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.
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.
The climate of the Dominican Republic is tropical with a relatively stable temperature throughout the year ranging from 25 to 35°C or 75 to 95°F. Temperatures are hotter during the summer months of May to October and cooler in coastal and mountain areas from November to February Rains typically occur in short showers and thunderstorms and are more common during the hurricane season from June 1 to November 30.
Lightweight clothing in light colors is recommended. The most comfortable clothing is cool and breezy. There are some regions of the country where it gets chilly in the evenings. Packing one sweatshirt or light jacket is recommended.
Peace Corps Dominican Republic provides the following items: English-Spanish Dictionary or 501 Spanish Verbs (will be given during training), USB thumb drive (preloaded with programmatic documents and manuals), mosquito net, sunscreen and bug spray, Peace Corps medical kit, a local SIM card for your personal unlocked phone (or alternatively PC will provide you with money to purchase a generic, inexpensive local phone. See important details in Living Conditions).
The Peace Corps will also provide several manuals, notebooks, papers, and books. Therefore, we recommend you keep space available in your suitcase for these items or bring an extra duffel bag that can be used to carry these items from training to site.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:
- Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
- 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
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.
Below is guidance on clothing expectations and cultural norms for work as well as leisure and recreation.
In Peace Corps Dominican Republic, we celebrate diversity as an intrinsic value of human beings and the celebration of individuality. Part of our commitment to the country we serve is cultural integration, which is done through the exchange of values and attitudes that help create an environment of solidarity and community service.
Part of this celebration of diversity is the interaction with the written and unwritten norms of coexistence that are established by the different communities and different social spheres, in formal and informal settings. To facilitate integration, PCDR makes specific recommendations for personal appearance that demonstrate respect for local cultural norms while maintaining your individuality during service.
Volunteers are presented to their communities as professionals that will provide technical assistance through our programs. Personal appearance will affect your ability to establish this professionalism as an individual. The way you dress will affect your professional status, your ability to integrate into the work culture in the Dominican Republic, and your safety and security. Your first impression in your community, and when meeting new people, is important, as this impression can set the tone for developing positive, lasting relationships.
One thing you want to avoid is being confused with a tourist. Dominicans tend to perceive tourists as having lots of money and engaging in excessive drinking and lewd behavior. Attire such as shorts, flip flops, and spaghetti straps, when used in many settings, can be perceived as common among tourists. Please respect the following guidelines while at the PCDR office, participating in any work or training activity, or in professional settings.
We ask that you refrain from using:
- Rubber informal flip-flops (sandals are permitted)
- Low-cut or revealing tops
- Tank-tops on men (shoulders must be covered).
- Miniskirts: Skirts and dresses should be at the knee.
- Spaghetti straps (sleeveless, the width of 3 fingers is acceptable).
In professional environments, such as schools, it is common for staff to use uniforms and close-toed shoes. Many Volunteers use PC polo shirts in their assigned workplaces and offices while others adopt the local uniform.
Volunteers may use casual clothes during “down time” in and around their site and at home.
It can be helpful to have enough clothes for two weeks as the access to water and electricity can vary depending on location.
Although tight and revealing clothing may be popular in the DR, it also has the potential to attract unwanted attention. As a safety precaution, please take this into account.
We ask that you consider bringing:
- One dressy yet professional outfit for swearing-in ceremony and other formal events (nice dress, shirt or pant outfit, slacks and button-down shirt and optional tie).
- Five pairs of pants for working in the schools
- At least five polo/dress shirts for work (You can buy PCDR Polo shirts in the DR ~$10-14 USD)
- Two to three pairs of jeans (you can wear jeans on Friday when working in the school)
- Six to eight t-shirts / short sleeved shirts for casual wear outside of school
- Four to six pairs of shorts for jogging/sports (not too short) or yoga pants/capris for working out and/or casual wear outside of work
- Two-week supply of underwear (cotton is highly recommended)
- Work-out and dress socks (one-week supply)
- One or two swimsuits
- One or two sweatshirts or light jacket (for use on air-conditioned buses, or to cover your arms from the hot sun)
- Light rain jacket, portable rain poncho and/or umbrella
- Hat (baseball hats are popular)
- One or two belts
- Several small, sturdy locks for suitcases/bags/backpacks
- Two to four casual dresses and/or skirts.
