Packing for Machu Picchu with a Toddler

We’re gearing up for our family vacation and packing for departure on Sunday! The destination: Machu Picchu, Peru. The route: planes, a train, and a 5 day trek along the ancient Inca Trail. The team: Simon, Joey, and me, plus five dear friends that were brave enough to join us.

Joey loves the Poco and asks for it by name.
Joey loves the Poco and asks for it by name.

Enthusiasm is growing as our packs get filled with equipment for our next big adventure. Joey is cheerfully telling everyone that he is going to Peru to see Picchu. This is a luxurious trip as far as backpacking goes. Our group is in the hands of Llama Path tours, who will outfit us with a guide, chef, and porters to carry most of our gear. Trekking this way has become almost necessary given the popularity of and regulations regarding the Inca Trail.

Backpacking is different with a toddler on board, and our gear list is predominated by Joey’s specialty equipment. Here’s what we are bringing along for our 1.75 year old for the trek:

  • Baby thermals x2. We have one merino wool outfit from New Zealand, and one Patagonia baby capilene 3 set.
  • Full body fleece suit for warmth in the evening/at night with hood and hand/foot covers
  • Full body rain suit for wind/rain protection (we brought only the shell and not the liner since temperatures will be mild during the day)
  • Compressible down/synthetic jacket and pants
  • Five diaper covers and compostable diaper inserts
  • Wool socks (from New Zealand) and toddler hiking shoes
  • Osprey Poco baby carrier backpack
  • Toddler sleeping bag (hardest thing on this list for me to find!)
  • Toddler travel cot(heaviest item by far, hopefully worth it)
  • One favorite book and one new book to be revealed on the trail
  • His favorite stuffed toy for sleeping
  • Sunscreen, baby ibuprofen, sun hat, bacitracin, band aids
  • Water bottle
Joey's small sleeping bag is ironically bulkier and heavier than our down adult bags
Joey’s small sleeping bag is ironically bulkier and heavier than our down adult bags

Simon and I each have a sleeping bag, thermals, hiking clothes, and warm jackets. Llama Path takes care of tents, water, and food – luxury! We’ll have extra clothing for the pre-tour time, stored at our Cusco hotel while we are on the trail.

Car camping in Virginia - Joey's travel bed and sleeping bag
Car camping in Virginia – Joey’s travel bed and sleeping bag

*If we were going solo/worried about weight, we would bring a thermarest inflatable sleeping pad for Joey. In this case, we have some extra room and think he will be more comfortable on the cot.

Trip Planning: We booked this tour in late 2014. Tour companies apply for permits for the year in January, so we wanted to get our deposit in before that for the best chance of getting a spot on the trail and at Machu Picchu. We opted for the less popular 5 day 4 night trek (the classic is 4 days/3 nights) to give ourselves extra time on the big climb and also avoid the crowds as much as possible. We fly to Lima from DC, spend one night, then continue to Cusco where we stay for two days and nights to acclimatize to the high altitude (12,000 ft) before beginning our hike. After the tour, we decided to add a night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes (the town near Machu Picchu) so we could have the entire day at MP and time to enjoy the hot springs in town without worrying about catching a train home. We have one more night in Cusco on our way back where we can get cleaned up and pick up our extra gear at the hotel, then we fly Cusco-Lima-Panama-DC. We planned to travel before Joey’s 2nd birthday so that he is still free (or heavily discounted) for big ticket items including flights, hotels, and the tour. June is the beginning of the dry season in Cusco/Machu Picchu, which lasts through September, so it is a prime time to go.

Backcountry Summer Kickoff Sale


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