Ecuador, Packing, Travel

Ecuador Packing Guide

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How to Pack for Ecuador in the Fall
 
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MEG CALE
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Editor
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For me, it was the time I forgot my new DSLR camera on my way to spending the summer in Europe.
For Lindsay, it was the time she forgot medicine and got a terrible case of the stomach bug in The Philippines.
Everyone has that item they forgot that sets the tone for the rest trip.
Ecuador packing is especially tough because we were trying to pack light and for a multi-climate trip. Lindsay and I spent ten days in Ecuador and covered some wildly different terrains. Researching your destination for the time of year you’re visiting can be a trip saver.
 
 
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“Here’s to being over dressed, over educated, and over travelled.”
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MEG CALE
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Ecuador is a country with diverse climates and ecosystems that require creative packing. Its located in the northern half of South America, which means they have summer between December and February. The temperature in September when we were there was fluctuating between 50-70F degrees depending on where we were. It also rained for a few hours of each day. Near the beach, the temperature hovers around 80F year round but it rains heavily during the winter months.
Our first five days were in Banos -the adventure sports capital of South America. It was a bit cold and rainy while we were there and called for warm, waterproof sportswear that still photographs well.
From Banos, we headed to the hills outside of Otavalo. We got married at My Sacha Ji Wellness Hotel, so that added a whole different packing challenge.
The day after our wedding we did some rural touring and headed to the Otavalo market. The last few days of our trip was spent in the posh urban center of Quito, which called for city touring and elegant evening clothes. 
All that, and we didn’t even go to the snow-capped mountains, deep into the rainforest, or the Galapagos Islands. For this guide we’ll stick to the items most people will be needing. 
 
 
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Backpack:
My go to travel pack is a 27 Litre Women’s Casimir pack from The North Face. It’s a small pack that forces you to pack light but has enough space to be a one bag solution. The Casimir is great for a carry-on and can double as a day pack when hiking or touring.  
Large Dry Bag:
Having a dry bag is key in humid climates. Tech gear is expensive and you don’t want to get caught in the rain or near a waterfall without any protection. For $19 USD you can’t afford not to bring one.
Black Leggings:
Leggings are versatile. They can be dressed up or down, they’re comfortable and universally flattering.
Quick Drying T-shirts:
The humidity makes it nearly impossible for clothes to dry. We learned that the hard way when we had to tote around three of Lindsay’s sopping wet T-shirts.
 
 
 
 
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PRO TIP
 
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Stick with one color pallet for all of your clothing. It’ll help mix and match all the pieces together.
 
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PRO TIP
 
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Leggings with the hidden zipper pocket along the top are great for hiding cash on the road.  
 
 
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PRO TIP
 
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Bring extra ziplock bags for packing your wet clothes while hiking.
 
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Flannels:
Think layers and the ability to remove things when it gets hot. Flannels were a lifesaver because I could tie them around my waist when I got warm and still look cute.
Sweatshirts:
Early mornings and late evenings in Banos and Otavalo were chilly. Casual sweatshirts were perfect for hanging out around the fire and grabbing morning coffee in the cloud forest.   
Rain Coat:
The weather changes quickly in Ecuador. One minute it’s bright and sunny, the next it’s pouring rain. I loved my Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket because it kept me super dry but was small enough to compress into a pouch and put in my pack or purse during the day.
Waterproof boots:
Lindsay was convinced we’d need these. I wasn’t. I thought we’d be fine with sneakers. Let the record state: She was right. She spent hours meticulously researching the best boot for our needs. She found the Palladium Pampa Sport Waterproof boots and they were perfect. They’re way cheaper than the more expensive brands but the quality was incredible. We’ll be loyal customers from now on.
Wool high socks:
Cotton doesn’t dry well. It just doesn’t. It stays wet and soggy which is gross and not ideal in a humid climate. Wool high socks were a lifesaver in the wet muck, they dried easily and protected my ankles from bugs. Plus the added cushion in the sole kept our feet blister free.
Sneakers:
While the Palladium boots were a lifesaver, but they were a bit too heavy to wear while casually strolling the city. It was nice to have the option to switch back and forth.
Swimsuit:
Despite being pretty cold, we still wore our swimsuits. We visited some hot springs, swam through waterfalls, and soaked in the My Sacha Ji hot tub. 
Underwear:
Bring more than you think you’ll need.
Bras:
When I’m doing adventure activities I love a comfortable bra without wires like this one from Knix.
 
