Belize

Belize flag

Packing Guidance

This guidance is designed to describe appropriate clothing, the cultural context where you will be living and working, and the professional expectations of your workplace.

As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on checked baggage.


Overview

In general, most items you will need are available in country and locally acquired items are often the best at helping you integrate into your community. However, locally available items may not be the brands, quality, prices, or sizes you are used to. Bringing some key items from home might make your transition to service more comfortable.

This guidance has been compiled by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers and is based on their experience. Use this information as an informal guide as you make your own packing list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect packing list!

This packing guidance is designed to help you think through different categories of items and consider what you might want to bring, considering work expectations, cultural considerations, and your own personal preferences.

Climate

Belize has a subtropical climate, with a wet season spanning from May to October, and a dry season from November to April (the timing of the wet season has been shifting in recent years). Across the year, temperatures range from the low 70s to high 90s with approximately 80 percent humidity, when it’s sunny, it will feel over 100. Peace Corps Volunteers serving in the Youth Empowered by Sports (YES) Project should expect to be active, and to spend significant time outdoors and in the sun during their service.

In consideration of the climate and nature of the project, Volunteers are encouraged to consider packing comfortable active wear in addition to business casual attire.

Items provided in-country

Peace Corps Belize will provide all Volunteers with the following items:

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Smoke/carbon monoxide detector
  • Bicycle helmet
  • Mosquito net (to cover bed)
  • Water filter (if applicable)
  • Life jacket (if applicable)
  • Solar lantern (if applicable)
  • Cell phone SIM card
  • Medical kit (see details on contents in the 'toiletries and medications' section)
Prohibited items

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:

  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Explosives
  • Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
  • Drones
  • Automobiles or motorcycles
  • Flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers
  • Valuables such as precious jewelry or family heirlooms
Drugs

Do not bring any drug that has not been authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes without prior consultation with Office of Health Services Pre-Service. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Illicit drugs, including marijuana and related products such as CBD and herbal substances such as kratom, are prohibited during Peace Corps service, even if they are legal in your home of residence. If you use, possess, or distribute illicit drugs, you will be administratively separated from service.

Clothing

Work attire for Volunteers assigned to the National Sports Council Office and Belizean primary schools will consist of:

  • Cotton, dry fit/quick dry or other athletic shirts and short and long sleeve tops (long sleeve provides sun protection)
  • Dry fit or other athletic shorts/skorts (minimum knee length) and long pants (these can also zip off pants)
  • Quality cotton undergarments (pack a few in an airtight bag so you can have fresh ones available)
  • Sports bras (recommended as appropriate undergarment for youth sports activities)
  • Athletic socks
  • Sunhats and/or baseball caps
  • Lightweight rain jackets
  • Hoodies/sweatshirts and sweatpants (for cooler weather)
  • Gym shoes (cross trainers recommended): if possible, bring at least two pairs, one if you personally enjoy exercising and one for work. They will get muddy in the rainy season so have a backup.
  • Regular size backpack or zipper tote
  • Water bottle (try to get an insulated one to keep water cooler)

Trainees should note that attire for all Peace Corps-sponsored training events and Ministry workshops is business casual. Appropriate attire for these settings include:

  • Chino/khaki pants/dress pants/skirts/dresses
  • Polo or short sleeve button down shirts/blouses
  • Lightweight sweaters, button ups or cardigans (air conditioning in offices is sometimes set very cold. A cardigan, sweater or button up will keep you warm and cover any thin straps, so your outfit will be work appropriate)

Volunteers are sometimes invited to special formal events (i.e., weddings, quinceañeras, church services, funerals) in their towns and villages. The Volunteer Swearing In Ceremony is also a more formal event. On these occasions, Volunteers may wear a knee length or midi dresses (solid color or pattern); or skirts/chino/khaki pants with a nice short- or long- sleeved button up shirt (with or without tie).

Despite the temperature, to conform with local norms Volunteers should wear blouses that cover their shoulders or pack a light cardigan to be worn with any camisoles, tank tops and sleeveless dresses they may bring. Additionally, shorts should be worn under skirts and dresses. Very short shorts (volleyball shorts, running shorts or spandex shorts), sports bras without a shirt, midriff attire, leggings with a t-shirt that doesn’t cover your crotch area and tight clothing are not appropriate for youth sports activities.

We also recommend that Volunteers bring plain cotton or dry fit polos or button ups; for a small fee, the Peace Corps logo can be embroidered on them in country. Current Volunteers recommend that Invitees bring at least two for embroidery.

