How to Pack for 7 Days in Peru in Less Than One Carryon

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know we just returned home from Jacob’s dream trip to Peru, specifically visiting Machu Picchu. It was incredible, and we’ll be sharing our trip over the next month, how we prepped, and how we made sure to have the funnest trip possible this summer.
We’re big DIY vacationers, we like to plan our own agenda and save the money of a travel agency. One thing that was really challenging was planning the details of this trip. There are a few travel books out there, but honestly, nothing was all that excellent. We took bits and pieces from different places, and researched all we could online. However, there was a big leap of faith in our itinerary hoping we’d planned everything right and packed accordingly. I’m happy to report we were close, and we came up with a list of tips we’d share through blog posts so hopefully anyone planning a trip to this 7 Wonder of the World can have an easier time than we had. 
One particular challenge was packing. I love the freedom of only a carry on, and I also love making sure I have at least one outfit a day. This can be tricky for a trip that’s a week or more, but with some very careful organization and the right tools we were both able to pack the perfect amount of clothes. 

 So here’s how we do it. I’m a spreadsheet girl. Excel is something I use every day at work. Consequently, a Google Doc is started for each trip, with each day having it’s own column. Here’s what I add for each day/column:

1. The day of the week and date
2. The AM agenda of activities
3. The PM agenda of activities
4. Hotel we’ll be staying at that evening
5. Travel information, including flight or train numbers

This helps us put everything into a timing perspective and knowing what activities to pack for. For example, we mountain biked on Monday, and that clearly requires a different attire than just going out to dinner.

From there I copy the sheet, and look up what the weather is going to be like. Peru was extra difficult, because although they are in winter during the U.S. summer, some places are very warm and some are very cold due to altitude changes. I add the weather on the new sheet, and remove some of the information from the itinerary sheet, so I know where I’ll be and what clothing and other items to pack for the day.

From there I see what can double up- like maybe I only need one pair of jeans or leggings I can wear twice. Any efficiencies in packing help keep your packing down to one carryon. One other trick, look at lightweight knit items. T-shirts, leggings, knit dresses, all take up less space and weight in your carry on.

When I have this all figured out, I print the spreadsheet and get to work grabbing each of the items on my list. To make sure I have everything I like to literally check everything off my list. One of the greatest products I’ve found to help check off is the Sharpie Clearview Highlighter.

This excellent little product I found at Walgreens, and was super in love with the clear view near the tip. I can actually see what I’m highlighting, and check everything off with a simple highlight.

The Sharpie also helped me still see the list, so I could be OCD and double check myself. True story, I’ve forgot underwear, pajamas, and my toothbrush on more than one occasion. Double checking is a must!

When I have everything together, I like to do the roll method, rolling my clothes in little bundles to save more space. I put the heaviest and bulkiest items on the bottom, and squeeze in the thin items inbetween. And before I know it, I end up with this.

Leaving plenty of room for toiletries, some snacks, and an extra pair or two of shoes.

I’m pleased to say this method worked perfectly for both of us. We came home with one extra t-shirt to spare, and the perfect amount of clothes to wear in the cold and hot temperatures.

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  1. I love this post because this is my dream trip too!!! I am intrigued by the idea of doing it with only a carry-on bag. But tell me, how did you pack a week's worth of toiletries in one little quart-sized plastic bag like the TSA requires? Did you buy more once in Peru? Also what is your carry-on bag of choice?

  2. Kayli Schattner says:

    Great post! I always try to pack just a carry-on because it is SO much easier than lugging luggage around from place to place.

  3. Amber Nicole Blog says:

    Rolling up your clothes definitely saves a TON of space!

  4. Bria Dawkins says:

    Rolling clothes makes for so much more space! It's good to see someone else who plans out their packing! My friends and family make fun of me for how much I plan my packing but nothing beats the feeling of being organized for a trip!

  5. Great job packing!! That definitely takes careful planning and strategizing. I recently traveled to Hong Kong and Thailand for two weeks with a carry-on. Not an easy thing to do, when female high-heeled shoes usually take up 1/3 of that space! 😉 But, totally worth it to be minimal and light… Kudos again!


