Packing list for Jamaica

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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Jamaica 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 limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Jamaica.

General Clothing


The workplace:

  • slacks (not jeans) - this depends where you work. Most school environments are more professional, but jeans or khakis might be appropriate for other agencies. REI makes a nice lightweight khaki colored pair of slacks, with hidden zipper pockets (great to keep money safe in)
  • shirts with collars (lightweight and wash-and-wear are best) and POCKETS! When crammed in a bus or taxi, it is best to keep some money in your shirt pocket so you don't have to reach into your pants.
  • shoes: lace up leather (brown or black.) Make sure they are comfortable more than anything else.

Fieldwork and Recreation wear:

  • jeans (dark pants are preferable, as light colors show soil quicker)
  • long shorts
  • short-sleeved shirts, T-shirts, or polo shirts. Short sleeve button-up shirts with pockets are great, as you can store taxi fare in them, and they breath more and do not stick to you as much as cotton t-shirts do.
  • tie - again, depends on your site. I have worn my suit and tie once at swearing in.
  • dress shoes


The workplace

at least 6 to 8 outfits

  • wash-and-wear dresses,
  • mix-and-match skirts (no miniskirts)
  • blouses (no spaghetti straps or low necks)
  • shoes: black or brown closed toed with or without heel Fieldwork and Recreational wear
  • lightweight pants or jeans
  • long shorts short-sleeved shirts T-shirts or polo shirts Special Occasions (e.g. the swearing-in ceremony, weddings, and funerals)
  • at least two formal or casually elegant outfits for special occasions Other items to bring:
  • Sun hat or cap
  • Belts (of any material except suede)
  • some bandannas or handkerchiefs


Bring three or four pairs of comfortable and sturdy walking or tennis shoes. It is advisable to have more than one pair to allow for a day of “drying time.” Due to the high humidity, clothing and shoes do have a tendency to mildew. Also bring one or two pair of closed toe dress shoes and dressy high heeled sandals. Although Birkenstock-type sandals are nice to have for their comfort, they are not suitable for most professional situations.

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

  • Travel-size toiletries for weekend trips
  • Brush, comb, hand mirror, nail clippers, nail file, razor and blades
  • Contact lens solution, if you wear contacts (it is available in Jamaica but is costly)
  • Three-month supply of any prescription drugs you take
  • Feminine hygiene products—tampons, maxipads, and panty shields are available locally, but are a little more expensive than in the United States, so consider bringing a supply
    tampons are also not generally used and, if available in your community, will be behind locked glass at a pharmacy - definitely bring a supply or have some mailed to you.
  • Hair dryer
  • Hairpins, barrettes, etc.
  • Two inexpensive, lightweight bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths (quick-dry towels are a good choice)
  • One beach towel
  • insect repellent/sunscreen (if you have a preferred brand; some will be given to you in your med kit)


  • Basic cookbook or recipes for your favorite dishes
  • Plastic containers (like Tupperware)
  • Plastic storage bags in assorted sizes
  • Artificial sweetener (if you use it); available locally, but expensive Miscellaneous
  • A good can-opener (seriously, a good one is expensive and hard to find on the island)


  • Windows Laptop. Lots of work will either require or will be benefited from having a laptop. Mac support is difficult to find on the island. A netbook (small laptops with no dvd drive, less processing power, and long battery life) are a well suited an inexpensive option. If you are purchasing a laptop for service, consider a $300 range netbook.
  • Two pairs of prescription eyeglasses (if you wear them; photochromic lenses are recommended)
  • Sunglasses (preferably with UV protection)
  • One or two watches (inexpensive, durable, water-resistant) with extra batteries
  • Comfortable shoulder bag or messenger bag (Volunteers often go on short, two- to four-day trips, so bring something you can comfortably carry on a crowded bus)
  • Therm-a-Rest, hammock, or other portable sleeping pad (for use when visiting other Volunteers)
  • Umbrella
  • Duct tape
  • Plastic water bottle (e.g., Nalgene) or canteen
  • Earplugs for sleeping through loud music, roosters, and barking dogs
  • Camera - A small point and shoot should be good unless you are a professional. Look into waterproof models as well.
  • Portable music player. iPods or similar mp3 players work well, if they have a radio all the better.
  • Games (e.g., cards, backgammon, chess, Gameboy or DS)
  • Snorkel, mask, and fins and swimming goggles (if you are so inclined)
  • Hobby and craft supplies (available locally but expensive)
  • Rubber bands and paperclips
  • USB thumbdrive for transferring work files, just ensure your anti-virus software is being utilized (Try the SwissFlash, which is both a flash drive and a swiss army knife]
  • External Hard Drive for swapping music and movies to stave off boredom
  • A good-quality multitool (Leatherman or Gerber or Victorinox), with screwdriver and bottle opener.
  • A good-quality can-opener (difficult to find, or you can resort to the Jamaican method of using a sharp knife and a steady hand.)