Packing list for Panama

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Packing List for Panama

Packing Lists by Country

These lists has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Panama 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!
Flag of Panama.svg

See also:
Pre-Departure Checklist
Staging Timeline

For information see Welcomebooks


[edit] General Packing List

This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Panama and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. We recommend that you pack light. You can get virtually anything you might need in Panama. 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. Also, as you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. And, a final suggestion: If in doubt, leave it out.

For luggage in general, duffel bags and backpacks are much more practical than suitcases. Rolling suitcases especially are not practical for Panama. Be sure to put the following items in a carry-on bag for quick and easy access once you arrive in Panama: passport, baggage-claim tickets, customs forms, World Health Organization card, and immunization records.

Because of the heat and humidity, cotton fabric is always a good idea, especially for underwear. Outdoor clothing with fabric that “wicks away” moisture can be useful, but cotton-synthetic blends also hold their shape and are cooler to wear. Clothing will probably be subject to harsh washing (many Volunteers wash their clothes on rocks) and rugged work and climatic conditions, so be sure to select durable items. Do not bring clothes made of delicate materials.

Panama has clothing stores located throughout all areas of the country. Attractive, practical clothing will be readily available for purchase at very affordable prices. Outdoor gear such as sleeping mats, headlamps, etc., however, will be more difficult (but not impossible) to locate in Panama, as well as high-quality footwear, so when deciding what to bring it is recommended that you prioritize those items over clothing. Finally, bring what you know you will need to be happy, but base your decisions primarily on the type of work you will be doing and your probable living conditions. Do not bring anything that you would be heartbroken to lose.

[edit] General Clothing

[edit] Shoes

Note: Shoes larger than 10 are hard to find in Panama, as are wider sizes. Hiking shoes are available in Panama, but the selection is not as good as in the United States. Rubber boots are widely available.

[edit] Miscellaneous

The following items are less necessary, but you may want to consider bringing or to purchase once you arrive in Panama:

Batteries, razors, kerosene burners, and kitchen supplies are all readily available in Panama. It is strongly recommended that you not bring them. International calling cards are also inexpensive and easy to purchase in Panama.

You do not need to bring basic healthcare products (such as sun block, bug repellant, vitamins, band-aids, etc.) or a mosquito net as these are all provided by Peace Corps/ Panama. Peace Corps will also provide you with a Spanish-English dictionary when you arrive for training.

[edit] Sustainable Agriculture Systems (SAS) Packing List:

From my experience the packing list provided in the Peace Corps Panama Welcome book is very general, and is more suited towards Teaching English (TE) volunteers. For SAS volunteers , and possibly Environmental Health (EH), the list below is a better fit. This list was written from a male's perspective, so I'm sorry women if I got it wrong or left something out.

With that being said, Panama is Hot. Very hot and humid - think always 88°F with at least 90% humidity. You will sweat through your shirt every day, and it will probably take a long time (as in a day or two) to dry back out. A good rule of thumb that I've found here is: If it's metal, it rusts, if it's not metal, it molds. So on that note, don't bring anything you don't want to see get destroyed.

A note on nicer clothing: Nicer clothing is only necissary when you have trainings in the office or when meeting with government agencies. During my time in training we would go into the office maybe once a week, or once every other week. You do not need as much nice clothing as the general packing list suggests (especially if you are comfortable wearing the same shirt and pants a few times between washings). The office dress code is "professional", with the continum streching from "a polo, jeans, and chacos" to "a three piece suit". Everyone in the office is fairly forgiving. Most of the volunteers in my group opted for the polo, jeans, chachos end of the scale (guys ocassionally wearing a non-collared t-shirt and girls in tank tops or sleeveless shirts), but to each their own. The office does not want to see spagetti strap tank tops, shorts, or flip-flops. Other than that, almost anything is acceptable (including hiking pants). I sent home my closed toed black shoes, black slacks, long sleved dress shirts, belt, and ties after swear-in, all of which were molding. Either be prepared to have your nice clothes mold, or get them sent home after swear-in.

The one time volunteers need to look "dress to impress" is during the swear in ceremony. The ceremony is typically at the U.S. Embassador's house in Panama City. For guys I recommend a nice long sleeve, button down shirt, a good looking tie, slacks (any color), a good leather belt, and matching socks and shoes. For girls it's a lot harder to be specific, but just think "nothing too revealing". If you are going to wear a skirt or a dress, the office prefers it below the knee, but above the knee is fine. Wear something you would be comfortable in standing next to someone dressed in a suit.

In the host communities there is power, but it occasionally goes out when it rains. Thus there are washing mashines as well. Dryers only exist in laundramats in Panama, so you will be line drying all of your clothes. The sun is hard on all of your clothes, and cotton clothes get really streched out. At your site, there will most likely not be power. So for washing clothes at your site you will either be using rocks, or a hard bristled brush and a board - both of which are very hard on clothes.

You can buy practically everything here in Panama - including some US name brand clothing lines. In Panama City there is Albrook mall with everything you could ever need, albiet a little difficult to find within the mall. Prices on name brand clothing or items are fairly equivalent to US prices.

Men's shoes over size 12 are impossible to find in Panama. If you wear bigger than a 12, bring all the shoes you will need for two years (or have visitors bring you more pairs later on).

[edit] Every day clothing

[edit] Work clothing

[edit] Dress clothes

[edit] Electronics

[edit] Misc./ Tips and tricks

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