For in-country needs, there are many thrift clothing shops in the towns and local markets where Trainees and Volunteers will be able to find a variety of used clothing at affordable prices.

Outside of their formal work settings, Volunteers enjoy exercise/sports groups, town outings for shopping, gardening, family gatherings, visiting nearby rivers, beaches, parks, traveling to neighboring towns, and enjoying other outdoor or cultural activities.

When away from work with their host families, in town or with their communities, Volunteers commonly wear:

  • T-shirts
  • Casual tops made of breathable material
  • Athletic attire (exercise shorts no shorter than 5”)
  • Knee-length shorts (including jean shorts, cargo shorts, khaki shorts, etc.)
  • Sun dresses (have a lightweight button up or shirt to cover if the sundress is sleeveless or spaghetti straps)
  • T-shirt or tank top & shorts for swimming
  • Full length jeans (without rips)
  • Sleeveless blouses and dresses
Shoes

Finding quality footwear in Belize can be challenging. For both work and recreation, Volunteers should pack durable and comfortable sneakers/gym shoes (cross trainers are recommended). Current Volunteers recommend two pairs of gym shoes if you plan to exercise outside of work and a nice pair of casual sneakers that could be worn to leisure events.

For formal or special occasions, attending Peace Corps sponsored training events, representing Peace Corps at other trainings and for attending workshops with counterparts, Volunteers should pack a pair of sturdy and comfortable loafers/boat shoes.

Strapped or athletic sandals, foam clogs, and flip flops are also recommended for time outside of work.

Toiletries and medications

You should bring a three-month supply of any prescription and/or over the counter medications you use that are authorized/approved by the Peace Corps.

Note: Prior to service, Peace Corps supplies all volunteers with a medical kit containing basic, over-the-counter medications, as well as multivitamins.

See a detailed list of items included in the medical kit.

The medical unit will replenish prescriptions after the initial three-month training.

If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs (of the current prescription) with you. Contact lens use will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

See additional guidance from the Office of Medical Services.

Hygiene (menstrual) products

  • Hygiene products will be accessible to all menstruating Volunteers, including transgender Volunteers. A self-serve basket of hygiene products for Volunteer will be available in the Health Unit. Peace Corps supplies, at a minimum, tampons (regular and super sizes) and menstrual pads (panty liner, thin and maxi pads). Depending on Volunteer's needs, a supplemental allowance for the purchase of hygiene products may be provided.
  • Accommodating Volunteer requests for specific products will generally not be possible. Preferred brands may be limited in country, as well as certain products, e.g., menstrual cups.
  • At the Pre-Service Training intake interviews, Peace Corps medical officers will describe the available range of products that Peace Corps stocks. During Pre-Service Training and for the first three to four months at site, feminine hygiene products will be provided to Volunteers from the Health Unit stock.

Toiletries

Toiletries such as shampoo, moisturizing lotion, and toothpaste are not considered medically essential products which must be provided by the Health Unit, unless prescribed by a medical provider or dentist. If you have specific brands you like for skincare it is recommend you bring at least a six-month supply of these items. Facial serums, acne cream, moisturizer, toner, acne patches, face masks, eye cream etc., are not readily available here or there is only one option offered at stores. Makeup products are a bit harder to find here as well. However current Volunteers have found local Belize made products that they use and will be happy to share with the next cohort. The same goes for face washes, basic ones (St. Ives, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, Aveeno) can be found here. Cerave is sold here but is much more expensive. Deodorant, basic body wash, shampoo and conditioner can be found here.

Before you stock up on pain medication, cold/flu medication or stomach medication PLEASE look at what is offered in the medical kit below, some of these items are heavy and will take up space you don’t need to take up if it’s provided in the medical kit. The medical staff cannot provide nutritional supplements, protein powder, creatine powder, etc. so if this is something that is part of your usual routine bring enough for at least six months. If you want natural bug spray you will have to bring your own. Some swimming areas only allow reef safe sunscreen so current Volunteers recommend bringing a bottle or two of that. While it is possible for shipments to be sent to Belize, this will expensive.

