What an adventure. Just make sure you bring your own paper maps. (do not rely solely on GPS or digital maps) And brush up on basic car mechanic skills. Be able to change a tire. Carry extra water, gas and a few tools. And don't forget your dictionary. about 5 years ago
Good comments from jacquiewhitt.
It doesn't say where you're coming from or what your background is so very generally I'll say:
For safety: -- don't take many valuables/spread out your valuables. Don't resist giving your valuables if you do get robbed, just give it away. Since you're driving you should read about what are the driving customs in Ecuador compared to where you are from. THIS is key http://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g294307-i2253-k4170961-Driving_in_Ecuador-Ecuador.html
Tourism: for when you plan to be in Quito contact Home Voyage ahead of time http://www.homevoyage.com.ec/index.php/en and they can hook you up with tours or any experiences you'd like. Ask about learning to salsa dance, restaurants with a view, or historic center of town at night.
Food: you should try:
Ceviches: go to Cebiches de Ruminahui or Pim's
Morocho: hot breakfast drink/cereal, small shops/vendors
Hugo de Naranjilla (con alfalfa): fresh citrus juice/smoothie from El Mercado Central
Chocolate Caliente con Queso: Cafe Mosaico down the street from Itchimbia
Canelazo de Mora and fresh Empanadas walking down La Calle Ronda in Quito
Hamburger: GET A TROPIBURGER, I rarely eat fastfood, but I've had an incredible burgers there... They used to have one served with a fried egg on it but I'm not sure anymore.
Delicious Peruvian food: Segundo Muelle
Encebollado: lots of little restaurants, this is the cure for early mornings after late nights.
Also try hornado, fritada, humitas, tamales, llapingachos, lomo saltado, and churrasco (my favourite), just ask the locals where to get it! about 5 years ago