What to Bring
We have composed a list of essential items for field school students. Trust us, these are all essential! In addition, be sure to think through your own personal needs including medicines. Know that you will be living with roommates and you will be working and living with many other field school students. Please plan accordingly.
- Lightweight cotton clothing is best for the coast. You should bring pants and shorts (or dresses), long sleeve and short sleeve shirts, and a sweater or light jacket for mornings and evenings. Raincoats are not needed. Temperatures range from about 55 to 80 degrees. Remember to bring some warm clothes for mornings and nights. The ocean water is rather cold in the summer, too cold really for swimming, but you may want to bring a swimsuit to layout on the beach.
- Bring enough cloths so that you can go one week without washing any clothes.
- Two 1-quart or two 1-liter water bottles. These are for carrying your drinking water to the site.
- Daypack to carry your water, dig kit, and other stuff to the site.
- Lightweight hiking shoes. Heavy hiking boots tear up the floors that we excavate. Lightweight canvas and leather hiking shoes are good. Running shoes are not a good idea because they don’t provide much lateral support, which is bad for climbing to the site.
- Dig Kit (see below)
- A money belt. Either one that goes around the waist, neck, or under the shoulder. This is the safest way to carry your money, plane ticket, credit card (Visa since MasterCard is not widely accepted), ATM card, and passport. Carrying money in your backpack or pockets is an invitation to theft. There are people in Peru who make their living picking pockets and slashing open backpacks.
- The usual toiletries. Soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, etc. can be purchased in Peru, of course, but it’s more convenient to bring enough for the month. If you forget something, you can buy these items in Huanchaco.
- Sunscreen, 15 or higher is recommended.
- Sunglasses are a must.
- Hand sanitizer. Also available in Peru.
Your Dig Kit
1. Metric Engineers Scale. This is a triangular-shaped ruler with six different scales. It must be metric. If you cannot find one, bring a metric ruler.
2. Pointing Trowel with a wood handle. The smaller ones typically work best (4.5 by 2.25 inch balde). Not a gardening trowel. The blade should be no longer than 5 inches.
3. Line Level. Line levels are about 2 inches long and are shaped like a small tube with hooks on either end so that they can be hung on a line. They are filled with liquid and have a window in the center where you can see the bubble when it is level. They cost about 2 or 3 bucks and are available at any hardware store. They are used in archaeological excavations to measure elevations. A string is tied to a datum stake that has a known elevation, and a line level is attached to the string. Elevations can then be measured (for instance, the elevation of a floor that you’ve just excavated) by pulling the string tight, leveling the string by looking at the bubble in the line level window, and then measuring down from the string with your metric tape.
4. Large paint brush
5. Clip board
6. Work gloves
Other Items to Consider
- Travel alarm clock
- Flashlight, if the power goes out – less common these days
- Sandals or flip-flops for after hours
- Books for free time
- Peruvian electric current is 220 volts, not the US 110. You’ll need to buy a transformer (available at Radio Shack and Best Buy) to run any electrical gadgets you bring down. Batteries are readily available in Peru.
- Camera. When you fly, carry your camera onto the plane with you. I know several people who have had cameras or other valuables stolen out of luggage that they checked in at the counter.
- It’s best NOT to bring expensive jewelry to Peru, because of the possibility of theft. If you do bring jewelry or other valuables, it is best to carry them with you onto the plane.
- If you wear glasses, you may want to bring a spare pair with you. Glasses are very cheap in Peru (around 30 bucks for frames and lenses) so you might want to bring your prescription down and get a spare pair made in Trujillo
- We recommend carrying a copy of your vaccination records. Ideally, your vaccinations should be recorded in an International Health Certificate, which should be available at a doctor’s office or a public health office. You can request one when you receive your immunizations.
About Bringing Money
You will need enough money for meals on Sundays, and your personal expenses. Buying your Sunday meals at a restaurant can cost from $5 to $25 dollars a day depending on where you go. Personal expenses include such things as soft drinks, beer, laundry, city buses, taxis, and souvenirs. In Peru there is a departure tax which is often included in your ticket. Check with your airline to be sure, because if it is not included, you will need to pay in cash at the airport. The international departure tax has been around US$25 at the Lima airport – you can pay in Peruvian Nuevo Soles or American Dollars. Your field school fees cover all lodging, meals 6 days a week, north coast bus trip, and entrance fees to museums and sites (Chan Chan, the Moche Huacas, and local museums).
You should bring enough money in cash for the airport and the first few days in Huanchaco. You can order Soles at larger banks in the US if you plan ahead, as they often have to have them shipped to your local branch. You can also bring US dollars and change them at the official kiosk in the bottom floor of the Lima airport just outside of the international arrivals gate. The rates at this kiosk are higher than almost anywhere else in the country, but it is safe. The total necessary will depend on the person and the travel itinerary. Feel free to email for more information.
The local currency is the Nuevo Sol, but US dollars are easy to cash in Lima or Trujillo. Bring only nice new bills with no tears. Moneychangers will refuse old (before 2006) and ripped bills. Upon arrival to Huanchaco, we will give you more information regarding money withdrawals and safety (orientation and tours of Huanchaco and Trujillo).
ATMs are found throughout Peru and they are very convenient. There are two in Huanchaco. The machines pay in Soles or dollars and they offer the option of doing the transaction in English. Many ATMs, particularly the two in Huanchaco have hefty fees associated with withdrawals from US banks. Check with your bank to see what your best option is. There is a Scotiabank between Trujillo and Huanchaco that partners with many US banks and has historically had lower or no fees for cash withdrawals.
Credit cards are accepted at many nicer hotels, restaurants, and gifts shops in Peru. Visa is much more widely accepted than MasterCard. You also can use a credit card to get a cash advance at banks. They pay the cash advance in Soles (the Peruvian currency), not in dollars. We recommend that you always take a credit card to Peru for emergencies. I keep my account number and customer service phone number separate from the card in case it is lost or stolen, and I need to cancel it.