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Pharmacy items:
Make sure you pack your sunscreen, bug repellent with Deet, After Bite, Dramamine, headache meds and Anti-Malarial meds. Most of these items can be purchased in Ecuador for cheaper than you’d find them in other countries.
Flashlight or headlamp:
Our friend Nicole packed her headlamp for the trip. We laughed at first but then realized she was pretty genius. It was clutch when navigating the dark trails while hiking and perfect for making our way back to our rooms at night.  
Camera with extra memory cards:
We love our Nikon J1 . It’s small, compact, and takes incredible pictures on auto. What more can you really ask for in a camera?
GoPro HD Hero4 Silver Edition:
For adventure sports, water-based activities, hiking and unique travel photos a GoPro is a MUST. Some of our favorite travel photos are stills grabbed from GoPro video. It’s by far one of the best investments we’ve made in our travel gear. I love it so much that Lindsay got embarrassed when I was singing its praises to a group of travelers asking us about it. I won’t bore you with all the features and specs. Just buy one. Seriously. I’m not on their payroll, I just love mine THAT much. 
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Many of these photos are courtesy of Grace Chu Photography. This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using one of these links. It doesn’t cost anything for you, it’s just a way for us to keep this blog up and running. As always, I only link high-quality products and services cause I’d be embarrassed if I posted about something, you bought it, and it ended up being crap. C’mon I wouldn’t do that to you guys.
 
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29 Comments

  • Reply elaisha at 11:09 pm

    Leggings are *forever* my favourite thing to pack. Easy to stow and versatile in any outfit. http://www.elaishajade.com/

    • Reply Meg Cale at 12:18 am

      Leggings are a travelers best friend haha thanks for commenting!

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:18 pm

      Leggings are the base for any great travel wardrobes. MUST HAVE thanks for commenting!

  • Reply Stacey Gilkes at 11:15 pm

    awesome post! agree with everything here, black leggings are my savior or at least leggings in general! layering is definitely the key to packing light and travelling anywhere. I layered up like crazy for my last trip to stay warm and as you heat up you can strip down, its perfect!
    I always have a fairly neutral wardrobe palette so everything matches!

    • Reply Meg Cale at 12:19 am

      A neutral wardrobe is also great for busy or colorful backgrounds. Never clashes.

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:18 pm

      Layering is EVERYTHING. I tend to pack on the clothes while I’m on the flight so I can take a few extra things without the weight lol

  • Reply sarah martin at 1:00 am

    You seem to fit a lot of stuff in such a small bag. I think it’s hard to pack both practical stuff but still remain stylish. I normally find I choose one or the other, but you seem to manage.

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:17 pm

      Really depends on the trip for us. This time we brought packs and a roller suitcase for our wedding clothes. Other times we’ve just done 30L packs.

  • Reply Jimmy & Tina Durham at 2:16 am

    Great tip on bringing zip lock bags for wet clothes, especially since the humidity makes things hard to dry, it’s better to keep damp or wet clothes away from your dry one. I didn’t realize Ecuadors seasons were opposite of the US. I know the further south you go in South America the colder it gets. Great packing list. I would most likely add something water proof for electronics to be stored in. I think you can get some nice water proof backpacks for relatively cheaper than outfitters at some of the hunting stores.

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:16 pm

      We love our little dry bag. It was $20 on Amazon and it does the job really well. Thanks for commenting!

  • Reply Crashed Culture at 3:09 am

    So important! Multiple seasons and climates make it almost impossible for me to pack, especially since I’m a die-hard carry-on only packer. I still haven’t learned how to do this, but hopefully I’m a little bit closer now!

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:16 pm

      I mix it up depending on the trip. I brought a 30 L pack and a large roller suitcase this trip because we needed to pack our wedding clothes/accessories. I’ve done the pack only for SE Asia and I’ve done the smaller roller suitcase for Europe… just depends on the trip and what I’m doing. I tend to pack a bit heavier if it’s a press trip or I’m doing a bunch of blog stuff because I need more outfits for photo shoots and sponsored events. It varies ya know?

