01 June 2008

How do you pack for two years?

Edited Jan 25, 2009

Things I am glad I brought:
Headlamp. I literally cannot live without it. I even travel with it.
-Shortwave radio. Sometimes my only connection to the outside world.
-Contacts. PC tells you not to bring them, but I much prefer them to glasses and I haven't had any problems (but I don't live in a dusty area). I have to get contact solution sent from home though.
-UNO. Gave it to my host family but they loved it.
-Quick-dry towel. Great for travel
-Quick-dry pants. Also great for travel. Some people also have quick-dry skirts, which I think would have been a good investment too.
-Flash drive. Essential.
-Ipod. Essential for my sanity.
-Solio charger. Great for charging the ipod, since I don't have electricity at my site. And good for charging the phone too, since I have to pay to charge it otherwise.
-Water bottles. Good for not dying of thirst.
-Plastic egg carrier. It's hard to find eggs in my village, so I always buy them in town and this comes in handy.
-Leatherman knife. You never know when you might need it.
-Diva cup. I prefer it to tampons or pads.
-A lot of American pens. Tanzanian pens suck and die after you use them twice.

Things I wish I had brought:
-Laptop. On the one hand, it's nice not having to worry about it being stolen or broken. On the other hand, it would come in a LOT of handy for writing grants, and doing these dumb reports we are supposed to do for Peace Corps. And watching movies. I bet if you brought one of those new little, $300 ones it would well be worth it
A tent and sleeping bag. It takes up a lot of room, but if you want to travel for cheap, it's essential. Particularly if you want to travel when you are done with your service, a good investment.
-Large backpack/Medium-sized duffel for two-weeks traveling time. There are a lot of times where you will be gone for a week or two, and all the bags I brought are too big or too small for that amount of time.
-Sharpies. I had these sent. Tanzanian markers die after you use them once.
-Coloring books and crayons. I am a child and this is how I de-stress. I also had these sent to me.
-Ipod speakers. Had these sent to me as well.
-First aid book. Mainly because I have a Red Cross First Aid book I thought about bringing and didn't, and now I regret it because now I am teaching first aid and not sure how reliable this little pamphlet I stole is.

Wish I hadn't brought
-So many shoes. PC tells you to bring closed-toe shoes for teaching, but this isn't really necessary. I wear open-toed shoes all the time and I don't think it's a problem; you just need shoes that are clean and don't look like you would shower in them. I think if you bring Chacos, flip-flops, and a pair of running shoes, that is plenty of footwear.
-So many clothes. It's easy to get stuff made in TZ (and people love it when you wear Tanzanian clothing), and to find used clothes.
-Any non-prescription medicine, vitamins, sunscreen, bug repellent, etc. PC gives you all this stuff. Maybe bring enough for the first week or two.

-Water purification tablets. Unnecessary.
-A lot of the kitchen supplies/misc crap I brought. You can buy all that here. Also PC gives you a cookbook.

-REI Ridgeline 65 Backpack
-REI Beast Duffel Bag
-Messenger bag as carry-on

-Shirts (4 short-sleeve button down, 1 blouse, 6 t-shirts, 2 long-sleeve shirts)
-Skirts (6 just below knee, 1 calf-length)
-Pants (1 jeans, 1 quick-dry, 1 cargo)
-Tanktops/camis (3)
-Sleepwear/loungewear (1 long pair sweatpants, 1 capri sweatpants, 1 gaucho, 4 cotton t-shirts)
-Hoodie (1)
-Fleece jacket (1)
-Exercise shorts (1)
-Bathing suit (1)
-Lightweight raincoat (1)
-Belt (1)
-Slips (2)
-Bras (4 regular, 1 sport)
-Underwear (23 pairs)
-Watch (1)
-Sunglasses (1)
-Bandanas (2)
-Socks (7 pairs, plus 1 pair slipper socks in case it gets cold)

-Sneakers (1)
-Chacos (1)
-Keens: 1 closed-toe slip-ons, 1 waterproof sandal
-Rainbows (1)
-Old Navy flip-flops (1)

-Ipod and charger, extra set headphones
-Shortwave radio
-Camera, extra memory cards, SD card reader
-Mini Maglite
-Solio solar battery charger
-AAA batteries, AA batteries, rechargeable batteries and charger
-Plug adapter and converter
-Travel alarm clock
-Flash drive

Books and Entertainment
-Tanzania guidebook and travel map
-Crossword puzzle book
-Swahili/English dictionary
-Book of yoga poses
-Cards; UNO; book of card games
-Drawing supplies and sketchbook
-Photo album
-Several novels and non-fiction books (This is probably why I’m so close to the weight limit. I’ll probably have to take a few of these out.)
  • Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (b/c so many people have recommended it to me)
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, Incite! Women of Color Against Violence (had you heard the term "non-profit industrial complex" before? Me neither)
  • The House of Spirits, Isabel Allende (one of the many books I’ve bought but haven’t gotten around to reading)
  • Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina Garcia (same)
  • Bel Canto, Ann Patchett (same)
  • Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden (same)
  • The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (same)
  • Death and the Penguin, Andrey Kurkov (gift from someone I like)
  • Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy (gift from someone I like)
  • The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizens Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear (gift from someone I like)
  • Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut (a favorite)

Toiletries etc
-Shampoo & conditioner 2 in 1, bar soap (3), facewash
-toothpaste (2)
-Extra toothbrushes (3)
-Contacts & contact solution, eye drops
-Glasses (2 pairs) & Glasses cleaner
-Deodorant (3)
-Small mirror
-Hair ties
-Diva Cup and a few tampons
-Razors & razorblades
-Nail clippers
-Hand sanitizer
-Toilet paper
-Pepto Bismol
-Benadryl cream
-Small thing of insect repellent that doesn’t have DEET

(Peace Corps also provides us with a medical kit that has a bunch of stuff in it)

“Office” Supplies
-PC paperwork
-File folder
-Extra passport photos and copies of immunization records
-Pencils and pens, paper
-Day planner
-Address book
-a few blank CDs
-Packing tape
-Duct tape
-Folders and notebooks

Home and Kitchen
-Knife and sharpener
-Non-stick pan
-Can opener
-Ziploc bags
-Rubber gloves
-Plastic egg carrier
-Water purification tablets
-Kitchen towels and washcloths
-Hot sauce
-Granola bars
-Pepper grinder
-Garlic powder
-Crystal Light powder mixes
-Laundry bag
-Stain remover
-Lint rollers
-Sewing kit
-Safety pins
-Clothesline and clothespins
-Quick-dry towel

-Money belt
-Extra backpack
-Leathermen tool
-Extra cash
-2 water bottles (steel so I don’t get cancer)

-TBD: probably some little bottles of lotion, small toys for kids, calendar?, NC souvenirs?

EDIT: Just got an email that I have to bring a bike helmet. Apparently PC issues us a bike and requires us to wear a helmet when we're riding the bike, but does not provide us with a helmet. I do get reimbursed for the helmet though.

Since it is technically Sunday now...1 week from today I will be on a plane to DC. (Well, I am flying from North Carolina to Philadelphia, then from Philly to DC. Talk about THE most indirect way to get there. Oh how I wish I could teleport.)

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