Sunday, March 30, 2008

Packing List!

Finally, I had the time to compile my own packing list. This is a culmination of the official list and suggestions from other volunteers. If you are a family member or friend who is planning on buying me a graduation/going-away present, feel free to get ideas from my Amazon wish list!

This list will be revised several times prior to departure! Comments in red are my thoughts after being in Cameroon. As a general note, you need to bring enough stuff to deal with the first 3 months in training, before you get the hang of shopping in Cameroon. After that, you can buy most things you need here in country.

General Clothing

[Peace Corps is all about "business casual" during the initial 3 months of training. So bring enough for that. It's a relaxed definition - basically just wear nice clothes, no shorts, etc. After training, there are plenty of chance to buy clothes for cheap in the "frip", or getting them made."]
short-sleeve collar shirts (4)
dark cotton t-shirts (5)
casual tees (5)
jeans (1) [Depending on where you live, this may or may not be necessary. They are very difficult to wash by hand.]
knee-length (or longer) skirts (4)
light linen pants/light PJ
athletic shorts (2)
long shorts (1)
leather belt
socks (10)
rain jacket [essential for the rainy season!]
thin sweatshirt
jean jacket
swimming suit
earrings (5)
hair clips/ties (many)

Shoes
Casual Shoes(Teva Makayla)
Sports Sandal (Teva Omium) [not all the necessary. I only wore it once to go on a hike that nearly killed me. Not that useful if you aren't super sporty.]
Waterproof Sandal (Keen Bali)
Sandal (Teva Downtown OLA) [casual yet a bit dressy sandal like this was great. I wore this pair of shoes almost everyday for the first 8 months at post.]
Running Shoes

Personal Hygiene/Toiletry
Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer (one medium-size bottle)
Vitamin/herbal supplement
Body Wash (2)
deodorant (2)
Lotion (1)
Sunscreen (1)
Insect Repellent (higher deet %) [didn't end up bringing this, and isn't necessary. Peace Corps provides them.]
Prescription Drug (3 months) [general rule for meds: PC will provide all the regular over-the-counter stuff you need from the moment you arrive, the prescription drugs take a while, so they recommend 3 months initial supply]
Allergy Meds
Pain Killers
Cold/flu medicine
Tums/Chinese tummy meds
Prescription Eyeglasses (2) [PC advised against wearing contact lenses, but I ended up wearing it for most of two years. It wasn't a problem. Just be sure to bring a lot of contact solution!
Sunglasses
Facial toner (2)
Face lotion (1)
Tissue
Cotton Rounds
Q-tips
Diva Cup/sanitary wash [highly recommended for girls!]
Hair gel (2)
Leave-in Conditioner
Loofa (1)
Toothbrush (2)
Toothpaste (1)
Floss (3)
Hairbrush (1)
Tweezer, Razor/blades
Nail kit/clear nail polish
Minimal make-up (2 eye-liners & eye-shadow)
Earplugs
Small hand towels
Travel Towels (2)
Eye Mask

Office Supplies
notebooks (4)
Books
Writing utensil
Project-related books [didn't end up bringing these and weren't necessary.]
Journal (1)
18-month weekly planner
scotch tape
scissor
CD-RW(1)

Kitchen Supplies
Plastic storage containers [possibly the best thing I brought with me. Pack your things in them. They are SO useful! tupperwear rock!]
Measuring cups and spoons
Ziploc style bags
Swiss army knife
Snack food
Small nonstick frying pan
Small cutting board
pairing knife
peeler
Light weight packaged food
Can opener
Spices
Luna Bars [These were incredibly great in the beginning when you aren't totally used to the food and the eating pattern, and there weren't much snacks to be bought.]
Emergen-C
Crystal Light/Propel packets

Electronics
iPod+travel speakers
Macbook [if you are bringing a computer, make sure you back up your files at home, and also bring an external hard drive - load that puppy up with movies, TV shows, language learning resources (French movies, etc) - be prepared for something bad to happen to your computer at some point during the service. the horrible electricity in Cameroon does damage. If you are buying a new one to bring, I recommend those cheap Netbooks.]
Cannon SD 450 Powershot + extra memory cards
Solio Classic hybrid solar charger [not necessary if short on money. but very useful as a backup battery, especially if you get posted somewhere power cuts a lot, or no power at all. - although I think for most PC countries/posts, this isn't necessary.]
Hand-Crank Emergency/Shortwave Radio [great for those quiet nights when the power goes out. I just got a cheap one and it picks up Radio France International and other local channels]
USB Flashdrive (2)
Power Adapter/Converter Kit

Luggages
Eagle Creek Grand Voyage 90L Travel Pack
Eddie Bauer Rolling Duffle
Daypack
Moneybelt

Miscellaneous
Passport-size photos (12) Got them at ePassportphotos.com via Snapfish. So much cheaper!
PC Handbook/paperwork
Loan paperwork
Pictures/album
Postcards/decoration for house
World Map [Great for decorating the house and the neighborhood kids love them!]
Book of puzzle
Stationary/greeting cards
U.S. stamps
Freeplay Energy Hand Crank LED Lantern
Hand-Crank Flashlight [very essential! I also wish I brought a headlight since those frees up your hand if you are trying to cook in the dark, etc.]
Nalgene Bottle
Reliable Watch
Travel Alarm Clock
TSA Approved Combination locks [these were useful. I used them to always lock my bags when I was traveling, just to give myself a piece of mind. The number combination is nice since you don't have to worry about losing keys.]
Calculator
Good quality umbrella
French pocket Dictionary
Pocket-sized French Verb Guide
Compressible Pillow
Travel Sheet Set
Laundry Bag
Laundry stain remover
Clothing Line
Small mirror
Duct Tape
Jump Robe
Deck of Cards

Gifts for Locals
Inflatable globe ball
Boxes of Crayola crayons (2)
STL/USA stuff

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just FYI, Peace Corps will give you all the meds you need at your request. So all of the ibuprofen, allergy, sleep medication, vitamins, pepto bismol, and floss... let them foot that bill!

Jacqueline said...

Hi,
Thank you for taking the time to write this blog. I find it very helpful. I am leaving for Cameroon, if all goes according to plan, on the 4th of June and will serve until July 2012. Reading your packing list, I see that you took with you a computer, camera, ipod, etc. where do you keep such valuables?

Wendy said...

Hi Jacqueline!
Glad you find this blog helpful and congrats on your upcoming departure! I brought quite a few combination locks with me. When you arrive to country, PC sells these big metal lockers and that's where I lock my things when I travel. I haven't found security to be much of an issue as long as one uses common sense.

Jacqueline said...

Thank you for answering so quickly. Do you mean metal lockers that you take with you or that stay at PC HQ? How big are they? that was great to hear since I was undecided whether to take a system's digital camera with me since it is bulky and hard to hide or carry around with oneself at all times.

Wendy said...

When you move to your host families, you are issued big metal trunks, and when you actually move to post, you can buy them from PC. Just make sure you bring a few of those traditional combination locks for it and also smaller travel combo locks for your bags.

paige said...

I am leaving September 15th for Cameroon to be a Community Health Educator. I stumbled across your packing list, which by the way, is extremely helpful! I was just wondering if you could clarify one thing...the size of the tupperware containers that you brought and how many, etc. My impression is that I should get rectangular storage containers that I can put toiletries, kitchen stuff, etc. in, is that correct? Thanks!

Wendy said...

Hi Paige,

yeah the tupperware containers I brought were small to medium sizes that are good to store various things while you pack. Once I got settled into my house, I used them for food the way you use them in the States. Hope that helps. Get excited for Cameroon! It's a great country. I miss it terribly already!