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). 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!
Basically my outfit 90% of the time in Ecuador. I am a fan of why change when your clothes are comfy and warm?
In This Post
Essential things to pack
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. I personally love Black Girl Sunscreen, which doesn’t contain oxybenzone and also doesn’t leave a disgusting white film on your face. Yes, white people can use it too.
Sun Bum is another great brand that doesn’t contain oxybenzone.
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...
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.
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.
This just makes being prepared on all day excursions so much easier.
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???
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.
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:
- Hiking clothes
- This was an absolute must for me since every day was going to be jam packed with all day hikes. You’ll also want waterproof clothes and light but long sleeved layers if you’re going to be hiking in the Amazon.
- City/casual clothes
- 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.
- Club clothes/a nice outfit
- Even if you don’t typically go out, you never know when the hostel people will call!
This is a picture of what NOT to wear in the Amazon, since the subject is not prepared for wet or bugs. But I didn’t know I was going to go to the Amazon. Just bring all the things you could need in case your plans change.
I was there for 10 days, and brought a nearly perfect set of clothes! This is what I brought that was most useful:
- 3 leggings
- Athletic leggings
- Casual leggings
- Heattech leggings (from Uniqlo – these keep you really warm- especially useful for cooler volcano summits)
- 4 long sleeve shirts
- Two Heattech shirts
- A merino wool shirt
- A fake wool shirt
- 5 tanks/shirts
- 1 clubbing outfit (which I ended up not using… but eh…)
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 zip up sweatshirt
- 3 cardigans
- 1 ultra down jacket
- 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
- 3 regular socks
- 1 pair of walkable flats
- 1 pair of hiking boots
- 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!
What I wish I brought:
- Light rain jacket (mostly for the Amazon)
- Sun hat (to decrease sun exposure)
I don’t like buying clothes for only one use. My outfits could be used for hiking or casual days or even dressy days, depending how I layer. This makes it so I don’t have to pack or buy as much stuff.
Minus hiking shoes. Those are totally needed for the rocky terrain in Ecuador and are only considered casual if you live in, like, Alaska. If you have separate “hiking clothes” and “regular clothes” and “adventure clothes”, your packing list will be different!
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), my Ecuador travel tips (spoiler alert: this post already covered a third of them already!), or let me know if you have any questions in the comments section!