While I’ve never had a reputation for being an extremely light packer, as a fairly low-maintenance male who considers himself pretty well-traveled, I still over-packed for my big move to Ecuador. It left me feeling like a slave to too many possessions while living and traveling across Ecuador for a year.
Having too much junk was particularly inconvenient for me, as I moved several times between hostels, a host family, apartments and cities during my one-year stay in Ecuador. Lugging that stuff around found me irritated as hell, especially because I could have left a lot of it behind.
To be fair, before going to Ecuador I had no idea how long I’d stay, where all I’d travel to, or if I’d end up working full-time. I thought I had to prepare for all possibilities, which is what increased my load. But what I now realize is that just bringing the basics would have sufficed, particularly because many things can be purchased in Ecuador.
- Sun block - buy a lot of it if you want to hike, sunbathe, etc. Sunblock is crazy-expensive in all of Ecuador, and you’ll be bummed if you have to pay local prices for it.
- Shoes - one pair of comfy hiking/walking shoes, one pair of casual shoes, one pair of formal work/going out shoes and some flip-flops.
- Hoodies/Waterproof Windbreaker – a few hoodies and one nice, light waterproof windbreaker will suffice. Don’t waste space with a big, heavy jacket, the weather is mostly mild all across the country, year round.
- Accessories – One pair of gloves, a scarf and a snowcap/beanie will be necessary if you live in Quito or Cuenca. It can get chilly, but never ‘legitimately cold’, cold. Some kind of sun hat and a nice pair of sunglasses can save your life while hiking or on the coast. Leave behind any watches/jewelry you don’t want stolen. You also don’t need a wallet.
- T-shirts and Jeans – 2 or 3 jeans and 5 or 6 tees should do it. It isn’t uncommon for locals and your fellow expats to wear the same clothes every week.
- Underwear/Socks – 5 pairs each, wash every week.
- Activewear – One set of sporting clothes will come in handy for exercising and invitations to play fútbol.
- Backpack – I needed a regular pack for work and daily life and backpacker’s pack for domestic travel around Ecuador.
- Electronics – If you like gadgets, make sure you bring them from home, because ALL electronics in Ecuador are expensive. Bring your laptop. Buy yourself a cheap, old-school Nokia cell phone to have activated upon arrival. Bring your laptop speakers and/or iPod deck for music at home and don’t forget any chargers.
If you can manage to fit all of these things in a backpacker’s pack, that would be ideal. If not, you should easily manage it all in on mid-sized suitcase and a carry-on. It should also be noted that you’ll most likely want to bring back souvenirs and other nick-knacks you’ll accumulate over your time in Ecuador, so be prepared to leave some space and/or return with an extra carry-on bag.
Buying regular medicine, clothes, sunglasses, hats, scarves, etc. can all be done cheaply in Ecuador, so don’t feel like you must bring everything. Sunblock and electronics though? Don’t forget them!
List not complete? Share your packing regrets and recommendations with the community by commenting below.
February 14, 2012