Peru is amazing! The jungle is so lush and and full of adventure. Incredible people, delicious food, and tons of wildlife. You have made an excellent choice and are really going to enjoy this program!
Before embarking, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and upon arrival, there were a few items I wished I had brought (or regretted bringing). We here at HQ have painstakingly prepared this handy Packing List--please read it over carefully before you begin planning and be sure to adhere to it closely. If you’re needing some extra guidance, read on!
I am a light packer: typically, I will bring only a small bag and a backpacking backpack when I travel. As this program is just two weeks long, I was able to fit everything I needed with plenty of room to spare. I just ended up bringing:
1) a small backpack as my daypack & checked bag (carry on size)
2) a medium sized backpacking backpack
Keep your packing simple! You definitely won’t need a blow dryer, electronics, or trendy outfits. Most days you will be getting sweaty, dirty, wet, or all of the above. Embrace it!
Be sure to check with your airline in regard to baggage allowances and weight limitations. Most airlines will allow one carry-on bag, one personal item, and one checked bag weighing 50 lbs or less on international flights. However, please verify this with your airline before you get started, or you could be facing an extra charge at check in.
You’ll want to keep your essentials near and dear! While we’ve had good luck in the past with luggage arriving as expected, luggage delays do happen. Be sure that you have have your:
□ GLA Contact Card
□ Flight Itinerary
□ Phone & Charger
□ Prescriptions or other crucial medications
□ PEN! You will need this when filling out your entrance forms on the plane
Imagine the worst-case scenario: Your checked bag doesn’t arrive in Peru with you, and is never to be seen again. What items would you absolutely want to have with you? The answer will be different for each of us, but here are the items I wouldn’t want to be caught without:
□ Full change of clothes
□ Phone charger
□ Rain jacket
□ Toiletries (travel size--you can see TSA guidelines here)
□ Instant coffee (for the coffee enthusiast!)
This will hold the bulk of your belongings. Clothes, any full-sized liquids (like shampoo, conditioner, etc), rain gear, water bottles, snacks, etc. Please note that there is a muddy uphill trek to the Home Base that makes it impossible to carry rolling luggage, or really anything that isn’t backpack-style, with ease.
As far as what type of clothing is appropriate for your program, again, the Travel Portal is going to be your best resource. You can also take a look at the 2016 Blogs to get a good feel for the types of clothing that might be best. Please note that for the service in the local community, tank tops and shorts are not encouraged--as a group, we’ll want to dress in line with local customs.
If this packing configuration doesn’t work for you, feel free to make substitutions. It’s all about what you’re comfortable traveling with. Just remember to bring only what you can maneuver yourself, and take into consideration that you will likely be lugging home souvenirs.
It may rain a lot, or it may rain a little, but mark my words: you WILL get caught in a downpour at least once while you’re in the Amazon. You will most certainly want ALL of the following:
□ Rain shell
□ Rain poncho
□ Raincover for backpack (you can find these at REI or on Amazon)
On a related note, it can take a few days for laundry or drenched clothing to dry when the weather is humid or wet, so plan accordingly. I would recommend bringing at least 10 pairs of undergarments in the event that laundry takes longer than anticipated to dry.
When you’re going into the Amazon jungle, the main thing on your mind is undoubtedly going to be the bugs. With good reason! I’ve never seen so many different types of insects-- from dragonflies the size of my head to little gnats that were nearly too small to see. Honestly though, out of them all, the only thing that will bother you is the mosquitoes. I saw students using repellent bracelets, insect wipes, 98% Deet spray, etc. Pretty much everything you can think of to keep those pesky things away from you. That being said, the most useful repellent actually turned out to be a Lemon Eucalyptus spray (you can find some really good stuff on Amazon.) I definitely encourage you to do research on your own and pick what you think is best, but I know what I’ll be bringing next time I’m headed into the jungle!
The Home Base runs off of solar panels and has only a handful of outlets. This means limited time for charging phones, cameras, etc. I really regret not bringing my personal solar charger as there were quite a few cloudy days and a lot of people’s items that needed to be charged! Just something to keep in mind, and if you happen to have a solar charger by all means bring it!
While you are free to choose any products that strike your fancy, just remember that you will be staying in the middle of the jungle and our showers run right down into the Amazon river. Take the ecosystem of the flora and fauna into consideration when purchasing your shampoos, conditioners, and soaps to bring on this program and maybe look into biodegradable products that are easy on the environment. I personally love Dr. Bronner’s -- a little goes such a long way, and it doubles as body wash & face wash to boot! I’ve also used it to wash my undergarments, and I must say I’m a fan.
Keep it Light
While doing community service and spending time in the community you will want to stay covered but not overheated. Think light, breathable t-shirts, and zip-off or athletic pants. When you’re lounging around the Home Base tank tops and shorts are fine, but just remember that there will be a lot of sun and bugs to fend off! I was most comfortable in my light hiking shorts and loose, quick-dry shirts.
Layni's Words of Advice
Don’t sweat the small stuff! Just follow the packing list and try to bring only the necessities. This is a great opportunity to live simply, to reevaluate what you actually need and what you can do without.