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.
Your site could be in the mountainous region (sierra), on the coast (costa) or in the Amazon region (Oriente or Amazonia), and in each region the climate varies considerably, with their own wet and dry season in each region.
On the coast and in the Amazonia, the climate in general is humid tropical, while in the mountains, depending on the elevation, it can be chilly and at night temperatures can quickly drop to near freezing. Thus, it is important to bring different types of clothing, and layers are particularly useful.
- Mosquito nets (for those in sites that require them)
- SIM cards (chip) for an unlocked phone that you bring
- Tablet for pre-service and in-service training
- Other learning resources
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.
Business casual: According to local cultural norms, schools are professional work places, and most teachers wear business casual clothing. Business casual is expected in other work locations such as non-government organizations, government offices and clinics, with some variations depending on size and organizational culture. The exception is when working in informal settings with youth, where a casual attire may be more appropriate.
Below are some items to bring for professional settings:
- Dress pants
- Khaki pants
- Collared shirts
- Long sleeved bottom down shirts
- Skirts (miniskirts are not very common in a professional setting)
- Blazer or cardigan.
Leisure and recreational clothing
Below are some items you can bring:
- One to four pairs of jeans and dress pants (long women’s jeans are impossible to find, also larger sizes for women are very difficult to find; skinny jeans are popular for young women)
- Six T-shirts or short-sleeved polo shirts (T-shirts are readily available in Ecuador unless you need something larger than XL)
- One or two dress outfits for occasional formal meetings
- Three or more long-sleeved shirts
- Two to four pairs of shorts (not too short) and/or capris
- 12 or more pairs of cotton underwear
- 5+ bras/bralettes/sports bras
- One or two pairs of long underwear or other clothes to layer
- One or two pair of leggings
- 12 pairs of good-quality socks, including two or more pairs of heavy wool socks
- Two or more sweatshirts, sweaters, or fleeces
- One warm jacket
- One waterproof jacket/windbreaker
- Athletic clothing for working out/playing sports
- One or two bathing suits
- One or two sun hats, visors, or caps with a bill
- A modest watch
Swearing-in and occasional semiformal events
- Sport coat
- Dresses or modest sundresses
- Formal or dress up pants
- Button-down shirts
- Dress up tops
Also, while washing machine are available in many sites, it is important to bring items that are easy to wash by hand. Clothing is generally hung out to dry, as dryers are rare. Thus, in humid areas, drying may take several days.
It is difficult to find men’s shoe sizes over 10 and women’s shoe sizes over 8.
Large cities have shops which may carry up to size 12 women’s and larger men’s sizes but prices can range above $30.
You may consider bringing:
- Two pairs of tennis or running shoes
- One or two pairs of comfortable dress shoes (flats recommended along with socks made for them. Can buy high heels or dressy sandals of all styles very easily in country)
- One pair of sturdy sandals
- One or two pair of casual shoes
- Hiking boots if you enjoy hiking (very expensive locally)
- One pair of slippers/house shoes that cover toes (many families wear shoes inside. Not common to wear shoes that expose the toes)
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 from Peace Corps/Ecuador
- Quality toiletries can be found easily in Ecuador. If you have any very particular brand preferences for toiletries, it’s recommended to bring a 12-month supply.
- Contact lens solutions, extra cases and travel bottles (available in larger cities, but much more expensive than in the United States)
- Makeup (U.S. brands are expensive locally)
- Specific brand of perfume (perfume is available here but name brands are expensive)
- Tampons (hard to find in Ecuador)
Volunteers who have brought their unlocked smartphones (universally unlocked - check with your provider before departure), laptops, or tablets have found them helpful during their service.
You can find electronics in Ecuador, but the prices can be about double what you would pay in the United States.
- Country’s electrical current is 110V.
- Internet cafés are usually available. Most resources are available digitally within Ecuador and official paperwork could be filled out electronically. TEFL Volunteers often give PowerPoint presentations.
