Know Before You Go: Ecuador & the Galapagos | EF Ultimate Break

Ecuador & the Galapagos

Know Before You Go

It's almost time to go abroad! Take a couple minutes to read up on the ins and outs of your trip before you leave. When it comes travel tricks of the trade, we're quite the experts. And with this guide, so are you.

Getting There

Flights/Checking In

Your flight information will slide into your DMs (AKA online account) 30 days before departure. This is usually when you get to choose your seat and have the age-old internal debate: window or aisle? Some airlines will make the selections for you, so be sure to talk with the gate agent at the airport if you have a preference. Like being ahead of the game? You can check in for your flight 24 hours prior to your trip using the confirmation number found in your online account. If you’re more of a “wait ‘til the last minute” kind of person, no worries. You can always check in at the airport upon arrival. Either way, we recommend arriving to the airport 2-3 hours before departure.

Note: All your ticket information is online (e-ticket), so you will not receive a physical paper ticket before you depart. You’re welcome, trees.

Checking a Bag

Due to airline restrictions on your internal flights, a checked bag is not included in your reservation. This means you are allotted a carry-on (small roller bag, a duffle or backpack) and a personal item like a purse or small bag that can fit beneath your seat.

Arrival Day

After getting off the plane—and probably hitting up the airport bathroom—you’ll need to meet up with your Tour Director or EF Ultimate Break representative in the Arrival Hall. Your Tour Director will send you arrival specifics (where to meet, how to find them) a few days before departure via email or Facebook. Once the rest of your group arrives, you will head to the accommodations together.

Travel Documents

For U.S. citizens, no visa is necessary (except of the credit card variety). All you need to bring is your passport. And not to sound like your grandma, but make sure you double check that your passport is valid for six months after your expected return date. Also, be sure to have photocopies of your passport and an additional photo ID, such as a driver’s license. For non-U.S. citizens, you should contact your embassy to find out what specific documentation is needed.

Transit Card: Be aware that when it's time to head to the Galapagos, you’ll need to buy a US $20 Transit Control Card at the INGALA counter in the Quito airport. This card must be paid for in cash and will be used when entering and leaving the islands.

Adapters/Converters

Outlets in Ecuador are the same as in the United States. We recommend that you pack a 3 to 2 prong adapter, as the power socket types can vary from place to place.

Packing

Pack in layers, bring the essentials, and you’re golden. Like an onion, it’s all about the layers. Keep in mind that you’ll have to carry your luggage from city to city, so the lighter the better.

You should bring the following:

  • Light jacket or windbreaker
  • Comfortable, closed-toed walking shoes
  • Nicer outfits for the city (sundresses, jeans, basically not athletic wear)
  • Hat/sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Swimsuit
  • Microfiber towel
  • Water shoes for rafting and hikes
  • Water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Bug spray
  • Water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Rain jacket/umbrella
  • Sea sickness medication for the Galapagos portion

We recommend bringing a cross-body bag that zips close instead of a backpack. This will help you keep track of your belongings better and will help dissuade pickpockets.

On The Ground

Money

The US dollar is the official currency of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. We suggest budgeting $60-$80 per day for your meals, shopping, free time activities, tipping, and any Tour Director-suggested excursions. Be sure to let your bank know ahead of time that you will be traveling to Ecuador, and make sure your credit or debit card has an international chip. That said, we recommend you order small bills in USD from your bank beforehand. Whether on the mainland or island, plan to carry good ol 5s and 10s because Ecuador is a country without change in most restaurants and businesses.

Currencies used: US Dollar

Phones & Internet

We recommend you get an international data package from your cell phone provider. This way you can use your phone to share Instaworthy moments, pull up Google maps to navigate a new city, and stay in touch with your Tour Director and fellow travelers during free time. WiFi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, but trust us—you’ll want the international data plan to stay connected.

Tour Director/Local guides

Your full-time Tour Director, AKA local rock star, will be with your group from start to finish. They are either from Europe or have lived there for many years. From time to time, you might also have a local guide to show you around specific attractions. For both your Tour Director and local guides, it is customary to tip for a job well done.

Recommended tipping amounts in local currency are:

  • $33 – $55 for the Tour Director (given at the end of the trip))
  • $1 – $3 per day for local bus driver(given after tour)
  • $1 – $3 for local guides (given after tour)

Transportation

You’re traveling throughout Ecuador and the Galapagos, and since teleportation hasn’t been invented yet, it takes time to get to each place. The majority of travel will be done via private motor coach, plane, and speed boat. Use this time to catch up on sleep, organize and find the perfect filter for your photos, read, chat it up with your friends, or invent a new bus game. You’ll notice that there are very few cars on the islands, and people get around mostly on foot or by roller scooter. Also note that the internal flight on the way back from San Cristobal has a stop in Guayaquil... kind of like a bus stop! After the short pause, you'll continue on to Quito.

Tour Tempo

We’re not Burger King, but you can still have it your way. We lay the ground work for the must-see sights, but also include plenty of free time for you to do your own thing. Your Tour Director might schedule some additional excursions during free time (10/10 would recommend), so check with them before making any reservations in case of a schedule change. This is YOUR trip, and we want to help you make the most of it!

Local Food

Seafood galore and an abundance of fresh, exotic fruits. You’ll have the chance to sample a variety of local dishes during this trip. Please inform your Tour Consultant of any dietary restrictions before the trip. Vegetarians should pack protein bars and additional snacks, as their options may be slightly limited. As for the water situation, tap water is NOT safe to drink. The hotel should provide everyone with one complimentary water a day. Be prepared to buy additional bottled water and in the islands bottled water should be used to brush your teeth.

Foods to try: seafood rice, ceviche, chica de yucca, green plantain dumplings, ice creams

Accommodations

When in South America, you’ll live like the South Americans do. That means you’ll be staying in hotels and boutique hostels that are smaller than American rooms, and they won’t typically have air conditioning. In standard rooming, you’ll have up to five other travelers of the same gender. Roommates are assigned by your Tour Director and announced at the first accommodation. If there’s an issue, talk to your Tour Director—that’s what they’re there for!

Keep In Mind

Weather

Hot and humid during the day, with a possibility of cooler temperatures at night. To get the most recent weather information, you should add the cities you’ll be visiting to your weather app.

Safety

Here are some important “Rules of the Road” to think about while you’re traveling. We want you to have fun during your vacation, and most of all we want you to be safe—so here are some helpful tips to #playsafe while you’re abroad & especially when you’re out at night.


  • Take care of your personal belongings. Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box, and refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
  • Don’t be a party of one. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
  • Before you go out, grab a business card at each hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
  • At the end of a night out, use transportation options you trust like a licensed taxi or rideshare app such as Uber or Cabify (Ecuador's version of Uber). Have cash on hand—splitting a taxi with your fellow travelers is a good way to save money too.
  • Be smart about alcohol consumption. You know the drill: Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met. Pace yourself and know your limits. Take care of each other out there!
  • You’re going to have a blast—day & night—on this trip, and we’re here for you around the clock if you ever need anything. Save our 24/7 number in your phone now: +1–617–619–1411.

Miscellaneous

When it comes to free time, think about what your interests are and research what you want to do before your trip. That way you can maximize the time in each city you visit and check a lot of things off your list. Before leaving, speak to your primary physician about any recommended vaccinations/medications you may need.

You’re traveling throughout Ecuador! (You know, in case you forgot.) Now is the time to be brave—try new foods, make new friends, and go outside your comfort zone.


Bon voyage!

back to top