Characteristically, our summer has been bananas, but not without adventures. If you've done any reading of my blog, you know I loooooove to travel, and the adventure for me starts with figuring out the details and doing the advance planning. I have two friends that do this professionally and awesomely (and I highly recommend them: Paige at All Over the Map and Vero at Pax Travel Design) but when my daughter and I decided to go see Machu Picchu, I wanted to figure it on my own.
We can fly "kind of" free on the airlines because of my husband's job, but you fly with the lowest stand by priority and take a chance of not getting there if the flights are full. Since tickets into Machu Picchu and the train to get there are issued for a specific date, we decided to buy our airline tickets. I found the best price and schedule for us through CheapTickets. I had to play around with it a bit to get the right combo of price and schedule, but everything worked as advertised. We did not fly US based air carriers, but I did some quick internet research to make sure they were solid and reputable fliers.
Both airlines we flew (Latam and Copa) had apps so we were able to easily check in, get boarding passes and select seats. Since we were just taking carry on luggage (at least until the bags became too stuffed with souvenirs) this saved us a lot of line standing in airports.
For lodging, I started with AirBnB. We found amazing places that felt a part of history in Cuzco and with a view of the Pacific for our last night in Lima. It also doesn't hurt to book direct, which I did for the place we stayed in Aguas Calientas (jumping off point for Machu Picchu), the awesomely named Gringo Bills. No travel site had a better price anyway, and since this was the entire goal of our trip, paying a little more for a nice place was worth it.
I could book tickets for Machu Picchu and PeruRail online, although the Machu Picchu ticket web site is challenging (this helpful blog was a life saver). A completely coincidental article on travel to Peru in the Washington Post connected me with a climbing/zip line adventure that was wonderful, and also booked online.
Neither of us speak Spanish (although my recent high school grad remembered enough vocab to translate a little), and we got along fine. Everyone we crossed paths with were helpful (Uber in Peru? Who knew!) We felt safe wherever we traveled and I would 100% go back.
(we got kinda obsessed with the local wildlife)
One last helpful tip my husband told me about before we left - the Mobile Passport app from US Customs. Instead of filling out the form and using the goofy entry machines, you plug your info into the app and we breezed through with the Global Entry folks. Awesome!
p.s. - I am not a paid endorser of any of the above, not even the llamas :-)