Ecuador – Taina Paredes (2013)

1. Make sure to visit your doctor and get all of the vaccinations and medications that you may need, especially if you are travel to different places in a country. In Ecuador, there are several health risks including malaria and altitude sickness. You want to be prepared and informed.
2. Get locks for your suitcases. There are several cases of robberies with airport luggage in Quito.
3. Travel through a specific organized program that you have done your research on. I originally was going to travel to Ecuador through another teaching organization. However, it proved itself to be very unprofessional and sketchy, leaving me with many unanswered questions and scared for my safety. I found out volunteers of the program previously had some of the same experiences, were not prepared for their trip to Ecuador, and many times were mugged or put into danger due to this. Luckily, due to my research and awareness, I was able to find a program that was well known, safe, gave me all the details of my travel. You don’t want to put yourself in danger at your own fault.
4. Make several copies of your passport and ONLY carry around copies. When you are out and about, the best form of identification is your passport. However, you do not want to lose it or have anything happen to it, so keep it safe and secured at your place of stay, and carry a copy whenever you are heading out.

5. Try to stay with someone from the community. This is a way of fitting into and emerging in the community and culture a bit faster. It will also help to get you more accustomed to the language, which is essential as the majority do not speak or understand English. It also serves as a safety precaution, as they know the do’s and don’ts of the community and can give you great pointers all throughout your trip.

6. Arrange for a cab to pick you up from the airport that has been recommended by someone you trust. This way is safer than just taking any cab that comes by the airport. If you do not have this luxury, make sure the cab has a certified cab number on it. If it does not, wait until you find one that does.
7. Always carry a purse that goes over your shoulder, and that does not have precious belongings in it. Quito is a beautiful city but there are still many thefts that go on, especially on buses. Make sure to hold them near to you on buses, as there are possibilities of theft and bag slashes. A small shoulder bag gives you more security and if, by chance, something were to happen, you will not have lost much.
8. Be careful about what you eat and drink. The water all over Ecuador is very different from the water in the United States, and can make you very sick. Several of the foods, particularly from street vendors, are cooked by this water without first sterilizing it. You do not want to be on a trip and sick. It will make you vulnerable and miserable.
9. Always plan your routes ahead of time, with full detail. Figure out which walkways and buses you need to take, and alternative routes. Get home before dark if you are alone, although it is best to travel in pairs or groups at all times, for security purposes and less vulnerability.
10. If you are going to a bar or club at night, do not drink a lot. Alcohol in Ecuador is much cheaper, but you put yourself at risk when drinking alcohol, even if you are legal in the country. Make smart and safe choices while still having fun.