Packing list for Ecuador

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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Ecuador and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. If you are buying luggage, we recommended that you consider the easy-to-carry variety rather than hard suitcases. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Ecuador, including custom-made clothing.

Since you may live in chilly mountains, the hot and humid coast or jungle, or a more temperate transition zone, this can only be a general guide.

General Clothing

  • One or two pairs of nice pants
  • One to four pairs of heavy work pants or jeans (ag and habitat conservation Volunteers usually need more and rural public health and youth and families Volunteers usually need less)
  • Six T-shirts or short-sleeved polo shirts (T-shirts are readily available in Ecuador unless you need something larger than XL)
  • One or two dress up outfits
  • Two or three long-sleeved or turtleneck shirts
  • Two to four (or more) pairs of shorts (not too short)
  • 12 pairs of cotton underwear
  • One or two pairs of long underwear or other clothes to layer
  • 12 pairs of good-quality socks
  • Two or three pairs (or more) of heavy wool socks
  • Two or three sweaters (you can also buy them locally) or a fleeces
  • Two (or more)sweatshirts
  • Two pairs of sweatpants (or leggings or warm tights for women)
  • One heavy jacket
  • One waterproof windbreaker or poncho
  • One pair of heavy work gloves
  • One bathrobe or long T-shirt (useful when sharing a bathroom with a host family)
  • One or two bathing suits
  • One or two sun hats, visors, or caps with a bill (the sun is very strong in Ecuador)
  • Bandanas

For Women

  • Six or more bras (available locally, but not good quality)
  • One or two nice dresses or modest sundresses (read above)

For Men

  • One sport coat (read above)
  • One or two neckties


(remember that it is difficult to find shoe sizes over 10)

  • Two pairs of tennis or running shoes
  • One pair of good-quality work boots, if you are in the agriculture or habitat conservation programs
  • One or two pairs of dress shoes
  • One pair of flip-flops (for showers or wearing around the house), sandals (easily purchased locally), or Tevas
  • One pair of rain/mud boots (you can get these here)

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

  • Shampoo and other toiletries are readily available in Ecuador, but if you use special brands, bring a supply with you
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Contact lens solutions and extra cases and travel bottles, if you wear contacts (available in larger cities, but a little more expensive than in the United States)
  • Skin So Soft by Avon (some people use it as a bug repellent)
  • Tampons (extremely expensive in Ecuador)
  • Makeup (U.S. brands are expensive here)


Most of the following items can be bought in Quito, but they will cost more than they do in the United States and may be of lesser quality. Dishes, eating utensils, and spices can be found locally at reasonable prices. You will receive a cookbook during training.

  • General cookbook and favorite recipes
  • Water bottle (Nalgene is recommended)
  • Small steamer basket
  • Nonstick frying pan (if you require the best quality)
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Paring knife
  • Garlic press
  • Plastic storage bags
  • Spices (except lemon pepper) are available locally


  • Two pairs sheets (full size is recommended) and pillowcases (available locally—prices vary according to quality)
  • Towels (available locally—prices vary according to quality)
  • Film (expensive locally)
  • Portable music player
  • Charger and rechargeable batteries
  • Sunglasses (with UV protection-IMPORTANT)
  • Laptop computer (very useful for projects and communicating)
  • Collapsible umbrella (available locally)
  • Combination lock
  • Wide colored markers and other art supplies (available locally, but expensive)
  • Decorations for your room or apartment (e.g., posters, maps, and postcards of your hometown)
  • Favorite books and “how to” books with illustrations (Many Volunteers teach English formally or informally so “Ingles Para Dummies” or other related is a good resource)
  • Flea collars, if you plan to have a pet
  • Equipment for hobbies, such as sewing patterns (expensive and hard to find in Ecuador) and musical instruments (you can buy a good handmade guitar in Ecuador)
  • Favorite games, Frisbee, Nerf footballs, etc.
  • Knapsack or day pack (IMPORTANT)
  • Medium-size backpack or duffel bag for weekend travel (available locally, but expensive)
  • Photos of family and friends (IMPORTANT)
  • Pillow, if you have a favorite one
  • Pocket calculator, if you will need it for your work
  • Sleeping bag (useful if you plan to travel a lot)
  • Small flashlight (a headlamp is better)
  • Small pocket calendar or daily planner (available locally)
  • Shortwave radio
  • Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool
  • Travel alarm and watch (nothing flashy or expensive)
  • Small tool kit (available locally, but expensive so only bring if you would normally use one)
  • U.S. stamps (to send letters with staff or Volunteers traveling to the United States)

Remember, after training you will have to get all of your luggage to your site by yourself and only a few of you will live in big cities with good public transportation. So if you bring it, you will have to carry it! Big suitcases with wheels don’t work too well on dirt or gravel roads. There will also be many Volunteers completing their two years of service about the time you begin your service, so they will have many items to sell.