Ethiopia

Packing List

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.

Miscellaneous

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

General Clothing

Ethiopians are conservative in professional and casual attire. Although your counterparts’ resources are limited, they will present themselves in a professional way. In the workplace or when conducting activities in your community, you will be expected to dress professionally and maintain a neat appearance. Men wear trousers such as chinos and button-down shirts in work settings. Jackets are ties are occasional requirements. Blue jeans, t-shirts, and very casual sandals are not considered professional attire. Women wear dress, skirts, or trouser suits with tunic style tops in both leisure and work environments. Please note that long leggings or opaque tights should not be worn as a form of pants in any setting, professional or casual. This type of attire is culturally inappropriate and will attract unwanted attention and harassment. Short, low cut or sleeveless garments are not appropriate for women in professional settings.

Bring clothing that makes you feel good, but still works with Ethiopian dress standards. You will find that clothing you bring from home will suffer more wear and tear than usual, so don’t bring anything you will be sad to see ruined. Most Ethiopians wear the same outfit for several days and you will probably adopt that same practice. Also, Ethiopians are pretty thin people, so finding clothes in-country can be difficult. Height is different too.

General

  •  Rain jacket
  •  Scarves
  •  Bandanas
  •  Sunglasses
  •  Jeans
  •  Hiking socks
  •  Bathing suit
  •  Long skirt (mid-calf at least)
  •  Warm tights/spandex for under skirts
  •  Good hat
  •  Work pants
  •  T-shirts for lounging/working
  •  Lightweight workout/sport pants
  •  Lightweight, quick-dry apparel
  •  Nice pants, black slacks
  •  Button-down shirts

Shoes

  • Durable shoes are essential. Shoes will wear out more quickly in Ethiopia because of all the walking you will do. Sizes run small so most American sizes are not available.
  • Hiking shoes (ankle height)
  • Mud/rain boots (especially if larger than size 10 male)
  • Light hiking shoe/day shoe
  • Sandals/Chacos/Keens/Crocs
  • Slippers
  • Running shoes
  • Closed-toe business casual shoes for work

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

Most basic hygiene items are available, but selection is limited. The Peace Corps provides a medical kit with first aid supplies, insect repellent, sunscreen, and over-the-counter medications. Also consider the following:

  • Razors
  • Facewash
  • Facial sunblock (for sensitive skin)
  • Tweezers
  • Shampoo
  • Hand mirror
  • Anti-bacterial hand soap (travel-size)
  • Cotton swabs
  • A few toothbrushes
  • Deodorant
  • Hair-cutting scissors
  • Tampons/Diva cup (women)
  • Three-month supply of any medications, to last through pre-service training; copy of prescriptions
  • If you wear glasses, bring two pairs (contact are not recommended due to elevated rates of eye infections and contact solution is hard to find)

Recreation/Entertainment

Though pre-service training will be very busy, you may find yourself with a great deal of free time when you might have to entertain yourself once you are in your worksite, particularly at night. Bring your favorite hobbies or materials to learn new ones, such as the following:

  • Camera
  • Shortwave radio/iPod/music player
  • Laptop (you will want this)
  • Small laptop speakers
  • External hard drive for movies, podcasts, etc.
  • USB drive
  • Headlamp
  • Headphones
  • Crank-powered or key chain flashlight
  • Anti-virus software for PC computer
  • Rechargeable batteries and charger
  • Power converter
  • Sewing kit
  • Compass with clinometer
  • Stationery
  • List of addresses for writing snail mail
  • Index cards for language
  • Good pens/notebooks
  • Earplugs
  • Photo album of family/friends
  • Exercise videos
  • Jump rope
  • Frisbee
  • Soccer ball
  • Yoga mat
  • Cards
  • Games
  • Travel board games (such as Bananagrams/Scrabble)
  • Super glue
  • Work gloves
  • Seeds
  • Binoculars
  • Camping gear
  • Musical instrument

Kitchen/Household Items

Most kitchenware/household items can be found in the capital or other big cities. However, the first couple of months are not spent in these cities. Some useful items include the following:

  • Good kitchen knife
  • Spatula
  • Can opener
  • Veggie peeler
  • Zip-close bags
  • Small frying pan/sauce pan
  • Water bottle
  • French press
  • Travel mug
  • Spices (your favorites—consider black pepper and garlic salt!)

 Miscellaneous

  • 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.
  • Solar shower
  • Travel wallet
  • Travel locks for luggage
  • Duffel bag
  • School/small backpack, messenger bag 
  • Gum/candy
  • Multi-tool/pocketknife
  • Small screwdriver set, glasses repair
  • Duct tape
  • Pack of ultra-absorbent towels
  • Fitted sheet
  • Sleeping bag
  • Masking or clear tape
  • Umbrella
  • Tote

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.