Ecuador is not known for being the cheapest Latin American country to travel in, but compared to European prices you can still travel comfortably on a budget. If anything, the flight over to Ecuador is the most expensive part.
I found some things to be very good value, like the public transport (although bus travel down south crept up in price) whilst trips to the Galapagos and food in more touristy areas like La Mariscal in Quito could feel steep. Some hostels and hotels charged prices similar to back home in the UK but cheaper options are easy to find if you do just a little searching. Here’s an idea of some costs from autumn 2011:
|Water (1.5 litre bottle)||$0.60||£0.38|
|Hostel dorm bed (often B&B)||$7-$12||£4.39- £7.53|
|Meal: almuerzo (inc. Drink)||$2.50-$4||£1.57-£2.51|
|Meal: menu dishes||$6-$15||£3.77-£9.42|
|Taxi across town||$2-$4||£1.26-£2.51|
|Taxi to bus terminals||$8-$12||£5.02-£7.53|
|Bus about town (i.e. Trolle bus in Quito)||$0.25||£0.16|
|Bus travel (per hour)||$1||£0.63|
Travelling solo ends up costing considerably more, not so much for accommodation (so long as you’re happy sleeping in dorms) but more in terms of getting taxis to bus terminals. In Quito this is especially the case where the majority of buses leave from Terminal Quitumbe (south) and Terminal Carcelén/Terminal Terrestre (north), both a good half hour drive away from the main hostel areas ($10 or thereabouts).
I’ve found checking into a hostel with a kitchen, doing a supermarket shop and then cooking for myself is a good way to stick to a budget in more expensive areas.
*prices and conversions correct as of 10/11/2011 using a conversion rate of £1.00 = $1.59/ $1.00 = £0.63 from XE.com. Ecuador have used the US dollar as their official currency since 2000.