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Packing Guidance for Peru

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.

Weather in Peru depends on climatic zone and altitude and varies dramatically across the country. Peru is geographically divided in three regions:

Coast: Moderately warm climate, but with high humidity and thick mist in Winter. In Summer there is very little mist, and the temperature reaches 35 °C.

Highlands: The highlands have two seasons: Summer (April - Oct.), when the days are sunny, the nights cold and there is little rain; and Winter (Nov. - March), when rain is frequent and heavy. During the day the temperature can reach 24 °C and at night fall to -3 °C.

Jungle: The jungle, like the highlands, has two well-defined seasons: the rainy season (Nov. - March), with abundant rainfall; and the relatively dry seasons (April - Oct.). Humidity is very high throughout the year. Occasional "cold waves" or "surazos" occur between May and August, when the temperature falls to 10-12 °C.

Peace Corps/Peru provides the following items:

Safety equipment for riding a bike: Peace Corps will provide helmets and reflective vests to those Volunteers that purchase and use a bicycle at their site. Volunteer’s that use a bicycle are responsible for the purchase of the bicycle as well as any equipment and accessories required by Peruvian law in addition to the helmet and reflective vest: a horn or bell, a functional braking system, reflective tape that would allow you to be seen from the side, and front and rear lights.

Mosquito net: Some areas in Peru are endemic to malaria. In addition to taking malaria prophylaxis, Peace Corps Volunteers are required to sleep under a mosquito net when serving in or traveling to those areas.

Medical kit: Peace Corps Peru provides all Volunteers with a medkit that would be refilled as needed. See the full list of items.

Home safety: Fire extinguisher and smoke/carbon monoxide detector Peace Corps Peru will provide fire extinguishers and smoke-carbon monoxide detectors to all volunteers to be used at homestay during pre-service training, and then take these same items to their permanent sites. In cases where volunteers need to use their fire extinguishers, they may request a replacement/replenishment.

Work-related manuals: Trainees will receive a set of project-specific manuals to use during Pre-Service Training and Service. Additionally, trainees will also receive language training materials and a dictionary.

Work Vest: Trainees will receive a vest with their name embroidered for use during service. Representatives of NGOs, government organizations in Peru wear vests, since they are a sign of professionalism and command respect.

WASH volunteers: Given the nature of their work with Water Committees, WASH volunteers get a pair of rubber boots to use during water system maintenance activities.

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.

Also see: Items prohibited by the government of Peru

Below is guidance on clothing expectations and cultural norms for work as well as leisure and recreation.

Work clothing.

In Peru, your presentation as a professional is very important, and working professional Peruvians take a lot of pride in their appearance at the workplace. As a way to integrate, be professional, and be taken seriously by our counterparts, we as volunteers should do the same. This means, above all else, looking clean and presentable! In Peru there is a saying: “Como te ven, te tratan”, so if you look like a professional, you will be treated like a professional, and your job and relationships with counterparts will be much easier.

Professional dress is a firm expectation for Volunteers working in professional settings (e.g. schools, health posts, etc.). Invitees should note that this standard of dress is also expected during pre-service training.

In general, black dress pants/skirts, black shoes and white shirts are commonly worn by teachers in schools.
There are some occasions (professional, holidays, weddings, swearing-in) that invite more formal attire, such as a fancier dress, a jacket or a tie.

  • A few pairs of casual pants
  • A couple of pairs of jean
  • A pair of dress pants (dark colored is best)
  • Sports jacket and tie
  • Skirts and/or dresses
  • Collared polos and blouses
  • One or two sweaters
  • One business casual, nice outfit for more formal events/meetings

Leisure and recreational clothing

Outside of the workplace, more casual attire is appropriate. In the home, Volunteers often wear t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, jeans or casual pants and casual skirts or dresses.

*quick dry or moisture wicking clothes are helpful as they dry easier in cold or humid climates

Larger sizes in clothing (XL, XXL, etc.) are generally hard to find.

If desired, there are many opportunities for exercise, both independently and as a part of a group or team. Volunteers who plan to participate in such activities should plan accordingly following the guidelines above. For swimming, Peruvians typically wear modest swimsuits (one-piece or shorts).

  • Shorts
  • Bathing suit
  • One casual, nice outfit (for evenings out)
  • Underwear
  • Long underwear
  • Socks (just enough to get started, as they are available in Peru; it is recommended that some be high performance wool socks for colder sites)
  • Light, waterproof jacket
  • Fleece jacket and/or vest with hood
  • Down or heavy jacket suitable for higher altitudes
  • One or two sweatshirts
  • One pair of sweatpants
  • Baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat
  • Patches for clothing repair
  • Small sewing kit for repairs

Shoes are available for purchase in Lima in large malls. They are available in a large variety of quality and sizes, but it may be difficult to find larger sizes. We recommend that you use the below guidance to bring at least one pair of each type of shoe you think you will need to get you started. If your feet are larger than size 10 in either men or women, you may consider bringing more than one pair.

