This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in-country and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything on the list, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in-country.
Baggage & weight limit: The Peace Corps limits the size and weight of baggage and will not pay to transport baggage that exceeds these limits. The allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 100 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds per bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers.
During training, Peace Corps events, and some of your work activities, you should wear business casual clothing. In the context of Peace Corps/Dominican Republic, this includes to the following: nice jeans (no tears), khakis, business slacks, knee-length skirts/dresses for women, button-up shirts, polo shirts, shirts/blouses that cover the top of the shoulder for women, and nice sandals or close-toed shoes. Note: Shorts are not acceptable during Peace Corps training events or while in the Peace Corps office.
- One or two business casual outfits. If you are a Community Economic Development or Education Volunteer, consider bringing three or four outfits, but remember you can always buy clothes here; one dressy outfit for swearing-in ceremony (nice dress, shirt or pant outfit for women; nice pants and long-sleeved shirt for men).
- Three to five pairs of jeans/casual pants (or capris for women) for everyday work
- One or two pair of shorts for jogging/sports (not too short)
- At least five T-shirts/everyday shirts
- Two-week supply of underwear (cotton is highly recommended)
- Work and dress socks (one-week supply)
- One to three swimsuits
- Two sweatshirts (remember, it is a mountainous country and some places can get quite cool)
- Rain jacket and/or umbrella
- Hat (baseball hats are popular here)
- One or two belts
- Several small, sturdy locks for suitcases/bags/backpacks
- Men: One or two ties (for formal occasions, i.e.,swearing-in ceremony, weddings)
- Women: Two to four casual dresses and/or skirts. One or two pairs of conservative/longer shorts to wear at your site; consider Bermuda shorts or those just above the knee.
- One pair sturdy of walking/hiking shoes
- One pair athletic shoes
- At least one pair of sandals such as Chacos/Tevas/Rainbows
- One pair dress shoes (men) or one to three pairs of nice sandals without heels (women)
- Some Education, Community Economic Development, and Youth PCVs recommend one pair of high heels for work events. However, these can be purchased in-country in the rare case that you feel you need them.
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry ItemsYou 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.
- Three-month supply of any medications, to last through pre-service training; copy of prescriptions
- If you wear glasses, bring two pairs (contacts are not recommended due to elevated rates of eye infections and contact solution is hard to find)
- Start-up supply of shampoo, deodorant, etc.
- One bath towel and one quick-dry towel for swimming
- Women: If you use tampons, bring several months’ supply. They are available only in large cities and are very expensive. Or, bring Diva Cups (two).
- Contact lens solution (The Peace Corps recommends that you use regular glasses, however, in the event that you do decide to use contacts, the solution is very expensive here; and is not supplied by Peace Corps.)
KitchenYou can easily buy most kitchen supplies (e.g., dishes, pots, glasses, and utensils) locally. There are a few items you might consider bringing:
- An assortment of zip-top bags
- One or two plastic containers
- Sturdy can opener
- Favorite spices (most are available here but expensive)
- Set of measuring cups/spoons
- Favorite recipes
ElectronicsPlease keep in mind that many Dominicans in the areas where you will be living do not have and cannot afford expensive electronics like iPods and computers. 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. A good battery source is also recommended since most towns, including the neighborhoods of Santo Domingo, experience frequent and prolonged power outages.
- IPod/other music player (IPod touch and iPhone can pick up wireless Internet at no charge in airplane mode. This can be useful for Skype, and they are more portable than a computer.)
- Portable speakers with batteries
- Digital camera
- Electronic reader (Kindle or similar)
- Rechargeable batteries and charger
- USB flash drive (external hard drives are highly recommended because many Volunteers use them for work purposes and to download movies and TV shows)
- A laptop computer with wireless access is highly recommended. Many volunteers list this as the most useful thing they brought; netbooks or smaller laptops are also highly recommended
- Surge protector for electrical appliances
- With the exception of flip-flops, the selection of affordable shoes available in Costa Rica is more limited than in the United States, particularly in larger sizes (over size nine for women or over size ten-and-a-half for men). You may want to bring a two-year supply of shoes. Give preference to shoes that are waterproof and/or can be washed.
- One pair of sturdy walking or tennis shoes
- One pair of running shoes, if you run (It may be challenging to find affordable, quality replacements for running shoes; if you run/exercise a lot consider bringing a second pair or having them sent later.)
- One pair of waterproof hiking or rubber-soled boots (All parts of the country are wet and muddy during the rainy season; note that inexpensive rubber boots that serve the same function can be purchased locally.)
- Two or three pairs of comfortable but nicer/dressier shoes for work and more formal/professional events (can include open-toe shoes/dressy sandals for women)
- Flip-flops or sturdy sandals can be used during leisure time in your community, but not in training or professional work environments (schools, offices, etc.)
- If you plan to travel to other countries for vacation, you may want to bring extra money to suit your travel plans; credit cards or traveler's checks are preferable to cash. There are ATMs in larger cities, and most towns so you may want to bring an ATM card to access a bank account in the U.S.
- Small gifts for host family and friends (not required); knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; photos to give awayA favorite pillow and pillowcase(s) (available in-country if you choose not to pack them)
- Money belt
- One to two good quality water bottles (such as Nalgene)
- Sturdy backpack or bag for three- or four-day trips
- Backpack or day pack
- Queen-sized cotton sheets with pillowcases (it may be better to have these shipped after you know what mattress you will have for the next two years)
- Travel alarm clock
- Multiple-utility pocketknife (such as a Leatherman or Swiss Army)
- Light, compact sleeping bag (this will be helpful for the times when you have to bring your own sheets to training events or if you live in a colder area you can unzip it and use it as a blanket)
- Yoga mat (if you practice yoga)
- Head lamps are highly recommended, especially LED
- Sewing kit
- Start-up supply of stationery and pens
- Small/interesting games
- Pictures of family and friends
- Easy puzzles
- Good markers
- Assorted craft supplies
- Coloring books
- Materials for easy science activities
- Games and playing cards
- Pens, pencils, and a sharpener
- World map
Things Not To Bring
- English-Spanish Dictionary or 501 Spanish Verbs (you will receive these during training)
- Too many books (The Peace Corps office has a large variety of books that have been left by
- Volunteers over the years. The Peace Corps resource library is also quite extensive, so only bring resource manuals you find necessary to your work while in-country.)
- Sunscreen and bug spray (will be supplied once you arrive)
- Mosquito nets (will be provided)
- Too many clothes (You will be changing host families three times during your first three months and much of what you have can probably be easily purchased here or shipped from home.)
- Large supply of over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofen; all trainees will receive a Peace Corps Medical Kit.