Late March 2008 I ventured across from Vancouver, Canada to Quito, Ecuador.
With me came my backpack, a good friend, a passport, cash (no cheques), and a copy of Lonely Planet. And everything came back with me. There is one quick way to discover the base of your friendships - travel with someone and you learn how stubborn, witty, silly, flirty, pigheaded, rude, friendly, accommodating, kind, generous a person really is. Luckily for me this time it worked out. Both of us had our faults (I really don't snore - okay maybe when I've had a few drinks) but we worked it out and the memories are positive.
Some South American Ecuador hints:
1/ Make sure your passport is up-to-date
2/ Photocopy your wallet
3/ At least 6 weeks out check to see your medical shots are up to date. I didn't and I didn't become sick but I was a tad concerned.
4/ Take plenty of USA $1 (I took 50 single bills; next time I would take 100 single bills) - especially if you are leaving the larger cities
5/ Pack stuff that you can leave behind - it is a great way to travel, not only do you leave some decent clothing behind but you replace the contents with new discoveries helping the local economy
6/ Plan ahead of time - this is one piece of advice I don't follow often enough. I figure that as long as I have covered the basics I'm okay.
7/ Take some soft covered books - a few extras - as the one thing I found strange was that I often could not buy any books but it was easy to exchange books.