To see the full packing list of everything I took to my Peace Corps service in Jamaica, follow this link.
I was having a really difficult time packing for 27 months of service and found it really helpful to think about packing for the first 3 months of training instead. After the first three months, I decided I could have things sent from home or figure out where to buy other things I may need in country. Below are some tips, things I’m happy I brought, things I wish I didn’t bring, and things I wish I brought. This will likely be updated throughout service some.
Some tips / hints / lessons learned for travel to staging and pre-service training:
- Get TSA approved baggage locks.
- Take a picture of the inside and outside of your bag in case it is lost so you can easily provide a reference photo.
- Get a durable suitcase
- If possible, think about what you want for the first couple days of staging and pack it separately or at the top so you can easily access it without unpacking your entire bag and then needing to repack it at the end of staging
- Check the list of items not allowed into your host country and don’t pack those things.
- Keep all of your important paperwork in one spot
- Make sure to have baggage tags with your name, email, and the address of your host country Peace Corps Office in-country.
- Weigh your baggage and measure it at home to make sure you are not over the weight and size limit at the airport and have to unpack there or pay big oversize fees.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and through security.
- Double check that you remembered your ticket confirmation and ID
Things I wish I brought:
- some plastic bags
- plastic food storage containers
- yoga mat (this one was a really difficult decision because of how much space and weight it takes up in baggage. Since yoga is one of the ways I cope with stress, I’ve found that using a towel instead every day isn’t adequete and wish I would have prioritized bringing this).
- a kindle for reading.
- More blouses and skirts that are airy and don’t require ironing.
Things I brought but wish I didn’t:
- Basic medical needs like bandaids, ibuprofen, cough medicine, etc. They give you a huge medical kit with literally everything you could ever need ever at the beginning of training.
- Nail polish. This has been the bane of my existence. One bottle opened up on the flight over, and another broke open on another leg of travel in Jamaica (thankfully both were in a bag with the other polishes but still, what a mess!)
Things I’m extremely glad I brought:
- My pillow
- Hand fan (most useful item ever award goes to this)
- Nuun energy / electrolyte tabs
- An open mind