- Two to three pairs of conservative/longer shorts to wear at your site; consider Bermuda shorts or those just above the knee.
Given the different activities you will carry out as a Volunteer, we recommend bringing the following footwear. Note that shoes in common sizes can be found for varying prices in the Dominican Republic.
- One pair athletic shoes
- At least one pair of sandals such as Chacos/Tevas/Bedrock Sandals (Look for Peace Corps discount)
- One pair of casual sandals
- One to three pairs of nice close-toed shoes for working in the school and/or other counterpart organizations (clean, dark athletic shoes are ok).
- One pair of heels or dress shoes for special events.
- One pair of flip-flops to use around the house
Note that culturally, some schools / places of work may find it acceptable for women to wear an open-toed sandal, whereas this will likely not be accepted in many places of work for men.
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.
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.
Additional guidance for Peace Corps Dominican Republic: You can buy almost anything that is available in the United States in the Dominican Republic. However, if you have favorite brands of toiletries or cosmetics, you may want to bring a supply, as most imported items are considerably more expensive here.
- If you wear glasses, bring two pairs (Contacts are not recommended due to elevated rates of eye infections. Contact solution is available in Santo Domingo but is expensive. Keep this in mind if you choose to wear them.)
- Start-up supply of shampoo, deodorant, etc.
- One quick-dry towel for traveling and swimming.
- Menstruating Volunteers: If you use tampons, bring several months’ supply. They are available only in large cities and are very expensive. Or bring Diva Cups (two).
Please keep in mind that many Dominicans in the areas where you will be living do not have or cannot afford expensive electronics. If you are considering bringing items on this list, you should purchase personal articles insurance as these high-priced electronics may be at risk of theft and/or loss.
The Dominican Republic operates on a 120V supply voltage and 60Hz, the same as the United States. A good surge protector (can be purchased in country) is also recommended since power outages are frequent and electrical service can be unstable. Current and past Volunteers have found the following items useful during their service:
- Smart phone (see details in Living Conditions about communication during service)
- USB flash drive
- Surge protector (very important because electricity can come in at high rates and damage your electronics)
- Power bank (for long bus rides, travel, and when electricity goes out)
In addition to your Peace Corps Passport, you must bring your Social Security Number card and another photo ID for opening your bank account as well.
Bring along small, but replaceable, parts of your life you don’t want to live without for the next two years. Make sure they are light enough to carry, sturdy enough to last, and dispensable enough that losing them wouldn’t be a serious problem. Here are some suggestions:
- Earbuds (example: Eargasm, for reducing sound around loud music)
- Foam earplugs (for sleeping in noisy areas)
- For unexpected costs or occasional travel, consider bringing a credit or debit card. There are ATMs in larger cities, therefore, avoid bringing cash.
- Small gifts for host family and friends (not required); knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of US scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; photos to give away
- Money belt – It is highly recommended that one does not carry a purse. Phones may be a target of theft / robbery. Money belts, in certain circumstances can be very helpful. If you don’t bring one, we will offer them in country.
- One good quality water bottle
- Sturdy backpack or bag for three- or four-day trips (and to pack handbooks and materials from training)
- Everyday backpack or day pack for work
- Multiple-utility pocketknife (such as a Leatherman or Swiss Army)
- Yoga mat (available in-country after training)
- USB Rechargeable head lamp is highly recommended
- Sewing kit
- Small/interesting games (bananagrams SPANISH, spot it, uno)
- Pictures of family and friends
The following have been recommended for those working with children and youth:
- Story books in Spanish*** Highly recommended to bring a few good ones, especially with diverse characters
- Easy puzzles
- Good markers (can be purchased in country)
- Assorted craft supplies (can be purchased in country)
- Coloring books
- Games and playing cards
- Pens, pencils, and a sharpener (can be purchased in country)
- World map