Hi Future Volunteers!
I know you don’t know me yet but I can’t wait to Facebook stalk you to find out who the new group is! I’m kidding…sort of. Jeremy asked me to give you some advice for packing and for living modestly. When you sign up for Peace Corps, you’re also signing up for a two year commitment to live out of two suitcases and on a local budget. I know when I was packing, I was very stressed so hopefully this will help a few of you ease your nerves. I wrote this list with the ladies in mind (sorry boys).
First of all, Guyana does have (almost) everything you need…you may need to go into town to get it or it may be twice as expensive as it normally is, but it’s there. So if you forget to pack underwear or a water bottle, don’t panic. Second of all, shipping things from home is always an option too so think priority when you’re trying to squeeze your life in those two suitcases. I’ll go through my list of things to consider packing then I’ll mention a few things you shouldn’t even bother with.
Note: A second Packing Suggestions list can be found here Packing Suggestions (Part 1).
What to Pack:
- Photos of friends and family
- Umbrella (at least 2)-I use my umbrella every single day for sun or rain so it goes through a lot of wear-and-tear
- Full polyester sheets-they’re really lightweight and dry super-fast in the sun….I found some at Ross for $5
- Pillow (optional)-the ones here are lumpy and hurt your neck
- Things to do in your spare time because there will be a lot of down time-art, diary, books, musical instruments, etc
- Tampons (they only sell them at a few places in town)
- Small purse or hand bag that zips and goes across your body for security purposes
- 1 pair of jeans (you don’t really need more than that)
- Phone-if you bring an iphone with you, make sure you get it unlocked before you come otherwise it’s very expensive to get done here
- Inexpensive cute but fairly conservative clothes-think Forever21-they have a very American-like style here
- Comfortable, supportive, and durable shoes or flats-many girls have Toms, Sanuks, or Crocs-you do A LOT of walking
- Comfortable, supportive, and durable flip flops
- French press (optional)…my mom sent me one and it changed my life. I HAVE to have (good) coffee every morning so she also sent me coffee from home too…otherwise they really only use instant coffee here
- Lightweight, breathable rain coat
- Cotton or Patagonia underwear
- Sundresses or skirts that come to knees or lower
- Lightweight cardigans (shoulders cannot be exposed in school or professional settings)
- External hard drive-us volunteers like to share movies and tv shows and it’s a good way to spend your weekends, especially if you have no internet
What to ditch:
- Heavy sweatshirt or sweatpants. You just don’t need them. It’s too darn hot.
- Bug spray (maybe one bottle to start you off but otherwise Peace Corps will provide you with some pretty intense spray)
- Sunscreen and over-the-counter meds…again, PC will provide these but bring some if you need specific ones or just to hold you over until they’re actually given to you
- Face make-up-it’ll melt off anyway
- Valuable jewelry
A tip that another volunteer taught me is when you’re packing, put a lot of clothes or items in Tupper wear containers or zip lock bags. They come in handy once you’re at site and it’s hard to find good quality ones here. Most volunteers bring a medium to large hiking backpack and an additional large one…but the hiking one is good for short trips to visit other volunteers or excursions with friends.
As far as living modestly goes, it is completely possible to live on the PC budget if you’re smart about it. You can’t really live the luxurious life you lived back in America, which you come to appreciate how you probably never really needed that stuff anyway. I go to the market once a week and buy only what I will be cooking for that week. I try to make all of my own food and avoid buying take-out or street food as much as possible. I walk almost everywhere. Public transportation is cheap, but if you do it often, it adds up. I don’t go out on the weekends that much, instead I relax at home in my hammock watching movies and I love it. If you’re able to save money here and there, then you’ll be able to splurge every once and a while on ice cream or that bottle of wine that’s impossible to find. One last thing, I highly recommend saving money before coming to travel and explore this beautiful country and the surrounding area. I’ve only had to dip into my personal money once but it was worth it.
Alright folks, this is all I could think of for now. Please feel free to reach out to any of us on FB, we’re more than willing to help, especially because we were in your shoes a year and a half ago! I hope this helped. Can’t wait to meet you all just now =)
Lindsey Daugherty, GUY26