How I Traveled to 3 Climates in Peru with Only a Personal Item and a Purse

Here’s how I’ve mastered the art of packing light. I’ve included some of my favorite travel accessories, which are all available on Amazon. I do not get compensated for sharing these items (though maybe I should). I simply want to help travelers get around easier by packing right and packing light. It’s life changing!

Over the last few years I have traveled the world with only a personal item: a backpack that is smaller than a book bag (MARC BY MARC JACOBS ‘Pretty Nylon’ Knapsack) and sometimes an anti-theft handbag (by Travelon).

Theo carries one 20L waterproof bag (Aqua Quest Himal 20L Backpack).

It’s easy to pack a small bag for the beach: sun dresses, hats, swimsuits, some comfy lounging clothes and a toiletry bag. So what do I do when traveling in the winter or for an active adventure? Plan. Plan. Plan.

Plan to mix and match. Plan to wear basic color schemes. Plan to dress things up with scarves. Plan when you can do laundry (or wash things in the hotel sink). Plan to bring shoes that can be worn for trekking around and dressing up.

My trip to Peru presented a unique challenge: three different climates. We traveled for 10 days in the city, mountains and jungle–and had a lot of flights, boat rides, train rides and bus trips the whole way–including a 32 hour trek home from the rainforest.

Lima was about 68F, rainy and foggy. Cusco was a crisp and sunny 50F. Puerto Maldonado reached 96F with jungle humidity. And since this was an active trip with lots of hiking and exploring planned, I brought a little more than I normally would.

Inevitably on every trip, some of the things I want to bring get left behind. I have a large and a small packing cube (eBags Packing Cubes) and a small toiletry bag. When those are full, I’m done packing (even though I’ll squeeze a few more items in the bag, like a brush, a neck pillow and a small evening handbag).

Here’s what made the journey:

– 👖 4 pairs of pants. No jeans. They should be light and dry quickly. I like Prana brand. I also have plain black and brown pants with no zippers or buttons, so they don’t take up much room. And I added a pair of yoga pants to the mix.
– 👚 4 long sleeve Coolibar UPF 50 t-shirts. I like these because they are sun protective, can be dressed up and dry quickly.
– 🧦 4 pairs of socks
– 4 sets of undergarments (ex officio quick dry).
– 🧣 3 scarves (to dress up the long sleeve t-shirts)
– 👗 1 long sleeve dress
– 👒1 hat
– 👚1 short sleeve quick dry shirt and shorts set for the jungle or if I want to go for a run
– 1 sarong. I can’t live without my sarong when I’m on the road. It serves as a beach cover up and lounge wear. I can twist and tie it around my neck and add a pair of yoga pants for ultimate comfort.
– 🌂1 rain coat
– 👟1 pair of teevas (the cute ones that can be worn with dresses or active wear, not the ugly ones: Teva Women’s Northwater Sandal).
– 👛 1 small toiletry bag (including a 3 oz bottle of laundry detergent)
– 🕶 1 eye mask.
– 1 neck pillow. (This one is the greatest ever because it works really well and is flat for storage in your bag: Trtl Pillow).
– 📱1 iPhone
– 🤳 1 selfie stick (yup)
– 🎧 1 set of ear buds
– Univeral adapter and cords.

Wearing on plane: Black long sleeve t-shirt, black yoga pants. Lem’s Boulder Boots. Columbia fleece jacket (which doubles as a blanket on the plane and can easily be tied to the top of my backpack for transport when I’m not wearing it). Always wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes on the plane and travel days so that they don’t take up all the room in your bag.

Of course, I had more on my wishlist that didn’t fit: sun dress, one more outfit, another hat, kindle fire (my iPhone really has all I need for travel: e-books, audiobooks, notes app for writing, social media and photo apps, Uber, camera, apple wallet for boarding passes and Viator passes, TripIt).

The rest fit! I didn’t miss anything I didn’t bring. In fact, I usually find that I didn’t need everything that did fit.

We did a full load of laundry once during the trip to Peru—our Airbnb had a washer and dryer, so that made it convenient. At other times, we washed a few things in the sink when we were in the dry climate.

A lot of times, the things I’m able to pack for a week would do for months, as long as I can do laundry each week. I understand that some people don’t want to be bothered with laundry on vacation, but I’d much rather wash my clothes than lug around a suitcase.

Traveling with only a small backpack and a purse that both fit under the seat on the plane is liberating!

Light travel was especially important for this trip to Peru, as we had 8 flights (including connecting flights), two bus and boat trips, two train rides and numerous Uber/taxi trips.

For each flight, we checked in online, saved our boarding passes to our apple wallets and breezed through the airports.

On our last day, we traveled by boat and bus out of the jungle and then took two flights to Lima. In Lima, we had a 10 hour layover before our final two flights home. It was great not to lug a bunch of stuff!

~ LiAnn

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