What to Pack for Ecuador: The Ultimate Ecuador Packing List
If you’re prepping for a trip to Ecuador, you’ve probably started to realize that deciding what to pack for Ecuador can be a major challenge. Home to every type of climate under the sun, Ecuador is a joy to visit, but a pain to pack for.
Depending on your Ecuador itinerary, your Ecuador packing list will likely include rain gear, a bathing suit, a winter coat, and plenty of sunscreen. It’s a lot to plan for!
In this ultimate Ecuador packing list, we’ll help you determine exactly what to bring to Ecuador. We lived in Ecuador for 2+ years and visited every corner of this country (on a TRUE shoestring budget) – come along with us as we share exactly what you need for your best Ecuador trip.
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Backpacks or Luggage for Ecuador
I generally recommend traveling with a crossbody purse for safety purposes in Ecuador. While bag snatching isn’t common in Ecuador, crossbody bags can also help prevent pickpocketing, which can be more common.
Whatever you travel with, bring s-biner microlocks to clip zippers together to prevent pickpocketing.
Traveling in Ecuador can be safe with a daypack, though I recommend backpack zippers be clipped together with s-biner microlocks to prevent pickpocketing.
Bring your backpack in front of you in crowded streets, markets, or on public transportation.
When I’m carrying a bit more stuff with me, I use the North Face Recon Backpack, which I’ve had for YEARS, and is great for daily use or even for short trips up to three or four days. This is my favorite backpack for travel or daily use at home.
A backpacking backpack can be a great choice for traveling in Ecuador, especially if you plan to travel by bus. We love the Osprey Men’s Rook and Osprey Women’s Renn 65L backpacks – they’re roomy enough for longer backpacking excursions and extremely well-made and comfortable.
The Osprey lifetime warranty was huge for us, and you know when you purchase one of these bags you’ll never need to buy another one again.
You’ll have no problem traveling with luggage (instead of a backpacking backpack) in Ecuador for the most part, though a backpacking backpack might be better if you plan to travel extensively by bus.
We love the Samosonite hardside luggage, or Coolife hardside luggage if you’re on a budget.
Travel Essentials for Ecuador
Outside of larger businesses, stores, and hotels, a lot of places in Ecuador don’t accept credit cards. Cash is still very much king here, so I recommend always carrying some with you.
You can bring along cash – remember, the U.S. dollar is Ecuador’s currency, so no money converting is needed for U.S. travelers – or withdraw from ATMs.
Be aware that if you’re traveling to more remote areas (like on the Quilotoa Loop, or to some beach towns) you might not find ATMs for miles around.
One of my international travel must-haves, a steripen is a game changer for safe drinking water. This tiny UV-light pen makes any tap water safe to drink in seconds, meaning no more need to buy bottle after bottle of water. It’s an easy way to save money while traveling, and save plastic.
Water Bottle with Filter
I usually travel with both a steripen and a water bottle with a sanitization filter, which is easier to refill on the go. I’ve had several over the years, and the Lifestraw filtering water bottle is by far the best.
White Noise Machine
Traveling with a tiny, portable white noise machine is a great way to ensure you’ll sleep well no matter how much street noise you hear from your accommodation. It’s a great hack that will help you feel well-rested no matter where you’re staying.
Even if you don’t usually sleep with an eye mask at home, traveling with one is a great idea. They’re good for planes, hostels, or unexpectedly bright hotel rooms and they can even help with getting over jet lag.
Earplugs are a must for travelers staying in hostels, but I think they’re a great idea for travel anywhere. Inexpensive reusable silicone earplugs are a great way to ensure you’ll sleep well, or just block out annoying noise on bus or plane travel.
If you’re headed to the beach – or even on hiking trips in the Andes or Amazon, a quick-dry travel towel is a great addition to your pack to keep you dry and cozy. Plus, sometimes when those hostel towels just aren’t cutting it, you’ll wish you had your own towel. They pack really easily, too.
