We all want to get as much as possible of our travel experiences, if we go off on a budget backpacking adventure or on a whirlpool luxury tour. To make your Peru experience as rewarding as possible, try to follow some of the following tips.
Do everything you can to maximize your time in Peru. If you only have time for a week long trip, ask your boss for three more days, or plan your trip to coincide with holidays. If you think 10 days is enough time in Peru, increase it to 20 days if possible. "Packege tours" are great for to see the main sights, but a more relaxed tailor-made travel plan is the correct way to see Peru. If you come for backpacking in Peru, you also need to take into account the time on buses.
If you are short on time, spend the extra money on domestic flights within Peru. Bus tours will give you a better picture of the country as a whole, but to travel on the road is time-consuming in Peru. Lima to Cusco, for example, takes an hour or so on a flight, compared to about 20 hours on land.
Do yourself a big favor and learn a little spanish. Without it you are struggling to communicate with the locals. Some peruvians speak english, especially in the major tourist destinations. The English speaking people you meet are likely to work in the tourism industry as guides and staff. If you want to discover the "real" Peru, getting to know people, you need some basic language skills.
Before traveling to Peru, read a book or two on Peruvian history. Guides can help you piece together some historical facts about colonial towns and archeological sites, but they are no substitute for the depth and story of a book.
Let's say you read John Hemmings conquest of the Inca Empire. When you're done with the approximately 500 fascinating pages, you have an excellent understanding of the Inca empire and its fall at the hands of the spanish conquistadors. When you come to Peru the story becomes more vivid, enriching your imagination and intensifying your appreciation of the peruvian culture.
If you have taken the time to learn a little spanish - and even if you have not - try to interact with the locals as much as possible. It is too easy to be in your own comfort zone - socializing with other tourists who speak your own language - especially when you are traveling with friends, staying in hostels or traveling as part of a group. But if a friend at home asks, "what are the Peruvians like?" you wouldn't like to answer, "I did not really talk with any Peruvians". To hanging out with the locals is fun, especially in bars and clubs, and the people you meet often give you the most memorable moments of the trip.
If you have time, try to take a few detours off the well-trodden Gringo route. The classic route is popular for good reasons, but there are plenty of hidden gems scattered throughout the country. Just because your guidebook fails to mention a city or village, do not assume that there is nothing to see. Although there are no major attractions, you will be in even greater scope to associate with "common" peruvians - earthy locals who are less familiar with the tourist crowds.
Leave your stress, anxiety and impatience at home. Peru is really worth a calm travel attitude, especially when you encounter frustrating inefficiencies. If your bus breaks down or your flight is delayed, if your food is late, it is always best to take things as they come. In a country where "mañana" does not always mean "tomorrow", you need to travel with a smile - even when encountering unexpected "bumps in the road."