Packing List

I have newly revised this. Now that I’ve been in country for about 8 months, I think I have a good grasp on what I brought to country.

Please keep in mind that I am going to a predominantly Muslim country, so my dress and lifestyle may be more conservative than other PCVs.

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Things I am happy I brought

  • My smart phone
  • Solar Charger- even being an urban volunteer, electricity is not consistent, so some days I need to solar charge my things
  • My tablet- good for reading, and for traveling instead of bringing my computer
  • Head lamp- nice to have when the electricity goes out
  • Half a suitcase full of SNACKS!
  • One fleece, One softshell jacket
  • Journals & ~3 books
  • Pictures of my family and friends, a map of the world
  • Earrings- i brought a lot to country (mostly studs), and I am so happy I did! The women here think it’s ugly if we don’t wear earrings, so I just keep mine in, but it’s nice in case some break to have extras.
  • Shoes- with all the walking I do, it’s really important I have good sturdy shoes
    • Birkenstocks
    • 2 pairs of Flip Flops
    • Sneakers
  • My pillow- the pillows here are different, not as comfortable, this helps me get good rest
  • My own sheets- I got lucky, I brought full sheets, and I have a full bed. Even if you bring full sheets and you end up buying a twin bed, you can fold them over
  • Calendar/planner
  • 2 spiral notebooks
  • Nice pens- I lost a bunch during training, and during move-in. I do a lot of writing in ag work, so this I’m happy about this
  • Day pack, Weekend pack, 2 suitcases- I love being able to choose what kind of gear I need for Ag summits, or weekend trips etc.
  • Light weight scarf- being in a Muslim country, it’s nice to have a lightweight scarf to wrap my head when I travel to more conservative areas, or simply to protect my face from sand storms, you can also get cheap ones in market, but I’m happy I brought mine
  • Pocket knife- really useful in the field/ when traveling etc.
  • Nice terry cloth towel- trust me you’ll want it, just to feel comfortable- it’s the little things
  • Iron pills- the multivitamin PC issues doesn’t contain a lot of iron, and since I am mildly anemic, this was really helpful for me, especially since protein and iron are really hard to come by, even in the city
  • Flash cards and pocket notebooks- helpful for language learning
  • Sun hat- provides some shade on those super hot days
  • Band aids- the ones in our med kits are awful, they come off after a couple hours…
  • Rope- for when I wash my undies, I can hang them to dry in my room instead of out in the open (talk about awkward), plus it helps hold my mosquito net up!
  • 6 months worth of contacts- sometimes it’s really nice to wear them when I go to Dakar or on vacation
  • Outlet adapter- they are pretty cheap here, but I know some people who have had surge problems, mine has surge protection so it works great
  • Fold up grocery bag- mine is lightweight and folds to the size of my palm, so I can bring it with me all the time for when I unexpectedly see something I need in the market

 

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Things I am happy I left at home (I guess I’ve forgotten a lot of what I wanted to pack, so this category is pretty scarce, sorry!)

  • Extra clothes- When other PCVs COS (close of service), they will get rid of their stuff, and it’s easy to pick up clothes from them
  • Extra bottles of shampoo and conditioner- I am still working on my first bottle of conditioner, I brought 2 shampoos and one conditioner to country, but I also have short hair, so take that into account
  • Extra soap- I brought 4 bars to country, and that was plenty, soap is readily available here and it’s cheap
  • Nice clothes- being an ag volunteer, I stay pretty dirty a lot of the time. When I do want something nice, it’s not hard to get something made by a local tailor

Things I wish I brought

  • MORE SNACKS!
  • travel bottles- you’ll be away from site for just a couple days, it’s convienient to have these
  • yoga mat- with a new diet, and new habits, I realized I was losing muscle fast, so I do yoga to keep my body in balance
  • more hair ties
  • another bandana- sweat rag
  • another spiral notebook
  • more envelopes- I write my friends back in the States or my friends also in PC a lot
  • a Hydroflask water bottle- these keep water cool all day long
  • glasses repair kit- I lost a screw in one of my pairs last month, and if I had a repair kit, I could repair them and keep using them instead of using my other pair.
  • water bottle sling- you can place your water bottle inside and carry it like a cross body bag, helpful when I walk far distances- though I am about to get one made by my tailor, but obviously the quality isn’t very good…
  • sauces & spices- particularly asian ones, because they are the hardest to find
  • Ziploc bags- quart and gallon size are both useful for storing things during travel, they are expensive in country
  • Hard drive- since I have my computer, it’s nice to exchange media, and watch movies when I have a day off
  • Command hooks- just a couple, they would help me keep my mosquito net up or have somewhere I could hang my towel, belts, etc.
  • Hand Towels- I brought one and lost it after training 😦 you can get them at used clothing stands, but it’s not the same.

Things I  didn’t need to bring

  • postcards- the concept of America and what it looks like is really hard for my community to grasp, so showing them a postcard doesn’t make sense to them
  • general kitchen things: a pot, utensils, etc.
  • 2 metal water bottles- one nalgene, one klean kanteen were enough, didn’t need a total of 3 water bottles
  • sunscreen- Med gives us some really nice sunscreen in our med kits
  • Combination lock- Everything that’s really valuable stays in my room, which I lock all the time, and don’t allow my family in, so I don’t have a use for this. Even at my regional house, I don’t keep anything valuable there. But this is really dependent on what sector you’re in. If you are in a rural area: agfo, susag, health, then you might want to bring one, but since I am in an urban setting, this isn’t really much use to me
  • More than one bottle of hand sanitizer- one is plenty- many volunteers end up carrying soap on them anyway
  • Pepto/malaria meds/TUMs- all those are provided in our med kits or by med, and it’s easy to get a refill. Med delivery happens every 3 months
  • Heavy clothes- Cotton things are nice! But I brought a couple polyester things that I rarely touch

Things I am on the fence about

  • Battery powered alarm clock- this really depends on site, I never use mine anymore. PC issued Nokia phones retain battery for a week, so those work just fine, even without electricity at site, you can always buy 2 batteries, and exchange them. Then, when you head into your road town, you can charge them, OR just a get a solar charger
  • Computer- my computer is 6 years old, and it works great still, but since it’s so bulky, I never take it out of my room. Sometimes, very rarely, I bring it to my regional house, but truth is all regional houses have computers for house use, so you can print, scan, use internet on those instead if you need to. When we do “reporting” things, you can use those desktops. But at the same time, it might be nice to have it so you can exchange media, and watch movies, it depends on you
  • Tent- There are moments when I could use a tent, but I’ve survived without one. My region mate says there are 2 kinds of PCVs “pro-tent” and “con-tent,” I don’t know if I am either, it would be helpful to have one, but I have survived without one
  • Packaging tape/stapler/scotch tape- I haven’t used these at all, but in my mind I think they would be useful, but for the most part these are all available in country except I haven’t seen nice staplers
  • Hammock- I used mine a lot during training but since I am an urban volunteer, I don’t have space/ trees like villages for a hammock in my house, so it sits wrapped up in my regional house

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