FAQs about Peace Corps in Bolivia
- 1 How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Bolivia?
- 2 What is the electric current in Bolivia?
- 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 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 Bolivia?
- 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 am I allowed to bring to Bolivia?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. Peace Corps allows 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. The larger piece of checked baggage may not exceed 62 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 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. This is an important safety precaution. Please check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permittedprohibited-items.shtm.
What is the electric current in Bolivia?
It is 220 volts.
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 and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own 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 you have completed pre-service training and the first three 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 cannot provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. 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. Peace Corps/Bolivia strongly recommends that you purchase personal property insurance before you leave if you are taking valuables such as a laptop computer, digital camera, etc. Personal articles insurance information is provided in your invitation kit as well as during staging, or you may contact your own insurance company.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
Volunteers in Bolivia do not need to get an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus, minivan, or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minivans to trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a third-year Volunteer or technical specialist may be authorized to drive a Peace Corps vehicle. Should this occur, the Volunteer will need to present the Peace Corps with a valid U.S. driver’s license to obtain a local driver’s license and be fully trained in vehicle operation.
What should I bring as gifts for my host family?
We ask that you not bring gifts for your host family. Future trainees and Volunteers may not be in a position to provide gifts, and it would be unfair to develop an expectation of gifts in host communities.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
You will be assigned a site between the sixth and eighth week of pre-service training. This gives the associate Peace Corps director the opportunity to assess your skills and interests and to get your input and that of the training staff before deciding on the best possible site match. Keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. While a few Volunteers live in larger cities, most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural communities and are within three hours from the nearest Volunteer. Some sites require a 10- to 12-hour drive from the nearest departmental capital.
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, 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, then extension 2515, 2516, or 2525.
Can I call home from Bolivia?
While Volunteers do not typically have telephones in their home or work facilities, most have access to a telephone company office at their site or in their departmental capital where they can make and receive calls. Collect calls can be made from most phones, and AT&T, MCI, and Sprint calling cards can be used from some phones. International long distance is very expensive, however, and most Volunteers find it more convenient and reliable to communicate via electronic or regular mail.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Most Volunteers purchase cellular phones, or bring them from home and get service at their own expense. Cellular service is generally available only in and near major cities, not in the rural areas where most Volunteers live and work. The Peace Corps does not provide cellphones or service, as every site is accessible by regular phone service or shortwave radio. If you want to bring a cellphone, make sure it is compatible with Bolivian cell technology, which currently uses GSM or TDMA—not CDMA techology.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
All major cities and many smaller communities have Internet cafés. Although you are not likely to have direct access to the Internet at your site, you should be able to access the Internet and send and receive e-mail in your departmental capital for a reasonable hourly rate. While it is difficult and costly to secure personal Internet access via a modem at most sites, many Volunteers in Bolivia still find that having a laptop computer enhances their communications capabilities and their project work. If you choose to bring a computer, we encourage you to insure it along with all your other valuable belongings.