What to Pack for Trip to Haiti
Note These tips also apply to countries such as Ethiopia.
Recommended: A Haitian Creole Dictionary Phrasebook.
What to pack for trip to Haiti is less about your travel wardrobe and more about useful things for you to use while you are in Haiti that you can leave behind for others.
If you are traveling with an aid group they will likely guide you further or provide some supplies, such as insect repellent, first aid, over the counter medicines, etc. Note personal comfort items and allowed carryon liquids info.
General Tips on What to wear, what to pack for Trip to HaitiGenerally, Haiti has tropical weather year round. But the weather can be really damp and surprisingly chilly in rainy season or in the mountains. Be prepared for a range of weather conditons. Rainy seasons vary between north and south coasts, and from year to year. Hurricane season is June to November.
For the few weeks you will be in Haiti, you can likely survive quite well wearing the same few items of clothing. If you like, pack a small bottle of Febreeze to spray on clothes to freshen when you need to. Clothing hung in a closed wardrobe will mildew fairly quickly.
Haiti travel wardrobe: Women should as a rule dress modestly in Haiti, no matter what the local Haitians are wearing. They have limited resources and know the culture. Opt for longer loose-fitting skirts or looser-fitting slacks, and avoid skimpy tops. Longer sleeves will help with cleanliness and sun protection. Avoid heavy or obvious makeup, flashy jewellery: Try to blend in, not stick out. Be sensitive to the culture you are in.
Shoes, Socks How Many Pairs To Pack:
Two Pairs of shoes and socks should be enough: One good sturdy pair of hiking shoes or runners should do you, plus a pair of flip flops for wearing in the shower. Closed shoes are advisable to keep feet clean and protected. Sandals or open shoes are not recommended. Lightweight breathable socks in cotton or or sports style are good. Bear in mind during sudden rainstorms, Haiti streets and roadside sewers fill up rapidly. See Walking Shoes page for more info.
Tops, Blouses, Shirts to pack for Haiti
Pack a few different tops, blouses or shirts in lightweight fabrics, preferably with longer sleeves for added sun and insect protection. Print tops in subdued colors won't show grime as much. Lightweight fabrics are easier to rinse out, if water is available.
Travel Pants, Slacks, Skirts
Choose 3 or 4 pairs of travel pants or skirts in lightweight fabrics preferably in permanent press, or wrinkle resistant fabric. You are not going to be able to do laundry, ironing, etc as you would at a resort. Even if such services are available, be aware that resources are limited in Haiti at the best of times, and try not to be a drain on what little there is.
Best Colours Colors and Fabrics for Clothing
- Choose khaki or darker colored pants and skirts that won't show the dirt and dust as much as white colored clothing will. Ideally, look for pants and skirts made from quick dry fabric.
Pack lightweight cotton or breathable fabrics, and preferably fast drying. Synthetics such as polyester, nylon etc can lead to a terrific heat rash; blue jeans can draw attention to you as a 'blan' (foreigner) and are also very hot, and hard to line dry.
Lightweight Jacket, Rain Poncho or Rain Coat, Sun Hat, Sunglasses, Sunscreen
A good waterproof jacket is hard to find, and harder still to find at a reasonable price. Better, perhaps, to take along half a dozen or more disposable light plastic rain ponchos from the Dollar Store that could also be used to cover your luggage, sleeping area. Also take sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
Underwear, sleepwear As little and as light as possible, for both underwear and sleepwear, depending on where you will be staying. You may be sleeping in your clothes. Good time for disposable underwear! Related: Travel clothing tips.
Some Items to Take to Haiti (and leave behind when you go home)
Here are some suggestions for items to take on your trip to Haiti, then leave behind when you leave for home. I don't have photos but I did find some examples on Amazon.com with details to show some useful and lightweight items that will be very much appreciated.
- Lights Flashlights that use LED bulbs, and don't need batteries, solar powered lights, solar powered batteries and radios are perfect for trips to Haiti. See Cap / Hat LED Light and LED Finger Lamps that come with small batteries (not sure how long these last, and you have to decide if the gift of light is worth the bits of plastic left behind. I'm leaning towards the 'gift of light' side). This is the flashlight I have -- LED Flashlight - No Batteries -- though I paid a lot more for mine in the UK.
- Cleanliness Personal Care: Do take Hand Sanitizers -- note towelettes are available, and may be lighter weight. Leave your blow dryers, curling irons, electric razors at home, as when there is no power, they are dead weight anyhow. Better to take along something useful like waterless hand cleaner sanitizer, vitamins.
- Insect Repellants Do take and leave insect repellants. Note that products containing DEET are considered most effective. Also mosquito netting : See mosquito netting.
- Water Purifications tablets : Drink only bottled purified water, of course. Consider a personal water purification system to save on bottled water, or if you will be on the road and run short of water and places to buy it.
- Electrolyte replacement My family doctor recommended I take along a container of Gatorade crystals to add half strength to drinking water to help with dehydration, or replace electrolytes especially if you take a diuretic, or contract diarrhea.
- Iodine Tablets Consider some potable water iodine tablets. Even if you don't use for drinking water, you can treat water used for washing.
- Sunscreen and Sunglasses - see a variety sunscreens - look for waterproof (sports) types. Local merchants in your home town who sponsor international aid groups may be willing to donate products for you to take to Haiti. For sunglasses, look for multipacks (sunglasses) or collect used from your friends and family.
- Protein Bars Nutrition supplements bars are also handy to have with you on any trip. See protein bars. I always carry some of these, for any trip. Even on a delayed flight or bus trip, you'll have something with you to eat, or give out to someone else.
For a more comprehensive travel tips of what to pack,see my full Travel Tips section, paying special attention to the comfort, safety pages. Some travelers may be able to go to Haiti via the Dominican Republic, roughly a seven-hour drive, including stops, from Puerto Plata via the Haiti highway route through the Dajabon DR border crossing then on to Cap-Haitien passing Fort Liberte. See pictures of Haiti art, and my story about one trip at Haiti Travel Story.