Packing list for Suriname
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Suriname and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that every Volunteer’s experience is unique and that 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. The sort of work you expect to be doing—in both your official project and your secondary projects—should be your ultimate guide. You can always have things sent to you later.
Suriname has a tropical climate with high humidity and rainfall. Temperatures range from 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and tend to be cooler in the rain forest interior than along the coast. The climate in Suriname can ruin some items, so do not bring things you would be heartbroken to lose. Although Volunteers are expected to project a professional image at all times, dress in the capital of Paramaribo is more formal than in the interior communities. In the capital, Volunteers work in office settings where “smart casual” attire is appropriate (trousers and collared shirts for men; slacks or skirts and blouses for women). In the interior, clothing varies depending on the culture and the location of the community. Men tend to wear pants or shorts with T-shirts or other casual shirts and sandals or flip-flops, while women wear skirts with T-shirts or other tops and sandals or flip-flops.
Remember that Suriname is a relatively poor country. Volunteers with a lot of possessions will appear rich to many Surinamese. Keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage, and that you can get almost everything you need in Suriname.
Clothing should be sturdy, easily washable, permanent press, quick-drying, and modest. Volunteers recommend that you try washing clothing and wringing it out by hand before packing to determine if the clothing is suitable. Do not bring military-style clothing or camoflauge garments.
- Two pairs of work slacks; cotton and khaki are preferable
- Two pairs of casual slacks
- Two pairs of fairly long, quick-drying walking shorts
- Three short-sleeved T-shirts
- One long-sleeved T-shirt (for jungle hiking)
- Three tank tops (not low-cut)
- Two casual shirts, minimum (preferably short-sleeved cotton)
- Two button-down, short-sleeve dress shirts
- Appropriate cool socks for your shoes (thin polypropylene socks work well with rubber boots)
- A generous supply of easy-to-wash underwear
- Poncho or raincoat (ponchos are better than raincoats as they provide coverage for gear and afford greater ventilation)
- Cap or hat for sun protection
- Light jacket (optional; Suriname’s climate is very warm, but on rare nights or higher elevations it can get chilly)
- Bandanas (available in Suriname)
- Belts or suspenders (Your weight may fluctuate during service)
- One necktie
- One casual cotton sundress (minimum)
- One dress suitable for a business meeting or Peace Corps swearing-in ceremony
- Several casual, comfortable skirts
- Two blouses
- Two T-shirts or tank tops (not low cut)
- Poncho or rainjacket (ponchos are better than raincoats as they provide coverage for gear and afford greater ventilation)
- Cap or hat for sun protection
- Bandanas (available in Suriname)
- A generous supply of easy-to-wash underwear, including bras (cotton recommended). Sturdy underwear is hard to find in Suriname and the quality and selection is not as varied as in the U.S.. Cotton blends are better than synthetics. Sports bras are highly recommended. In some communities, Volunteers can wear halter tops or sports bras for bathing and other informal activities.
- One or two swimsuits and two or three pairs of swim shorts (e.g., Umbros). In many communities in the interior, bathing is done publicly in the river, so suits should be modest. At some sites, women may be expected to wear lightweight shorts or sarongs (called pangi) over their suits to cover their thighs.
- One pair of sturdy walking or hiking boots
- One pair of running or tennis shoes (if you plan to run or play sports)
- One pair of rubber boots (can be bought easily in Suriname)
- One pair of casual shoes for work
- One pair of flip-flops or other informal “slippers” (available in Suriname)
- For women: One pair of dress sandals or shoes for special occasions Note about shoes: Good, sturdy shoes are expensive on a Peace Corps budget. If you wear odd sizes (9 or above, wide, or narrow) you will have trouble finding a good fit. Inexpensive “fashion” sandals are abundant, but usually wear out quickly or may blister your feet.
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- For women, tampons (a limited selection is available in the capital, but they are expensive)
- Start-up supply of soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc.
- Nail- and foot-care supplies, bath scrubbers, and a moderate amount of beauty supplies may help you feel more comfortable.
Kitchen and Household Items
Volunteers receive funds to purchase kitchen items. Most household items are available in Paramaribo. Certain items, such as measuring cups, a durable can opener, garlic press, etc., are sometimes hard to find. If you have lightweight kitchen items that seem essential to you, you may want to bring them. Otherwise, save luggage space and weight and buy them in Suriname. If you enjoy cooking, it may be worthwhile to pack some of your favorite spices. (e.g., taco, chili powder and Italian seasonings) as they may be hard to find in Suriname.
- One bath towel and washcloth (available in Suriname)
- Two flat sheets and a set of sheets for a double bed
- Pillow and pillowcase(s) (a small travel pillow may be easiest, or have a pillow shipped after you swear-in; Suriname pillows are “different”)
- Sturdy backpack or duffel bag for overnight trips or travel of several days or more
- Day pack or small backpack
- Inexpensive, water-resistant, shockproof watch
- Flashlight or headlamp for bedtime reading (bring extra batteries if the size is unusual or hard to find; standard batteries are available in Suriname)
- Multiple-utility pocketknife (i.e., Swiss Army or Leatherman-type)
- Small travel alarm clock with extra batteries
- For prescription eyeglass wearers, two pairs of eyeglasses and your prescription
- For contact lens wearers, extra pairs and cleaning solutions (Consult the Peace Corps medical officer in Suriname about wearing contacts; they are not recommended because of the difficulty in keeping them clean)
- Three-month supply of any prescription drugs you take.
- Ziplock storage bags in a variey of sizes
Things You May Be Glad You Brought
- Backgammon, cards, and other travel games
- Favorite educational books and activities (e.g., picture dictionary). The Peace Corps Resource Center contains many books and other materials related to Peace Corps projects and development in general; however, if there are reference materials you feel are essential to your job, you should bring them with you.
- Fiction books or other personal reading materials. Peace Corps has an outstanding Volunteer lending library in Paramaribo.
- Favorite recipes or cookbook
- Digital camera (35 mm film is expensive to buy and develop on a Peace Corps budget. Some Volunteers mail their film back to the United States for processing. Remember that expensive items such as photography equipment could be stolen or be difficult to repair.)
- Photos of family and friends and favorite places in the United States (Surinamese and other Volunteers love to look at pictures)
- Portable music player (with or without speakers and adapter)
- Shortwave radio
- Odd-size replacement batteries (e.g., watch, camera, lithium)
- Rechargeable batteries and charger
- Simple tool set
- Duct tape
- Work or gardening gloves
- Small sewing kit
- Start-up supply of stationery, pens, etc.
- Small padded mailing envelopes
- U.S. stamps for mailing letters with people traveling to the United States
- Lightweight atlas and current almanac
- Musical instruments
- Stain remover
- Clothespins and a few plastic hangers