  6. Esther Ju*Lee says:

    oh man it's going to be so much fun!! i'm so excited for you! we went to peru and hiked 4 days into machu picchu. it was an incredible experience!! 🙂 if you need any tips on what to do in cusco, etc.. i wrote a few blog posts about it too.

  7. You guys are awesome! Your blog is too adorable – I'm excited to follow along! This trip sounds amazing – I hope you have a blast!

  8. Stefany T says:

    First, I love those highlighters and would have loved them when in school especially. Second, props to you. You are a master packer!

  9. Kendall Rayburn says:

    Love these packing tips! I am terrible at packing!

  10. I am super envious of your organized packing skills. I'm the kind of person that literally just throws crap in my bag. lol. I need to take your advise.

  11. Girl In Beta says:

    Good lord you're organized! I don't think I've ever strategically packed like that, but I probably should start.

  12. Alicia Brown says:

    I need to save your packing tips! I can never manage to pack bare minimum.

  13. celery and cupcakes says:

    Wow! Your a packing genius. I always end up taking too many things when I travel.

  14. Growing Up Madison says:

    I always do the military fold when traveling. It saves a ton of space and I can have extra space to stuff a few souvenirs.

  15. I think I need you to come pack for me for my honeymoon 🙂

  16. I am in the military and we move every 3 years! Can I have you come help me pack!!!! Amazing amount of organizational skills. LOVE it! Glad that you had a great time. Peru is on my list of places to visit in my lifetime.

    thrifting diva

  17. Jessica Doll @ Team Wiking says:

    Nice post! I usually do everything laid out on my bed since I pack for 4 of us. I write a column on my blog called Travel Light that you might be interested in: ‘

  18. Kristen Forgione says:

    This isn't planning- This is TALENT! WOW! Great job! You may want to write a book! 🙂

  19. Jordan Wise says:

    I'm so jealous! You guys are going to have SO much fun!

  20. Lissa Cole says:

    My husband went on his mission to Lima and loved it. I hope you guys had a blast! We are hoping we can travel here sometime and stay for a month. He has lots of friends still down there so we might try couchsurfing. I enjoyed seeing all your instagram posts and hope to see more blog posts about your trip soon : )

  21. Lisa Riggs says:

    Wow!! You are so organized! I'm saving this for any future trips my husband and I take!

  22. Rebekah Clarke says:

    Great tips for traveling anywhere! The rolling method is what we use too because you can fit so much more in the bag!

  23. Joelle Duff says:

    Wow, this is IMPRESSIVE. Hope you have an amazing time – sounds like an incredible trip and opportunity!

  24. Heather G says:

    That's impressive! I think I packed more than a carryon just to go to NYC for 3 days!

  25. Deidre Miller says:

    This is impressive… but you are also too organized for me. I guess if I was going on a trip like this I would need it. But usually I overpack to look smokin hot at all points of the day to try and impress the other baseball wives! Ha!

  26. Michelle Chouinard says:

    You are my hero, no like. That is amazing organization!

  27. Raewyn @ Be A Warrior Queen says:

    Dang girl!! I need to be more organized with packing!! Though I definitely have forgotten pjs on more than one occasion

  28. Betsy Gettis says:

    I'm super impressed with your packing skills! Sounds like a fun trip!

  29. Ashley Nicholas says:

    Now that is impressive packing! I tend to pack more than that for an overnight trip. Great job!!

  30. Katie Elizabeth Hawkes says:

    I have to scroll really far to comment on your blog these days, girlfriend! Look at you go! Also, I took only a carry-on to Iceland as well…no way I was going to check a bag and risk it getting separated from me. Fist bumps!

  31. Leanna Ranieri says:

    This is exactly how I pack!

  32. says:

    This is amazing! I am creating my own spreadsheet right now!

    I'd love to read If you uploaded one of your old ones as an example, it's such a fabulous system!

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