Packing list for Guyana
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Guyana and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. 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. You can always have things sent to you later. 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 Guyana (with the exception of clothes in big and tall sizes).
You are likely to be either teaching in a school or working as an educator in a health center or NGO, so keep that in mind when choosing appropriate professional clothing to bring. The climate is another consideration when packing. We recommend cotton or linen clothing for comfort, but synthetic materials or blends may be easier to wash and they maintain their shape better, especially during travel. Since clothing is generally washed by hand in Guyana, often with a scrub brush, clothing can wear out faster than normal and durability is important. There are a few dry cleaners in Guyana, but they are expensive. Avoid bringing items that are susceptible to mildew and mold (e.g., suede shoes).
If you bring new clothing or equipment, remove price tags to avoid possible taxes at customs. The Peace Corps provides some funds for the purchase of clothing, but it is advisable to take advantage of the greater variety and quality in the United States. There are many good tailors and seamstresses in Guyana who can make many styles of clothing at a reasonable price.
- Sturdy backpack for traveling on three- to four-day trips.
- Pen drive (also called thumb drive or flash drive) holds more data than floppy disks (floppies get destroyed by the humidity).
- Envelopes (the ones that peel off an adhesive strip and stick). The humidity will destroy the adhesive on ordinary envelopes .
- A large bottle of your favorite brand of shampoo or conditioner.
- Regular film (A roll goes for about $5-$10; developing costs are comparable to that in the States)
- Back-up batteries for cameras that require special sizes
- Digital cameras (Make sure you bring your USB cord, CD-ROMs for backups can be purchased in-country. 4 x 6 prints cost 45 cents. Also consider uploading your images to an online developer [e.g., Ofoto, Yahoo! Photos, Shutterfly], having the prints sent to a U.S. address and then shipped back down to you by friends or family. Some Volunteers even have photo printers) Note that Advantix film can be developed at Acme or Galaxy photo shops in Georgetown.
- A few disposable cameras are useful if you don’t want to use your regular or digital camera (e.g., to the river)
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Contact lens solution (very expensive down here— recommended to bring from home; remember Peace Corps discourages the use of contact lenses)
- Pocketknife (be sure to declare it within your checked baggage at the airport)
- Head lamp
- Sturdy water bottle (e.g., Nalgene)
- A hat/cap for protection from the intense sun.
- Sunglasses (avoid bringing expensive sunglasses unless you’re especially good at looking after them)
- Bandannas (to use as sweat rags)
- Long-sleeved shirts (good for sun protection and bug protection), preferably of a breathable material
- Shoes that you will be comfortable in for two years (if you’re hard to size); Tevas or Chacos are highly recommended by many Volunteers. Uness you plan on exercising, athletic socks and sneakers are hot and uncomfortable. If you do exercise, bring tennis/trail running shoes.
- Money belt (key to avoiding losing all your vacation money as you walk through Georgetown)
- Plastic storage bags (e.g., Ziploc bags). Note that these and garbage bags are readily available here.
- If you are a teacher or if you plan on teaching, bring comfortable closed-toe dress shoes. Some headmasters (i.e., principals of schools) are real sticklers about this.
- Bed sheets (should be thin and easy to wash and dry)
- PayPal account with a debit card that can access it. This is good for emergencies, projects and vacations.
- There are plenty of books around amongst other Volunteers and in the Peace Corps Volunteer lounge, but bring a few to add to the mix. Also, a dictionary is always useful.
- Laptops (with the exception of IT Volunteers) : You have the chance of being placed at a site without electricity for two years. About one in every three Volunteers bring laptops. You may also wish to buy a cheap desktop ($100-$150 U.S.) when you get to your site and see your electricity situation. Voltage stabilizers are also helpful if you want to prevent damage to your computer due to power instability. Guyana does not charge customs on computers so shipping after arrival is also possible.
- Don’t bring pots/pans; you can purchase them down here.
- Mattress covers are helpful for keeping the bed bugs away.
- Cellphone: Only GSM services available.
- Photos from home. They’re nice to decorate your house, and your Guyanese friends will love looking at photos of your friends back in the States.
