- Variety of socks (Smart-wool, athletic, dress)
- Plenty of good-quality underwear and bras
- Modest bathing suit
- Two or three pairs of dress slacks/chinos for work and two or three pairs of comfortable pants for leisure and travel (with belts)
- Three to four business casual shirts for work
- One dressy outfit (a sport-coat and a tie/dress)
- Two pairs of long underwear (two different weights)
- A heavy sweater
- Two or three long-sleeved shirts for layering (Smart-wool or other thermal brand is recommended)
- Shorts for sports/leisure
- Four to five 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 dresses for summer (avoid spaghetti straps)
- One or two tank tops for summer (avoid spaghetti straps)
- One long skirt or long but light pants to wear when visiting temples
- Lightweight raincoat
- Winter coat, gloves, hat, and scarf (these items could also be purchased in China)
- One to two pairs of sneakers (brand names are available locally, but not at US prices)
- One pair of dress shoes (sturdy, comfortable, warm for winter)
- One pair of sturdy sandals or slip on shoes (leather is recommended) (optional for summer)
- One pair of waterproof boots or rain boots that have slip resistant soles (that can grip wet tile or pavement) is highly recommended
Note: Shoes are available in China, but generally only in smaller sizes (up to size 8 for women and up to size 9 for men).
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Extra deodorant is strongly recommended (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 (many local products available where Volunteers serve have whitening bleach in them)
- Tampons (hard to find in-country, however the Peace Corps Medical Office supplies each menstruating volunteer with one diva cup to use during service)
- Instant stain remover (i.e. Tide-to-Go) is helpful during PST
- Most Volunteers find that a laptop is essential for lesson planning and teaching, an external hard drive to store and backup files, movies, and music is also strongly encouraged.
- Most Volunteers use a smart phone during their service. Some Volunteers purchase a phone in China, while others buy a SIM card for their current phone. If you want to bring your smart phone to China, check with your phone company to make sure it is unlocked.
- Extras for specialized chargers and accessories, if these are something you use. May be difficult to find headphones/chargers/cables that you use/like in China.
- Before arriving in China, it is recommended to check with your bank to see what options/access you will have in China or other parts of Asia. In particular, if you plan on doing any kind of travelling, you might want to plan ahead.
- Reusable shopping bags (if you are interested in cutting down on plastic when you shop)
- Heat-resistant water bottle (public water fountains/faucets use warm water, so a high quality/heat-proof bottle comes in handy)
- Small gifts for host family and friends to make a good first impression at site. Some suggestions include: non-perishable food items, postcards, calendars, souvenirs and local crafts from your hometown, as well as small denomination currency to use as conversation starters or in class. (Though this is not required, many Volunteers have found doing this to be helpful in breaking the ice and sharing culture with host-community members.)
- Food coloring and spices to cook (spices that are hard to find in areas where Volunteers serve include: ground cinnamon, oregano, dried basil, chili powder, taco seasoning, vanilla extract, rosemary, thyme, garam masala)
- An extra pair of your most used/favorite items
Shopping in China
Most of the above items could also be purchased in China. Volunteers will be responsible for carrying luggage back and forth from hotels, to host families, and eventually to site during their first four months of service. To lighten some of this load, the following is a list of stores and products readily available in Chengdu as well as other major cities volunteers may visit throughout service:
- Uniqlo—comfortable and basic clothing, high quality thermal layers, more inclusive sizing
- H&M—similar to branches in the United States, more inclusive sizing
- Decathlon—sporting equipment, high quality outwear, winter gear
- Watsons—a wide variety of brands including: Dove, L’Oreal, Johnsons, Revlon, Neutrogena, Clean and Clear, Garnier, Aveeno, Cetaphil, Vaseline, Olay, Gillette, Colgate, Head and Shoulders, Nivea, Eucerin, Pantene
- Innisfree—a wide variety of Korean skincare products
- IKEA—house ware, cooking utensils
- Walmart—clothing, western cosmetics, western snacks/ingredients, house ware
- Carrefour—clothing, western cosmetics, western snacks/ingredients, house ware
- Miniso—cosmetics, make-up, house ware
Note: Many volunteers also use Taobao or its English counterpart, Baopals, to order cooking utensils, house supplies, clothing, food, and other supplies they may need during service to be shipped directly to their site!
Peace Corps Volunteer Discounts
Many companies offer substantial discounts to Peace Corps Volunteers. In the past, volunteers have taken advantage of these discounts to purchase backpacks, winter clothing, shoes, and other supplies before service. Visit https://www.reddit.com/r/peacecorps/wiki/discounts for further information.