FAQs about Peace Corps in El Salvador
- 1 How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to El Salvador?
- 2 What is the electric current in El Salvador?
- 3 How much money should I bring?
- 4 When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- 5 Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- 6 Do I need an international driver’s license?
- 7 What should I bring as gifts for El Salvador friends and my host family?
- 8 Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- 9 How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- 10 Can I call home from El Salvador?
- 11 Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- 12 Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to El Salvador?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limitations, and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limitations. The authorized baggage 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 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 70 pounds for any one bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. Any sharp objects including pocketknives, scissors or even tweezers should be packed in checked luggage. Security requirements for luggage may change. Please check with the Federal Aviation Administration http://www.faa.gov for updates on luggage security.
What is the electric current in El Salvador?
The electric voltage is 110v, the same as in the United States.
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards or debit cards are preferable to cash. Traveler’s checks can be difficult to change and banks will generally charge a fee for cashing them. If you choose to bring extra money, plan on bringing the amount that suits your own personal travel plans and needs.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first 3 months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa or travel assistance.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects. However, such insurance can be purchased before you leave. Ultimately, Volunteers are responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application will be given to you, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Additional information about insurance should be obtained by calling the company directly.
Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
Volunteers in El Salvador do not need to get an international driver’s license. Operation of privately owned vehicles is prohibited. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses, to mini-buses, to trucks, to a lot of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle. But this is only with prior written permission of the country director. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. Your U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.
What should I bring as gifts for El Salvador friends and my host family?
This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include: knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until after they have completed their pre-service training. This gives the Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, or living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might ideally like to be. Most Volunteers will live in small towns or in rural villages, but will usually be within 1 hour from the nearest Volunteer. Some sites will require a 6 to 10 hour drive from the capital. There will be at least one Volunteer based in each of the regional capitals, and Volunteers may work in the capital city.
How can my family contact me in an emergency?
The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574.
For non-emergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.
Can I call home from El Salvador?
The international phone service to and from El Salvador has improved tremendously in the last few years. AT&T, Sprint, and MCI can be accessed, but most Volunteers are opting for phone cards from local companies to call the United States.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
It is best to wait and see if there is coverage in your site and then decide if you want to buy a cellular phone here. There are several companies, the phones are relatively cheap, and almost all Volunteers have bought them here. If you already have a cellphone, you might bring it with you. Many phones with a removeable SIM chip can be “reprogrammed” by buying a local company’s cellphone SIM chip and inserting it into the phone.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
E-mail and Internet access are becoming more common and widespread and frequently used by the Volunteers, although they may need to travel a bit to access. Every department has Internet facilities so e-mail is never more than two hours away and most often closer. Some Volunteers have their laptops here and appreciate having brought them. This mostly depends on your personal interest, as it is seldom a necessity for your eventual work here. Volunteers who bring computers save travel time by doing non-internet computer tasks at home. Tigo internet cards are now available and have signal almost every where in the country. Thus, if you have cell phone service in your site you are able to have internet. its 30 dollars a month for unlimited access.