Peace Corps service is a 27 month commitment; That said, some might find packing to be quite the struggle prior to departure. The Peace Corps provides a basic Packing List in the Country Welcome Guide that comes with your invitation and is filled with recommendations from current and past volunteers on what to bring . This list is a good starting point and will give you an idea of what you will need for your 27 months of service.
For myself, I was thankful that I had met a lot of current volunteers from both Guy24 and Guy25 who shared their packing lists, provided information on what items are readily available in Guyana, and gave us an idea of the quality of items that we should bring into the country. Most may automatically assume that you need to spend a lot of money on new clothes, bring 2 years worth of toiletries, or ship a box filled with everything you could not fit in your 2x50lb bags that the Peace Corps allows. I myself fell victim to these same ideas before I did my own research.
I do recommend a couple tips before you go out and purchase a lot of items.
- Check the Peace Corps Wiki Discounts page, as a lot of companies offer pretty substantial discounts on a lot of good quality products. Bear in mind that some of the companies may no longer offer discounts to future Peace Corps Volunteers, and some companies do provide discounts that are not on that page, so email the companies and ask. I contacted the following companies and received discounts from all of them.
- Chaco – Chaco’s offers high quality sandals, hiking boots, belts, and several other items. They offer up to a 40% discount, which is applied at checkout.
- Eagle Nest Outfitters (ENO) – ENO offers high quality hammocks and outdoor gear to future volunteers. Discount varies on items but goes up to 15-20%.
- Backcountry – Backcountry offers a variety of outdoor gear, such as backpacks, sleep sacks, ENO Hammocks, Chacos, hiking gear, etc. The discounts vary on the product you are purchasing, some are eligible and some are not.
- GoPro – GoPro is not listed on the PC Wiki page as offering discounts. I found the webpage for the GoPro VIP Corporate Partnerships Program application, filled it out, and received an email 7 days later informing me that I had been accepted into the program. This program provides a discount of up to 40% on all GoPro products. (Note: As of April 24, 2014 GoPro is no longer accepting people into the VIP Program.)
- Search for through other blogs of current and past volunteers, and reach out to them on ideas of what to bring.
- Lastly, search through Facebook to find your staging group. Often times, current and past volunteers may be members and can offer you some friendly advice.
With that, here is my packing list. Again, these are the items I thought would work best for me. I have built this packing list off of the PC Guyana Welcome Guide, other PC Guyana Packing Lists, and the Dress For Success guide that PC Guyana sent me…. Hope you enjoy!!!!
- Osprey Aether 70L Backpack
- REI 34″ Rolling Duffel
(Check REI or the REI Outlet for Clearance items)
- Swiss Laptop Backpack (Carry-On)
For electronics, I decided against taking my MacBook Pro. A lot of volunteers do take their MacBook’s, but with the hot and humid conditions in Guyana, electronics don’t always survive and I did not want to risk it.
- Acer Aspire V5 11.3″ Laptop
- Samsung External DVD+RW Drive
- 1 extra Laptop battery and charge cable
- Microsoft Travel size USB Mouse
- 2x USB Flash Drives
- 4x SD Cards
- 2TB Western Digital MyPassport External Hard Drive (My Passport drives are USB Powered)
- Panasonic Lumix LX-7 Camera w/ Extra Batteries
- Panasonic DMC-TS5 Waterproof Camera
- 10x Amazon Rechargeable AA Batteries
- Amazon Paperwhite Kindle
- Targus Surge Protector with USB Ports
- iHome Rechargeable Portable Speakers
- Blackberry 9780 Unlocked with Extra battery
- GoPro Black Edition Camera w/ Extra battery, LCD Viewscreen
Since I am a runner, I chose to bring a lot of lightweight running shirts and gear. Since I will be going into a tropical climate, I figured the lightweight material would be really beneficial.
- 2 Champion Lightweight Golf Pants (Black and Khaki)
- Chaco Belt
- 14 Underwear
- 13 Socks (7 athletic socks, 6 cotton)
- 1 Jeans
- 3 Cargo shorts
- 1 Swim trunks
- 4 Running short sleeve shirts
- 2 Cotton T-shirts
- 3 Tank tops
- 2 Short sleeve button ups
- 2 Golf Polos (UnderArmour)
- 1 Tie
- 1 Button Down
- 1 Sweatshirt
- 1 Light Jacket
- 2 Mizuno Running shoes
- 2 Sperry’s (for work shoes)
- 1 Chaco Sandals
- 1 Chaco Hiking Sandals
- 1 Flip Flops
I decided to pack a little light on toiletries for Guyana as I was told a lot of them are readily available in the city. I packed enough to get me through the first month, maybe.
- 8 Toothbrushes
- 4 Tubes of toothpaste
- 1 WAHL Travel Size electric shaver
- 2 Tweezers
- 1 Toe-nail clippers
- 1 Travel size Q-Tips
- 4 bars of soap
- 4 sticks of Deoderant
- Travel Toothbrush/Soap holder
- 1 Hand sanitizer
A lot of current volunteers recommend bringing a travel hammock, as space may be limited when visiting other volunteers in country. I decided to spend the extra money to get good quality products.
- ENO Single Nest Travel Hammock
- ENO Bug Net
- ENO Atlas Hammock Straps
- Cool Max Sleep Sack
- Leatherman pocket knife
- Black Diamond LED Solar Powered Headlamp
- Solar powered flash-light
- Solar Charger 14W USB
- Sea to Summit Dry Lite Large Quick Dry Towel
- 10L Seal Line Dry Bag
- 20L Seal Line Dry Bag
- 2 Nalgene Water bottles
- 4-in-1 Can Opener
- High quality ceramic cutting knives with potato peeler
- Small Tupperware set
- 1 Full size Sheet Set
- 1 Pillow (to fill space in my bag)
- 2 Moleskine Journals
- Small body Guitar with Case
- 3 sets of Guitar strings
- 1 Guitar tuner
- Hanging closet (cubbie) organizer for storage
- 2 pairs of Sunglasses
- Ironman Watch
- Resistance bands set
- 1 Jump Rope
- Duct Tape
- 5 Bandanas
- 1 “Wind-Resistance” High quality Umbrella
- Several Textbooks
– Nutrition through Lifecycle
– Basic Nutrition
– Lesson Plans
– Guitar Theory
- Travel Guides
– Lonely Planet South America
– Brandt Guyana Travel Guide
So there it is, the full packing list. If any future volunteers have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! I will do my best to update this after I am in country and see what was and was not useful!