Know Before You Go: Peru & Machu Picchu Adventure | EF Ultimate Break

Peru & Machu Picchu Adventure

Know Before You Go

It's almost time to go abroad! Take a couple minutes to read up on the ins and outs of your trip before you leave. When it comes travel tricks of the trade, we're quite the experts. And with this guide, so are you.

Getting there

Flights/Checking In

Your flight information will slide into your DMs (AKA online account) 30 days before departure. This is usually when you get to choose your seat and have the age-old internal debate: window or aisle? Some airlines will make the selections for you, so be sure to talk with the gate agent at the airport if you have a preference. Like being ahead of the game? You can check in for your flight 24 hours prior to your trip using the confirmation number found in your online account. If you’re more of a “wait ‘til the last minute” kind of person, no worries. You can always check in at the airport upon arrival. In either case, we recommend arriving to the airport 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.

Note: We encourage you to pack a small duffel or backpack to use as an overnight bag for the overnight excursion to Aguas Calientes, during which time all large suitcases will be left in Cuzco.

Checking a Bag

Due to airline restrictions, a checked bag is not included in your reservation. This means you are allotted a carry-on (small roller bag, a duffle or backpack) and a personal item like a purse or small bag that can fit beneath your seat. If you plan to check a bag, you'll want to budget $25 each way.

Note: All your ticket information is online (e-ticket), so you will not receive a physical paper ticket before you depart. You’re welcome, trees.

Arrival Day

After getting off the plane—and probably hitting up the airport bathroom—you’ll need to meet up with your Tour Director or EF Ultimate Break representative in the Arrival Hall. (They’ll be the one with the sign that says EF Ultimate Break.) They’ll bring you to your accommodations where you’ll have free time until everyone else arrives.

Travel Documents

For U.S. citizens, no visa is necessary (except of the credit card variety). All you need to bring is your passport. And not to sound like your grandma, but make sure you double check that it’s valid for six months after your expected return date.

For non U.S. citizens, you should contact your embassy to find out what specific documentation is needed.

Note: You are responsible for submitting your Passport information to us 40 days before departure. We need this information to get your ticket to Machu Picchu.

Adapters/Converters

Outlets on your trip are different than in the States. You’ll need an adapter that can fit South American outlets. We recommend bringing a universal adapter/converter to ensure it works.

Most electronics, like phones and cameras, have built-in converters which change the voltage to match your device, but consider bringing one just in case. We recommend bringing a universal adapter/converter to ensure it works in each city.

Packing

Pack in layers, bring the essentials, and you’re golden. Like an onion, it’s all about the layers. You will also have the chance to do your own laundry throughout the trip. Keep in mind that you’ll have to carry your luggage from city to city, so the lighter the better:

You should bring the following:

  • Light jacket or windbreaker
  • Comfortable and closed-toed walking shoes
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking gear (you will be on a day-long hike)
  • Water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Rain jacket/Umbrella

Note: We recommend bringing a cross-body bag that zips close instead of a backpack. This will help you keep track of your belongings better and will help dissuade pickpockets.

On The Ground

Money

Though the USD is readily accepted, the national currency is the Sol. We suggest budgeting $80-$100 per day for your meals, shopping, free time activities, tipping, and any Tour Director-suggested excursions. You can take out little bit of money before you leave and then get the rest from ATMs. The rates at ATMs are usually the best, and you can find machines everywhere. Just be sure to let your bank know ahead of time of your plan to travel overseas and that your credit or debit card has a chip in it.

Currencies used: USD, Sol

Note: Before your trip, it’s helpful to look up the exchange rates from USD to local currencies so you can budget accordingly.

Phones & Internet

We recommend you get an international data package from your cell phone provider. This way you can use your phone to share Instaworthy moments, pull up Google maps to navigate a new city, and stay in touch with your Tour Director and fellow travelers during free time. WiFi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, but trust us—you’ll want the international data plan to stay connected.

Tour Director/Local Guides

Your full-time Tour Director, aka local rock star, will be with your group from start to finish. They are either from Central America, or have lived there for many years. From time to time you might also have a local guide to show you around a specific attraction. For both your Tour Director and local guides it is customary to tip for a job well done.

Recommended tipping amounts in USD are:

  • $30-$50 for the Tour Director (given at the end of the trip in local currency or in USD)
  • $1 for local guides (given after the tour in local currency)
  • $1-$2 for local bus driver (given in local currency)

Useful Phrases and Expressions

Though many people in Costa Rica and Panama speak English, both national languages are Spanish. Here are some basic phrases to brush up on before leaving. Most importantly: how to toast! And no, we don’t mean your bread. Say, “salud” in Panama and “pura vida” in Costa Rica.


