What to Pack!?
While Haiti may at first conjure up images of poverty and natural disasters, it is a Caribbean nation with a raw beauty and a fascinating culture. The temperature remains relatively consistent in Haiti throughout the year, averaging above 80 degrees the majority of the time. Haiti experiences two rainy seasons during each year; the first from April through June and the other from September through November. Prepare your luggage with a little bit of careful planning to get the most out of your trip to Haiti.
ITEMS YOU WILL NEED
- Loose fitting clothing
- An appropriate outfit for a Sunday church service. Men: think polo shirt, shorts, sandals. Women: Think dress that meets the knee with no spaghetti straps
- Runners/Sneakers/Hiking Shoes
- Slip-on shoes/Sandals/Flip Flops
- Conservative bathing suit (No two-piece suits for women)
- Hat or Bandana
- Mosquito repellent
- A solar lamp or flashlight with spare batteries
- Two water bottles
- Anti Malaria Medications
- Cirproflaxin or Doxycycline for traveler’s diarrhea
Pack loose-fitting, light-colored clothing to stay cool in the Haiti heat. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, linen and silk, breathe better than synthetic fabrics, such as nylon. Pack outfit pieces that are interchangeable to limit the amount of clothing you need. Haitian citizens generally dress more modestly than many Western societies, so leave the short shorts and crop tops at home to avoid sticking out.
Pack a pair of runners or hiking shoes to wear during city and countryside travel. The streets and sewers fill quickly during rainstorms, so these closed toe shoes are recommended for comfort as well as hygiene. Bring flip-flops or sandals to wear in the shower or at the beach/river!
Pack a lightweight jacket for cooler evenings. Bring along a rain poncho or coat as well to prevent the weather from interfering with your itinerary.
Bring a conservative bathing suit for swimming and other water activities in Haiti. Again, the Haitian citizens are more conservative than typical Western culture. Skimpy bikinis and tankinis will make the wearer stand out. Many female travelers choose to wear a sports bra with a t-shirt and athletic shorts for swimming.
Pack sun protection supplies. Start with a strong sunscreen lotion with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 40. Add a pair of UV-protection sunglasses to your luggage and a hat with a wide brim to shield your face from the sun.
Bring a belt pack or knapsack to carry essentials during outings.
Pack a mosquito repellent cream or spray and use it. Because there have been cases of malaria caused by mosquito bites in Haiti, also be sure to visit your doctor for treatment before departure. Mosquito nets are provided by MBB for sleeping purposes.
Pack a battery-operated flashlight and spare batteries or a personal solar lamp. Gros Morne RARELY has power (think: 4 hours in 4 months of municipal power). While our facility is equipped with a solar panel for lighting and fans, it will likely not provide 24/7 electricity. Be prepared for conditions to which you are not entirely accustomed.
Pack your passport. A tourist visa is not required for US citizens visiting Haiti. There is a $10.00 Tourist Fee to be paid in cash upon arrival at the Port au Prince Airport. No change is given. Travel with a crisp, clean, $10.00 bill. ONLY HAND THE AGENT YOUR MONEY WHEN THEY HAVE A RECEIPT IN HAND TO OFFER YOU. You will need to show this receipt as well as your baggage tags upon leaving the airport through customs.
All excursions and outings are subject to change due to weather, security, or other concerns. We ask all visitors to MBB Haiti to embrace a “Plan Z” mentality and to remember that it is, in fact, Haiti. Things often come up, and plans change without notice. Please refrain from asking MBB staff “what are we doing tomorrow”. We have a plan, yes, but we don’t want visitors to have expectations of a given excursion/outing/experience only to have it canceled for reasons beyond our control. Go with it. Relax.
All volunteers and visitors are expected to adhere to the instructions of MBB Staff at all times, without exception. At no time are MBB volunteers permitted to venture off away from the group. A buddy system will be used to keep track of everyone, and security and/or other personnel (translators) will be with us at all times. Please ask a local staff member for permission before taking photos, as this can upset many Haitians for a variety of reasons.
Bring American dollars – no more than perhaps $100.00 USD total, in smaller, clean, crisp bills. Haitian vendors will not accept currency that is defaced, torn or even folded in any way. Expect change in the local currency (Haitian Gourdes). The current exchange rate is 62 HTG to 1 USD.
Also published on Medium.