The Ultimate Galapagos Packing List to Ensure You Have the Best Time

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The Galapagos Islands has a ton of restrictions on what you can bring in. Read this ultimate Galapagos packing list to learn what to bring.

You’ve finally made up your mind! You’ve chosen the Galapagos Islands as your next vacation spot. You’ve heard about the clear blue waters, the amazing wildlife, and the breathtaking zip lines, and you’re ready to book your flight!

However, traveling to such a remote destination will definitely require a different wardrobe than dashing off to San Diego for the weekend.

If you’re ready to start packing but aren’t sure where to start, keep reading for our ultimate Galapagos packing list!

General Travel Tips

The number one item that so many people seem to forget on their trip is common sense. Not to say travelers are stupid! Far from it!

However, while you’re busy overthinking what to pack and trying to guess how many clownfish you’ll see on your dives, it can be easy to forget about basic traveling essentials.

Passport

This one is supposedly a no-brainer, but people going on cruises can often forget how important their passports are. While the cruise ship is technically “American soil,” any excursions that require you to leave the boat and go ashore with officially be in a foreign country.

Of course, if your main destination is the cruise ship bar, this won’t be a problem.

Cash or Credit Cards

In your home country, you may be used to an ATM around every corner. However, during your travels, you should always have a small amount of cash on you at all times. Certain places only take cash, and in some tropical places, ATM’s can only be found at hotels and airports.

That being said, it isn’t necessarily safe to have cash alone. Having large amounts of cash on you can be inconvenient and draw unwanted attention. Always have a credit card on hand in case you need to pull larger amounts for special occasions.

It’s always best to bring credit cards rather than debit cards on your travels. If a credit card is stolen, you can immediately report it, and any transactions made are canceled and don’t affect your budget. However, if your debit card is stolen, that lost money can’t be retrieved.

Medications

Of course, medications for things like cholesterol, blood pressure, and thyroid should be brought along on a trip. Many travelers fail to prepare for health concerns that can pop once they get to their destination.

For example, if this is your first cruise or vacation to the tropics, you may not know whether or not you get seasick. It’s best to pack some Dramamine or ginger tablets to help with possible motion sickness.

Aspirin is another good over-the-counter medication to have on vacations that involve lots of physical activity. You never know when you’ll get sore from a long hike.

Schedule Your Flight a Day Early

This is less of an item and more of a travel tip. Most people visit the Galapagos Islands via a cruise line. If that’s the case, you’ll want to arrive at the port city at least a day early. That way you can relax, check your luggage, and get some rest before running to catch the ship.

Vacations are stressful enough without having to worry about the airline misplacing the luggage.

If you’re interested in a Galapagos cruise but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got the perfect site to help. Check it out!

The Ultimate Galapagos Packing List

Now that you paperwork, monies, and medication figured out, it’s time to start packing your bags! Here’s our list of fourteen things you can’t forget to pack before visiting the Galapagos Islands.

1. A Durable Duffle Bag

If you’re taking a trip to Paris or Tokyo, you can get away with a square, reinforced suitcase. But, when traveling to the Galapagos, that kind of luggage isn’t going to cut it.

For a trip like this, you’ll want something flexible and durable that can handle the stress of being tossed around. A large duffle bag or backpack is perfect for carrying all of your hiking shoes and sports clothes. A good-sized bag will carry about 100 liters, and it’s worth spending a little extra for one that won’t fall apart on your trip.

2. Sunscreen SPF 50 or Above

All children are constantly nagged by their parents about putting on sunscreen.

Because, ya know, skin cancer is bad.

While we know you know this, it’s worth adding to the list because the Galapagos are much closer to the equator than most people are used to. That means that it’s hotter, and UV-rays are stronger. To prevent getting burned to a crisp, you’ll have to use sunscreen with a higher SPF, and you’ll need to apply it more often.

3. Sunglasses with Security Strap

We all have a father or grandfather who wore security straps on their eyewear in every vacation picture. It’s not the most stylish accessory ever, but you might rethink it once you arrive at the Galapagos.

