Packing list for East Timor

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Use this list 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.

General Clothing

East Timor is a conservative society, and dressing modestly and neatly is important. Norms regarding Western clothing are changing rapidly so it is difficult to make a list that will apply for very long. Many people still wear traditional dress (sarongs for both men and women), although in the capital and district centers people wear Western clothing. Shorts, tank tops, and short skirts are not appropriate for office work where many health promotion and community devlopment Volunteers will work. You should pack casual clothing for your time away from the office and for vacations and leisure time outside of East Timor. Many Volunteers in the community development project can dress more casually (although still conservatively) in their day-to-day work. Many Volunteers in both groups also have gardening projects and will need at least one set of sturdy yet cool work clothes.

Be prepared for a range of temperatures. You are likely to do a lot of walking, and the terrain will be hard on shoes. Finding clothes and shoes of the quality and size you desire may be a challenge in East Timor, especially if you wear larger sizes. Timorese are generally slender and shorter than Americans.

Be prepared for a lot of down time. Bring things you like to do or would like to do. If you’ve always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument, now is your opportunity.

Following are some specific clothing and shoe recommendations.


  • Casual pants (four to five pair in thin and light materials such as chinos, cotton or linen) for work (men)
  • Skirts or dresses (below the knee) for work; in some but not all communities women can also wear pants to the office
  • Shorts below the knee (a few pairs), but no short-shorts; women wear longer-length board shorts here
  • One or two nice outfits—dress slacks or neat khakis and at least one tie for men (suits or sports coats are almost never worn here), skirt or dress for women (also in lightweight materials, preferrably cotton or linen)
  • Shirts (button-down, polo, and T-shirts) and blouses (no crop tops, spagetti straps, or skimpy tank tops); one long-sleeve shirt or blouse for higher altitudes (if you burn easily, you may want more lightweight long-sleeve items)
  • Cotton lightweight underwear
  • One set of strong but not heavy work clothing (avoid denim)
  • One sweatshirt or sweater for high altitudes
  • Socks
  • Rain jacket/poncho (or a very lightweight, water-resistant windbreaker)
  • Swimsuit (one piece) (no bikinis for men or women)
  • Hat or cap (the sun is fierce)

Shoes

  • One pair of dress shoes (dressy sandals are fine for women although Timorese women tend to wear heels to events such as weddings)
  • Flip-flops (readily available locally)
  • Sturdy sandals such as Tevas/Chakos/Berks
  • Sturdy walking shoes (locals hike in sandals or even flip-flops)
  • Running shoes or sneakers (if you play soccer, you may want to bring spikes) Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
  • Start-up supply of soap, shampoo, deodorant, razors, etc. (easy to get here)
  • Any specific brands that you feel you cannot live without (selection is limited)
  • Tampons (to cover the first six months if you require a particular kind)
  • Small lightweight hand towel (available here but quality is limited) Miscellaneous
  • Two pair of glasses
  • Supply of your prescriptions and/or hearing aid batteries
  • Sunglasses with UV protection (available here)
  • Sturdy backpack for short trips
  • Pouch and/or belt for your money and passport (to wear under your clothing)
  • Utility knife (e.g., Leatherman or Swiss army knife)
  • Flashlight (good quality) or head-lamp
  • Small light travel alarm or wristwatch with alarm
  • Camera (digital are popular; 35 mm developing available but not high quality unless you have the film developed in Bali on vacation)
  • Water bottle (good quality)
  • Money, traveler’s checks or credit card for vacations
  • Photos, games, maps from home, books, airgrams, and hobby materials
  • Small inexpensive presents for your training family and your host family Optional
  • IPod or CD walkman
  • Battery-operated shortwave radio if interested in BBC or Voice Of America
  • Musical instrument (remember luggage weight and size restrictions)
  • Sports equipment (soccer and basketballs are available here)
  • Laptop
  • Snorkeling gear (with booties for coral protection)
  • Summer-weight sleeping bag

Don’t Bring

  • Among the things you do not need to bring (because they are provided by the Peace Corps) are over-thecounter medications and first-aid items, mosquito repellent, mosquito net, mosquito-proof tent, bicycle and helmet, water filter, or sunscreen
  • Black clothing is used only for mourning after a death; white gets dirty easily (you will be hand-washing eveything)
  • Cellphone
  • Anything valuable or sentimental that you wouldn’t want to lose