You’re going to Ecuador! YAY!
What should you pack? Normally these lists overwhelm me, but an essential Ecuador packing list would have helped a ton when I was there (like, I forgot bug spray. It wasn’t fun. And I underestimated what people meant when they said bring and constantly reapply sunscreen. It also wasn’t fun).
Ecuador may be a small country, but it has so many different climates that you’ll need to pack for if you’re going around the country.
To keep you better prepared, here’s my suggested packing list for Ecuador, including a few essentials that you don’t want to forget!
In This Post
Essential things to pack
In addition to whatever you normally pack (birth control, anti-diarrhea, pain relievers, etc), you probably also want to bring a medicine to deal with high altitude sickness like Diamox (Quito’s altitude is around 9350 ft). You should ideally test it out a couple of days before to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction (and if you do, consider pain relievers or the local remedy of coca leaves as alternatives).
If you’re going on a Galapagos cruise, you may also want to pack Dramamine to help with any seasickness. I personally wasn’t affected by the altitude that much, and I don’t get seasick either, so I haven’t had to take these, but I’m glad I brought them because it’s better to be safe than sorry!
These electrolyte tablets are probably why I had an okay time with the altitude! It’s important to stay hydrated and replace your lost electrolytes, when at higher altitude, and electrolyte supplements like Nuun help do just that! If you’ll be hiking a lot, you’ll especially want to bring these. You just add them to your water, they break down, and you have a cup of yummy, hydrating, electrolyte fluid.
Ecuador is close to the Equator, which means you will get sunburned if you aren’t reapplying at least SPF 50 sunscreen regularly. There’s just more direct sunlight at the Equator. Plus if you’re in high altitude, there’s less atmosphere it has to travel to, which also increases your risk of sunburn (you can read more here). And yes, this applies even if you’re melanated, and even if it’s cooler or cloudier outside.
Ecuador is also a country that has a lot of biodiversity, so if you’re interested in helping protect it, look for a sunscreen that won’t be as harmful to their ocean. Avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, which is banned in some places due to its connection with bleaching corals.
If you have dry skin, the high altitude will not be good to you. Higher altitude typically comes with lower humidity which means drier skin (you can read more here). You will get even more ashy, and it will be terrible. I don’t normally pack these because skin care can feel unnecessary if you’re going to get dirty on your trip anyway, but I’m so glad I did for Ecuador because my skin was always way too goddamn dry in the mountains.
So bring an extra moisturizing moisturizer, especially for when you’ll be in higher altitude! I highly recommend Pond’s Dry Skin Cream if you want THE MOST moisturizing moisturizer at a drug store price.
You’ll need mosquito repellant wherever you are in Ecuador, and especially on the coast and in the Amazon. Even if one site told you that mosquitos are “rare” in the region you visit, rare doesn’t mean “non-existent”, and it’s better to be prepared than not. You might end up going on a waterfall or jungle-y hike in the Andes, and there will be mosquitos there.
…I’m not still bitter of when I didn’t bring bug spray because I thought I wouldn’t be around bugs, and now I still have scars from my bites almost a year later…. Don’t be me...
If you’re going to the beach or hot springs, this is a given. But even if you’re going inland and in a cooler month, everyone will challenge you to jump in really cold waterfalls/lakes in Ecuador. I can’t even swim and I was forced to jump in lakes (and I didn’t bring my bathing suit, so). Plus, if you do anything that needs a wetsuit (canyoning, snorkeling, etc), you’ll want this on underneath. You won’t like, die, if you forget and go in your underwear- you’ll just have wet underwear.
Quick drying towel
After all those water activities, you’ll want a towel that doesn’t take up a lot of space in your day pack, doesn’t stay too wet, and doesn’t easily collect sand and dirt. Aka, you want something like these towels! I didn’t know about these before, but my friend brought three, and they were the most unexpectedly useful thing on our trip (besides the Nuun tablets).
For both beaches and sketchy hostel bathrooms. To be perfectly honest, the locally owned hostels we stayed in were immaculate, and I felt like I would dirty the bathroom if I brought mine in, but in the party and expat hostels, they were a must.
Leave in conditioner
Before you scroll away in extra– if your hair is normally on the dry side, Ecuador will leave it very dehydrated. My hair was literal straw on wash day. Usually I don’t make time for these things when traveling or hiking, but in Ecuador you will definitely need a lot of moisture, whether you’re headed to the dry high altitude or the salty ocean water.
Obviously bring the leave in conditioner of your choice, but I personally love Carol’s Daughter’s Black Vanilla for keeping my hair moisturized when it’s not happy. I just transfer it to a reusable spray bottle for travel!
This just makes being prepared on all day hikes and excursions so much easier. I personally DON’T recommend using these when traveling in cities (anywhere, not just in Ecuador) because it makes you look like a tourist and target for theft. For staying in cities, I personally just pack really light, like I would at home (cellphone, money, ID).
