When packing for a long trip (more than seven days) I always pack as if I am away for a week, otherwise I end up hauling all sorts of unnecessary items. This means I pack seven sets of underpants and bras and seven, mostly plain, tops. I specify plain tops because I can easily change their vibe by adding different pieces of jewellery, thus saving space in general or for purchases. Plain tops also mean I am less likely to have clashing outfits and can swap them around more easily. When conserving clothes I find, unless you are doing rigorous activities like hiking, then you can wear bras and tops twice before they need to be washed for my own and other people’s comfort. Minimalism is applicable to makeup too, there is no one to impress and with early rises and the harsh climate you will be pushed to maintain an immaculate face of products.
I found there was no real reason to pack any formal clothes unless you are staying somewhere very smart, even in this case most people were more concerned about keeping the cold out than appearing at their sartorial best. Due to the cool nights and early mornings layers are crucial. Many thinner layers are preferable to fewer thicker ones as the air between the layers is heated by the body and acts as a better insulator. Multiple layers also means I can manage my body temperature better despite the day’s oscillating climate. To give you an example, on Lake Titicaca, I began the day wearing a t-shirt, cashmere sweater and hoodie over the top. Whilst sailing on the top of the boat I then used my anorak as a wind breaker but when visiting the floating and surrounding islands all I needed was my t-shirt on top. A feature so many people forget is to get a jacket which covers your bottom because if you need to sit you will not get a wet derriere.
For me, the most invaluable garment I packed was my convertible trousers so that I could change length during the day according to temperature changes. Commonly such trousers only have two lengths, shorts and full length but I have a pair which have a three-quarter length option, which I love. If you read my post about visiting Machu Picchu or watch my YouTube videos about entering the Amazon rain forest, you will see how heat during the day can vary considerably On your bottom half, I also recommend taking a pair of jeans to wear in the evening post day activities and a pair of shorts for the odd day of warm sunshine.
In the Amazon, we had evenings and lunch time at leisure so it was nice to have something light and loose, not to mention dry, to lounge in that was not pyjamas to change into that was not walking gear. I recommend something like linen trousers or leggings (for girls that is!) For the same reason plimsolls are a nice change for walking around in that are not trainers or walking boots but keep out the bugs and/or cold at night.
What to wear on your feet day-to-day? Unless you are hiking the Inca Trail or have weak ankles, trainers will suffice for any walking you do. My mum wore hybrid trainers and walking shoes which took her from city to the rain forest without looking out of place anywhere. In contrast to my mum, I wore my beloved Danner boots. Whilst being a real piece of travel-equipment (the US military issue them as standard kit) they are also a fashion statement. For their size they are amazingly light, breathable, tough, easy to clean and quick to dry.
Sunglasses, scarf and a hat are highly recommended. Although the climate was chilly in the mornings in mid-September, once the sun had risen, it was strong and burnt many a tourist nose and neck. See my previous blog on visiting Machu Picchu for the anecdotes why you should heed my caution.
In short, pack minimally and functionally, but never boring!