Travel checklist for Ecuador and Galapagos

This list is suitable for a multi-destination trip to Ecuador as well as the Galapagos Islands, as we asume that most visitors will also spend some time on the mainland. This list covers it all!

  1. Why wearing white cloths is best? Mosquitos ( and Tse Tse Flies in Africa ) avoid white cloths while being attracted to dark garments. Moreover, white reflects heat best. So, camouflage clothing is NOT the best!

  2. Light fast drying camping trousers (not jeans) with zip-off sleeves;TRAVEL CHECKLIST FOR THE TROPICS: jungle pants I never found them in white though.

  3. Light windbreaker (jacket) as it can be surprisingly cold at night in the tropics or on the water;

  4. Shorts. But be very careful. When you are on the water or the beach you may easily get a very bad sun burn. Start out with one hour per day and increase your wearing shorts by an hour per day;

  5. A few long-sleeved outdoors shirts, preferably one per day (similar blouses for women are available). Dress shirts for men as worn under a jacket are also suitable, as they are much thinner than T-shirts and when wet, they dry much quicker. So in spite of seeming to be overdressed, you will feel much better in an outdoors or  dress shirt. If not with you, long-sleeved T shirts. Long sleeves are essential against sun burn; TRAVEL CHECKLIST FOR THE TROPICS: Vacation packing list: jungle shirtWhite shirts are the best against mosquitoes and for reflecting heat.

  6. A light sweater for the evenings at sea, in the mountains and rainy days;

  7. A warmer sweater if you plan to spend more time in the mountains;

  8. Women: whichever skirts or dresses you pack; not too many if you want to pack light. Fast drying thin materials are best. Like for shorts: be careful with sun exposure as you are on the equator. (In many countries long dresses are required either in public or in religious buildings. Not so in Latin America). Be aware that the sun may penetrate through thin materials and still cause sun burn;

  9. Wide brimmed hat that cover the ears as they are extremely susceptible to getting sun-burned. So, baseball caps are not suitable unless your hair always covers you ears;

  10. Comfortable gym shoes or water shoes (check out Salomon Amphibia shoes) that may get wet and sandals for the beach. Please don't start out exposing your bare feet to the sun as they can get terrible sun burns. TRAVEL CHECKLIST FOR THE TROPICS: water shoes

  11. Solid walking shoes or boots for hiking on nature trails with good profiles for slippery conditions. Lava on Galapagos is particularly rough and sharp;

  12. At least 1 pair of clean socks for each day for a week. It is very easy to get fungi or athlete's foot in the tropics, so change socks at least once a day;

  13. Underwear: In general, when on a tropical trip, you may need to wash your own underwear some time. So take along small briefs of little volume as they dry fastest. Boxers take a lot of volume each.

  14. Sun cream;

  15. Sun glasses;

  16. Bathing suit;

  17. LED flashlight and batteries. They are very low energy and their batteries last many times longer;

  18. Sufficient cash for any emergencies and some money in small denominations for expenditures along the way;

  19. Passport (Obligatory for park entries and hotels);

  20. Medium sized suitcase or backpack (space in the vans and canoes may be limited);

  21. Some large plastic bags for keeping your clothes dry;

  22. Personal toiletries;

  23. Insect repellent with DEED (non-spray may be more environmentally friendly);

  24. First aid kit. Never leave home without it. Buy a good one for the tropics; If you have one, check it before your trip. Replace old stuff;

  25. Personal medicines;

  26. Neck or waist pouch for your documents and money. First of all it should not be pretty as to not draw attention from pickpockets. The uglier the better, but it should be solid. Make sure to have one with a really strong carrying wide nylon strep. Always carry a neck pouch half in front of you where you can see it;

  27. You wear glasses or contact lenses??? ALWAYS travel with an extra pair of glasses or lenses, just in case you lose one. Can you imagine yourself spending the rest of your trip not being able to see well????? Disastrous! Also bring 2 separate small bottles of lens liquid;