A travel blanket is a great multi-use travel essential – they’re perfect for staying warm on planes, great for picnics, or even on the beach. They fold down into a tiny pouch for easy packing.
Silicone Reusable Bags
You might have reusable silicone bags at home for food storage, but have you ever thought about using them for travel? They’re great for keeping jewelry safe, throwing a wet swimsuit in your bag, or keeping travel documents dry and protected. Reuse them for food storage after your trip!
If you’re heading to the Galapagos or the coast and will be spending a lot of time around water, a dry bag can be a great way to keep your camera, clothes, and everything else dry while you’re swimming, kayaking, or enjoying the water.
Laundry Detergent Sheets
Laundry detergent that comes in sheets is a great addition to your bag if you’ll be traveling light – it’s perfect for refreshing any of your clothes on the road or in case you need to remove stains.
Bringing along a drain stopper is a must if you plan on hand-washing any clothing on the go.
If you plan on hand-washing any clothes while traveling, packing a tiny clothesline is a great way to dry your clothes. This is also convenient for hang-drying any clothes during the rainy season!
If you plan on snorkeling in Ecuador, especially in the Galapagos, bring along some antifog so you’re not constantly having to refresh your mask or goggles. It seems minor, but it can make a big difference!
Simple canvas bags or reusable shopping bags are great to bring along for shopping, especially in markets, or even for separating clean and dirty clothes if you don’t use packing cubes. They’re convenient and will help you cut down on plastic use, though having a quart-sized plastic bag is always a good idea when traveling with liquids.
Clothing for Ecuador
For day-to-day wear in Ecuador, sneakers are best. You’ll want to be comfortable wherever you travel. Plus, sneakers are fine for most of the more adventurous activities like bike rides, hikes, and more.
My go-to sneakers for travel at the waterproof Loom sneakers. For many trips I don’t even bother taking Chacos or water shoes anymore, as the Loom sneakers are truly waterproof, ultra comfortable, and look stylish even if you aren’t traveling.
Unless you plan on hiking one of Ecuador’s volcanoes (including Sierra Negra in the Galapagos!) or completing a trek like the Quilotoa Loop, hiking boots are probably an overkill. However, if you plan to hike a bit while here, they can provide great support.
I recommend waterproof hiking boots if you’re looking for a new pair – these are perfect for hikes to waterfalls if you don’t bring Chacos or water shoes:
Chacos or Similar Water Shoes
If you’re planning to hike the waterfalls near Mindo, in the Amazon jungle, or just prefer these types of shoes to sneakers or hiking boots, Chacos, Tevas, or other similar water shoes can be a great choice.
For most hikes in Ecuador, these are just fine.
Waterproof Slides or Flip-Flops
If you’ll be staying in hostels or visiting the coast or the Galapagos, make sure to bring some waterproof shoes. Of course, these are a must for hostel stays, too.
Sweater or Sweatshirt
No matter where you travel in Ecuador, you’ll want at least a light sweater for cooler evenings, at least. If you’re headed to the Andes, a light sweater and a heavier option is a good choice, or a lightweight down jacket.
T-shirts or tank tops that can be layered with a light sweater are best!
Leggings, Jeans, or Pants
You’ll want comfortable clothing and easily packable basics no matter where you plan to travel in Ecuador. Shorts are okay, though for women,
I generally recommend sticking to covered legs or skirts unless you’re on the coast – otherwise you’ll draw a lot of unwanted attention – though this is a personal choice.
Lightweight Down Jacket
If you’re visiting anywhere in the Andes – like Quito, Otavalo, Cuenca, or Quilotoa – it’s a great idea to bring a lightweight down jacket, even in the warmer dry season.
These areas can get downright cold at night. If you’re headed anywhere with higher elevation, including the TelefériQo in Quito, Cotopaxi National Park, or Quilotoa, you’ll need to bundle up year-round.
