I was recently in Ecuador for two glorious weeks. During my trip I was all over the place, but of course did not hit up everything I would have liked to. Cuenca was one of the destinations that I unfortunately just didn’t have time for, but I did see quite a bit of the country while I was there

Let me help you better understand what to expect when traveling to Ecuador by sharing my travel experience, what I learned, recommendations and more. In this article I will share tips on booking your trip and what to expect during your arrival in Ecuador.

Booking a Trip to Ecuador

Yes, it is 100% possible to book everything on your own, allowing for the most flexibility. However, I don’t like to plan. I like to have someone else arrange everything so I can just kind of show up. So, if you are like me and want to keep things simple and stress-free book through an agency.

I booked my trip through an agency called Gate1 and they were stellar. The only downside of booking a package is that you really don’t have control over what you see and do. Everything is planned for you, at least with the package I booked. I am sure there are more flexible travel packages out there so you may have to do a little homework to find the right package for you or end up booking everything yourself.

Arriving in Ecuador

Depending on where you are traveling from and what airline, you may have a layover. I had a layover in Atlanta and then in Quito. A couple of tips with layovers:

  • International layovers – I would recommend having at least two hours. Anything less you may risk missing your connecting flight due to having to go through security.
  • Overnight layovers – Be aware that if you have an overnight layover likely nothing in the airport will be open. Plan accordingly for this – think about packing snacks, entertainment, a pillow and blanket in your carry on.
  • Long layovers – Sometimes your layovers may be 10+ hours. This is enough time to leave the airport otherwise you can check if you can buy a lounge pass. I will get more into lounge passes later. For these long layovers be sure you have a pillow and blanket in your carry on so you can try and get some sleep to pass time.
  • Long travel time – With layovers the travel time can get quite long, mine was in total almost 30hrs to arrive in Ecuador – ouch! Pack your carry on for this. Think about packing an extra set of clothes, toothbrush and toothpaste, body wipes, and anything else that might help you to freshen up and feel a little cleaner. For whatever reason traveling this amount of time just leaves you feeling dirty and freshening up can be a lifesaver.

Now once you arrive in Ecuador be prepared that most people do not speak English. Spanish is the native language and knowing some Spanish will greatly help you. If not, get your translator app ready.

You will also need to go through customs. My experience was super easy, but customs and security does vary so no guarantees it will be as painless as mine was. Just be prepared with all your paperwork and passport. Have everything in hand and filled out to avoid any hang ups. In general when you go through customs you will need:

  • Your passport – make sure it is signed and valid.
  • Declaration forms – these are normally given to you on your flight into the country so make sure you have a pen in carry on to fill out the form before you arrive.
  • Fresh fruits, plants, meats, etc. are generally not allowed or you will need to declare these items – avoid the headache and just avoid bringing these items with you.
  • You will be asked a few questions about your stay – I mentioned most people do not speak English, but the custom folks normally do speak English.
  • Know where you are staying and for how long.

Be Prepared for Discomfort

Traveling can be uncomfortable and be prepared you will experience discomfort at some point. Now this may be physical discomfort from being cramped on the plane or trying to sleep on an airport bench or you may just feel out of place in a foreign country. This is normal. Take a deep breath and know it’s temporary. Stay positive and remember if you set out to have a terrible time, you will have a terrible time. This is your vacation and set out to enjoy it even if there are some bumps in the road.

Do yourself a favor and plan for the unexpected. Be prepared to just roll with the punches if your flight is delayed, the ticket counter isn’t open, or if you get pulled aside for an additional security check. These things happen, do yourself a favor and hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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