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.
- One or two pairs of
nice pants (lightweight material that dries quickly is helpful)
- Two to four pairs of
work pants or jeans
- Four T-shirts or
short-sleeve polo shirts
- Two or three blouses
or dress shirts
- Two-week supply of
underwear and socks
- One pair of long
- One pair of wool
- One or two
- One medium-weight
jacket or fleece
- One raincoat
- Running or athletic
gear (if you are into sports)
- Two hats (sun hats,
visors, or caps with bill)
- One cold-weather cap
- One pair of
- A tie, one or two
nice dress shirts, and a sport coat (optional) for formal occasions like the swearing-in ceremony
- Two casual dresses
- One “dress-up” dress
- One or two
- One or two
- Pajama pants or comfy sweats for the house
Note: The general characteristics for clothes are sturdy, easily washable, iron-free (if possible), and conservative. Bring what you are comfortable wearing, such as presentable items you might wear on a weekend in the U.S. Good quality, used clothes are also available in many Guatemalan markets or stores (called Ropa Americana).
Additionally, many Volunteers have noted their work often requires business casual for special meetings or events. As one Volunteer noted, “Although many items on this list may seem like it, you are not preparing for a two-year camping trip, nor do you need to.”
- One or two pairs of sturdy walking, tennis, or
cross-training shoes (waterproof tennis shoes are preferable)
- One pair of hiking boots or waterproof shoes
- One to two pairs of comfortable casual/dress shoes
- One pair of shower flip-flops
- One pair of farm/mud boots or rain boots
Note: The overall selection and quality of shoes in Guatemala is more limited than in the U.S. It is difficult to find larger than size 9 for women and size 10 for men. If you have larger feet, you may want to consider a plan for getting extra shoes once the ones you bring wear out (e.g., bring a two-year supply, have people bring you shoes when they come to visit, or arrange for people to send them to you).
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Three-month supply of any medications, to last through
pre-service training; copy of prescriptions
- If you wear glasses, bring two pairs with current prescription lenses (contact lens use is not recommended due to
elevated rates of eye infections and contact solution is hard to find)
- Your regular hygiene items (e.g., soap, shampoo, shaving cream, feminine hygiene products, etc.) to get you started (you can purchase replacements here)
- Refillable travel-size shampoo/soap containers
- One bath towel and quick-dry towel for traveling
- Note: Each trainee will receive a Medical Kit soon after arriving which will be stocked with useful items. Peace Corps medical staff will supply you with over-the-counter medicines such as vitamins, analgesics, cold medicines, etc., throughout your service.
- Laptop computer (if you can’t live without one in the U.S.,
then you probably won’t want to live without one here)
- Music (MP3 players and travel-size speakers are a good idea)
- USB storage stick
- Digital camera
- Watch (fairly cheap and water-resistant/proof)
- Pocketknife (basic knife, corkscrew, screwdriver model is
very handy) Small, basic cookbook or favorite recipes (Peace Corps/Guatemala
also publishes “Qué Rico!” a cookbook of Volunteer-compiled recipes that are
easily prepared with common items sold at markets)
- Comfort foods (favorite snack foods)
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 away
- Sturdy backpack/duffel bag for three- or four-day trips
- Day pack/small backpack
- Flashlight (headlamps are popular)
- Money belt or pouch that fits under your clothes for your
passport, money, and/or a wallet or change purse to carry small amounts of
- One sturdy water bottle
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Waterproof cases for electronic devices
- Earplugs for sleeping (Guatemala can be a very loud country and although Peace Corps does have earplugs to distribute, they are not very comfortable to wear while sleeping)
- Decks of cards and a travel-sized version of your favorite
- Small sewing kit
- Duct tape
- Instrument (if you play one)
- Start-up supply of stationery, pens, journal, etc.
- One set of flat sheets and pillow cases for a full bed
Tips and Notes:
Guatemala uses the same 120-voltage current as in the United States; therefore, any appliance or charger from the U.S. will work here. Also, the plug-ins and sockets are the same, but the majority of them only accept two prongs. Two- to three-prong converters can be found here, but it might be better to bring MP3 chargers, blow dryers, computer cords, etc., that are two-pronged or bring an adapter with you.
Anything you bring, especially the more expensive items, has the possibility of being lost, stolen, or damaged. The Peace Corps is not responsible for personal items, so you might want to consider insurance for items that would be costly to be replaced.
As mentioned in this packing list, you can find practically everything you need here in Guatemala. Paiz and Walmart stores (large discount goods and department stores) are located in most of the major cities. While the selection of items in your site most certainly won’t be as vast, there is a large quantity of familiar American brands of clothing, toiletry items, food, electronics, etc., available in Guatemala.