Packing list for Guatemala
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Guatemala 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. In addition, the climate in Guatemala varies greatly from cold to hot. The training center, in Santa Lucia Milpas Altas (near Antigua), is at high altitude. Therefore it can be very cold at night and in the training rooms during the morning hours. It can be quite cold for the training group that arrives in January, and quite rainy for the other two groups that arrive later in the calendar year.
It is important to keep this in mind while packing and be sure to pack accordingly (think layers!). There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Guatemala.
- Two to three pairs nice pants (lightweight that quick dry can be helpful)
- Two to four pairs work pants or jeans
- Six T-shirts or short sleeve polo shirts
- Two to three blouses or dress shirts
- One to two pairs of shorts (not short-shorts)
- Two week supply of cotton underwear and socks
- One pair long underwear
- Two to three medium-weight sweater/sweatshirt
- One medium-weight jacket or fleece
- One poncho or rain coat (rain pants optional and advised by some) For Men
- A few ties, one or two nice dress shirts and a sport coat (optional) for formal occasions For Women
- Two casual and one dress-up dresses
- Two to three “going-out” outfits
Other Clothing Items
- Handkerchiefs or bandanas
- Running or athletic gear (if you are into sports)
- One to two bathing suits
- Two hats (sun hats, visors, or caps with bill)
- One stocking cap (for colder weather)
- One pair of lightweight gloves
NOTE: The general characteristics for clothes are sturdy, easily washable, iron-free (if possible), and conservative.
Bring what you are comfortable in, for example things you would wear on a weekend in the states. You do not need to change your whole style because you are a Volunteer. Good quality, used clothes are available in many Guatemalan markets or stores (called ropa Americana). Additionally, many Volunteers have noted their work requires business casual for special meetings or events. As one Volunteer noted: “Although many items on this list may seem like it, you are not preparing for a two-year camping trip, nor do you need to.”
- One or two pairs of sturdy, walking tennis/cross-training shoes
- One pair of hiking boots or water proof shoes
- One to two pairs comfortable casual/dress shoe
- One pair sport and dress sandals
- One pair farm/mud boots (for agriculture Volunteers). Rubber boots are also very easy to buy in Guatemala.
NOTE: The overall selection and quality of shoes in Guatemala is more limited than the US. It is difficult to find women’s shoes larger than size 9 and men’s shoes larger than size 10. If you have larger feet, you may want to consider a plan for getting extra shoes once the ones you bring wear out (e.g., bringing a two-year supply, having people bring you shoes when they come to visit, or arranging for people to send them to you).
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Your regular hygiene items (e.g., soap, shampoo, shaving cream, etc.) to get you started (replacements/ refills are easily bought here)
- Three-month supply of prescription medicine
- Extra pair of prescription glasses
NOTE: Peace Corps nurses will supply you with over-the-counter medicines such as: vitamins, painkillers, cold medicines, tampons, etc.
- One to two sets of flat sheets and pillow cases for a full bed
- Two bath towels (quick dry towels are convenient for travel)
- Flashlight (headlamps are popular)
- Sturdy backpack/duffel bag for three- or four-day trips
- Day pack/Small backpack
- Watch (fairly cheap and water-resistant/proof, although cell phones can also serve as a watch.)
- Small travel alarm clock (Most people use the alarm on their cell phone.)
- Money belt (30% of PCVs in Guatemala report theft so this is almost a necessity)
- One water bottle
- Pocketknife (basic knife, corkscrew, screwdriver model is very handy, e.g., Leatherman)
- Shortwave radio
- Start-up supply of stationery, pens, journal, etc.
- Light sleeping bag and sleeping pad (e.g., thermarest)
- Digital camera (blank CDs are cheap for copying files). Film developing is also easily still accessible in many towns.
- Good scissors
- Photos of family, friends, and home (Guatemalans will LOVE to see your photos)
- Decks of cards and favorite board games are popular
- Small sewing kit
- One or two books to get you through training (PC has a very large library/ book exchange)
- Travel guide to Guatemala
- Music (Many PCVs have iPods, although they are targets for theft. Some people bring small radio/CD/MP3 players, but others buy them in Guatemala.) CDs are sold in every market at very cheap prices.
- Small, basic cookbook/favorite recipes (Peace Corps/ Guatemala also sells Que Rico! a cookbook of Volunteer-compiled recipes that are easily prepared with common items sold at market)
- Duct tape
- Instrument (harmonica, guitar, etc.)
- Comfort foods (favorite snack foods)
- USB storage stick 4 GB (easy to use and hardier than disks for saving important documents)
- Laptop or netbook computers are very useful, just be aware that computer theft can be common on public buses so the property insurance policy is a good idea.