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What's in my Bag? {Summer Active Adventures Edition}

The last day of our summer active adventure trip to the Galapagos {blog recap} by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.
leaving on a jet plan back to Quito from Baltra Island in the Galapagos Islands.

For our summer family vacation plans this year, and every year, my friend April jokingly asks if we have made our plans with the query, "What near death experience have y'all decided to have this summer?" I laugh but secretly inside I think she's spot on.

Whereas my dream vacation involves a whole lotta nothing except a beach, clear water, and fruity alcoholic beverages on repeat, oh and a book (that's all I need). The hubs, on the other hand, loves national park adventures. This year we went to the Galapagos Islands, but more about that next week.

We were given a list of packing suggestions and were basically warned - if you don't bring it with you, forget about it. There's no Target or Amazon easy delivery where we're going. Knowing that, I put on my OCD-mom-of-multiples-always-be-prepared purchasing hat on and made my plan, and I'm sharing it now, in case you too are going on any active adventures any time soon. Here's what we packed in our bags...


quick dry, wicking fabric for our active trip (think bike ride, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, mountain climbing)

layers, layers, layers

weather wise...rain jacket, sun hat, layers of both short sleeve and long sleeve shirts

pants for hikes

shorts for bikes and to cover up over bathing suits

I wish I'd brought more relaxed, lounge type clothes, like an easy breezy dress for dinner, but alas I only brought one skirt with me. I'm also glad we each took a fleece jacket - we arrived and it was in the 40s, plus the plane ride was cold too.


If your feet hurt, your trip will suck for sure. Active adventure = on your feet and moving!

Choose appropriate footwear for the weather conditions, location, and activities of your trip. For us: bike through rain forest on a mountain, then hikes up mountains, and a volcano = trail runners for gripping and stability over rocks and dirt etc.

TIP: As these were the heaviest shoes I took, I wore these on the plane to save space in my carryon.

Also think about water Reef flip flops and wedge sandals were fine but I do wish I'd bought a pair of Keens or Merrells like my kids, so that I could have used them on some of our walks since they were more sturdy and covered more of the foot, but in the end the Reefs worked well, and given the fact that we packed for ten days in a carryon, something had to be left behind.

TIP – Don't take brand new shoes!

Don't get me wrong, I love me some new shoes but again, plan ahead and buy your new shoes a couple of weeks before your trip. Why you might ask? Well, first to be sure that the shoe is actually comfortable and that you bought the right size. If the answer to those two questions is yes, then you'll have some time to get those new shoes broken in. Your blister-less feet can thank me later :)


For this particular trip, our tour guide let us know that whatever suitcase we brought down to Ecuador could be left behind at the first hotel on our trip. They provided waterproof duffel bags for us to transfer our stuff into to make it easier to transfer on and off the boats plus obviously keep everything dry! Knowing this was the plan I'm glad we all used packing cubes, so it was easy to stay organized and easy to pack up each day (it was land based, meaning we stayed in hotels, but we traveled to different islands via boat every couple of days).

More detail on the trip itself next week, but every day we packed a lightweight backpack for our excursions. We used lightweight ones from REI that we used for our last active adventure to Bryce and Zion National Parks. They cinch easily at the top and have a seat pad inside that you can use to cop a squat while on a hike. On the days when we were on the water, we threw these all in a big waterproof backpack that I linked below. Worked like a charm :)

Hiking up a volcano on our Summer Active Adventures by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.
hiking up one of the most active volcanoes during our trip to the Galapagos


I could write a novel on miscellaneous but first take a look at the packing list suggestions below.

Bug Repellant!

It needs no explanation other than we forgot ours. Thankfully we found some in the Quito airport, but it was a cream lotion and it was well, weird. Wish I'd brought repellant WIPES - genius and no issues with the TSA. You're welcome.

Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen.

