This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in-country and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything on the list, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in-country.
Baggage & weight limit: The Peace Corps limits the size and weight of baggage and will not pay to transport baggage that exceeds these limits. The allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 100 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds per bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers.
- Variety of socks (SmartWool, athletic, dress)
- Plenty of good-quality underwear and bras
- Two or three pairs of khakis and two or three pairs of comfortable pants for leisure and travel (with belts)
- Three to four business casual shirts
- One dressy outfit (a sports coat and a tie for men, a dress/skirt for women)
- Lightweight raincoat
- Two pairs of long underwear (two different weights)
- Winter coat, gloves, hat, and scarf (all can be bought/made in-country but not at all sites)
- Two to three heavy sweaters
- Two or three long-sleeved shirts for layering
- Shorts for sports/leisure
- Two to four casual shirts for travel/leisure (spandex is great since your clothes will stretch out)
- One or two easy-care skirts (not too short, at least knee-length)
- One or two short-sleeved or sleeveless dresses (no spaghetti straps) for summer
- One or two tank tops for summer (no spaghetti straps)
- Modest bathing suit
Note: Shoes are available in China, but only in smaller sizes (up to size 8 for women and up to size 9 for men). In addition, having at least one pair of waterproof shoes is a necessity for rain.
- One pair of sneakers (brand names are available locally, but not at American prices)
- One pair of dress shoes (sturdy, comfortable, warm for winter)
- One pair of sturdy sandals (leather is recommended) to wear in the warm season
- One pair of "casual" shoes
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Deodorant (spray and aerosol can be found, but stick/gel is difficult)
- A three-month supply of any prescription drugs you take (to have while the medical office orders your medication)
- If you wear glasses, bring two pairs
- Contact lens solutions (available locally; note that the Peace Corps does not recommend wearing contact lenses, but most Volunteers who choose to, have been able to wear them. You should still bring two pairs of glasses)
- Any makeup, facial soaps, or lotions you use (most local products have whitening bleach in them)
- Tampons (hard to find in-country)
- Razor and replacement blades
- Most cooking supplies are available in-country, including eating and cooking utensils.
- A French press and coffee grounds (can be bought in Chengdu and at other sites)
- Measuring cups (If you love to bake and want to buy a toaster oven in Chengdu—or maybe a former Volunteer left you one—you might need some supplies!)
- If you plan to travel to other countries for vacation, you may want to bring extra money to suit your travel plans; credit cards or traveler's checks are preferable to cash. There are ATMs in larger cities, and most towns so you may want to bring an ATM card to access a bank account in the U.S.
- Small gifts for host family and friends (not required); knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; photos to give away