Packing List

What should I bring to Dominica ? This is a very subjective question because everyone has their own concept of what they cannot live without. I’ll pass on to you things I find I need/use most on the island. The list below entails suggestions to help facilitate an easy transition to island life. You may be considering packing light and planning to buy everything once you arrive. Know that you can do that if you find all of this information too overwhelming. Keep in mind that there is no mall or superstore like Walmart or Target around Ross University. You will have to go to several stores to gather non-food items in the Picard/Portsmouth area. We do have a large grocery store, IGA Whitchurch, as well as a couple of smaller grocery stores around the university. Astaphans store in Roseau (one hour away) will have a lot of the non-food items you need. They stock groceries as well as housewares, electronics, clothes, shoes, furniture etc.

It helps to know before you go ! Talk to your landlord and find out what appliances and supplies are on site. Depending upon where you will be renting, you may need to pack :
-Bed linens (beds typically full size but ask your landlord), pillow, lightweight blanket
-Kitchen supplies-Dishes, silverware, cooking utensils, pots/pans, good knife set
-Other appliances: fans, iron, coffee pot, microwave, etc.

  • New students arrive a week before returning students. This means that some of the stores and food vendors that are normally open in Picard will be closed since school is not in session. Your barrels may not have arrived yet. It is important that you have some essentials in your carry on – some clothes, travel size toiletries, a towel, medications, and priority electronics. Pack Dramamine if you suffer from motion sickness. The ride from the airport to campus is one hour on winding roads.
  • Pack things that will help you save space and carry less-over the door racks for bags, shoes; collapsible closet organizers, Command 3M damage free hanging hooks, bungee cords, carbine hooks.
  • Mosquito Repellant
  • Comfortable cotton clothes for a tropical climate. Bring a couple of nice outfits/shoes for going out and for professional commitments.
  • Lightweight jacket/hoodie. It gets chilly in the classrooms.
  • Rain gear. Large sturdy umbrellas like golf umbrellas or the Gustbuster are best for Dominica. A waterproof backpack cover and rain boots won’t hurt either 😉 .
  • Supportive sandals with a good sole that can handle rocky, wet terrain. You will be walking on some unpaved/uneven roads. I’m a fan of Keen sandals. They are worth the cost.  Some people like Skechers, Tevas, or Chacos.
  • Water bottle, preferably one that is insulated like the Hydro Flask or Yeti and can hook on to your back pack
  • The tap water is drinkable but does get visibly dirty during heavy rain. Some people chose to bring some kind of water filtration system, like a Brita pitcher with extra filters, to filter out all the sediment. I invested in a British Berkefeld  filtration system that I purchased here in Dominica.
  • Soft, insulated lunch bag
  • A large insulated grocery bag for transporting refrigerated good from the major grocery stores in Roseau back to Picard/university area
  • Kitchen supplies that help: rice cooker, crock pot, mini grill- all good to have in the event there is a propane shortage. Bring a juicer if you enjoy fresh juice.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Back pack
  • Lap top and computer accessories (wireless router, jump drives, extension cords, surge protectors, speakers, webcam, cooling plate, headphones, ipod, etc).  These items are top dollar to replace in Dominica/have higher customs fees if they are mailed to you, so come prepared.
  • Your cell phone from the US may or may not work on Dominica. Bring it anyway. For more information on cell phone use/calling home see my “Island Life” tab.
  • School supplies-ear plugs, high lighters, binders, dry erase markers/eraser, pens,  loose leaf paper,  No.2 pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, index cards etc.
  • Sturdy tupperware containers/ziplock bags for food storage and keeping bugs out.
  • Hat/baseball caps
  • Sunglasses
  • Sweat/water proof sunscreen
  • Camera with an extra memory stick. If you are a diver or snorkeler, invest in a waterproof camera. Dominica has an abundance of dive sites/reefs. Underwater photography opportunities are incredible here !
  • Snorkel gear
  • Bathing suit(s) and wrap or cover up
  • Beach towels
  • Ear gear. Prevent ear infections by using Swimmers Ear (or any kind of ear drying aide with alcohol/glycerin) and  Mack’s Earplugs (@ Walmart).
  • Laundry bag
  • Toiletries. Bring your “must have” toiletries. If you have a certain kind of shampoo, hair dye, lotion or make up that you must have, bring it with you. Multi purpose/saline solution for contact lenses is expensive here.
  • First aid basics-Benadryl anti-itch cream, Neosporin, cortisone cream etc. Bring over the counter medication for motion sickness prevention, allergies/sinus congestion, and diarrhea.
  • Hurricane season & power outage gear: non-electric can opener, battery operated fan, battery operated alarm clock, batteries, and a flashlight. Water storage containers from Academy Sports or REI .
  • Routine medications. If you have routine medications you take bring them with you or get them filled here. See my “Health Care” tab for more details.
  • Official government documents-drivers license, passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate. If you are a student/faculty spouse and want your name on a joint checking account you must present your marriage certificate.
  • If you have strict dietary needs-ie. gluten free diet or diabetic diet- you may be one of those people that want to ship down specific foods that meet your needs.  If you have specific vitamins, minerals or supplements you take, bring those with you.
  • Lots of the moms with young babies ship a barrel of diapers/wipes to Dominica because of the high cost of these items locally. Come with your own stroller, toys, books etc. Check out the Ross Spouses Organization’s website for a family friendly packing list.

