The secret’s out: you guys know I’m a serial overpacker. As I prepared for my South America adventure, starting with at least two months in Peru, I briefly fantasized that this might be the trip. The one where I pack like one of those people, those people who travel the planet for years on end with little more than a quick-dry tee-shirt and three pairs of seamless underwear. I’ve read their six point packing list posts and thought, could that be me?
Well, ladies and gentleman, I don’t want to keep you in suspense here — that is not me. Part of me wants to just slink away in my obscenely oversized backpack filled with not two, not four, but twelve pairs of socks and rock back and forth on it like an overturned turtle and hiss at all those carry-on toting travelers that sashay by. But then I decided to just own it, ’cause I figure I must not be the only one out there. In fact, I’m going to start us a support group. It’s going to be called Yes In Fact I do Need Both Styles of Jeggings Thanks For Asking and we’ll meet at the Extra Baggage Fees counter. Yup, that’s right, come and get us you light packing enthusiasts! I packed THREE paperback novels!
So, ahem. My system. Clothes, shoes, toiletries and accessories go in my Osprey Aether 85L Backpack. I have such a huge pack because typically I have my dive gear stuffed in there as well — as I have such a long dive-less stretch for this trip I’m planning to have it shipped to me once I hit Central America. Gear and electronics, also known as my mobile office, go in my new Eagle Creek Afar Backpack. I have a simple canvas bag that is my day-to-day travel purse, where I carry my wallet and other daily essentials. When I fly, I check the Osprey and carry on the Eagle Creek and the canvas bag — Eagle Creek in the overhead, canvas bag at my seat. When I travel overland, I throw the Osprey on my back and the Eagle Creek on my front with the canvas bag tucked inside.
I’m also bringing a few things that are temporary and therefore I’m leaving them off my main packing list. Those include notebooks, notepads, and pencils for the village visit on my Iquitos cruise itinerary, a pile of travel magazines I’ll read in transit and give away, and some seriously threadbare warm weather clothes that I’ll toss on my way out of my first stop, Iquitos.
Read next: all my Peru posts in one place.
Clothes and Shoes
Note: I’ve updated this post with changes I made to my packing list along the way!
With the exception of the Lululemon jacket my mom gifted me and the Calvin Klein leggings I bought at Marshalls for $20 (and had hemmed for $10, yay for short people taxes) nothing in this category is new for this trip. Certain things like socks and underwear I purposely overpacked, as those anyways seem to go missing when I get my laundry done and if you ever tried to shop for underwear in Indonesia you’ll understand why I like to have spares.
• 2 dresses (one evening-friendly and one daytime sightseeing-friendly)
• 2 skirts (one black cotton pencil, one gray cotton a-line)
• 4 dress tops (this may sound like a lot, but these are mostly silky little things and truly tissue-weight!)
• 3 long sleeve tops
2 1 tee shirt (one got tossed for being threadbare)
• 6 tanks
• 3 layering tops (one Lululemon jacket, a generous bon voyage gift from my mom, one Scottevest that I received at TBEX, and one shrug-like thing I take everywhere as seen in this post)
4 3 shorts (one pair of jean shorts, one pair of khaki shorts, two one pair of exercise shorts)
5 4 pants (one pair of full length black leggings, two one pairs of athletic capri leggings, one pair of ultralight jeans that I bought last year from Forever 21 for about $10, and one pair of light cotton pants)
14 12 undies, 3 bras, 2 1 bandeau, 3 2 sports bras
12 8 pairs of socks, 1 pair of gloves (I’m mostly planning to pick up whatever cold-weather scarves, hats etc. that I need once I hit Cusco)
• 2.5 bathing suits (three tops and two bottoms)
• 1 pair running shoes (what I’m planning to hike The Inca Trail in)
• 1 pair (fake) Keds
• 1 pair black flats (tossed at the end of the trip)
• 1 pair dress sandals (tossed at the end of the trip)
• 1 pair flip flops
A note about packing cubes: As you can see from the photos below, packing cubes are going to change my life. I’m sure of it. A year ago I picked up two Eagle Creek Pack-It Half Cubes and they were awesome for keeping my undies and bathing suits sorted. So I was overjoyed when Eagle Creek sent me a Pack-It Specter Cube Set and a Pack-It Specter Compression Cube Set to add to the mix. Already I feel I’ll soon be a full-fledged member of the Packing Cube Cult. These things are amazing!
