When it comes to packing, I’m usually last minute. But as I dumped out all my items on my bed the night before I headed off to the Galapagos, I realized I was more ready than I thought. Over the past few years I’ve been buying essential travel items that I knew would come in handy on an upcoming trip, and a lot of the items I needed for this trip were already sitting in my drawers and closets.

Here is a quick look at what I packed before I jetted of to Ecuador:

 

**Now that I’ve returned, here are some essential items I found quite useful that I would highly recommend for others travelling to Ecuador:

– Trail Runners: Having a good set of running shoes was key to this whole trip. I literally trekked through mud, sand, and lava rock all in one day and the best part was that these were really easy to clean (and dry) since they were so breathable. It’s definitely worth investing in a good pair of shoes for any trip, but when visiting a landscape as diverse as Ecuador, these were essential.

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-Charmain to-go: (this one is for the ladies) and let me tell you, this came in VERY handy. Toilets were far and few between on this journey, and often when I found one, there was no toilet paper. I’m so happy I had this in my bag everywhere I went. The packaging is very easy to open and close as well. Definitely worth more than the couple of bucks I paid for it.

 

-First Aid Kit: I originally brought this since I’m so clumsy and prone to small cuts, but in actuality most of the other travellers I met on my journey were the ones that used most of my band aids. Since the Galapagos offers so much diversity; one minute you could be in the water, or the next trekking through rainforest. All it takes is one little branch or sharp rock to ruin the moment. Having this in your daypack at all times is a good idea!

 

-Daypack Rain Shell: Since I moved around a lot from island to island, the weather conditions would often change. One minute it was sunny and the next, pouring rain. I had two rain shells on hand which were both put to use on this trip.

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The smaller one was to cover my day pack to help keep my items dry inside (like my camera gear) and the other one was a zip-up type duffle bag that covered my bigger backpack. This was not only great protection from the rain, but it also hid all my buckles and straps which I find often get caught in airport conveyer belts.

At the end of the day, some of your clothes will be smelly and wet, so having some large Ziploc bags on hand is a HUGE must for separating your ‘used’ clothes from your clean ones.

When all is said and done, the best advice I can offer is going into this entire experience with an open mind and a curiosity and thirst for adventure. Ecuador offers so much and was an incredible learning experience for me, but the best memories created were the ones that sometimes required me to wake up at 5am or trek for 8 hours.

I spent my last day as a 26 year-old trekking to the top of Otavalo; and as hot as it was, (and the climb up burned every last muscle in my legs), the view and the sense of accomplishment I felt was completely worth the challenge.