- CDs, CD player, iPod, MP3 player, or other portable music player). Also bring small speakers. If tight on money, purchase a CD player that plays MP3s, and then burn all your MP3s to CD-ROMs. Many songs can fit on one disc.
- Pajama pants are nice to keep the mosquitoes away at night.
- The latest versions of the GRE, GMAT or MCAT study guides. While the Volunteer lounge has copies, they’re rather outdated.
- Bottle/can opener (of the key chain variety)
- Map of U.S. or world can be useful for students or even self
- A board game is nice to bring. Scrabble is popular and readily available amongst several Volunteers.
- Musical instrument (if you play)
- Breathable raincoat (if you can afford it or have it already)
- Dress socks—thin and light (these can protect your feet from mosquitoes in your home)
- Light jacket or long-sleeved shirt
- Thin towels, like the ones from hotels (easier to pack and dry quickly)
- Health Volunteers often benefit from a good medical reference book
- Favorite brand of coffee (if you’re a coffee person). Note that you can get locally grown stuff that is not bad; it can be boiled and then strained.
- IT Volunteers may benefit from small tool kit for computers. Victorinox (Swiss Army) sells a special pocket knife that IT Volunteers have found useful. Depending on your site, you may already have tools there, but a kit is always nice since you can’t really do much to a computer without a screwdriver.
- It is not necessary to purchase and/or bring down a blazer.
- At the most, bring down only two button-down long-sleeve shirts and matching ties. Male Volunteers who are health educators typically wear short-sleeve polo shirts and khakis.
- Showing midriff is unacceptable. Bring belts and shirts that are long in the torso.
- One pair of long shorts
- Two to three dress slacks
- Two summer dresses (if you have them)
- One semi-formal dress (for swearing-in ceremony).
Custom tailoring is readily available and affordable.
- Two to three knee-length skirts
- Three to four long skirts
- Casual tops (tank tops can be worn outside of work, though they stretch out quickly with hand washing, so it’s a good idea to bring some boy’s undershirts or tanks that won’t stretch to put underneath clothes)
- Light cotton button-down shirt
- One to three pairs of pajama pants.
- One to two half slips (e.g., one white and one black).
These are also available cheaply in Guyana.
- Soccer shorts (instead of cotton/spandex shorts)
- Loose-fitting shirts (you will want the breathability during the dry season)
- Casual clothes like jeans, tanks, fun T-shirts for around the house
- Do not bring expensive jewelry; you will make yourself a target for thieves
- If you use make-up, bring your personal supply down— the availability in-country is both expensive and of poor quality. If you have a specific brand of face wash, be sure to bring that down.
- Tampons are readily available, but the variety of brands may be limited. if you have a favorite brand, bring down a three-month supply Shoes
- Sturdy pair of combined running and walking shoes
- Hiking boots, if you plan to hike
- Two pairs of sport sandals (Teva or similar brand)
- One or two pairs of casual sandals
- One pair of dress shoes
- Flip-flops (can be bought in Guyana)
- Due to sweat, hand washing and humidity, your T-shirts and other clothes will slowly get destroyed. The detergents and sun drying are very abrasive on clothes (cotton will go faster than synthetics). So, for example, bring two pairs of jeans instead of just one. Any dryfit or quick-dry stuff is really great, especially for travel.
- Electricity can range between 110-240 volts (in the U.S. everything is 110 volts). You can purchase converters (transformers) in-country. Remember this when bringing down electrical appliances (e.g., laptops, chargers, etc.) Also, sometimes the current is not “clean,” i.e., it fluctuates.
- If you play soccer, it wouldn’t hurt to bring your soccer cleats and ball. Perhaps even a small ball pump.
- Some health Volunteers wear sandals (e.g., Tevas, or Chacos) to work. Cheap shoes can be bought in-country.
- You can buy almost any clothes in-country, but size and quality could be a problem.
- Bring a few favorite recipes. Almost all kitchen items are available in Guyana. Keep in mind you may not have an oven at your site.
- Buy your iron in Guyana
- Drink mixes are not as readily available down here— request that these be sent from home to your address.
- Peace Corps provides you with generic mosquito repellent and sunscreen.
- Note to family and friends: Things trainees like to get in packages include candies, hand sanitizers, magazines, photos from home, drink mixes, coffee, special teas, games, etc.