The following post has been submitted by Meg Rulli. See all of our packing list (and mistake) posts here.
In 2012, my husband Tony and I traveled around the world for 12 months trying to check off as many items from our bucket list as possible. One of our must-see places was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which we got to experience on our third month into our trip. Taking 4 days and 3 nights to hike the Inca Trail was one of the biggest highlights of our trip and it was 100% worth the time, effort, and money.
And while it was the experience of a lifetime, there were definitely things I would have done (and packed) differently a second time around. As much as Tony and I prepared for the hike, we still missed out on packing a few essential items that were much needed on the journey.
To help other gals avoid these same packing woes, I have come up with a list of things you absolutely MUST bring on the Inca Trail hike… which I neglected to bring!
Here are the 5 Essential Things I Forgot to Pack for The Inca Trail hike:
Tall Socks – Random, I know. But here is where they come in handy: the bathrooms. Otherwise known as “Inca Toilets,” there are many bathrooms along the trail, but they often are nothing more than a rundown outhouse or hole in the ground at best. Not to mention, they only get cleaned a couple times (if ever) during the year, so they can get pretty sketchy.
The tall socks come in handy because you can tuck your pants way up into your socks so they aren’t touching the ground of the bathrooms. I saw several people do this on our trek and it was such a genius (and sanitary) move!
Headlamp – Once again, this comes handy in the bathrooms… or when you need to go pee outside in the middle of the night at your campground! None of the bathrooms at the camp sites along the trail have electricity. After 6pm, everything was pitch dark and Tony and I both brought handheld flashlights – it was a huge pain trying to fumble around in the pitch dark bathrooms while holding a flimsy flashlight. And trust me, you do not want to drop anything in the Inca bathrooms.
On our final night on the Inca Trail, Tony actually did drop his flashlight in the mens bathroom and completely smashed it to pieces. The poor guy was stranded in the dark shouting for help for 5 minutes before I came to his rescue! Total amateur hour. Don’t repeat our mistake. Come prepared with a headlamp and you will be able to swiftly navigate around in the dark (and in the bathrooms) with full use of both of your hands!
Baby Wipes – Yup, I’m going back to the bathrooms discussion again… Can you tell this was a pain point for me on the Inca Trail?
Several girls on our trek brought packs of baby wipes and they were a BIG hit with our group. They were great for quick sanitation after leaving the restrooms or finishing up a meal on the hike – and since nobody showers for 4 days on the trek (all the showers along the trail are ice cold), they were the perfect portable item for freshening up!
A Quality Poncho – Prior to our trek, Tony and I spent 50 cents on the cheapest ponchos we could find in Cusco, which basically were flimsy garbage bags with a hole punched out for the head. I’m not sure what our thought process was (especially since our Inca Trail trek was on the edge of rainy season), but do not make the same mistake we did. Day three and four of the hike was incredibly rainy and my poncho lasted about 45 minutes before it was torn to shreds from my gear and trees/rocks along the hike. Meanwhile, the people in our group who came equipped with high-quality ponchos were dry and comfy throughout the wettest parts of the hike.
Even if you’re hiking to Machu Picchu outside of the rainy season, prepare for rain and spend the few extra dollars on a poncho that will hold up!
Quality Snacks – Cliff Bars, good chocolate, gourmet beef jerky… bring it all. During the four-day hike, there are many stops along the way where you and your trekking group will gather for snacks and socializing. If you want to be the popular kid in the pack, bring quality snacks with you, as it’s one giant potluck snacking feast for the entire journey! Quality snacks are great for these breaks and for bonding with your group. As you know from the school yard, anyone who has great snacks becomes an instant hit!
Your Turn: Have you hiked the Inca Trail? What were some essentials that you recommend packing?
>> Don’t forget to have a look at our ultimate female packing list for the Inca Trail.
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About the Author: Avid traveler, foodie, and outdoor enthusiast. Meg and her husband, Tony, travelled around the world in 2012 and chronicle their trip (and current adventures) on their blog, LandingStanding. Meg has always had a passion to travel and explore new things and was fortunate enough to marry a guy that shares these same passions. They recently moved to Portland, OR and continue to live a life full of adventure… until their next big trip!
* All images provided by Meg Rulli.