Madagascar

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.

General Clothing

  • Lightweight all-weather jacket
  • 1–2 hooded sweatshirts/fleeces
  • Knit hat and lightweight scarf
  • Swimsuit (make sure it will stand up to the intense Indian Ocean waves!)
  • 1–2 bandanas
  • Baseball cap or straw hat for sun protection
  • Good-quality lightweight raincoat
  • For men, a button-down shirt and tie for special occasions
  • For women, 2–3 knee-length dresses/skirts (more, for teachers)
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2–3 pairs of khakis or cargo pants
  • 1–2 pairs of shorts (around knee length)
  • 4–5 T-shirts
  • 4–5 long-sleeve shirts
  • 1–2 tank tops
  • Workout/biking-appropriate clothing
  • Leggings or sweatpants
  • Pajamas
  • Plenty of underwear, bras (including a few sports bras), and socks
  • Belt

Shoes

  • 1 pair sturdy sandals
  • 1 pair sneakers
  • 1 pair hiking boots/shoes
  • Professional shoes for teachers (with closed toes and comfortable for standing)
  • 1 pair dress shoes for special occasions
  • 1 pair flip-flops 

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

  • 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)
  • Enough deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, etc., to last you through training
  • A few toothbrushes
  • Small amount of makeup, nail polish, and perfume, for special occasions
  • Tampons and/or feminine pads to last the first three months
  • Razor and extra blades
  • Manicure set
  • Hair-cutting scissors for do-it-yourself haircuts
  • Hairbrush, comb, hair elastics/clips
  • Baby powder
  • Hand wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Lip balm with SPF

Electronics

  • Laptop with (optional) extra battery and extra charger cord
  • Shortwave radio
  • Kindle or other e-reader
  • Solar battery charger and rechargeable batteries
  • Disposable batteries (sized depending on what your items need)
  • iPod or MP3 player, charger, and USB connector cord
  • 2–3 pairs small headphones
  • iPod/MP3 player speakers (rechargeable is preferable to battery-powered)
  • Small portable external hard drive (500GB–1TB) for storing and trading media
  • 3–4 USB thumb drives, for transferring and sharing documents
  • Battery-powered travel alarm clock
  • 5–6 plug adapters for Madagascar (see Frequently Asked Questions)
  • Small portable solar charger
  • Solar-powered light
  • Camera with sturdy case, battery charger, connector cord, and extra memory cards
  • Unlocked smartphone, if you have one

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
  • 1–2 sturdy liter-sized water bottles
  • Leatherman/Swiss army knife/folding utility knife
  • Compact sleeping bag (nights can be chilly in some seasons)
  • Quick-dry travel towel
  • Illuminating watch
  • Bungee cords for strapping things to your bike
  • Headlamp, a few flashlights, and appropriate batteries
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks and tape
  • Ballpoint pens
  • Set of colored permanent markers
  • Journal and 1–2 notebooks
  • Malagasy/English dictionary (available on Lulu.com)
  • U.S. stamps for sending letters with travelers (and for student loan deferments, taxes, etc.)
  • Flat sheets (full)Your favorite pillow
  • Sewing kit
  • 1–2 pairs sunglasses
  • A voided check or deposit slip from your U.S. bank account
  • Games (Scrabble, cards, chess, Frisbee, etc.)
  • Musical instruments (harmonica, guitar, etc.)
  • A few books (to swap after reading)
  • Hobby materials such as sketch pads and colored pencils
  • Day pack, purse, and/or messenger bag
  • Sturdy gardening gloves
  • Good-quality small packable umbrella
  • Dry bag for electronics
  • Earplugs
  • Sturdy pocket-sized notebook

Kitchen Items

  • Vegetable peeler, spatula, measuring cups, quality knife, and bottle opener
  • 2–3 good quality locks (key or combination)
  • Plastic food storage containers
  • Some favorite American snacks to help you get through those first few weeks of local food!
  • Powdered drink packets to mix with water

What Not To Bring

  • Valuables, such as expensive jewelry or heirloom keepsakes
  • Extreme technical clothing or safari gear (not necessary!)
  • Mosquito net or water filter (these will be provided by Peace Corps)
  • First aid kit (this will be provided by Peace Corps)
  • Bike helmet or other bike gear (this will be provided by Peace Corps)
  • Electricity converters (most electronics that you’ll bring have built-in converters and only need the adapter)