I’ve traveled from Canada to Peru five times so far and feel like I have the “packing for Peru” bit down now. I try to pack as light as possible when it comes to clothes, the rest of the space goes to gifts, and then there’s the matter of “the hand-carry essentials”…
- Phone card. Phoning is the easiest way of contacting family when I’m in Vancouver, during my layover in the US, or in Peru, without needing to worry about switching SIM cards or making sure there’s enough load on my cell phone. I’m in the habit of buying Nobelcom phone cards because they’re so easy to purchase online, use, and recharge online. All you need to note down is the toll-free phone number and PIN. A perk? My family in both Canada and Peru can easily follow the English-Spanish bilingual instructions too, so I can give them my leftover minutes.
- Universal electric adapter. In Peru, you’ll find both Type A (flat) and Type C (round) plug types while you only see Type A and Type B (3-prong) in North America. Furthermore, electrical outlets in Peru are set at 220 instead of 120 volts typical of Canada and the US. I’ve already had 120-volt electrical equipment smoke up from imploding after plugging them in directly here!
- Kindle Fire (and charger). Whenever I have free time, I like to fill my brain with knowledge. In packing light, the Kindle is now my technology of choice over my iPod — having my ears plugged disconnects me from the airport environment I so love. The Kindle Fire also allows me to connect to free WiFi to check for important emails!
- Toilet paper. I don’t just mean Kleenex for sniffles here. This is about survival skills and how toilet paper isn’t usually provided in washrooms in Peru. As a side note, you’re supposed to throw your used toilet paper in the garbage instead of flushing it down the toilet, which can clog the system.
- Sunblock. Although my skin very rarely burns, the Andean sun was out to teach me a lesson. They say being so high up in the Andes not only puts you physically closer to the sun, but that Peru also has one of the highest UV radiation doses in the world because of a thinner ozone layer at the equator. My first time here when I didn’t use sunblock, I ended up developing a photosensitive skin condition that didn’t disappear until I returned to Canada. Since then, I use SPF 70 sunblock for children and “skin intolerable to light.” I figure this will help me avoid wrinkles in the future too. Win-win!
- Debit card. In Peru, it doesn’t cost a thing to withdraw from Scotiabank ATM machines and my bank doesn’t charge me anything from their end based on the level of my chequing account. I’ve found that I get the highest amount by withdrawing in American dollars and exchanging the money into nuevos soles at the local currency exchange, which gives better rates.
- Spiral notebook (and pen attached to the spirals). A writer, observer, and wanderer needs her notebook. It reminds me to keep my eyes and ears open to my surroundings and to harbor a heart of reflection, especially during all the waiting time typical of traveling. Observations become blog posts and stories, real or imaginary.
- Camera (with battery, memory card, and charger). Recently, I’ve been trying to take out my camera less often because I find that being in the mindset of photo-taking and visualizing how I want a moment to be remembered can take away from the actual experience. Nevertheless, there are those moments that words can’t describe when a visual reminder can often be more powerful.
Anything you would or wouldn’t pack from my list? What are other essentials you pack for your travels?