This guidance is designed to describe appropriate clothing, the cultural context where you will be living and working, and the professional expectations of your workplace.
As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on checked baggage.
In general, most items you will need are available in country and locally acquired items are often the best at helping you integrate into your community. However, locally available items may not be the brands, quality, prices, or sizes you are used to. Bringing some key items from home might make your transition to service more comfortable.
This guidance has been compiled by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers and is based on their experience. Use this information as an informal guide as you make your own packing list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect packing list!
This packing guidance is designed to help you think through different categories of items and consider what you might want to bring, considering work expectations, cultural considerations, and your own personal preferences.
- Bicycle and bicycle helmet, repair tools, and under-seat bag (upon request/justification).
- Motorcycle helmet
- Mosquito net for your bed
- Water filter
- Tablet (upon request), to access online learning courses, training materials and to produce quarterly reports. Volunteers are welcome to bring their preferred device. Peace Corps cannot provide technical support and will not reimburse Volunteers for any needed repairs.
- Phone: Peace Corps makes arrangements for trainees to purchase a basic cell phone and SIM card shortly after arrival in Cameroon and provides a monthly amount for phone credit.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:
- Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
- Automobiles or motorcycles
- Flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers
- Valuables such as precious jewelry or family heirlooms
Do not bring any drug that has not been authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes without prior consultation with Office of Health Services Pre-Service. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Illicit drugs, including marijuana and related products such as CBD and herbal substances such as kratom, are prohibited during Peace Corps service, even if they are legal in your home of residence. If you use, possess, or distribute illicit drugs, you will be administratively separated from service.
You do not need to pack a lot of clothes! Many volunteers say they brought too much clothing and too many shoes. Buying fabric and having clothes made in Cameroon is easy. It is advisable to pack minimal and versatile items, and then supplement your wardrobe in-country after receiving your site assignment. Since it’s (relatively) cheap to have clothes made locally, bringing clothing catalogues from home can be helpful to show tailors what you would like them to reproduce. You can also ask them to copy an existing piece of clothing.
Bear in mind that most local fabric will have lots of designs and colors, so bringing solid-colored shirts or pants may be advantageous. You can also buy jeans and solid colored shirts in second-hand markets.
Note that clothes will have to sustain two years of sometimes rough washing techniques, sweat stains and wear and tear. You will likely do laundry (hand washing, in buckets) only once a week.
In some parts of Cameroon where communities are more conservative, there may be specific expectations about the way women should dress. Once you are living at your permanent site, you will be able to decide how conservatively you need to dress. However, the basic rule is to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees (no spaghetti straps or tank tops). Wearing traditional clothing specific to your site or region is usually well-regarded.
- Sturdy cotton shirts in dark colors; avoid white or light-colored garments that stain or discolor easily.
- Pants with elastic waists, wrap tops or skirts, or anything with forgiving styles to accommodate possible fluctuations in weight; some Volunteers lose and/or gain weight.
- Comfortable, breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen are more comfortable than synthetic fabrics like polyester. Loose-fitting pants are generally cooler than jeans.
- Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants will help protect against mosquitoes in the evening.
- Underwear, socks and bras: consider bringing enough to last the two years of service because you may not be able to get your preferred style, size or quality in country.
- Hoodie, sweater or fleece for chilly nights.
- Lightweight rain jacket (for the rainy season, especially for agriculture Volunteers).
- Hats or baseball caps (for sun protection).
- Business casual clothes, including slacks, khaki pants, dresses, skirts, button-up shirts and blouses
- One dressy outfit for ceremonial occasions. Volunteers often have outfits made locally for both formal occasions and their work setting.
- Agriculture Volunteers will be given supplies which include rubber boots and work gloves. They should bring clothing appropriate to being outdoors in rain/mud, sun, etc.
- Education Volunteers (teachers) should look professional in the classroom.
- Health Volunteers should look professional but their context is less formal than the classroom.
Leisure and recreational clothing
- Casual (but presentable) clothes for informal and after-work occasions and sports. Note that shorts and skirts worn outside the house should be knee length.
- Bathing suit or swimming trunks.
- One pair of comfortable dress shoes
- One pair of durable, comfortable walking shoes, for instance a pair of sturdy sandals
- One pair of running/athletic shoes
- One pair of sturdy work boots or hiking boots, especially for agriculture Volunteers
- Flip-flops and slides can be easily found in-country.
You should bring a three-month supply of any prescription and/or over the counter medications you use that are authorized/approved by the Peace Corps.
