The Essential Packing List for Backpackers in Ecuador
Hi everyone, this is Jess from Tripelio! Your Escape to Ecuador was such a fabulous resource for me when I was planning my own trip to Ecuador. I love articles like this post about the Ecuador’s national parks. They really got me excited about my trip, as well as combining so much information in one easy-to-find place. For those of you just planning a trip, I hope this post helps you out as well:
Successfully packing all the items you need can make or break a trip, but if you’ve never been to a country, it’s difficult to know just what you need to pack. But you don’t need to do all the legwork and trial-and-error yourself. Instead, look to other travelers! A backpack is by far the best piece of luggage for Ecuador, where the buses are many and the luggage restrictions on budget airlines can be pretty extreme. But what to put in your backpack? Here are my top seven essentials that you’ll need for your trip to Ecuador:
One item that I can’t stress enough is sunscreen. Think about it: Ecuador lies directly on the equator, meaning the sun’s rays are going to be some of the strongest you’ve ever encountered. It’s possible that you’ll get burnt even on a cloudy day, but if you wait to pick up sunscreen when you arrive, you’ll generally find a limited selection that is prohibitively expensive. Best to bring it from home!
Long Sleeves and Trousers
If you’ll be trekking or otherwise enjoying the amazing outdoors in Ecuador, you’ll want to cover up a little. Mosquitos can be a big problem, especially if you venture into the jungles. Lately, the Zika virus, a mosquito-born illness that can affect pregnancies, has been a problem in many places in South America, and malaria has long been an issue. If you opt for short sleeves, shorts and skirts, make sure to bring some strong insect repellent with you. But no matter what, you’ll want to pack layers, as the climate in Ecuador can vary dramatically even across short distances.
Normally I don’t advocate carrying boots with you unless you plan to do multiple hikes since they’re bulky and difficult to pack. But for Ecuador, I was really glad I’d brought mine. There’s some amazing trekking, but some of the terrain I went over on my treks was a little difficult, so I was glad for the extra ankle support. They also kept my feet a lot drier than they would’ve been otherwise. Plus, the same as the long sleeves and trousers: wearing boots keeps a little more skin safe from mosquito bites.
A Portable Charger
I loved trekking in Ecuador, but I would’ve been so frustrated had I not had my portable charger with me so I could charge my phone and camera during the trek. Obviously, the camera was an absolute necessity because the scenery was amazing, but I really liked having my phone with me rather than leaving it in my bag with the trekking company, especially since it allowed me to use the phone’s built-in GPS to map my trek and see how far we’d gone each day. The portable charger also gave me a backup option to charge my flashlight during the day if the solar panel wasn’t getting enough light—batteries that you can buy in Ecuador are notoriously short-lived.
Believe it or not, US dollars are the main currency in use in Ecuador. You’ll want to bring crisp bills so you can ensure they’ll be accepted, and as a general rule, smaller bills are preferable at shops and restaurants. That said, credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, and you’ll find plenty of ATMs, so don’t load yourself down with an excess of cash! You may also want to bring a money belt or travel-safe bag since pickpockets are frequently an issue in major cities.
A Waterproof Deck of Cards
I recommend packing a deck of cards if you’re going to be trekking with strangers, staying in hostels, waiting out a long layover—really, they’re a must on any trip! But for Ecuador, I was especially happy with a waterproof, plastic deck of cards that a friend had given me prior to the trip. Otherwise, they likely would have been ruined by the muggy jungle weather and random downpours. They also stayed a lot cleaner than any deck of cards I’ve traveled with in the past.
A Cheap, Unlocked Smartphone
I wouldn’t recommend bringing your new smartphone on your trip since there’s so much possibility that something horrible might happen to it (especially if you’re out in the jungle), but there’s no denying that smartphones can make it so much easier to travel, allowing you to access everything from offline maps, hotel booking sites, restaurant reviews and so much more. I’d recommend outfitting your phone with a Virtual Private Network prior to your departure, just so you can make sure you’re less susceptible to hacking on public WiFi networks and also won’t be hindered by geo-restrictions used by sites such as Netflix and Hulu to protect copyrighted works. But with that handy tool and a good set of apps, you’ll be all set to explore!
Have you traveled to Ecuador? Are there any items that you brought that you wished you’d left at home? What items were missing from your kit that you wished you’d had? We invite you to share your experiences and advice!