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.
Be prepared for all seasons; we experience extreme temperatures and weather, so layering is key. For example, Lesotho daily temperatures can range from 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the highlands in winter, to 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.
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.
Below is guidance on clothing expectations and cultural norms for work as well as leisure and recreation.
Clothing should be durable, not easily wrinkled, and easy to hand-wash. Virtually every Volunteer washes clothes by hand. Light-colored clothes take a lot more attention to keep clean.
Many Volunteers purchase clothes in Lesotho, although they can be a bit more expensive and lower quality.
Appropriate professional attire includes:
- Nice slacks
- Skirts/dresses at or below the knee
- Nice tops
- Polo, collared, or button-down shirts
- Bring colors, not just black
Clothing such as sleeveless tops, low-cut shirts, tops that show the midriff, tight pants or jeans are not appropriate.
Warm fleeces, hoodies, or vests are great things to stay warm without taking up too much space. Light sweaters are great for layering. Warm lightweight gloves and scarf and thick stockings/leggings for those cold winter nights. Camping/tech wear can be great for staying dry and cool or warm depending on the climate and clothing.
Rain jacket: Helpful during the rainy season!
Wristwatch: Very handy in a land where clocks are few and far between
Leisure and recreational clothing
Don’t forget to bring some casual clothes! You’ll have lots of time to hang out, so bring sweatpants and shorts for relaxing in. If you have your own style of clothing – bring it! Remember to bring clothing for the activities you love to do. If you are a runner, bring running clothes; if you like football (soccer) bring clothes for that; yoga, etc.
Volunteers should bring business-casual dress shoes for the workplace. Closed-toe shoes must be worn in training sessions. However, women may also wear nice sandals.
Again, if you enjoy running (football, etc.) bring the appropriate footwear.
Many Volunteers appreciate their hiking boots as Lesotho has a rocky and mountainous terrain.
Fashionable winter shoes are important and note that hiking boots with skirts are not appropriate.
Volunteers may wear sandals/flip-flops for vacation and slippers for walking around your house.
Sizes above Men’s 10 are difficult to come by.
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.
Items that former Volunteers have found useful to have while serving in Lesotho:
- Solar charger
- Shortwave AM/FM radio (in some areas only shortwave stations come in well). Battery-operated, solar, and/or crank are good.
- Camera with a lot of free memory – you may be able to charge the camera before you can back up the photos.
- Cases to help protect expensive items
- Batteries are available in-country, but they are expensive and not as long-lasting as those in the U.S. Many Volunteers use rechargeable batteries and a solar charger (worth its weight in gold if you don’t have electricity).
- Speakers – so you can listen to your music without headphones at your site. Ones that don’t require batteries are favored by many Volunteers.
- Laptop – If you love your laptop, bring it. Even if you don’t have electricity at your site, you will be able to charge it with families that have solar panels or car batteries or at a house with electricity. You may want to load software that reduces the size of photos for easy e-mail.
- Flash-drive / USB-Powered External Hard Drives – Many Volunteers share music and movies. Make sure you load it up before you get here.
- Flashlight/Headlamp – Choose a flashlight with a long battery life/LED. Headlamps are great for cooking and latrine visits. Crank flashlights can be very handy.
- Electrical adapters – Check the voltage on all your electronics. Lesotho uses 220-240 V. Make sure that your adapters are for 110V-240V. Plug adapters and voltage converters can be bought in Lesotho, but they are expensive. Buy adapters that work for South Africa – type M is what is often found in Lesotho (South Africa - Power plug, socket & mains voltage in South Africa (worldstandards.eu).
- iPods and other MP3 players are PC staples; bring lots of music and podcasts
- Extra headphones
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 enjoy having and may be hard to find in country. Note: these items are not required or even recommended, but might be nice to have.
- Favorite recipes – Keep in mind that some ingredients may be hard to acquire, particularly refrigerated items. Peace Corps has a cookbook filled with recipes compiled by Volunteers using mainly local ingredients which will be shared during PST.
- Ground coffee (only if you have a personal preference: non-American brands can be found here)
- French presses are available locally but can be expensive
- Good hand-operated can opener – can be found locally, but the quality is low, and you’ll be opening a lot of cans in your service
- You can buy sheets in Lesotho, plus it’s hard to say what size mattress you’ll have; some Volunteers have twins and others have full-sized beds.
- Same as sheets. You can get them here.
- Some suggest packing a camp towel. They’re thinner and you can bring them anywhere.
- Sleep Sack / Liner: Easy to travel with and prevents bed bugs at hostels and in village. PCVs tend to prefer the silk ones.
- Sleeping bag
- Mummies are nice and warm to cuddle up in; rectangular can double as a comforter.
- Compression sacks are also highly recommended.
- Sleeping bags and sleep pads are convenient for sleeping over at other Volunteers’ sites.
- Things to hang on your wall: pictures, posters, world maps (great for showing people. It’s not uncommon for people to have never seen a map in Lesotho)
- A backpack (day/weekend pack (25-35 liters) for daily use
- Some Volunteers like to have a large, internal-frame camping pack (65-85 liters) for longer trips
- Sunglasses, sun block, and a hat for the sun
- Ear plugs for loud music in taxis or for getting a good night’s rest
- Swiss Army/Leatherman knife
- Personal passport – if you have one (not required)
- Driver’s license (not required, and PC policy states that you are not allowed to drive in Lesotho)
- Travel board games, playing cards: great for entertaining yourself and your coworkers
- Many travel books are in the PCV library from other Volunteers
- Books – a couple of good ones to read and trade with other Volunteers
- Some Volunteers prefer e-Readers, paired with a solar charger
- Markers, crayons, colored pencils, good ink pens, and mechanical pencils – Bring your own if you are particular about brand or quality
- Supplies for favorite hobbies – knitting, crochet, artwork/drawing, musical instruments
- Stationery/address book: you may write a lot of letters! Make sure it’s filled out before you come
- Yoga mat: if you’re into it, bring it. Many Volunteers get into yoga here