Toiletries and Accessories
• 1 bag of jewelry (one belt, one bracelet, two earrings, three necklaces)
• 2 bags of toiletries (basically everything in my toiletries post except I left behind the baby powder and the dry shampoo)
• 1 bag of makeup (Again, everything from my toiletries post, except the perfume samples and lipgloss ran out and I didn’t replace)
• 1 shower bag (Once again, see that toiletries post… however, I’m making one major change. I’m really excited to be trying out solid shampoo! Lush is my favorite kind of company — they don’t test of animals, they use eco-friendly, plastic free packaging, and they’re reasonably priced. The sales guy estimated based on my hair length and wash frequency that this will last me two months! Also in this bag is a sarong and a small ultra-absorbent hair towel.)
• 1 medicine bag (I know everyone says, ‘Oh, just buy that stuff as you go!’ But really, when I get a blister I don’t want to run around town looking for band-aids and when I’m having an allergy attack I don’t want to search for a pharmacy. So I have a small stash of band aids, blister pads for hiking, Neosporin, anxiety meds, Emergen-C, a few allergy pills and antacids, etc.)
• 2 spare sunglasses (My thinking is, I know I can find sunglasses most places I’m traveling. But if it is a scientific fact that I will lose a pair within a month, and I already have two spares at home, why not bring them?)
• 1 visor
• 1 small crossbody purse for evenings
• 1 collapsible tupperware (I eat takeout frequently when I’m pulling long hours in front of the computer. I’m hoping this new addition to my packing list ensures I can cut down on styrofoam and single use containers!)
• 1 bag of food (Just some leftover granola and instant oatmeal I had at home, and Pedialyte packets to help fight altitude sickness. I’ll be happy as I use this stuff and my bag gets lighter!)
• 1 towel and 1 sarong
Gear and Electronics
If someone could create a universal charger that would juice up every camera, computer, and battery operated item in my bag I would fully kiss them on the mouth. This stuff is heavy and often stressful to travel with but it is how I run my business on the road.
• Canon 70-300mm lens (I don’t love this lens, but at this point I don’t want to shell out for an upgrade. I debated not even bringing it, but I think I’ll be happy I have it when wildlife spotting in the Amazon.)
• Canon PowerShot S100 + Charger + Spare Battery + Leather case + 16 GB Memory Card+ Underwater Housing (Debated not bringing my underwater setup as I only have two activities planned where I know I’ll use it, but I’m also nervous to have it shipped down with my dive gear.)
• Dive Computer (See above!)
• Macbook Pro + charger + portable mouse
• Time machine backup hard drive + 2 USB memory sticks
• Basic unlocked phone + charger (for putting a local SIM into)
• Solar USB charger (hoping this will help me listen to music throughout the Inca Trail!)
• Headphones + Headphone splitter (not pictured)
• Adaptors (I’ve read Peru varies between two-prong round and flat outlets, so these are for my three-prong laptop charger)
• Lonely Planet Peru + 3 books (I’m in the middle of two of them and will read and give away along the way)
• Folder with travel and work documents + pens
• Travel pillow + eyeshade + earplugs (Kind of thrilled about this pillow and it’s secret inner pocket for all the overnight bus rides I’ll be taking)
• Passport + Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate
• Pouch with spare credit cards + emergency cash
• Day calendar + notebook
• SteriPEN + reusable water bottle
• Super tiny headlamp (Thank you Anders!)
• Camelbak + spare mouthpieces
• Eagle Creek Packable Backpack (So excited about this new bag. I think it will be perfect for biking, quick hikes and other day tours when I don’t want to unpack my entire backpack to bring.)
• Pacsafe Luggage Travelsafe 12L Pack + Padlock
• Eagle Creek Silk Undercover Bra Stash (I’ve never used any kind of money-belt before, but I think this little system for stashing credit cards and cash on long distance bus rides will be great!)
• Personal alarm from the 80’s (I laughed a little when my mom insisted I take this on my last solo backpacking trip, but it actually can be comforting when I’m walking down a street alone at night.)
Okay then! Ready to tell me I did everything wrong and I’m looking at several infractions with the packing police? Want to confess that you, too, are a wild overpacker and join my support group? Let’s do this thing in the comments!
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Find the rest of my Peru posts here.
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I am a partner of Eagle Creek and was provided with complimentary items as part of that partnership. I was also provided with the following items in this post by the manufacturers: the waterproof iPhone case, the travel pillow, the Island Company luggage tag. Please note that all Amazon links in this post are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission from anything you buy. I truly appreciate your support in keeping this site running!