Note: Prior to service, Peace Corps supplies all volunteers with a medical kit containing basic, over-the-counter medications, as well as multivitamins.
The medical unit will replenish prescriptions after the initial three-month training.
If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs (of the current prescription) with you. Contact lens use will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Plug adapters to adapt US two flat prong to European/African two round prong.
- Reliable watch (durable, water-resistant, inexpensive).
- Unlocked smart phone that can have a local SIM card installed. Smart phones are available here but typically cost much more than in the U.S.
- Extra good-quality charging cables for your electronic devices.
- Camera and accessories, such as SD cards or film.
- USB flash memory key (one or more); if you have an iPad, bring a convertible flash drive for sharing documents.
- Rechargeable batteries and battery charger.
- Headlamp or flashlight (could be solar powered).
- Protective cases for everything, as the dust and heat may damage your electronics.
- Small solar charger for electronic devices.
Based on your interests and personal preferences there may be additional items you will want to consider bringing with you. This list is compiled from what different Volunteers have said they have enjoyed having and may be difficult to find in country (or more expensive or of a different quality than you are used to).
Note: These items are not required and some are not even recommended, due to cost and/or possibility of damage, loss or theft.
- Measuring cups and spoons.
- Plastic storage containers and zip-top-style bags of assorted sizes (also good for organizing items such as medicine and clothing accessories).
- Good kitchen knife and knife sharpener (if that’s important to you).
- Favorite recipes (you will be provided with a PCV cookbook).
- Packaged mixes (sauces, salad dressings, soups, and drink mixes).
- Favorite spices (although many are available in-country).
- French press/drip filter for coffee (local coffee is wonderful!).
- Can opener (available but perhaps of lower quality).
- Variety of open-pollinated vegetable seeds, if you like to garden.
- Hair-cutting scissors, nail clippers, tweezers, razors, and emery boards.
- Planner or calendar: Volunteers are required to submit reports to their program manager twice a year, so it's important to record all of your work activities.
- Folders with pockets: Large folders with zippers are a great place to keep important papers clean and organized.
- 3 x 5 note cards and sticky note pads.
- Teacher kit: markers, Sharpies, push pins, pens, pencils, glue, single hole punch, and folders. Inflatable globes, maps, educational resources on a flash drive, favorite teaching books, calculator, stickers, children's books. High-school grammar books and literary anthologies (for English teachers).
- Passport photos (2).
- Antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer (small supply for your initial travel).
- Any vitamin supplements or herbal remedies that you prefer (other than multivitamins, which are provided).
- Initial supply of toiletries such as antiperspirant, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc. If you have favorite brands, consider bringing a larger supply.
- Hairbrush, comb, hair clips and ties.
- Sanitary pads and tampons (the Peace Corps supplies Diva Cups and/or Tampax tampons, but they may not always be the style you want).
- Stationary and envelopes if you are a letter writer, and addresses of people you may want to write.
- US forever stamps: The most reliable way to mail letters is to give them to someone going back to the US.
- Extra absorbent micro-fiber towel (small and great for traveling). • Comfortable pillow(s) and lightweight fleece blanket for winter nights.
- Bath towel, wash rag, and shower shoes
- One set of sheets in dark colors or prints made of 100 percent cotton will be the coolest; many Volunteers get double size beds.
- Heavy-duty duct tape (good for everything).
- Concealable money pouch or belt.
- ATM card if you expect to need extra money for travelling.
- Durable water bottle.
- Pocket knife or multi-purpose tool.
- Combination padlock.
- Pictures of your family and friends.
- Books for pleasure reading
- Map of the U.S. to show your friends and co-workers where you are from.
- Anything that will make you happy and feel at home (personal touches).
- Depending on your interests, items to pass the time (alone or with others): small games, craft or art supplies, musical instrument (if you play one and can tolerate possible damage to it from the climate), sports or yoga equipment, etc.
- Music: consider downloading a preferred app to your device while in the States.
- Binoculars if bird watching is of interest to you.
- Medium-size day packs (without frame) for shopping or traveling. Drawstring bags or book bags in various sizes, also great for storing things in to keep out the dust.
- Lightweight sleeping bag (good for overnight stays at other Volunteers’ homes).
- Bungee cords and/or zip ties in various sizes.
- Anything peculiar to the U.S. or specific to where you are from to share with friends and family during training and at your site: knickknacks, calendar with photos of US, small plastic toys, playing cards, stickers, postcards, coloring books, etc.