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Packing Guidance for Kosovo

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.

Spring and fall months are mild with some rainfall (~50s-70s °F), while summers are hot and dry (~70s-100°F). Winter lasts from November to March with some snowfall (~20s-50s°F), similar to the Mid-Atlantic area of the U.S. Kosovo has varied landscapes. It is mountainous and hilly, with the highest peaks reaching above 6500’ and it is rich with agricultural plains (~ 1800 feet above sea level), so temperatures vary according to altitude and season.

Temperatures may feel colder because few homes have central heating. The majority of homes in Kosovo use electrical heaters/oil radiators, and in some homes wood stoves are used for heating just one room of the house where everyone gathers in during the cold months. Homes, schools, and older office buildings typically do not have central heating or air-conditioning. As heating fuel and electricity are expensive, it is typical to conserve energy.

You will want to bring clothing for all seasons, and it is advisable to bring both professional and leisure clothing that can be layered to adjust to warm and cold weather and different indoor and outdoor temperatures.

To be prepared for all seasons and environments, plan to bring (or purchase in Kosovo):

  • Winter coat, gloves, scarf and hat or earmuffs
  • Light jacket, sweater or fleece, and/or rain jacket
  • Sturdy shoes for hiking with good traction for slippery cobblestone streets and uneven terrain
  • Business casual clothing that you enjoy wearing, which can be layered to adjust for varying temperatures.
  • Warm socks (or slippers) you can wear indoors as shoes are not worn inside homes

Peace Corps/Kosovo provides the following items:

  • Water filter for drinking water (if needed)
  • Bicycle helmet for PCVs approved to purchase bicycles
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Smoke alarm
  • FM radio
  • Medical kit
  • PCV resource library access (work related resources, fiction and non-fiction books)

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:

  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Explosives
  • Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
  • Drones
  • 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

Drugs

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.

Work clothing

  • Business-casual clothes such as button downs, blouses (long or short-sleeved), sweaters, blazers or sport jackets, slacks, dresses and skirts (knee-length or longer), and closed-toe shoes are appropriate for the workplace and during training. Clean, neat jeans may be acceptable in certain contexts for certain events. Short skirts, shorts, baggy cargo pants and flip-flops are typically not appropriate in working environments.
  • According to cultural norms, professionals are expected to appear tidy, in clean, pressed clothing with clean shoes
  • Clothing and shoes can be purchased in local markets and boutiques throughout Kosovo.
  • Professional wear varies by site. Bring comfortable options. Clothing can be easily be purchased in Kosovo.
  • If you plan on brining delicate clothing items, be prepared to hand wash them.

Leisure and recreational clothing

  • At home, modest casual clothing that is not too revealing is most acceptable in host family settings.
  • As shoes are not worn inside the house, it is helpful to have warm socks or slippers, which can also be purchased in country. Casual wear outside the home should be comfortable, but neat and respectable, both for receiving guests in the household and to respect norms and avoid attracting unwanted attention when out in the community. It is not typical to wear tank tops or tight-fitting clothing. For exercise and outdoor activities, loose-fitting shirts, polos, longer shorts or exercise pants that are not too revealing are most appropriate.
  • Some suggestions for packing include:
    • Comfortable pants, jeans
    • Rain jacket
    • Coat
    • Warm jacket, fleece or 2-3 sweaters/hoodies for layering
    • Gloves
    • Winter hat
    • Polo shirts, t-shirts
    • Athletic/sport pants/suits (leggings for running can be purchased here, but at US prices)
    • Shorts (long/loose-fitting)
    • Socks, underwear (some Volunteers recommend bringing multi-packs of cotton underwear)
    • Swimsuit, shower shoes
    • Garment appropriate to go to/from shower/bathroom in host family home

Special occasions

  • Business attire is expected at formal business events and ceremonies. Suits, dresses and skirts with nice shoes are appropriate.
  • Volunteers may be invited to attend in their communities, which may include casual gatherings or very formal parties, weddings and receptions where suits (often with ties) or dresses are most appropriate.
  • Comfortable walking and work shoes are a necessity in Kosovo.
  • Casual shoes, sandals and running shoes are appropriate for leisure activities.
  • Dress shoes for business or formal events are the cultural norm.
  • Water-proof hiking shoes for snow and rain. Many Volunteers prefer wearing hiking shoes instead of hiking boots.
  • Footwear of varying quality, prices and sizes is available for purchase in Kosovo.

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.

See a detailed list of items included in the medical kit.

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.

See additional guidance from the Office of Medical Services.

Additional guidance for Kosovo:

Most toiletries can be found in Kosovo. However, if there are specific brands of makeup, skin care items or other items you like, you may wish to bring those with you. The medical kit does provide pain relievers and other over-the-counter medications, but some Volunteers have recommended bringing any specific name brand cold/cough/pain medications or vitamin supplements that you prefer (melatonin, etc.).

  • Volunteers who have brought smart phones, laptops or tablets, headphones and rechargeable portable chargers/power banks have found them helpful.
  • Volunteers receive a basic cell phone and SIM card upon arrival. You are given the choice to use the provided phone or to insert the SIM card into an unlocked smartphone you bring from home. The monthly data plan provided covers basic usage and data needs, so some Volunteers purchase additional SIM cards/data plans on their own.
  • Internet and phone services are widely available WhatsApp, Viber and other Wi-fi calling services are useful for international calls. Some Volunteers have found it useful to have an unlocked smartphone with two SIM card ports.
  • Volunteers who bring laptops have found them useful for their work and throughout their service. Schools or organizations may have limited computers for staff and Volunteer use.
  • Many brands of phones and flash drives are widely available in Kosovo, but are typically more expensive than in the U.S.
  • Kosovo’s standard voltage is 230V. Cell phones, tablets and computers are typically dual voltage and can be used in Kosovo with a plug adapter. For Kosovo, you will need Type C/E/F adapters (2 round prongs) for cords/plugs that you will bring from the US.
  • Hair dryers, curling irons and other electronics are not dual voltage and require transformers, which can be expensive, so plan to purchase those items after arrival. It is wise to check the voltage on any device requiring electricity before you bring it.

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 and may be hard to find in country. Note: these items are not required or even recommended, but might be nice to have.

  • Pictures of your family, community, pets, friends (Your host family will be interested in your life in the USA, and it is also good wall décor).
  • Sewing kit for small repairs
  • Small gifts for host families/friends/colleagues: pictures, books, magnets, keychains, decorative hand towels or calendars with American scenes, souvenirs from your area, candies, cookies or other food items that won’t spoil. It is polite to bring a gift when visiting someone’s home.
  • Volunteers in Kosovo enjoy hiking, outdoor recreation, and visiting cultural sites. Small backpacks, good walking shoes and water bottles are helpful.
  • A small flashlight can be useful.
  • Volunteers who enjoy cooking might consider bringing recipes and U.S. measuring cups/spoons. Most spices are available in Kosovo. If you are fond of a unique spice, baking supply or cooking ingredient, check before bringing it.
  • If you plan to bring a debit card or credit card from the U.S., check on the company’s international transaction fee policies. Some credit cards offer no international transaction fees.
  • Hobby, arts, crafts or recreational items that you are attached to that you can pack in your suitcase. Those who enjoy knitting and sewing have found it difficult to find wide knitting needles here and recommend bringing notions/tools/crochet hooks, etc.
  • A travel sleeping bag for visits to other Volunteers, traveling and camping can be useful.
  • Traction cleats/ice grips for shoes can be useful during winter months especially in rural areas, but they are not easily found in local markets.