While this isn’t my favorite day pack, I love that I got to wear my Cotopaxi bag IN Cotopaxi National Park! That’s really why this day pack section is here. Yeah, you might always bring your day bag when you travel, but is it always named after the national park you’re visiting???
Clothes to pack for Ecuador
Ecuador has like three different weather systems between the coast, rainforest, and mountains. So if you’re going around the country, you’ll want to be prepared for different temperatures- pack a lot of layers!
Even within just the mountains, the temperature changes a lot during the day. One of the people I met in Ecuador said that their weather reporting is “fake news”, because the weather is usually different from what you see in Google and can change dramatically (I’m from San Diego, so a dramatic change is +/- 10°F).
If you’re headed to the coast, the weather is more stable, but you should still pack summer-y layers.
Also, don’t forget that depending on your trip, you’ll want a mix of:
This was an absolute must for me since almost every day was going to be an all day hike. It’s important to have some high performance outfits when you’re hiking in Ecuador because the temperature changes so wildly and the terrains can get rough. I personally am broke so I also use cheaper every day clothes that work for hiking too, and I haven’t died yet (just avoid hiking in cotton). You’ll also want waterproof clothes and light but long sleeved layers if you’re going to be hiking in the Amazon.
You don’t want to look like the homeless hiker tourist all the time, do you? Bring your regular casual clothes so you can blend in with the locals better when hanging around the cities. It’s important to layer here still since even without changing altitudes on a hike, the weather changes in the cities.
Club clothes/a nice outfit
I don’t typically go out, but I tend to bring at least a pair anyway just in case. And true to form I didn’t go out in Ecuador, but you never know!
The clothes I packed for 10 days
I was there for 10 days, and brought an almost perfect set of clothes!
What I packed that was most useful:
- 3 leggings
- Athletic leggings
- The right athletic leggings will last longer . If you’re more of a hiking pants person though, you probably won’t need these!
- Heattech leggings
- These keep you really warm, but aren’t as cut out for tougher trails. I used these for easier hiking days.
- Casual leggings
- Because you don’t need ultra high performing and warm leggings all the time – like you know, for city exploring.
- Athletic leggings
- 4 long sleeve shirts
- Two Heattech shirts
- These keep you warm and are super affordable. Even though they’re more casual shirts, I use them for hikes anyway.
- A merino wool shirt
- These are way pricier but are essential for intense, colder hikes. They keep you super warm and are moisture wicking!
- A fake wool shirt
- Two Heattech shirts
- 5 tanks/shirts
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 zip up sweatshirt
- 3 cardigans
- 1 ultra down jacket
- This was life changing since it keeps you sooo warm, but it’s so light and takes up no space in your luggage. I got mine from Uniqlo and I love it.
- 1 pair of gloves
- 1 ear headband thing
- Also life changing. Your ears will thank you in the mountains when it gets chilly at summits.
- 3 wool socks
- You’ll want at least a couple of high quality hiking socks, to keep your toes warm and decrease the chance of blisters.
- 3 regular socks
- 1 pair of walkable flats
- 1 pair of hiking boots
- I can’t even recommend the ones that I use and am in love with because I’ve had them for like 10 years, and they don’t sell them anymore! But this is like an updated, waterproof version of them.
- 1 pair of flip flops
What I wish I didn’t pack:
- 2 dresses
- I brought these for my “swing picture” days, but I ended up not wearing them because it was too goddamn cold. If you are more dedicated to Instagram, bring them anyway because your picture will be cuter!
- 1 nicer/clubbing outfit
- Honestly I hate going out and dressing up, but you may need this if you’re different!
What I wish I brought:
- Light rain jacket (mostly for the Amazon)
- Hat (to decrease sun exposure)
Full Ecuador packing list
So I don’t have to explain the importance of, like, deodorant, here’s an image that covers everything you’ll need to pack for Ecuador! You can even print it out so it’s easier to check off!
Some notes on this list if you’re coming from the US:
- Ecuador uses the USD! No need to convert your currency. I don’t recommend bringing bills higher than $20s because people may not have change. $5s and $10s were my best friends. And Ecuador uses more $1 coins than I’ve seen in my 27 years in the US.
- You don’t need a visa to enter Ecuador from the US, unless you’re staying for more than 90 days. In fact, only citizens from 13 countries require a visa to Ecuador, and you can check if yours is one of them here.
- You don’t need a voltage converter if you’re coming from the US to Ecuador. Check out this list if you’re coming from a different country and want to verify whether or not you’ll need a converter.
And now your luggage should be prepared for Ecuador! If you found this post useful, pin it for later!
Do you need help planning your trip? Check out my:
- 10 day Ecuador itinerary
- Perfect for anyone who loves hiking and adventure!
- Ecuador travel tips
- Spoiler alert: this post already covered a third of them already (the sunburn and bug bites really weren’t fun!)
Or let me know if you have any questions in the comments section!