Galapagos Island & Ecuador Vacation Preparation Tips
As with every country, what you bring to go on vacation differs. This is especially true for a vacation to Ecuador, a country that is very diverse, with varied landscapes, temperatures and activities. You can hike through the beautiful Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest, Climb Cotopaxi, or experience the wonders of the Galapagos Islands. This can make it very hard to decide on what to bring, and what to leave at home. As I recently travelled to Ecuador for an extended period of time, I will try to help you decide. Make sure to read this article as well, as it gives you a general idea of what to bring to the Galapagos Islands.
Before you arrive in Ecuador
Before your departure, you obviously need to arrange certain things: Find out if it’s necessary to have a visa, as this differs from country to country. In general, you can stay up to 90 days in Ecuador as a tourist without needing a visa.
Regarding flights, there are two main international airports in Ecuador; one in Quito and the other in Guayaquil. When travelling to the Galapagos Islands, it is often the best choice to fly from Guayaquil to either Baltra or San Cristobal. Depending on where you fly from, and whether you prefer comfort or saving money, you can pick either a direct flight or one with (multiple) layovers. Personally, I went for the latter option and had a layover in Frankfurt and Panama City.
Make sure you have the proper vaccinations, if needed. It may be wise to book a hotel/hostel or other form of accommodation beforehand to get you started for the first few days. Transport is not needed, as it can be easily arranged at the airport.
Ecuador’s currency is the US Dollar, so depending on your country of origin, it may be wise to get your hands on some dollars beforehand. Do not bring many bills larger than $20, as they are often hard to exchange. For public transportation, as well as daily purchases, it may be wise to keep small change. I have noticed that $1 coins are very popular in Ecuador. I take the bus to get around Quito, which costs $0.25 in the city.
Make sure you read up on the customs of Ecuador. Men greet each other by shaking hands, while girls give one another a kiss on the cheek. (I made the mistake of thinking it was three kisses like in the Netherlands). Furthermore, Ecuador is a country where the Catholic religion is very present, which is noticeable due to the many gorgeous churches.
Packing For Galapagos Island & Ecuadorian Vacations
So, you have booked your tickets to Ecuador and/or the Galapagos Islands, and arranged accommodation and other necessities. Great job! The day has come to start packing your suitcase or backpack. Personally, I chose to take a backpack with me, as it’s more convenient when travelling around the country. Bringing a suitcase is possible; however, I would only recommend this if you are planning on staying in one or two places. You don’t want to lug your suitcase around endlessly from place to place.
Below, you can see my backpack and everything I decided to bring with me. I chose to take a 68-liter backpack. I’m staying for several months and want to be able to just shove everything in there. If you are staying just a few weeks in Ecuador, a 50-liter backpack will most likely offer you plenty of room.
You don’t want to put your expensive electronics at risk of being damaged or broken. Baggage handlers are known to be rough with baggage, and backpacks are especially vulnerable. Below you can see my cabin luggage for my trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
My cabin luggage from top left to bottom right:
- Sealable bag with liquids: deodorant, contact liquid, gel, hand sanitizer.
- Glasses case.
- Documents, including airplane ticket, copy of passport, emergency information and information about Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
- Passport wallet for passport, money, boarding passes and other small documents.
- Wallet, passport and vaccination booklet.
- Laptop, laptop charger, phone charger
- Notebook and pen
- Nintendo switch and powerbank
- Camera bag, including lenses and charger.
- Inflatable cushion
My 68-liter backpack, which contains all of my clothes, toiletries and other necessities.
From top left to bottom right:
- Toiletry bag, including small shampoo, razor blades, toothbrush and toothpaste, contact liquid, sun screen, etc.
- First aid kid, just in case
- Flashlight, power strip and converter
- A lock and multitool
- Rain jacket
- Fleece jacket and Soft-shell jacket
- Microfleece towel
- Water bladder and daypack
- Hiking and zip-off pants
- Shorts and jeans
- Flight bag and TSA approved lock
- Underpants, socks
- T-shirts and tank-tops
- Shirt and sweater
- Leisure shoes
I am planning on doing quite a few climbing tours, such as Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Cayambe and others. Thus, I brought different layers of clothes. During the day you most likely won’t need a fleece jacket, but at higher altitudes it can get chilly. Even though the temperature is pleasant year-round, it is custom to wear long jeans while in the city.
To save space, make sure to wear the clothes that take up the most space, for example, wear jeans and your hiking shoes.
Packing cubes are ideal for packing your backpack. Packing cubes keep your backpack nicely organized, and prevent it from becoming one big mess in which you will never be able to find the things that you need.
When you visit the Galapagos Islands, you should definitely bring sunglasses, a hat or another type of facial cover. If you sunburn easily, bring some UV-proof clothes for the water. The sun is notoriously fierce along the equator, and it is very easy to wind up burned.
I hope this post helped you get an idea of what your backpack could look like, and it inspires you to pack your stuff and start your own adventure! Follow this blog to keep in touch with my experiences in this beautiful country.
Not sure what to do in Ecuador?
Visit Gulliver Expeditions, an Ecuadorian tour operator located in Quito
that offers the most amazing trips through Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
Their reliable, professional help is one of the best ways to make the most of your vacation.