If you’re planning on visiting the Galapagos Islands, you’re in luck! This remote chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean are home to some of the most unique and breathtaking wildlife on the planet. However, this doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to get there—or to stay there! The Galapagos Islands are full of tourists from all over the world who want to take in its natural wonders…but these costs don’t have to be prohibitive, either!
Here are 10 tips on how to travel to the Galapagos on a budget:
1) Get your flights early
Getting your flights and accommodations as early as possible can be a great way to save money on your trip. If you wait until last minute, you’ll likely pay more—sometimes significantly more—for tickets. The earlier you book, the more options you’ll have available. Flights in particular tend to book up quickly, so if your travel dates are flexible, consider booking them first. Hotels in general tend to fill up quickly during popular vacation times, so try booking accommodations before major holidays.
2) Book your hostel ahead of time
One of the most common complaints about travel in general is that it’s really expensive. However, even though traveling can be pricey, there are ways to save money while still having an amazing experience. One way you can cut down on expenses while exploring one of Mother Nature’s natural wonders is by booking your accommodations ahead of time.
3) Download the app!
While traveling to the Galapagos Islands, I’ve heard of travelers who have used their phones and Google Maps in place of guidebooks. Of course, that’s useful—but it has also been known to come with one or two drawbacks. For example, sometimes service is spotty and having Wi-Fi isn’t available. However, there are apps that will help you get around if you need an alternative option.
4) Haggle like you mean it
Whether you’re shopping in local markets or big-box stores, don’t be afraid to haggle. Many times sellers are more than willing to drop their prices if they know they can make it up in volume sales. So before you pull out your wallet, ask yourself, How much would I pay? then counter with a price 20 percent lower than that amount. If all else fails, remember: It doesn’t hurt to ask!
5) Use all resources available online
when looking into traveling to The Galapagos Islands. You should look up their website, as well as sites like Wikipedia and Wikitravel, which will tell you all you need to know about planning your trip. You can also get many good tips by researching others’ experiences through sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp.
6) Buses are an adventure in themselves!
Bus travel is not only an environmentally responsible way to get around, it’s also an adventure in itself. The bus lines are pretty reliable and take you all over Ecuador, which is good because they don’t go too far into the Galapagos Islands. However, there are dozens of operators so be careful when booking that you’re not accidentally booked on one of those awful tourist buses filled with screaming children who just want ice cream!
7) Stay at one location, but explore other islands as well.
Considering how costly travel to and within The Galapagos can be, it is in your best interest (if you want to stick with a budget) to stay at one location, but explore other islands as well. This way, you won’t have to spend nearly as much time on boats between locations. For example, if you are staying at Santa Cruz Island (located in The Galapagos), why not spend two or three days exploring Santa Fe Island too? Your travel experience and wallet will thank you!
8) Do your research before you go.
With or without a budget, it’s important that you do your research. Study maps and guidebooks before you go; ensure that you can find cheap flights; ask around about where it’s best to stay and what there is to see and do. The more prepared you are when you hit Ecuador, the better your trip will be—and if you think ahead enough, maybe even budget-friendly!
9) Fill up water bottles at every opportunity.
If you’re traveling in Ecuador, there are drinking fountains everywhere, so fill up as often as possible. If you can’t get to one of these fountains, find a nearby hotel or restaurant and ask if they have filtered water that customers can use. The filters won’t remove everything, but it will do wonders for your digestive system when you don’t have access to clean drinking water.
10) Above all else, don’t let a travel budget stop you from visiting this magical island.
Money doesn’t have to stand in your way of travel, especially when it comes to traveling to one of South America’s most incredible islands, Isabela Island in Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands are an ecotourism hotspot that feature unique species like giant tortoises and over 1,000 endemic species you can find nowhere else. If you want to visit these unique islands without emptying your bank account, there are affordable ways.