Tropical vacations usually involve a lot of hiking, diving, snorkeling, and other group activities. If you’re always moving around, you’ll want something that will keep your sunglasses on your head and out of the water.

Those new Raybans might look great on Instagram, but they won’t do you much good at the bottom of the ocean.

4. A Sunhat or Bandanas

More sun protection?

Yes.

Because skin cancer is bad.

Most people will lather up their arms and legs with sunscreen and completely forget about the most vulnerable parts of their body. Your scalp, hairline, and ears are closer to the sun than any other part of your body. They’ll be the first to burn.

However, this is easily prevented by wearing a sunhat or baseball cap. If hats aren’t your style or you don’t have enough room in your bag, simply stuff in a few bandanas to tie around your head during those long hikes.

5. Water Bottles

When we say water bottles, we don’t mean little plastic ones you buy in the hotel lobby. We mean metal sport water bottles!

It’s better to have something you can hook to your daypack and refill over and over again rather than praying you don’t run out of hotel water bottles.

6. T-Shirts and Safari Shirts

Island trips are hot and humid, but that doesn’t mean only packing tank tops. Leaving your skin too exposed can lead to skin damage and actually heat your body up faster.

To keep cool, it’s best to pack t-shirts, safari shirts, and ultra-light long sleeve shirts. These will allow your sweat glands to breath without subjecting your skin to the elements.

7. Light Jacket or Windbreaker

One of the (few) downsides to a glorious trip to the Galapagos is the possibility of tropical storms. While these don’t normally happen during the travel season, it’s always best to be prepared.

Bring a light windbreaker or jacket for rain or if it ever gets cold at night. The best beach bonfires always require some sort of light jacket or blanket.

8. Hiking Shorts and Pants

Experienced hikers will tell you that wearing jeans and denim shorts on a hike is the worst mistake a traveler can make. Thick fabrics will absorb sweat, weigh you down, and eventually cause chaffing.

The best way to avoid this is to only bring shorts and pants that are specifically made for the outdoors. Just like safari shirts, they’ll help keep your body cool rather than heating it up.

9. Hiking Shoes

In the Galapagos, a good amount of your time will be spent hiking through lush forests, over island hills, and long beaches. If you try to do all of that in regular sneakers, your feet will be screaming in pain by the third day.

A pair of quality hiking shoes will be expensive, but they’re well worth the investment to provide arch and ankle support on every excursion. You’ll even be able to use them again for your next trip to the Rockies!

10. Breathable Hiking Socks

As good of an idea as hiking shoes are, they’re useless without an equally good pair of hiking socks. You can find these at sports stores as well as regular stores like Walmart and Target. Anything labeled “work socks” or “construction socks” will work the same way.

Don’t get anything that is 100% wool. While they might feel extremely soft, they hold in moisture and will leave your feet pruney and smelly at the end of the day. Wool or cotton blends will provide plenty of cushion while allowing your feet to breath.

11. Water Shoes or Boat Shoes

Even if you aren’t going on a day-long hike, a trip to the beach will still require protective footwear. Save room in your duffle bag for a pair of water shoes or sandals to protect your feet from sharp rocks and hidden coral reefs.

If you want to spend a lot of time scuba diving, boat shoes are always a more fashionable option when strolling from boat to boat.

12. A Small Backpack or Fanny Pack

It’s always a good idea to leave room in your duffle bag for a smaller daypack. In the Galapagos, you’ll need to have things like extra shoes, sunglasses, and sunscreen on you at all times.

If you don’t have room in your duffle bag or backpack, you can use this smaller bag as your carry-on for the initial flight to the islands.

Now You’re Ready to Go

Now that you’ve used our Galapagos packing list to get all your stuff in one bag, you’re ready to go! Now it’s time to decide if you want to go on a cruise or traverse the Galapagos Islands on your own.

If you can’t make up your mind, read my blog about my experience on a luxury Galapagos cruise. For any other questions about travel destinations or advice, contact me any time!


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