The next few days, I am going to be consumed with packing for Niger. I get 80 lbs and two suitcases. For kicks and giggles and because I love kicking and giggling, here is my packing my list. This list is derived from what the Peace Corps recommends and what former and other volunteers recommend.  Hope it’s entertaining.

•  Ten or so pairs of cotton underwear
• Three to five cotton T-shirts
• Two or three dress shirts
• One or two pairs of shorts for sports
• Two or three pairs of lightweight, loose-fitting cotton pants (tailors can duplicate them), the darker
the better
• Two or three skirts for women, below-knee length (short skirts are inappropriate, and pockets are handy
• One sweater/sweatshirt (fleece)
• Two or three pairs of cotton socks (not white due to dust)
• One dressy outfit for official functions
• Belts
• Brimmed hat
• Baseball cap
• One pair of loose fitting jeans
• Swimsuit
• Water-resistant windbreaker
• Sleeping wear

Clothing tips:
•    Don’t bring light colored clothing.
•    Don’t bring a lot of culturally appropriate clothes to wear in your village because they are going to get totally destroyed. The best way to get village clothes is just load up on stuff from the grab boxes at the hostels or buy used clothes at the markets. Bring maybe one or two culturally appropriate outfits, but while you are in training it doesn’t really matter as long as your knees and shoulders are covered.
•    Do bring clothes that you are comfortable in, like to wear, and make you feel like an American, e.g. jeans, cute tops. TRUST ME, after a few months of being dusty and sweaty, you will love the chance to clean up.
•    Don’t bring a lot of clothes, use that space to bring stuff like food and extra batteries, etc.
•    Don’t bring clothes you aren’t comfortable in. If you don’t wear it in America you won’t wear it here.
•    Bring one or two “American” outfits, stuff that you can go to a bar in, go to a dance party in, go out to dinner in and feel normal.

• One pair of sturdy sandals
• One pair of tennis shoes
• One pair of dress shoes for official functions
• One pair of flip flops

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
• Thin, lightweight towel and wash cloth
• Nail clippers and nail file
• Good pair of scissors (for hair cutting and other things)
• Two pairs of prescription glasses
• Tinted glasses
• Face wash
• Face lotion
• Good smelling lotion
• Shampoo and conditioner (Should have full ones before I leave)
• Soap
• Toothpaste, toothbrush
• Make up
• Small mirror
• Tweezers
• Razors
• Jewelry
• Bandannas
• Hair pins, ties and headbands

• Swiss army knife or Leatherman with can opener, bottle opener, blade, corkscrew
• Chopping Knife
• Sturdy water bottles
• Spices for cooking
• Dry sauce mixes and instant drink mixes
• Small and large plastic food storage (zip-lock) bags
• Hard candies
• Gummies
• Gum
• Plastic containers (to protect a camera, tapes, and food)
• Dried fruit/granola/energy bars
• Trail mix
• Soy sauce
• Pudding

• Sleeping bag (very light, highly compactable one is best)
• Pillow
• Duct tape
• Double flat sheets
• Combination lock
• Sturdy but inexpensive waterproof watch
• Backpack
• Drawstring bag
• Plastic storage containers
• Batteries for anything electronic that you bring
• Electric converter
• Alarm clock
• U.S. and world maps
• Games
• Photos of family, friends, and scenery
• Materials for hobbies and crafts
• Calendars, holiday cards, thank-you notes, stationery, address book, good writing pens
• U.S. driver’s license (for travel outside Niger)
• Credit cards (for travel outside of Niger)
• Padded envelopes for sending items home (like film)
• Twelve to 20 ID photos
• Duct tape
• iPod
• iPod deck
• Flashlight or headlamp and spare bulbs
• U.S. stamps for mailing letters with people traveling to the United States
• Camera with a dustproof case
• USB sticks
• Yoga mat and cards
• Keyboard protector
• Journal
• Scarves
• Books
• DVDs
• Gifts for host family:
– Post cards
– Trinkets of South Dakota
– Pictures of the family
– Painted platter from ceramics store
– Games


2 thoughts on “Packing!

  1. Heather, I am so excited for you!! Here’s the link to the blog our friend Ryan kept in 2008 while he was serving in Uganda. He actually had to leave the Corps early, but there might be some interesting info for you on there. And he’s funny, so there’s that.

    Take care, we are all rooting for you!

  2. Megan, thanks for sending that link over. I am definitely going to take a look at that. I love reading other Peace Corps blogs for insight. Thanks for the well wishes and I hope life treats the you and Cory well!

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