  • Reply Mohit Agarwal at 10:04 am

    A great and helpful post. And packing for the marriage on a trip is so awesome and you do need to be very selective for that matter…

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:13 pm

      We were very particular when we were packing for this trip. Much more so than usual. Thanks for commenting!

  • Reply Maja | Mexatia at 12:39 pm

    Great packing list! I always have at least two black leggings, actually on our last hiking trip I took only leggings haha! My husband also always carries a little lamp which he just needs to roll around to work for few minutes. It was super helpful by now.

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:12 pm

      Oh that’s cool… is it solar powered? Do you know what brand it is? Definitely something we should invest in sometime in the near future.

  • Reply Sasha at 2:53 pm

    Great post, you are right – choosing one colour palette makes all the difference in making your backpack of clothes so much more versatile. The waterproof shoes are a great idea, I only recently traveled to Iceland where my shoes were completely drenched and now I’m thinking it is something I will need to invest in. Congrats on the wedding by the way, how lovely!

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:11 pm

      I would have been freeeeezzzing without my boots. The waterproofing was so nice and they’re super comfortable. The Palladium ones are a lot cheaper than some of the more popular brands. I’d definitely recommend them if you’re looking for something in the near future.

  • Reply Delaine Mária at 6:03 pm

    Oh I know about these multi-weather South American countries. My parents kept telling me about it after visiting Argentina. I haven’t visit Ecuador yet, nor any other country in South America. However, I did visit Croatia recently where the whether in the city was so different from the coast … and I wasn’t even prepared. And we’ve started carrying extra memory cards after our camera went blank in London!
    Thanks for sharing these tips. Will definitely look into them when I plan a visit to Ecuador.

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:10 pm

      Those extra memory cards and batteries can be a life saver. I love my GoPro but the thing eats through batteries like crazy. I keep them on hand JUST IN CASE. When you visit Ecuador make sure you take time to see Banos. It was so beautiful.

  • Reply Kassie- The Fly Away Life at 11:48 pm

    I always find it so hard to pack for countries with ambiguous weather like Ecuador! I’m a chronic over packer anyways so when I can’t figure out the weather I tend to pack my whole wardrobe. I’m actually planning on heading to South America soon so I will keep this list in mind 🙂

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:06 pm

      I have a terrible time packing light. For this trip we ended up bringing an extra suitcase for our wedding clothes but we usually travel with two 30L packs and a carry on purse/bag thingy. Thanks for commenting Kassie 🙂

  • Reply Sarj Malanyaon at 12:19 pm

    First of all, beautiful photos! And you two are cute! How did you manage to actually have a photographer following you guys around? Haha! Jealous! I always rely on my hyper extended arm or a stranger that doesn’t look dodgy. LOL! I’m used to packing light, but it’s good to take note of weather-specific items – raincoats, waterproof stuff, etc. Thanks for the tips, Meg!

    • Reply Meg Cale at 10:05 pm

      A few of these photos were taken by our wedding photographer StopGraceChu.com but most of them were actually shot with my GroPro and edited on my Iphone. lol

  • Reply eo.stories at 3:34 pm

    I love the sound of “creative packing”. Almost like the new way of travelling, backpacking and low-cost airlines type of thing. It is always terrible to try and pack everything you need for different climates into just a backpack. personally, packing is my travel nightmare and still learning to do it properly. A few fast drying t-shirts are indeed a lifesaver when it comes to clothes.

  • Reply Vyjay Rao at 7:16 pm

    This is a comprehensive list that takes care of most if not all that would be required. For us it is always a struggle to maintain a balance between what to take and what to jettison.

  • Reply Ami Bhat at 7:50 pm

    Nice list of things for a country that is so diverse. I think you might want the same if you are heading to India. Of course, the majority is a tropical warm weather but if you head to the hills or mountains, it is exactly opposite. Thanks for the reference list.

  • Reply Conor (Continental Drifter) at 4:27 am

    Good shout about the leggings and the cash, always gotta play it safe! I finally bought some quick dry shirts last year, I’ve no idea why I waited so long… makes such a difference when travelling. Oh, and the underwear… you nailed it! Defo always more!

  • Reply Sheri at 3:13 pm

    This is a great packing guide, especially the waterproof boots. I think some of these items will be needed on most destinations. You really covered all the must needs.

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