Mexico

Packing List

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.

General Clothing

  • Enough clothing for a one-week wash cycle
  • One suit, dress shirt, and tie (for occasional formal events or important meetings) or sports coat and slacks and tie
  • Two to four sets of presentable attire (blouse, polo, or nice shirt)
  • Chinos or nice jeans
  • Jeans or field pants (you will most likely wear these every day, especially if you are an Environment Volunteer)
  • Casual light clothes and some sweaters (some workplaces will be informal)
  • Shorts (for the field or hiking, as appropriate)
  • Warm clothes, heavy coats, gloves, and winter hat (it does freeze in this part of Mexico!)
  • Windbreaker (good on cool nights)
  • Sun hat
  • Light packable waterproof rain jacket

Note: Because Peace Corps/Mexico sites are so variable, it is hard to make specific recommendations, but make sure to have the full range, from field clothes to professional office wear that covers both hot and cool weather.

Shoes

  • Comfortable shoes (if you have a relatively large foot size it will be hard to find shoes in Mexico, especially for females)
  • Good-quality athletic shoes for walking or running
  • Nice “non-sneakers” shoes
  • Flip-flops/sandals/Tevas (for inside your house)
  • Dress shoes (or dressy sandals for women)

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 (contacts are not recommended due to elevated rates of eye infections and contact solution is hard to find)
  • Tooth whitener (expensive in-country) or toothpaste (specialized brands can be hard to find)
  • Earplugs
  • For women, reusable feminine hygiene products such as The Diva Cup, The Keeper, Moon Cup, Sea Pearls, Glad Rags, to reduce waste
  • Specialized toiletry products if you use/need them

Electronics

  • Laptop (or netbook because of lighter weight)
  • eReader (especially nice for more rural Volunteers)
  • Most smartphones can be adapted for use here and are recommended by some Volunteers.
  • Volunteers can purchase new SIM cards in-country. New cellphones are also easily acquired here.
  • A surge protector and extension cord, plus three-prong adapter.
  • GPS unit (if you are likely to be working in the field)
  • MP3 player
  • Recovery disks for your computer (in case of a crash)
  • Good antivirus software (viruses are rampant in Mexico)
  • Digital camera and memory cards
  • USB drive (with ample storage capacity)
  • Backup hard-drive
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Electronic dictionary/translator

Note: Electronics are generally much more expensive in Mexico.

Miscellaneous

  • 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 away
  • Family photos and favorite photos (to show your friends and counterparts)
  • Mexico guidebook; bird, planet, nature guidebooks (if of interest)
  • Small set of tools to include a pocket knife, measuring tape, and screwdriver (also available in-country)
  • Backpack or small bag (for day or overnight trips)
  • Water bottle
  • Protection for anything delicate, like your glasses
  • Sleeping bag
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Musical instrument (could buy in country) or favorite hobby item

Kitchen

  • Spices and seasonings, if you like to cook. The basics are easy to find (peppers, salt, oregano, parsley, etc.) but everything else is a challenge (cumin, sage, nutmeg, curry powder, etc.)
  • Any special vitamins or other products (e.g., organic toothpaste)
  • Your favorite tea (not widely available in most areas of Mexico)
  • French press for coffee (if you use these for coffee they are very expensive here)