If you’re looking for a decent jacket that is packable, the Eastern Mountain Sports Feather Pack Jacket is a cult favorite so good that I straight-up stole my husband’s and made it my own, with zero shame. This is a must for Ecuador!
Merino Wool Base Layer
If you’ll be doing any hiking while in Ecuador, consider bringing a merino wool base layer. If you’ve never heard of the magic of merino wool, this stuff will keep you cool and protected from the sun in the heat, but cozy in the cold.
Here are our recommendations:
- Women’s Merino Wool Base Layer Top
- Women’s Merino Base Layer Bottom
- Men’s Merino Wool Base Layer Top
- Men’s Merino Wool Base Layer Bottom
Layer pants and a jacket over the base layer, and remove as needed based on weather conditions. This is useful no matter where you’re traveling in Ecuador.
Scarf or Wrap
A lightweight scarf or wrap is a great item to toss in your bag as you pack for Ecuador. Use it to cover up in historic churches in Quito, as a bathing suit coverup on the beach, or for warmth in the mountains.
I’d recommend bringing a bathing suit no matter where you end up traveling in Ecuador. You’ll find hot springs in the Andes – like in Baños! – hotels with awesome pools in the Amazon, and of course, plenty of opportunities to swim on the coast.
You NEED rain boots or waterproof hiking boots if you’re planning on traveling during the rainy season. I recommend L.L. Bean or Sperry duck boots, which tend to be comfortable enough for decent walking or climbing, and aren’t too heavy.
If you’re traveling during rainy season (November through April), a good rain jacket is not optional for travel. Rain storms generally only pass through for an hour or two in the afternoons, but you don’t want to be trapped inside.
We’ve both had the same Columbia rain jackets for years, and can’t recommend them enough.
Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad.
Toiletries and Personal Care Items for Ecuador
At the high elevations of the Andes, you’ll burn quickly – wear sunscreen even on the cloudy days.
Remember, if you’re planning on visiting the beach – and especially the Galapagos – you’ll need your sunscreen to be reef-safe. Try Sun Bum sunscreen for a natural reef-safe option.
If you’re headed to either the coast or the Amazon, you’ll need insect repellant. You can choose insect repellant spray or insect repellant lotion, but I generally recommend spray so you can layer it with sunscreen.
Will you need malaria pills? It’s a common question. Malaria pills aren’t needed in Ecuador unless you plan to go DEEP into the Amazon. For example, if you’re headed to Tena and the surrounding area, malaria pills will be overkill.
Lotion and Lip Balm
Especially if you’re headed to the Andes where it can get windy and blustery at times, you’ll want to have lotion and lip balm with you.
Go Toobs are a game changer for packing liquid toiletries. These reusable silicone travel toiletry bottles are super flexible and allow you to get out every last drop of shampoo or conditioner.
You’ll have no problem finding different brands of shampoo and conditioner and other standard toiletries in supermarkets or stores across Ecuador, but if you want to bring yours from home, Go Toobs are the way to go.
Aspirin / Ibuprofen
You won’t have an issue finding either of these standard painkillers in pharmacies in Ecuador, but it’s often more cost-effective and convenient to bring some with you.
I always recommend traveling with Imodium or a similar brand for stomach issues, just in case. For the same reason, this should be in your pack, bring along some electrolyte rehydration powder to mix with water – this will help you feel better faster. They’re also great for altitude sickness.
Altitude Sickness Pills
If you’re headed to Quito or other areas of the Andes, you’ll feel the altitude here as soon as you arrive – the air is thin, and even just walking slightly uphill will make you out of breath.
Do as the locals do and drink coca leaf tea – you’ll find it everywhere here, and it really works! – but if you’d like, you can also grab altitude sickness pills from Amazon before your trip.
I’ve never taken them personally, but I have heard good reviews from other travelers who were initially quite concerned about the effects of the altitude.
Any Needed Medications
Pharmacies in Ecuador are great and always well stocked – even dealing with a chronic health issue during the years we lived in Ecuador, I never had any issue finding what I needed. However, make sure you bring along the medications you need – or only sometimes need – just in case.
