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. Don’t feel the need to change your style- bring the clothes that you are most comfortable in. You can always have things sent to you later and you can get many things in-country. The exception is shoes for larger sizes. It is best for you to bring those with you as there are limited sizes for shoes in Timor-Leste.
The climate varies across the country, so to prepare for sites both near the beach and in the mountains, it is best to pack clothes that you can layer. Depending on permanent site placement, work clothing requirements will range from casual to business casual. Interchangeable clothing that can be scaled to more professional or casual is best. As you will be hand washing all your clothes, try to bring things that are durable and will last you for two years.
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
Choose items that can be interchangeable (casual, sleep, semi-professional, can go with skirts or pants).
- Semi-professional clothing of good-quality, conservative, and can be interchangeable with a casual outfit (short-sleeve button downs or polo for men are acceptable as business casual)
- T-shirts/casual shirts: Short sleeve or long sleeve with conservative necklines; No crop tops, spaghetti straps or skimpy tank tops
- Tank tops: Can be spaghetti strap or thicker strap for “tuur halimar”/ hanging around the house or wearing under a t-shirt / shirt. This goes for men too.
- Sweaters/jackets: This is dependent on where your site will be. If you are at the beach you will likely never wear a sweater, but if you are in the mountains you will likely wear one every day.
- Waterproof rain jacket
- Lightweight, water-resistant windbreaker
- Hat or cap
- A pair of good jeans
- Lounge wear (sweatpants/yoga pants/leggings/elephant pants)
- Socks: Ankle length and long socks for hiking -- bring more if you are prone to mosquito bites
- Shoes: Flip flops (readily available locally), sturdy sandals, running or sports shoes (consider bringing two pairs), nice shoes for weddings or special events, sturdy walking shoes
- 10-20 pairs of durable underwear to last you the two years (moisture wicking; recommend Duluth Trading Company for men and Fruit of the Loom or basic Aerie underwear for women)
- 5-6 bras
- Swimsuit: One-piece, or rash guard and board shorts; think conservative; if you want to bring a bikini for travel outside of the country then do it; in Timor
- Buffs/scarves/bandanas: To cover your mouth when walking on the road, or use as sweat rags
- Khaki/cargo shorts
- Casual shorts: lightweight board shorts or basketball knee-length shorts (good for casual days hanging around, sleeping; any lightweight shorts are good for rainy season) conservative length shorts are appropriate, no short shorts
Specific clothing for men and women is separated below by Community Economic Development and Education because Education Volunteers have a more universal dress code
Community Economic Development
- 4-5 polo or short-sleeve button downs
- 1-2 pairs long semi-professional pants (think khakis; darker colors last longer)
- 2 lightweight dresses (women wear dresses to church and parties/weddings; avoid long-sleeved anything, and just bring a sweater to cover up with)
- 1-2 pairs long lightweight and hopefully quick-dry pants
- 1-2 skirts (lightweight; flow; not too long so you don’t drag it in the mud/dirt)
- 3-4 Blouses or knit shirts that can be used on skirts and pants; polo are fine; no low-cut neck lines or see-through material and should cover shoulders
- 3-4 nice work pants
- 6-7 dress shirts (button down)
- 5+ pairs of work/business casual socks
- 1 pair of dress shoes
- 1 pair of business casual shoes
- 2-3 skirts (knee or below) OR 2-3 nice pants (linen/light material)
- 2-3 dresses (for work and church)
- 2-3 work appropriate cardigans/sweaters
- 4-5 blouses/polo/button-up shirts; no low-cut neck lines or see-through material and should cover shoulders
- 3-5 durable nice flats/close-toed shoes (esp. for larger feet)
Only bring the basics or items that remind you of home or have a personal meaning. These are the ones that will mean the most.
- Avoid anything flashy like big gold hoops, big diamonds, etc.
- Women almost always wear dangly or small hoop earrings to mass/church on Sundays.
- Wristwatches come in handy.
- The modern jewelry is expensive in Timor, but there are women’s groups throughout Timor-Leste that make beautiful natural jewelry for purchase if you are interested.
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry items
Most basic hygiene/toiletry items are available in-country. You can bring a start-up supply, but things like soap, shampoo, razors, Q-tips, cotton balls, and deodorant are locally available.
- Quick-dry towel (1-2) and washcloths are handy
- Compact mirror is helpful
- Any special hair creams/oils that you just have to have (coconut oil and various other hair care products are available in-country)
- Leave-in conditioner
- Cheap travel soap dish/box
- Supply of tampons (difficult to find in-country; PC will provide you with a menstrual cup and pads are locally available)
The standard voltage in Timor is 220V. Make sure your electronics are compatible.
- Computer and computer charger
- Headphones (2 pairs)
- USB sticks: Multiple with some small storage capacity 8GB, and the largest storage capacity possible (128GB, 64GB, etc.); SD cards
- External hard drive (for sharing movies and TV shows)
- Smartphone: Only if you desire to use your own. Peace Corps provides a phone but many Volunteer enjoy having their personal phone.
- Smartphone charger
- Kindle or other e-reader and charger: Several hard copy books are also available in the lounge. Make sure to and download a bunch of books ahead of time.
- Headlamp and replacement batteries
- Small good quality flashlight
- Bluetooth speaker for music
- Two pair of glasses
- Hearing aid batteries (if you wear one)
- Sturdy backpack
- Multi-purpose tool
- Good water bottle
- Photos from home
- Books (there is a volunteer library in-country at the Peace Corps office)
- Hobby or sports materials: hacky sack, frisbee, soccer ball, yoga mat, snorkeling gear
- Sleep sack or lightweight sleeping bag; sleep mat
- Pocket knife
- Glasses repair kit
- Sewing kit
- 3-5 carabiners
- Craft materials: Sewing kit, cross-stitch materials, knitting needles and yarn, embroidery materials, adult coloring books, etc.
- Games such as Uno and cards
Suggested Host Family Ideas
- Rosary blessed by the Pope
- Special tea bags or tea spice mixtures
- Wall calendar: lightweight, have pictures of America, and it’s helpful for explaining plans to your host-family
- Nice-smelling candles (that you think won’t melt in travel)
- Coloring books
- Jump ropes
- Glow sticks
- Chewing gum
- Photos of you
- Candy from America
- Kids toys from the dollar store
- Musical instruments for kids to play
- Hair clips
- Nail polish
- Small games (like those from the $1 section at Target)
What Not to Bring
- 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.
- Over-the-counter medications including Dramamine, first-aid items, mosquito repellent, mosquito net, mosquito-proof tent, bicycle and helmet, water filter, and sunscreen are provided by the Peace Corps in your medical kit.
- Dressing in all black clothing is used primarily for mourning after a death. White gets dirty easily (you will be hand-washing everything). There are also used clothing markets in every district all over the country where you can get secondhand clothes (lots of American brands) for a few dollars each.