  28. Power surge protector. Particularly in developing countries but also in North America, power fluctuations and lightning can ruin your equipment. It is wise to bring along a compact power search protector. They are also a great way of keeping your small items together. Too often, have I left small battery chargers for a phone or a camera in the hotel's power outlet. If you keep everything together, chances are much better you take them along when checking out. TRAVEL CHECKLIST FOR THE TROPICS: Compact power surge protector.PLEASE NOTE: most search protectors are only 110 Volts and they will blow the hotel's fuse, burn themselves or burn your equipment in 220 Volts, which is in most places in the world, except North and a number of countries in Latin America. Always check the country's voltage before plugging in your chargers or your equipment;

  29. Camera with extra charger and extra batteries. Often people make videos, which empties their batteries more quickly than they can charge. An extra charger and one or two extra batteries will keep you a happy shooter.

  30. A large memory capacity for your camera, so that you can store plenty of pictures and videos, before putting them on a laptop.


This page shows a printable packing list for tropical vacations  composed by our team members who have traveled to more than 80 countries in the world on business travel,  expeditions or for regular pleasure. An even more extensive list can be downloaded here: packing lists for different trips.



Optional additional items for your Travel checklist for the tropics:

  1. Zip lock bags to keep small items dry. Particularly important if you bring a camera. As soon as it starts raining, you do wise to immediately put your camera in a zip lock bag and put it under your raincoat or rain poncho. If you wait, the atmosphere gets wet. As your body always evaporates, it starts condensing under the poncho that starts cooling in the rain and the atmosphere under your rain clothes becomes extremely humid. When putting your camera away under such circumstances, moisture is very likely to condense on your lenses, even though they are in a closed zip lock bag. Make sure that as soon as you reach a building, you take out the camera out of the bag to let it dry.

  2. Binoculars (Indispensable in the rainforest - it's worth spending a bit of extra money to get a good water proof pair: 8 x 32 or 40 are excellent for poor light conditions under the forest canopy). TRAVEL CHECKLIST FOR THE TROPICS: binoculars However, if you forgot to bring your binoculars, we rent them out at $15 for the duration of your visit;

  3. A GPS. Nowadays GPS are very affordable and it is fun to look for the equator! You don't need one to find your way, because you will always have one of our guides with you;

  4. A water proof digital camera is ideal for the wet tropics! But of course a regular camera will do, as long as you put it in a ziplock bag as soon as it starts raining. Don't forget to take it back out as soon as you are back at the lodge or in the bus as it may fog up and your lens may become damaged;

  5. Extra pair of loose-fitting, fast drying pants (no jeans, they never seem to dry up after a rain shower);

  6. Birds of Ecuador by Ridgely;

  7. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals by Emmens and Feer is complete and small enough to bring along.

  8. Download our printable Bird List of Ecuador:

This international packing list is not exhaustive and travelers be advised to consult other sources as well.


Packing your suitcase efficiently

Most space in your suitcase is taken up by your clothes. So the challenge is to compact your clothes as much as possible. The best way is to roll them up. This will compact their volume up to 50%, while it actually reduces crinkling.

TRAVEL CHECKLIST FOR THE TROPICS: Roll up clothes for compact packing.TRAVEL CHECKLIST FOR THE TROPICS: Efficient packing by rolling up clothes.

Small items can be rolled up by lining them up in half overlaps (left row). You can roll them into larger clothes, particularly pants,  or stuff them into shoes. First fold larger clothes into neat straight lines, before rolling them up. Even better, put the rolls into a ziplock bag, sit on them and close the bag will even compress a bit further.

All clothes on the left in a medium seized carry-on. Note the shaver and collapsible hairbrush in a ziplock bag so shaving remains and hair don't litter bag content. One shoe with underwear + socks and other cloths from left rolled up, left 8cm still available.


For documents, use a bag with a strong carrying strap and large enough to fit a book for in the plane.



This page shows a Travel checklist for the tropics composed by our team members who have traveled to more than 80 countries in the world on business travel,  expeditions or for regular pleasure. An even more extensive list can be downloaded here: printable packing lists for different trips.



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