Staying in Touch
In 2015, more than 90 percent of Peace Corps Volunteers used their cellphone on a daily basis, and more than 70 percent had access to the internet at least once a week. From video chat to texting to social media and blogs, Volunteers are staying connected while they immerse themselves in a new culture.
Hearing regularly from family and friends back home is a great way for Volunteers to stay positive and share all they are learning as they adjust to their communities of service and establish new relationships. Most Volunteers are in regular touch with their families and friends, and can always be reached by Peace Corps staff if there is an emergency.
Emergency contact information
Friends and family of currently serving Volunteers can reach a Peace Corps staff member 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The emergency line is available toll-free at 855.855.1961 or 202.692.1470.
Call this number to
- Inform a Volunteer of a critical illness or death in the family
- Notify a Volunteer of a family emergency
- Inquire about the status, health, or safety of a Volunteer whom you are unable to contact through other means
- Receive updates that are not available online in the case of a natural disaster or other unrest in the host country
If a death occurs in a Volunteer's immediate family, the Peace Corps allows a leave period and pays for the Volunteer's travel home. Immediate family is defined as a parent, spouse, sibling, child, or grandchild related to the Volunteer by blood, marriage, or adoption. (This includes step-relatives, e.g., stepmother, but does not include in-laws, e.g., mother-in-law, or grandparents.)
Phone calls and email
While many Peace Corps Volunteers have regular access to cellphones with text messaging capability and smartphones or other devices with connections to the internet, the reality of serving in challenging conditions means connectivity is not always available. Power outages or loss of signal do occur, and slower connections than one might expect in the U.S. are the norm.
Peace Corps Volunteers can always access a computer with a reliable internet connection when they visit the main Peace Corps office in their host country, and Peace Corps staff can reach Volunteers even in the most remote sites or when service is down through satellite phones.
Letters and packages
For many Volunteers, there is nothing better than a letter, postcard, or care package from home. Unfortunately, mailing items to Peace Corps Volunteers can be slow and occasionally expensive. The countries where Peace Corps serves may not have postal systems comparable to that of the U.S., and it is typical for letters or packages to take many weeks to be delivered, or even arrive in a different order than you sent them.
Make sure to check at the post office for any customs restrictions, weight limitations, or content rules for the destined country. Sending valuable or perishable items can be risky, and is not usually advised.
Visiting a Volunteer
Family members and friends are welcome to visit Volunteers during their service, with a few restrictions. Volunteers may host visitors after their pre-service training is complete (usually two to three months) and after they have had sufficient time to integrate into their communities of service (an additional three months).
When making plans, family members and friends should coordinate closely with the Volunteer to determine the best time to visit.
Although Volunteers have vacation days, which they can choose to spend with their visitors, they must obtain prior approval from their Peace Corps and host country supervisors for leave (like any job).
If you are traveling to a country where Peace Corps Volunteers serve, visit the following for more information:
- State Department's website for visa and other relevant information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for immunization and travel health information