Monday, May 16, 2016

36 items, 100+ outfits

36 items, 100+ outfits

Packing for a 6 week Ecuador trip in one bag (Only 36 items, including accessories!)

So, I mentioned in this post and this post some of the packing complications I experienced with this 6 week Ecuador trip.  But, there were some bright sides to what I brought, and it made me want to plan out an ideal packing list for this trip.  These are the items I packed that I did wear, with the few pieces I wish I had packed added.   

This packing list would work well for those traveling to higher elevation locations, like Quito or Cuenca (and probably other similarly high altitude cities in South America), especially in the rainy season (hence the duck shoes, which wouldn't be needed in the dry season).  These pieces also fit in well with the fashion sense of those locations, so you'll notice they are a bit more dressy than the typical backpacker's wardrobe (which fit my dress code for the volunteer teaching work I did while there).   You really need to layer, as it's quite cool in the morning and evening, and quite warm (and often sunny) in the afternoons.  Most homes don't have heating or air conditioning, so you'll want some cozy options when you're home in the cooler times of day.

You would need more shorts and swimwear and less pants if you're traveling to the hot and humid coastal areas.  In Guayaquil, it's boiling hot, but stick with a skirt or light pants with a tank top to fit in - shorts will immediately identify you as a visitor (and you don't want to stand out in Guayaquil).  Other than in casual beach towns, Ecuadorians don't wear shorts, so the shorts for this packing list are only added for wearing in the house, or for in case you visit the coast.  You could wear shorts and sandals on warmer afternoons in Quito or Cuenca, but you'll definitely stand out as a non-native (and you'd have to change when it starts to get cool in the evening).  For me, I prefer to attempt to blend in.  (If you're already tall and fair, do what you want, because you'll already look obviously non-native.)

I'll add some outfit ideas using these items in another post.  I counted at least 60 possible outfits without even adding layers, and varying the accessories would add many more options.  To be honest, I think this packing list would also work very well for a spring or fall trip to Europe.

If you wear your biggest pieces on the plane (tee, chambray shirt, gray sweater, raincoat, black pants/jeans, slip on sneakers), you should be able to fit the remaining pieces in a rolling carry-on suitcase.  And don't forget an umbrella!

If you're interested in buying any of the items pictured below, just click on the picture.


1. White tank top
2. Gray sleeveless top
3. Short-sleeved striped tee
4. Graphic tee
5. Relaxed black tee
6. Chambray or denim button-front shirt (to be worn as a top layer also)
7. Lightweight 3/4 sleeve white cardigan
8. Long heavier gray draped cardigan
9. Black blazer (this would be optional if you are traveling more casually)


1. Olive shorts
2. Dressy black shorts
3. Flared gray skirt (could be replaced with a maxi skirt)
4. Stretchy floral pencil skirt
5. Stretchy black pencil skirt
6. Bright colored relaxed lightweight pant
7. Neutral colored sport pant
8. Black skinny ankle pant or jean
9. Dark to medium wash skinny ankle jean


1. Solid light colored baseball cap
2. Straw sun hat
3. Solid large lightweight scarf
4. Patterned large square silk scarf (in colors that coordinate with your clothing)
5. Cognac belt
6. Cognac sandals
7. Neutral duck shoes
8. Neutral slip on sneakers (make sure they are comfortable for walking)
9. Black ballet flats (I used my Cole Haan Air flats, which were comfortable for all day, even the days we walked a total of 9 miles)


1. Striped long sleeve rash guard (can be used as a top, also!)
2. Dark swim suit (so that you won't stain it if you go to the mud baths/spa in Banos)
3. Inexpensive stud earrings 
4. Inexpensive drop earrings
5. Inexpensive long necklace
6. Inexpensive watch
7. Small cross-body bag
8. Small to medium daypack (great for toting market finds home)
9. Waterproof, hooded raincoat

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kind of an outfit post...

Activity: City sightseeing, Cuenca, Ecuador

Top: Old Navy, this season (similar, similar)
Sweater: Banana Republic Factory, old (similar)
Jeans: LOFT, last season (similar)
Shoes: Cole Haan Air (exact - reviewed here - so comfortable!)
Hat: Forever 21, this season (exact)
Bag: thrifted (similar)
Watch: Timex via ebay (similar)
Earrings: sterling silver ball studs via eBay (similar)

In the sense that I did wear this, I suppose it is an outfit.  Maybe even not as bad as I think. But my packing for this trip got complicated, since we were moving out of our apartment and putting our things into storage at the same time we were packing for a 6 week trip.  Then, once I had already packed my suitcase for traveling, and put the rest of my clothes into storage, a large earthquake destroyed Canoa, the small beach town where we had planned to go (and packed for).  Our revised destination was Cuenca, an inland mountain city with completely different weather than the coast, and quite a different sense of style.  I tried adjusting what I could before we left, but you can only pull so many things out of bins in the hallways of a storage facility, only to have to repack and restack them.  So, I the clothes I have with me are definitely not what I would have packed had I originally planned for this destination.  

I spent the first week or so of vacation pouting about it.  Now I've adjusted my attitude, and have made the best of it.  I plan to do a packing list, based on what worked and didn't work for this trip. And, although this wasn't exactly the outfit I might have planned, it's still just fine.  Maybe what I least like is the fit of these jeans after I lost just enough weight to change how they fit.  That's easily remedied when I have access to my whole wardrobe.  

Anyway, here's some fun shots from the clothing market here in Cuenca. We've looked at many markets and shops over the past two weeks, and I haven't bought anything yet, hoping to narrow it down to just one or two key items I'll love (and use) for a long time to come, rather than lots of little trinkets that gather dust or eventually get donated.  So far, I'm leaning toward one of the indigenous skirts pictured below (to be paired with my regular clothes), and maybe an embroidered off-the-shoulder top.  We'll see.  Maybe I won't even do that.  After all, seeing my friends from Canoa, who lost all their material things in that earthquake, is a strong reminder of what really matters, and it's not clothes, nor houses, nor things.