Quick tips before you go!
To make your Peruvian getaway as successful and fun as it can be, below are a few quick tips to remember for your visit.
- Allow yourself some time to acclimate to the high altitude.
Because Cusco sits high at over 11,000 feet above sea level, if you've never experienced severe altitude like this before, you will need to allow yourself some time to become adjusted in order to avoid altitude sickness. Fortunately, there are several precautions you can take to prevent any kind of sickness. For instance, be sure to drink lots of water before your trip, during your flight, and once you arrive. In addition, you can also drink coca tea. These tea leaves are perfectly safe to consume and have been used for centuries by the Andean people to help with adjusting to the altitude. Just be careful not to drink too much coca tea, as your stomach might not be used to it. While symptoms of altitude sickness can include fatigue, headaches, dizziness, stomach illness, or trouble sleeping, the good thing is that they all should subside after a couple of days. My best piece of advice is to take it easy during the first few days of your trip. Once you become acclimated, you can then dive deep into exploring!
- Consult with your doctor before you travel.
During my trip to Peru I become severely sick, but it most likely could have been avoided had I consulted with my doctor before my journey. Along with packing over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and Pepto-Bismol, ask your doctor to prescribe you with medication to treat traveler’s diarrhea. (Yes, that is a real sickness and trust me, it's not fun!) While we all hope to never undergo any kind of sickness during our travels, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
- Should you need a taxi, always look for the yellow stripe on the license plate.
Although Cusco is a very walkable city, chances are you will need to take a taxi to and from the airport. Should this be the case, make sure you ride in a cab that has a yellow stripe on the top of the license plate with a red and white national flag on the tag. This marker indicates the car is a legitimate taxi. Occasionally, you will see orange stripes on license plates. Rest assured knowing these tend to specify similar classifications such as airport shuttles, tourist transit, etc.
- When using American money, make sure to bring crisp, straight dollar bills.
While you can use American money during your stay in Cusco — you can even withdraw dollars from many local ATMs — the sol is Peru's main form of currency. So if you're planning to go shopping at the local markets and street shops, along with riding the public transportation and eating at smaller, nontouristy restaurants, you will need to have a pocket full of soles. However, if you do need to use American money, make sure to bring crisp, straight dollar bills, as these are the only ones that will most likely be accepted. When I found a beautiful handwoven blanket scarf — for only $5! — all I had were the crinkled bills I found in the bottom of my backpack. Unfortunately, they weren't accepted so all I could do was take a mental picture of the scarf.