Take it, use it, then repeat. To get around the TSA 3.4 oz limit, we bought multiples of 3.4 oz bottles. Insert eye roll here - it works. We used the waterproof zipper pouches linked below and divided up among our party of five. You'll see zip lock bags on the list too - you never know when one will come in handy. Think snacks, left overs, wrangling smalls or coins, or a waterproof phone bag in an emergency.

Lip Balm + Toiletries

I linked several travel size kits for skin care and also hair care below - genius in every way. I love the Sunday Riley one so much I now have the full size products. I also love me some Virtue hair care - this set was everything I needed on our trip.

Extra Luggage Locks

We had in-room safes (some very rustic), and I wish I'd had an extra one for the one on the first island that had hardware but no lock. A luggage lock would have worked - it also would have been handy for backpacks in larger cities. Call me crazy but I did buy RFID sleeves for our passport and credit cards.

Sun Hat and Sunglasses...with Cords

To keep what you brought on your head! We were on a boat, bikes, and climbing volcanoes, so wind was pretty constant. Had I not had a drawstring on my hat and a strap on my glasses, they would have both been gone with the wind.

TIP: We carried paper copies of our passports and kept them in our locked luggage or safe but also kept a copy on our phones just in case. ALSO if traveling outside the US, we thought it was prudent to register with the local US Embassy on their website, which is how we knew there was a travel warning for Ecuador and we knew to not travel beyond a certain street in Quito. Once again, be prepared.

Speaking of, we will never ever travel again without travel insurance. We had it for the last couple of trips we've taken and this trip proved to us that when you need it, you'll be glad for every penny it cost (assuming you bought it from a reputable insurance company and you read the fine print). Also keep photos of that coverage on your phone as well as paper copies just in case.


The food on our trip was superb but if you have dietary restrictions, or like to snack throughout the day, consider taking your favorites with you, especially if you're traveling to a less suburban area like we did. Again, zip lock bags are your friend if you're a snack lover.

I mention instant coffee and dry creamer on my list below because the hubs and I both are certified coffee addicts, and having to wait until the coffee shop or hotel restaurant opens was honestly an issue, because some days our departure time was extremely early (no, not zero dark thirty, but pretty dang close).


Tip 1 – Be weather wise.

As soon as you know your travel destination, start your research. Nerds that we are, we google phrases like "{insert your trip destination city} weather in {month you're going}" in order to get a feel for what high/low temperatures are along with typical rainfall. We also have a couple of different weather apps on our phones and add future trip locations as soon as we book a trip then occasionally thereafter.

TIP: Set a calendar reminder in your phone ten days out from your departure date and take a look at the 10 day forecast, then check it daily. All of this preparation will serve you well in the long run I promise. For instance, if we hadn't done our due diligence I would have assumed South America in June would be nothing but hot and humid. When we flew in to Quito to start our trip, it was in the 40s since Quito is about 6000 feet above sea level - hence the layers I mentioned above.

Our packing checklist for our active adventure trip to the Galapagos Islands by Nancy Lane Interiors.

Tip 2 – Plan ahead and take stock.

At least a couple of weeks before your trip, I would highly suggest taking the time to think ahead and think about what you'll need for your active adventure. If you're taking a group tour, ask the company for their recommended packing list. If you're rolling on your own, sit down and create your own packing list or at the very least, think through planned activities to figure out what gear you'll need, especially if you're traveling to a far flung locale.

Once you have your list, take the time to dig out any items on your list that you may actually already may own and see what condition things are in. You might actually need to replace something things or buy more of an item depending on the length of your trip.

One last thing...since we were on a boat nearly every day, a friend had warned us to take seasickness medication. I brought a bottle of Dramamine you see linked below but also asked our family doctor for a prescription for seasickness patches. Some of crew opted out for both but I was not going to take any chances. Happy to report no seasickness for our crew of five.

Stay tuned next week to hear about the full extent of our volcano and boat adventures in the Galapagos! And you can find everything I mentioned above and then some in the links below - happy adventuring!

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