- Smartphone (it is useful in order to connect to wifi while traveling so you can avoid taking your laptop. If it is universally unlocked and uses a sim card, then you can also use it as your personal phone). Inexpensive smartphones are recommended as pickpocketing is common)
- External hard drive (recommended for sharing entertainment and technical resources with other Trainees, Volunteers, and staff)
- Headphones and/or inexpensive portable/wireless speaker (useful for class listening activities too)
- Extra chargers for electronics (this mostly applies to any chargers that are not common/expensive and that you feel would be difficult to replace)
- Small portable USB drive/memory stick (you can find these here but it’s convenient to bring one or two with you)
- Portable charger
Based on your interests and personal preferences there may be additional items you will want to consider bringing with you. Below is a description of the common activities Volunteers engage in and what different Volunteers have said they enjoy having, which might be more difficult to find in-country. Note: these items are not required but might be nice to have.
You can find pretty much anything here in Ecuador; however, some items are generally more expensive, and the quality may differ from what you are accustomed to. We have tried to include notes with most items to help you decide if you should bring an item or not.
Again, if you decide not to bring something and you later on find that you need it, you will most likely be able to find it.
- Backpack or day pack (for daily use or short trips)
- Hiking Backpack Medium/Large for weekend travel/vacations/hiking
- Pocket knife or multi-tool
- Shower towel (note: camping/microfiber towels fold up small and dry quickly)
- Sunglasses with UV protection (you can find cheap sunglasses here but they are low quality)
- Hat(s) (wide-brim that will protect you from the strong sun)
- Small padlocks for any bags you carry around
- Bags with security features are highly recommended
Activities at school and with youth groups
- School supplies, i.e. white board markers, regular markers, cardstock, index cards, pens.
- Art and crafts supplies, i.e. origami paper, variety of Sharpies.
- Games for classrooms and club activities, i.e. Koosh ball, Bananagrams, travel versions of Scattergories, Pictionary, and Things
Miscellaneous if you have extra space
- Compact sleeping bag: Good quality is very expensive in-country, but you can find a cheap/decent sleeping bag at some local sports stores.
- Sheets (full size) and pillowcases: Available locally, but are low quality. Will be provided at host family houses.
- Pillow, especially if you have a favorite one: Most provided pillows are not very comfortable. Will be provided at host family houses.
- Good quality water bottle: Can be found in large cities but they are more expensive.
- Unique spices (e.g., Indian, pumpkin spice, chili powder) and hot sauces from the U.S. if you plan to cook a lot. You can find most of the common spices here in bigger cities.
- Hair dryer (if you use one frequently): They can also be found here for reasonable prices.
- Hair straightener (if you use one frequently): They can be found here but are more expensive or poor quality.
- Headlamp: Very useful instead of a regular flashlight especially for reading at night or when power goes out.
- Decorations for your room or apartment (e.g., posters, maps, and postcards of your hometown)
- Equipment for hobbies, such as sewing patterns (expensive and hard to find in Ecuador), musical instruments, and baking supplies (measuring cups/spoons are not easy to find)
- Favorite games, Frisbee, foam footballs, word games, card games etc.
- Photos of family and friends (to show host family and friends, and to decorate your room/home)
- Small pocket calendar or daily planner: Easy to find and not too expensive to buy here, but may be convenient to have with you when you arrive.
- Powdered drink packets like coffee or lemonade: A nice treat and easy to pack if you have extra space
- Small snacks like protein bars, trail mix, favorite candy
- Small gifts for host families (i.e. souvenir magnets, small toys for kids, or ingredients to make a traditional dish from home)
- Travel-size multi-outlet surge protector: Helpful for keeping multiple electronics charged when there are limited outlets
- Portable work out equipment (jump rope, resistance bands, etc.)
- $1 coins, $1 - $10 bills: Ecuador is a cash culture and it's difficult to get change for $20 bills. If you bring initial walkaround money, bring small denominations.