Feminine Care Products
Pads are easily accessible everywhere in Ecuador, but tampons are either harder to find, or much more expensive (and not as high-quality) as what you might be used to. Think about bringing products with you if you might need them.
Tech and Photography Gear for Ecuador
A good power bank is a travel essential these days to keep all of your gear charged. We love the slim, super powerful Anker power banks – the basic 313 model will usually suffice, but go with the more heavy-duty Anker 325 or the Anker 747 to make sure you have enough juice for the trip.
Travel Adapter / Converter
Ecuador uses 120V power and has plug outlets similar to those you’ll find in the United States. You may need a voltage converter or plug adapter, depending on where your gear is from.
We’ve had the BESTEK converter and adapter duo for years – it has plenty of USB ports and standard plugs, so it’s basically a charging station and adapter/converter in one.
Break out your travel camera when coming to Ecuador for next-level travel photography. If you’re in the market for a great camera for travel, we always recommend choosing between these two options: the Nikon Coolpix B500 or the Nikon Z 50 Mirrorless.
The B500 is a digital point-and-shoot perfect for beginners just looking for excellent and easy vacation photos, while the Z 50 is the perfect choice for a DSLR – it has Nikon’s smallest body on a DSLR, perfect for travel.
Ecuador is a great place to show your GoPro some action. You’ll have tons of opportunities for cool action shots, city perspectives, and more.
The GoPro Hero9 is a great model for everyone – excellent quality, and no need to get any more expensive models unless you’re a professional photographer.
A simple travel tripod can be a great addition to your pack if you’re looking for excellent landscape shots or time lapses – there are plenty of places for these no matter where you’re traveling in Ecuador.
Drones are permitted in Ecuador, so make sure to pack yours! If you don’t have a drone, these are an awesome addition to your photography gear. We recommend DJI drones – they’re simply the best – and they have great models for beginners all the way to professional photographers.
Bring a tablet along with downloaded tv shows, movies, and books for the plane, bus rides, or for the end of a long day.
Good headphones are a must for travel. Bring along wireless headphones or even better, good old cheap wired headphones and a headphone adapter (if needed) so you don’t have to worry about powering your headphones constantly.
Don’t head out on your adventure without comprehensive travel insurance! Good travel insurance may cover lost or stolen gear, medical emergencies, delayed or canceled flights, and more. Check out the policies available from World Nomads or compare plans using Visitors Coverage.
Safety Gear for Ecuador
First Aid Kit
If you’ve traveled enough you’ve definitely experienced your fair share of blisters, scrapes, and cuts while out and about. I always throw some antibiotic ointment, bandaids, throat lozenges, and painkillers in a pouch that I carry with me everywhere.
Make your own first aid kit, or get a pre-prepared first aid kit on Amazon.
I love s-biner microlocks – these cheap yet functional carabiners are perfect for keeping backpack zippers clipped together. They’re just enough deterrence for pickpockets but allow for easy access when you need it. An easy travel safety hack.
I always keep my luggage locked, even when its in my hotel room. The TSA-friendly locks with flexible hooks are perfect for different sizes of zippers, hostel lockers, and more.
A portable safe is a great way to keep travel documents, money, and expensive tech products safe when you’re not in your hotel or Airbnb.
You can also bring it to the beach to keep your valuables safe while you’re swimming.
I think a doorstop is a must-have for travel safety, especially as a solo traveler or as a female. These are tiny, inexpensive, and can be lifesaving.
They stop intruders from forcing your door open at night – I travel with a doorstop with an alarm, which trips an alarm to scare off an intruder if the door is being forced.
I’ve never been a fan of money belts or the like – I think they look awkward, and they’re hard to use effectively. Plus, everyone knows about them… including pickpockets and thieves.
The “passport scarf” is something that I actually use and is CUTE. These infinity scarves with hidden pockets are perfect for your money, phone, or passport. You’d never know they’re there.