Medications

  • Acetaminophen tablets 325 mg, 50 each
  • Bismuth Subsalicylate tablets, 48 each
  • Triple antibiotic ointment, 30 gm tube
  • Cepacol throat lozenges, 18 each
  • Chlorhexidine detergent, 120 ml, 1 each
  • Clotrimazole cream 1%, 30gm tube, 1 each
  • Dextromethorphan throat lozenges, 18 each
  • Antacid tablets (e.g., Tums, Mylanta, Di-Gel), 30 each
  • Diphenhydramine capsules or caplets 25 mg, 30 each
  • Hydrocortisone cream 1%, 30 gm tube
  • Ibuprofen 200mg, 80 each
  • Iodine water purification tablets, 50 each
  • Oral rehydration salts (ORS), 10 packets each
  • Phenylephrine HCI tablets, 10 mg, 48 each
  • Non-medicated Normal Saline Eye Drops, 1.5 ounce bottle
  • Saline nose drops, 1.5 ounce bottle
  • Loperamide 2 mg, 12 each
  • Caladryl cream, 15gm tube

Health Supplies

  • Medical adhesive tape (1” X 10 yards) 1 each
  • Band-Aids (assorted sizes), 45
  • Butterfly skin closures, 5 each
  • Condoms, lubricated, without Nonoxynol-9, 10 each
  • Dental floss, waxed (100 yards)
  • Elastic bandage (3” X 5 yards)
  • Gauze pads, sterile, (3” X 3”),10 each
  • Gloves, non-sterile, Latex or non-latex, 2 pairs each
  • Insect repellent , 30-35% DEET, (item not considered a HAZMAT by international shipping standards), e.g., Ultrathon 28 grams, 1 each
  • Lip balm with sunscreen, SPF 15, 4.25 grams, 1 each
  • First Aid Pocket Guide, 1 each
  • Safety Whistle, > 120 decibels 1 each
  • Bandage scissors, surgical, straight or angled, double-blunt, 5.5” 1 each
  • Sunscreen cream, SPF 30, 105 ml, 1 each
  • Tweezers, splinter, 3.5”, 1 each
  • Thermometer, digital

Other Medical Items (Not Included in Medical Kit)

Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits for COVID-19 will be provided separately.

  • Pulse Oximeter (provided by PLS) with spare batteries
  • Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
    • Cloth face masks
    • Alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • Emergency Contraception (for all Volunteers at risk for becoming pregnant [those who are of reproductive age and menstruating, including transgender Volunteers]).
Electronics

Volunteers can expect to have electricity, water, and internet access at their sites. Belize operates on 110-volt electricity, with Type A or universal electrical sockets (two parallel prongs/blades); this is the same as the United States.

Peace Corps Belize encourages Invitees to bring a laptop. Peace Corps Belize also encourages Invitees to bring an unlocked personal device (smartphone) for which Peace Corps will provide a SIM card from a local service provider with a calling and text plan and limited data for official purposes. Although not necessary or expected, Volunteers who wish to retain their U.S. SIM card and mobile phone plan into their service may find smart phones with dual SIM capability useful—positioning them to use a local SIM in addition to a SIM from the U.S. Note, however, that most Volunteers do not bring dual SIM capable phones.

If you are unable to bring a personal device, Peace Corps will provide a basic smartphone. The most common form of communication between Volunteers and their friends and family is by cell phone and free calling and text apps, such as WhatsApp, Viber, etc.

Some Volunteers suggest that Invitees consider packing a mini speaker (water resistant/proof) and an e-reader as well.

Other items to consider

Cycling – Peace Corps Belize provides a stipend for Volunteers to purchase bicycles locally and use them for commuting and for recreation. Peace Corps also provides bike helmets. Those interested in cycling as a hobby may also consider packing:

  • A strong bike lock
  • Bicycle patch repair kit
  • A bell
  • Bicycle front and rear lights
  • Cycling kit- shorts, gloves, top (shirt)

Home Goods

  • Most kitchen supplies are available here
  • Volunteers who enjoy coffee may consider packing a French press (coffee is widely available in grocery stores)
  • Water bottle (insulated will help keep it cold while out on the field for project activities)
  • Extra sheets and pillowcases
  • Travel pillow
  • A hand towel, bath towel and bath cloth, and beach towel
  • Photos of family and friends
  • Small gifts to share with host families (in training and in service): Ideas include spices from home, picture frames that you can put a picture in, and mugs or tea towels with a design from your hometown. Invitees may also consider packing stickers, pencils or other small tokens to share with children.
  • Flashlight
  • Portable charger (solar charger may be useful)

Hobby Items

  • Arts and craft supplies
  • Journal (even if you’ve never touched a journal before, current Volunteers highly recommend this)
  • Card or board games
  • Books – In addition to any books you bring, note that Peace Corps has a library thanks to donations from Volunteers who served before you. Some Volunteers also recommend an e-reader.
  • Yoga atm

Other Items

  • Headphones
  • Ear plugs (music can be loud at holidays, neighborhood parties, on the bus and dogs barking)
  • Umbrella and light raincoat
  • Sewing kit
  • Multipurpose tool
  • Carabiners
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen