When preparing for a trip to the Galapagos, it's important to remember that the small archipelago imposes fairly strict luggage restrictions. You'll be limited to checked baggage of just 20 kilograms, or 44 pounds, and carry-on hand luggage of 7 kilos, or 15 pounds.
You'll arrive to the Galapagos either through Ecuador's capital city of Quito or through the port city of Guayaquil. In either case, I recommend book-ending your trip - before and/or after - by spending a night in either city. This helps cure any jetlag or sleepiness from a long international flight, and is a nice way to relax before a long flight home.
Related video: How I pack 6 months of travel into just 3 pieces of luggage
Spending a night in Quito or Guayaquil is also a good idea in order to store your luggage. If you plan to extend your stay in South America and explore Ecuador and/or the neighboring country of Peru, you may want to pack more than the luggage limits allow for the Galapagos. Check with your hotel (or work with a travel professional, like me!) to coordinate luggage storage while you are in the Galapagos.
Here is a smart packing list for your trip to the Galapagos Islands:
- Sunscreen. Purchasing toiletries on-board a cruise or in Puerto Ayora, the archipelago's main town, is expensive! Avoid high tourist prices and bring waterproof SPF 50 or higher, since the Galapagos straddles the equator, and be sure to re-apply liberally! There's no better way to ruin the vacation of a lifetime than by being burnt to a crisp.
- GoPro Camera. The Galapagos dazzles visitors, both on land and under the water, and it would be a shame to capture only half of that on camera. Invest in a high-quality underwater camera, like a GoPro, to share the action with your friends and family. Be on the lookout for sea turtles, marine iguanas, playful sea lions, and several species of sharks!
- Binoculars. While much of the wildlife in the Galapagos is "ecologically naive," meaning they are unfazed by humans and will walk right up to you, you'll also want to bring a strong pair of binoculars to see wildlife from a distance - especially the islands' wide variety of birds!
- Travel Telescope. If you're a stargazer, there are few places on earth that offer darker skies than the Galapagos. Located 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador, and with virtually no artificial light, the Milky Way glows with its 100 billion-or-so stars. If you sail aboard the Santa Cruz II, check out the skydeck on the top level for an exquisite view of the cosmos.
Take a look inside my suitcase to see what clothes I'm packing for my trip to the Galapagos Islands. I try to keep clothing neutral and in a complementary color palette. Water and rain should also be a consideration, so make sure your clothing is quick-drying or water-resistant.
The Galapagos Islands is truly a nature-lover's paradise and ranks as one of my all-time favorite travel experiences. I hope this packing list for the Galapagos Islands is helpful in your own travel plans.
One of my greatest passions is sharing this unique destination with my clients. If you're interested in planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands (you should!) then click the button below to take the first step.