So this blog isn’t a chronicle as most of my others have been but more of a halfway checkin with a summary of things I have picked up here in Ecuador:

  • Always pack extra underwear (Learned this before Ecuador but very relevant)
  • That leads to- travel with a swimsuit
  • When getting in line to buy bus tickets or check in at the airport ask someone who actually knows, so you don’t waste time standing endlessly in the wrong line
  • Never take your actual passport with you if you can help it- make copies and then leave the original at home or hostel
  • Packable rain jackets are totally worth it
  • Overnight buses are the way to go when you have a lot to see and a little time and money- just make sure you lock your stuff with a travel lock or keep a hold of it if you decide to sleep
  • If you aren’t familiar with Latino culture, be prepared for everything to start hours late and frequent last minute cancellations
  • Bathrooms cost $0.15, and even fancy restaurants seem to forget to refill the toilet paper, so bring your own
  • And hand sanitizer
  • If there is a question whether or not you should take a taxi, you probably should, unless you are confident in the alternative. This is especially true early in the morning, late at night, when you have all your luggage, when you are sick or tired, and when you are not completely sure of your surroundings
  • Find out how to identify the safe taxis
  • Rule of thumb: don’t drink the water unless boiled or bottled
  • Find out when national holidays are and make reservations for lodging instead of winging it. That way you won’t accidentally spend a night driving around in a taxi looking for a place to stay
  • Do what the locals do- its cheaper and more authentic
  • But don’t eat the street food unless you have a stomach of steel!
  • You can find cheap flights by checkin all the booking sites, including local ones, regularly and with flexible dates. That’s how I got my round trip ticket to the Galapagos for $160
  • Sometimes it’s worth checking out domestic flights to save time
  • You can get by anywhere with only one language but having a second language, any language, makes your trip way better
  • Contrary to what your parents may have told you, making conversation with strangers is probably the best thing you can do, when traveling
  • Don’t be afraid to barter; the price is never fixed
  • If there is a tour somewhere, ask around and find out how to do it yourself and save lots of money. Getting your own transportation and lunch can take a $50 day to $10. Sometimes you can even get a local tour guide that will give you the same info but for way less than an inclusive day tour
  • It’s nice to spurge once in a while. When you find yourself at a high end hosteria in the Andes with their own fishery, order some trout, even if it is your entire budget for the day.  You’ll know when it is meant to be.
  • If you are clearly white like me, recognize that you will always stick out, and then get over it.
  • Likewise, ladies, men in latin america are the product of a very different culture of machismo and sexism. They are brash and aggressive, and it can be tough to get used to the unwanted attention. All I can say is that it doesn’t have anything to do with you and it’s best just to let it go.
  • Keep an open mind. This might be a “duh!” statement, but I would also recommend not to compare everything with the states. It’s a whole new world and if you expect/ look for thing that you know and that are comfortable, you will limit the potential of your experiences.
  • If you are studying abroad, do your best to finish up your homework during the week so you can travel on the weekends. Even if you think you will be diligent, homework while traveling rarely is a success.
  • Important things to look for in a hostel: free breakfast, free wifi, and good reviews. You should be able to find all of that anywhere in Ecuador for under $10.
  • Keep moneys under $20 on you at all times
  • Make sure to have $10-$20, just in case you get robbed, it is better to have at least something, rather than nothing
  • Don’t give your number to anyone you don’t want to call 50 times per week
  • Watch out for the yellow ones, they don’t stop (neither do the buses, and sometimes the cars)
  • Take advantage of any opportunity to eat cacao (fruit used to make chocolate), at any stage
  • Wear bug spray in the jungle, and then wear long sleeves over that
  • Make sure to have a drinking buddy you can trust
  • Avoid petting dogs. They aren’t pets here
  • Ask yourself: is this a once in a lifetime opportunity? And is there a high survival rate? If the answer to both is yes, do it. If one yes, think twice about it. If both are no, that’s just a waste of time.
  • Always wear sunscreen! Especially in the mountains
  • Try to remember to snap a picture when you are having the most fun, or bring along a friend who is into photography

Never pass up an opportunity to use the bathroom