So you’re headed to Peru. Your friends are jealous, your family may be a little worried
for no reason, and you could not possibly be more excited. Now I’m sure you’ve created packing lists, itineraries of things to see, and there must be a bevy of stuff you want to eat and drink while you’re there; that is, unless you’re more like me and you fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to travel. Either way, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve checked out what not to do. Luckily, you’ve got us for that. Here’s a practical list of things to avoid to keep yourself safe and to get the most possible enjoyment out of your trip!
Does it look like a getaway car? Don’t get in.
Going cheap on taxis may seem like a budget saver, but in the end could potentially just screw you over. Transport accidents are incredibly common in Peru due to not-so-good road conditions and drivers that would rather get to their destination fast, then get there in one piece. When you’re picking a taxi, make sure it’s a reputable company. Look for cars of the same color that you’ve seen all over town and try to get in a cab that looks the most modern and has the least amount of body damage. Stay away from older, unmarked, or heavily dented and damaged cars as the chances of a bumpier or a more dangerous ride are likely.
This isn’t advice only for people riding taxis though. When you are looking for buses, try to keep this at the forefront of your mind as well. When given the opportunity, don’t pick the cheapest bus available. Chances are, if you spend a little more money (not a crazy amount more) and stick to a reputable bus company, you’ll have a safe, enjoyable, and punctual ride to your destination.
Altitude sickness is no joke.
Sure, you may feel fine. You may think the altitude difference as you’re climbing Machu Picchu hasn’t even touched you. Then all of a sudden, it hits. Not to instil too much fear in you, but people die from altitude sickness every year. Pay attention to the guides and to your own body as you hike, as you rest, and as you recover. Take more time adjusting than you think is necessary. You won’t regret chilling with the hill tribe people for an extra couple of days, but you will regret the costs of being airlifted to a Peruvian hospital because you thought you were a world conqueror who didn’t need to take their time.
Treat the locals as you would want to be treated.
Some people might say that this is the golden rule of traveling. Would you want a random stranger to yell their language loudly and slowly at you when asking for directions? Probably not, so keep that in mind when you’re trying to use English to communicate to a Spanish-speaking Peruvian.
This rule also extends to photos: Don’t take photos of people or their things without asking. They might start yelling at you and they might try hounding you for a payout for that holiday snap. Be careful when taking photos in churches or holy spaces (look for signs before you do), and be wary of taking photos of military personnel or government buildings.
Speaking of local authorities…
If you get pulled over by Peruvian officials: stay calm. It may seem frustrating, tiresome, and even overly aggressive at times, but keep calm. Getting angry and raising your voice is only going to antagonize the situation. Keep in mind that corrupt officials exist, regardless of how unlikely, and you may get asked for a bribe or you may be made to ‘pay a fine’ in order to get out of the situation. Whatever happens just remember to stay calm, relax and keep your wits about you.
A quick mention about drugs in Peru. It may seem like a pretty easy thing to do, and with more relaxed laws pertaining to drugs. No matter how innocuous it may seem, it’s a good way for a shady cop to detain you and hit you up for a bribe. Be very careful with drugs in Peru. When in doubt, just steer clear.
Watch your drink and be careful when picking someone up.
Picture it: You’re out with some newly acquired friends from your hostel in Lima and you’re happily chugging back some adult beverages at a local watering hole. You spy a certain, sexy someone at the bar. You chat them up, they flirt back: could this holiday get any better? you think. Twenty minutes later, it might be combination of dehydration and sudden alcohol that’s made you feel a little rubber-legged. Or, also possible: your drink has been spiked (it’s incredibly common in Peru), and you’re in for a very nasty time.
If you think because you’re a dude it won’t happen to you, you’re wrong. If you think it won’t happen to you because you’re talking to a very attractive lady, then you’re wrong again. They’re called peperas or peperos and they’re usually going to rob you once you pass out, but there are also cases of sexual assault. Make sure to keep an eye on your drink, don’t accept drinks from strangers and if you suddenly feel wonky, or very drunk, find the person you came with and get out of the club. Peperas typically work in conjunction with other members of staff, either at your hotel or at the club, so they might not always be a safe option to turn to if you feel you’ve been drugged.
With all that not-so-sweet stuff being said, there are tons of lovely Peruvians eager to meet you and show you all of the amazing things their country has to offer. A gorgeous place, it’s not to be missed, but make sure you stick to common sense and follow our helpful tips!