Visiting the Galapagos has been one of the most amazing travel experiences I have had! I feel lucky to have spent time in such an ecologically unique and special place. Swimming with sea turtles and sea lions, contributing to the survival of endemic species, a chance to experience both island life as well as the highlands of Quito - it truly is the experience of a lifetime!
I am a light packer: typically, I will bring only a small day bag and a backpacking backpack/duffle when I travel. Specifically for the Galapagos, you will want a main pack that is easy to carry and not too bulky as you will be getting on and off boats and planes during your program.
Keep it simple! You definitely won’t need a blow dryer, electronics, or trendy outfits. Most days you will be getting sweaty, dirty, wet, or all of the above. Embrace it!
Be sure to check with your airline in regard to baggage allowances and weight limitations. Most airlines will allow one carry-on bag, one personal item, and one checked bag weighing 50 lbs or less on international flights. However, please verify this with your airline before you get started, or you could be facing an extra charge at check in. Please note that you will be taking a flight from Quito to the Galapagos Islands and back, and your checked bag will be required to be no heavier than 44 pounds. It’s also worth noting that we will be taking lots of boats as transportation, so it is very important to pack light, and utilize easy to transport luggage!
You’ll want to keep your essentials near and dear! While we’ve had good luck in the past with luggage arriving as expected, luggage delays do happen. Be sure that you have have your:
□ GLA Contact Card
□ Flight Itinerary
□ Phone & Charger
□ Prescriptions or other crucial medications
□ PEN! You will need this when filling out your entrance forms on the plane
Imagine the worst-case scenario: Your checked bag doesn’t arrive in Quito with you, and is never to be seen again. What items would you absolutely want to have with you? The answer will be different for each of us, but here are the items I wouldn’t want to be caught without:
□ Full change of clothes
□ Toiletries (travel size--you can see TSA guidelines here)
This will hold the bulk of your belongings. Clothes, any full-sized liquids (like shampoo, conditioner, etc though you can likely get by with 3oz bottles - I did!), rain gear, water bottles, snacks, etc. As far as what type of clothing is appropriate for your program, again, the Travel Portal is going to be your best resource. You can also take a look at the 2016 Blogs to get a good feel for the types of clothing that might be best. Please note that for the most part, tank tops and shorts are not encouraged--as a group, we’ll want to dress in line with local customs in order to be more welcomed into the community.
If this packing configuration doesn’t work for you, feel free to make substitutions. It’s all about what you’re comfortable traveling with. Just remember to bring only what you can maneuver yourself, and take into consideration that you will likely be lugging home souvenirs.
I bought my first set of packing cubes for travel back when I was 18 for my first international trip, and I am still using the same set. They have traveled with me on every overseas trip since. They are great for organizing your bag and help make the most of your space. I recommend rolling your clothing items before placing them in the cubes to create even more space! I purchased my packing cubes from ebags.com.
This is great to take in case of slight tummy discomfort which can often happen when you are traveling abroad and eating different foods. I recommend it in pill form for ease while traveling.
Two refillable water bottles
This is a GLA must. We will provide all of your drinking water, but you will need bottles to fill up. Two minimum!
Water-enhancing Powders (coffee, tea, flavoring packets, etc)
For those who are accustomed to a particular cup of joe in the mornings, this might qualify as an essential. There will be Nescafe at all Home Bases, but you may prefer to bring your own brand of instant coffee packets. Emergen-C is one of my favorites for an extra boost of nutrients!
Adapter - Don’t Bother!
Each place we stayed was fully equipped with American-style, two-pronged outlets, you will not need adapters for this program.
Bring US Dollars - that is the official currency of Ecuador. You can also bring a debit card.
Pack some warmth
Wetsuit top! NOT a rashguard. The water is chilly thanks to ocean currents sweeping down from Alaska. While a rashguard is great to protect you from the sun, it won’t keep you warm the way a wetsuit top would. You’ll be snorkeling a ton and seeing some incredible wildlife in the ocean - the wetsuit top will allow you to stay in the water longer to see all the amazing animals! Additionally, you will want to bring a sweatshirt for chilly evenings. Airports can also be chilly, so you will be glad to have it!
You’ll definitely want these on this program. A great trick for packing light is to wear these on your flight to save space! Really, your boots should be broken in enough and comfortable enough to wear on a long flight. Bring a pair of socks to change into once you are on the plane.
Sarah's Words of Advice
Don’t worry too much about the preparation! Just follow the packing list, and leave behind anything you’re reasonably sure you can do without.