Ghana

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.

Essential for Everyone

  • Lightweight towel (dark colors; high-absorbent camping towels are great for traveling)
  • High density memory stick or other form of media for storing computer files, pictures, music, etc. Bring one even if you’re not bringing a laptop.
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Sweatshirt, sweater, or fleece (for cool evenings)
  • Bathing suit (conservative is advisable)
  • Durable flashlight (e.g., Maglite or head lamp) Two pairs of lightweight trousers
  • Multi-tool (e.g., Swiss Army or Leatherman)
  • One dressier garden-party style outfit—NOT cocktail variety—for the occasional special event (a decent smart-casual dress or skirt with blouse for ladies; and decent shirt and trousers for men). Short sleeves are OK for men and women. There will be a welcoming reception at the U.S. ambassador’s residence within a day or two of arrival. Men can bring one tie to add to the nice shirt. No need to bring a blazer or suit)
  • Ten passport-sized photos of yourself for Ghana residence visa, and other IDs and visas
  • Hat

Optional

  • Two pairs of athletic shorts (for sports or at home only)
  • Running shoes or sports shoes
  • Jeans (nice quality, i.e., no rips or holes; some people feel they are too hot, others wear them regularly)

Men

  • Two pair of nice, lightweight cotton pants, Dockers-style (pants must NOT be baggy or drag on the ground)
  • Five pairs of cotton socks
  • One belt (Ghanaians wear dress shirts tucked in and pants belted; more casual shirts with a straight hem are worn untucked)
  • Two polo-style cotton shirts with a collar
  • Three cotton short-sleeved button-down shirts with collars
  • Five T-shirts (if printed, no controversial topics involving politics, drugs, or sex)

Women

  • Two dress blouses or shirts for mix and match with skirts
  • Two pairs of cotton pants for work and play
  • Two or three light cotton dresses or skirts (these should be below the knees or longer)
  • One slip (essential to keep perspiration from your body and to prevent seeing through your lightweight dresses and skirts; nylon or synthetic works fine)
  • Two to three pair of sturdy casual dress shoes (no heels)
  • Five nice T-shirts (if printed, no controversial topics regarding politics, drugs, or sex) for mix and match with skirts
  • Sports bras
  • Underwear

A note to women: It is acceptable for women to wear trousers, so bring whatever you are comfortable in, either pants, skirts, or both. However, it is not the norm to teach or attend professional meetings in trousers. Teachers will wear dresses or skirts for work every day. Bring your most comfortable dress or skirt and it can be copied here by a tailor. You can also have inexpensive dresses made or buy secondhand clothes.

Good-quality, comfortable, cotton underwear is very hard to buy in Ghana, so this is one thing you will want to invest in before you come. Men find that boxers are cooler than briefs. Women should bring about five cotton bras. Cotton is a must. Elastic self-destroys in the tropics. You may want to bring enough underwear so you can put some aside for your second year.

Warning: The Army-Navy Surplus store is a great place to start shopping, but do not buy any clothes that appear to be military issue or that bear any military insignia. It is illegal in Ghana to wear military-style clothing.

Shoes

  • Two to three pairs of sturdy shoes (one of these might be a pair of lightweight hiking or trail shoes)

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

Bring lotions, shampoo, and items that you really like to have around, and bring deodorant, unless you like roll-ons. Do not bring toothpaste—it is available everywhere. Bring enough of these items to get you through the first three weeks of pre-service training. After that, you can buy what you need here.

Miscellaneous

  • Sturdy water bottle (e.g., Nalgene)
  • Nail clippers if you use them
  • One wash cloth (if you use them) Handi-wipes, for long bus rides
  • One set of double-sized bed sheets and pillow cases (preferably not white); sheets are available here but are poor quality
  • Compact umbrella (though they can be bought here)
  • Backpack for four- to seven-day trips (often called a “climbers” pack)
  • Tube of good glue (Barge, Epoxy, glue for Birkenstocks if you bring them, etc.)
  • Thermarest pad (these are expensive; bring it if you already own it, but it is not necessary)
  • One roll of duct tape (extremely useful)
  • Pictures of home, family, and friends
  • Your favorite books and textbooks—bring some for training and trading (but have most of them mailed to you)
  • OB tampons (enough for two years; this brand packs small and is very expensive here)
  • Prescription drugs (a three-month supply until the medical unit at the Peace Corps can provide special needs)
  • Eyeglasses (two pair, since replacements take a long time to arrive from the States)
  • Eyeglass repair kit
  • Money belt or other means of concealing your passport and valuables when traveling
  • Astronomy and wildlife guides if this interests you (Collins Field Guides on West African birds is popular)
  • Frisbee, hacky-sack, hammock, and travel-size games (Yahtzee, chess, cards, UNO, etc.)
  • Bicycle repair kit
  • Guitar strings
  • Vegetable seeds
  • Pair of scissors