re going to have a great time!!!

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 19, 2013 at 12:23 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Melissa – thank you so much for all the tips! I went ahead and ordered 98.1% DEET bug spray from amazon to be overnighted since someone else gave that tip as well.

      Great to know about the water – can you get bottled water there? What did you use to brush your teeth? I’m so scared of getting ill!

      And regarding the altitude sickness pills – do you think i should take them before i go (they say 1 – 2 days can be good) or just wait to see if i get sick when i’m there? I’ve also heard the malaria pills can make you sick, but since i am going to be in the jungle i don’t see that as an option.

      Reply
      • Melissa @TryingtoHeal
        June 20, 2013 at 11:26 am (1 year ago)

        You can definitely buy water at the local little markets or the bigger grocery stores, but I always tried to get them from the tiny markets because it’s easier. I would use that to brush my teeth too! It’s a pain because you feel like you’re wasting water, but it’ll be worth it!

        As for the altitude sickness pills, since you’re only going to be one day in Cusco then going straight to the jungle (I’m assuming lowlands and no high elevation rainforests?) then you should be ok for that day. But definitely start taking it a few days before you get to Cusco like the directions say (I think mine were two days ahead of time). They will make you extremely tired, so just be aware of that. I think that’s the point of those pills, they slow you down by making you tired so you don’t move around much and get sick. lol!

        I’m so excited to hear about your trip when you get back! You’ll have such a great time! I loved it there and can’t wait to get back!

        Reply
  7. Lisa Grimaldi
    June 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm (1 year ago)

    Sounds like an amazing trip. Have a great time! Looking forward to reading about it! One thing I don’t see on your list is a charger converter. You will need to charge that iPhone and will need the have the proper plug. Check on amazon.com they have ones that will charge directly into a USB. Have fun!

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Lisa! I’ve heard that the plugs from the US work in almost all the plugs in Peru, which is why I didn’t have a converter listed! i have one of those USB ones to use to charge my things, so hopefully everything will go smooth in that department!

      Reply
      • Melissa @TryingtoHeal
        June 20, 2013 at 11:27 am (1 year ago)

        Your plugs should work; I didn’t use a converter for any of mine :)

        Reply
  8. Anna
    June 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm (1 year ago)

    Have you stayed at a hostel before? You might want to take a small lock with you – sometimes they have lockers where you can leave your stuff during the day.

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Anna! I have not stayed at a hostel before – but that is a great idea. Thanks!

      Reply
  9. Weighting For 50
    June 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm (1 year ago)

    SOOO excited for you!!! I look forward to living vicariously through you via your recaps!

    Reply
  10. Joan M.
    June 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm (1 year ago)

    Beth – You will have such an amazing and memorable trip! Getting to Macchu Picchu is very high on my bucket list. Just a consideration – in addition to the sandals, you may really want to have a good pair of waterproof hiking boots to wear for your trip to the Amazon rain forest and Macchu Picchu. Sandals will not offer a lot of the protection needed for ankle support when navigating rough terrain, foliage, also – protection from rain, (snakes?) etc.

    Reply
  11. Mary Cosedine
    June 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm (1 year ago)

    What a handy post for a disorganized person like me – a great check list.
    One enjoyable trip was to Malaysia where we based ourselves in Kuala Lumpur – get a great view up the Petronas Tower.

    But when tramping have to be careful with heat and humidity. We had one trek (luckily in the forest) where the temperature was 90 F and the humidity 96% – luckily we had shade and plenty of water. Even the locals were finding it tough.

    Reply
  12. Grace Lynch
    June 20, 2013 at 11:40 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Beth! I am so excited for you and this adventure you’ll be in!!!! And just think – the adventures are just beginning! Bravo to you for LIVING your life! :)

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm (1 year ago)

      Grace!! I’ve been thinking about you!

      Reply
  13. Amanda
    June 20, 2013 at 11:58 am (1 year ago)

    Well I Havent taken it yet but my bf and I are going to New Zealand in November!

    Reply
    • Beth
      June 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm (1 year ago)

      That’s way up on my list!

      Reply
  14. Steph
    June 20, 2013 at 3:28 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Beth,
    Have a great time on your trip. Be sure to try some salsa dancing while there, I hear its great!

    Reply
  15. Angela @ Honey, I Shrunk the Mom
    June 20, 2013 at 5:20 pm (1 year ago)

    Oh my goodness, Beth, that sounds so incredible! I have never taken an adventure like his but I am in awe at all the planning you have done on your own. I hope you have a great time!

    Oh, and I can not believe you’re only taking that little, bitty bag. I take more than that when I go for a weekend away!

    Reply
  16. Gwen
    June 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm (1 year ago)

    Sounds amazing! And so organized! Have a great time and be safe.

    Reply
  17. brenda
    June 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm (1 year ago)

    I’m envious and excited for you all at the same time!!! I can’t wait to read about it once you return!!! I love your life! :)

    Reply
  18. Betty Taylor
    June 23, 2013 at 12:03 am (1 year ago)

    I can’t wait to get all the details of your trip. I hope you take and post losts of pics!

    Reply
  19. Helen
    June 24, 2013 at 2:52 pm (1 year ago)

    Beth, enjoy your trip and have fun

    Reply
  20. Stephen
    June 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm (1 year ago)

    Peru is wonderful. Make sure to take tons of pictures to share on here.

    Reply
  21. Sarah
    July 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm (1 year ago)

    That’s quite a list! Some good advice for when you’re travelling is to take twice as much money and half as much clothing as you originally planned. I’m hoping to get the chance to travel there some day, it sounds like such an interesting an exotic location. Have fun!

    Reply

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