  • Hello = Hola
  • Goodbye = Adios
  • Please = Por favor
  • Thank you = Gracias
  • Pardon me = Disculpeme
  • Yes = Si
  • No = No
  • Cheers = Salud or Pura Vida

Transportation

You’re traveling through Peru, and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each destination. The majority of travel will be done via private motor coach. Use this time to catch up on sleep, organize and find the perfect filter for your photos, read, chat it up with friends, or invent a new bus game.

Note: If you suffer from motion sickness, we recommend bringing medication.

Altitude

Altitude sickness, known as soroche in Peru, is very likely to happen when you first travel up to Cuzco. Our bodies aren’t used to being above 11,000 feet where the air is thinner and this leads to mild altitude sickness for most people. You may experience some headaches and fatigue when you first arrive, but as long as you take it easy the first 24 hours, you should be fine the rest of the trip!

Here are some tips for beating the sickness:

  • Many people chew coca leaves to curb altitude sickness
  • Portable oxygen tanks are available if necessary
  • Take care of your body—drink water, go easy on the alcohol, take things slow, eat, and bring aspirin

Tour Tempo

Since there’s so much to see and do, we’ve created itineraries that make the most of your time in each city. Your days will be jam-packed with awesome, unforgettable adventures. And if the pace feels fast, take advantage of downtimes during free time and bus rides (AKA prime nap time).

Local Food

Rice, chicken, fish, potatoes, lemonade, desserts, and a whole lot of delicious foods. During this trip you’ll have the chance to sample a variety of local food. Vegetarians shouldn’t have any problem finding something to eat. However, you will not be eating food raw (including vegetables) due to the risk of bacteria. When it comes to water, we recommend being about that bottled water life. Try to avoid drinking the water, even when brushing your teeth, as it’s filtered differently than the U.S.

Foods to try: Lomo saltado, ceviche, cuy (guinea pig), causa, aji de gallina, pachamanaca, turron de dona pepa, and pisco sour.

Accommodations

When in Peru, you’ll live like the Peruvians do. That means you’ll be staying in hotels and boutique hostels that are smaller than American rooms, and they won’t typically have air conditioning. In standard rooming, you’ll have up to five other travelers of the same gender. Roommates are assigned by your Tour Director and announced at the first accommodation. If there’s an issue, talk to your Tour Director—that’s what they’re there for!

Keep In Mind

Weather

The weather is typically on the warmer side, but can be cooler at night and in the mountains. To get the most recent weather information, you should add the cities you’ll be visiting to your weather app.

Machu Picchu

For your excursion to Machu Picchu, please pack only 1-2 days-worth of items (in a mid-sized backpack) as you will not be able to fit your main luggage on the train. For the actual hike, pack a small backpack and a reusable water bottle. Snacks will be available for purchase at the beginning of the hike in Aguas Calientes. Please keep in mind Machu Picchu Historic Site does not allow one-time-use plastic items such as bottles, straws, or plastic bags. Please also note that during your 3-hour visit within the boundaries of the site, you will not be able to use the restrooms. All restrooms are located outside of the site and re-entry is not permitted.

Useful Phrases and Expressions

The national language of Peru is Spanish, though many people will speak fluent English. Here are some basic phrases to brush up on before leaving. Most importantly: how to toast! And no, we don’t mean your bread. Say, “salud!”


  • Hello = Hola/li
  • Goodbye = Adios
  • Please = Por favor
  • Thank you = Gracias
  • Pardon me = Disculpeme
  • Yes = Si
  • No = No
  • Cheers = Salud

Culture

Peruvians tend to stand very close and touch often when conversing. When shopping the market stalls, haggling is expected. The culture is fairly relaxed, but for the sake of the tour group, try to be on time for everything. Before taking a picture of someone, be sure to ask and offer them a tip of 1 sole if they say it’s okay.

Safety

Here are some important “Rules of the Road” to think about while you’re traveling. We want you to have fun during your vacation, and most of all we want you to be safe—so here are some helpful tips to #playsafe while you’re abroad & especially when you’re out at night.


  • Take care of your personal belongings. Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box, and refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
  • Don’t be a party of one. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
  • Before you go out, grab a business card at each hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
  • At the end of a night out, use transportation options you trust like a licensed taxi or rideshare app such as Uber (where available.) Have cash on hand—splitting a taxi with your fellow travelers is a good way to save money too.
  • Be smart about alcohol consumption. You know the drill: Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met. Pace yourself and know your limits. Take care of each other out there!
  • You’re going to have a blast—day & night—on this trip, and we’re here for you around the clock if you ever need anything. Save our 24/7 number in your phone now: +1–617–619–1411.

Miscellaneous

When it comes to free time, think about what your interests are and research what you want to do before your trip. That way you can maximize the time in each city you visit and check a lot of things off your list. Before leaving, speak to your primary physician about any recommended vaccinations/medications you may need.

You’re traveling to Peru! (You know, in case you forgot.) Now is the time to be brave—try new foods, make new friends, and go outside your comfort zone!


Bon voyage!

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