10 Responses to Packing List

  1. Bree says:

    I am going back and forth on whether to bring my printer for lecture notes. Can you please advise on whether it is worth it to do so? From what I have gathered, it sounds as though there are printers in most (all?) classrooms, but they only print in black and white. Accurate? Is it an inconvenience to print at these shared printers on campus? Thank you!

  2. You can absolutely purchase bug spray in Dominica. No need to ship.

  3. Toronto gal says:

    can you purchase the Bop or Baygon from there? Just wondering what I should bring to keep myself safe from all the bugs!!

  4. Joyce says:

    I will be attending RUSOM this Sept. THanks for your blog, first off..Did you ship all of this stuff over? If so, did you use the tropical shipping co?

    Is there a place to get a bike for an 8yr old boy? It doesnt have to be fancy…Just something he can enjoy or do we need to ship his bike?

    Joyce Busch

    • Hi Joyce. Congrats on being accepted to RUSM. The list above highlights some of the things you will need here on a regular basis. I did ship most of this stuff to Dominica. I shipped boxes over on a pallet via Amerijet’s Ocean Liner service (which I would not recommend bc they ship by weight, as opposed to a flat rated barrel through Tropical). Many students use Tropical because there is a Tropical shipping office across the street from the front gate of the university. Here is my blog post about the man who runs it : You can contact him for any questions you have related to shipping with Tropical. Some students feel Tropical is too expensive and make other arrangements.

      Regarding the bike, I recommend you bring it. Alot of bikes can be broken down and shipped in a barrel. Bring spare inner tubes and tires. You can buy a bike here. It will be costly and the quality of bike will most likely be poor. Most ppl I know that have bought bikes here, the bike doesn’t last more than 6 months. Inevitably something breaks on the bike and they can’t get the replacement part here. You could always email the ross spouses organization at to see if any 4th semester students are selling their kids bikes before they leave.

  5. Hmmm, I would bring him something related to his hobbies/recreation. It’s hard to get things related to electronics/entertainment here, so thats also an option if it’s in your budget. It’s also hard to find clothes here so if he needs anything like that bring it. You can’t go wrong by bringing any of his favorite american delicacies–coffee, candies etc. Good luck and have a great visit.

  6. Sam says:

    Hey, im going to visit my boyfriend for a week and i’m having a hard time thinking of what he would need. He always says he doesn’t need anything but i know he’s just saying that. is there anything that students wish they had and can’t find. it’s also his birthday and i wanted to get something useful and something that he’d appreciate. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  7. Jennifer Assar says:

    I always keep a few travelsize bottles of Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo in my dive/snorkel bag to de-fog my mask. It works way better than the anti-fogger that you buys at dive shops, costs much less, and a little goes a long way.

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