  • One pair of dress or professional shoes
  • One pair of sneakers
  • Hiking boots and/or sturdy walking shoes
  • One pair of running/Trail shoes
  • Sandals
  • Many volunteers find that hiking boots, tennis shoes, or hiking sandals are great for in-the-field activities.
  • For rainy season, rain boots (purchased cheaply in local markets) are also a great option.
  • Shoes are hard to find larger than men’s size 10 and women’s size 8.

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.

Peru uses 220-volt electricity. Although many electric devices and chargers are dual voltage (use either 110 or 220 volts) you might need a step-up converter if you have a device that only operates on 110 volts. Most devices will say directly on the device what voltage they use. Most plugs in Peru are just like the two-pronged flat type found in the States, but a three-pronged flat type may also be found. An adapter may be necessary depending on the type of device you have.

All Volunteers will be required to have a smart phone to receive and send important communication. All Volunteers are encouraged to arrive with an unlocked smart phone. CONFIRM with your carrier that your phone is unlocked and compatible with international service prior to departure.

Theft of cell phones is high in Peru. Many volunteers choose to bring an inexpensive, unlocked, smartphone or an older model smartphone for everyday use.

If the Volunteer does not have a smart phone upon arrival, PC Peru will work with the PCV to purchase one using their allowance. PC Peru will not subsidize or pay for phones. Volunteers will be responsible for replacing lost, stolen, or damaged phones. Purchasing insurance on smart phones is recommended.

If possible, you are strongly encouraged to bring a personal computer/laptop to complete required self-directed e-learning activities and prepare reports in electronic formats. We realize this is not possible for everyone and will work with you to meet these requirements if you do not have a personal computer/laptop. Also, your computer should be hardy—resistant to dust and harsh climates.

Many volunteers find laptops, personal smart phones, tablets, e-readers, Bluetooth speakers, headphones/earbuds, extra charges/charging cables and other personal devices convenient for entertainment and work.

Make sure to bring a USB storage device, and if possible, bring an external hard drive and portable power bank/charger.

A headlamp or flashlight may be helpful for Volunteers placed in communities with limited electricity.

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 that might be more difficult to find in-country. Note: these items are not required or even recommended, but they might be nice to have.

Craft supplies

Art and craft supplies are available in Lima and most regional capitals. Engaging in arts and crafts can be an excellent hobby and way to bond with community members of all ages. If there is an art or craft that is near and dear to you, you may want to consider bringing some supplies.

Food/Cooking

Many Volunteers find comfort and connection in cooking as a part of integration. Peruvian kitchens in rural areas are very different from kitchens in the United States. Cooking is typically done in pots rather than pans, and meals are heated over wood fires, or gas burners rather than stove tops. Most kitchen supplies are available here. However, past Volunteers recommend the following:

  • A good quality pan.
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Tupperware, a lunch bag/box and a reusable travel cup
  • Resealable plastic food storage bags
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • French press (for coffee drinkers who prefer not to drink instant coffee)
  • Insulated Thermos
  • Oven thermometer as most ovens is not well-regulated.
  • Unique spices or spice mixes (Ranch dressing mix, taco seasoning, Indian spices, etc.)

Hobbies

  • Scrabble, Monopoly, and chess are locally available in Lima, but are less known in other PCV sites. Other card or board games can be a fun and engaging ways of connecting to your community.
  • A journal/diary
  • Books (some Volunteers recommend an e-reader, while others rely on the Peace Corps Volunteer library)
  • Yoga mats can be found in Lima.
  • Many Volunteers take excellent photos on their smart phones. For more avid photographers, consider bringing your camera equipment, but understand that it may present a temptation for theft.

Household goods

  • While sheets, pillows and towels are easily available in Lima and most regional capitals, some Volunteers choose to bring their own.
  • Small items that make you feel at home.
  • LED lights (to decorate your room).
  • US/World wall map.

Outdoor activities

For those who enjoy camping, you may want to consider bringing the following:

  • Sleeping pad
  • Hand pump water filter
  • Lightweight sleep sack
  • Hammock with mosquito net

Consider additional camping gear based on what you would normally use. Keep in mind that you are prohibited from bringing fuels or other flammable materials. You can also find camping gear in large malls in Lima.

Sports

Most Peruvians love sports! Primarily soccer, but also volleyball and basketball. You can find a soccer court in most communities! Sports can be a great way to connect with your community and students. Footballs and basketballs are available locally, but other types of sports equipment can be harder to find, such as Frisbees, baseballs/gloves, badminton, etc. Jump rope/resistance bands.

Other recommendations

  • Photos of family and friends at home
  • Small gifts to share with your training host family and your host family in site. These include key chains, candy/chocolate, hats, a map of your hometown, postcards, souvenirs, etc.
  • Ear plugs (at holidays and events, music can be played very loud)
  • Stickers, pencils, or other small tokens to share with children in your community.
  • Lightweight, compact solar shower (as most volunteers will not have access to hot water).
  • Solar powered light
  • Pocketknife or multitool.
  • Microfiber quick-dry camping towel.