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.
Nepal has four distinct climatic seasons. The average temperature ranges from 41-68 F in winter to 73-95 F during the hot season. June-September is the monsoon season when it rains almost every day. There are great variations between districts where Volunteers are placed, and Volunteers should be prepared to live in both hot and cold weather. There is no central air or heating system in Nepali homes.
Raincoats and umbrellas are available in Nepal, but may not be the quality you are used to. We recommend bringing a light-weight but breathable rain jacket and/or umbrella.
We recommend bringing a warm jacket or hooded sweatshirt for the winter and chilly nights during the rainy season.
Peace Corps Nepal provides the following items:
- Mobile phone: All Peace Corps Volunteers are required to carry a smart phone to use for communication, location reporting, and work activity reporting. Peace Corps provides a smart phone that is compatible with Peace Corps Volunteer Reporting and Grants (VRG) system. Depending on the circumstances, Volunteers may be responsible for replacing lost, stolen, or damaged phones.
- Bicycle: If Peace Corps Volunteers desire to use a bicycle and if Peace Corps determines the site’s topography lends itself to bicycle use, the Volunteer receives a one-time allowance to purchase a locally available bicycle. However, for helmet, Peace Corps Nepal will provide it to PCV.
- Mosquito net: Upon volunteer arrival, they will be provided with an insecticide treated mosquito net. Volunteers make sure that they place their mosquito net properly and always sleep under it – from day one. Even if malaria may not be endemic in area of their service, sleeping under mosquito net can reduce the risk of other mosquito borne infections like dengue.
- Medical kit: Peace Corps Nepal provides all Volunteers with a medical kit. See the full list of items.
- Water filter: In Nepal, water from community taps and wells is not potable. All Volunteers receive a high-quality water filter for water purification at site.
- Reading materials: The Volunteer lounge at the main office in Kathmandu contains a small lending library. Volunteers are able to borrow these materials as a work-related resource and also for personal reading.
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.
Additional guidance for Peace Corps/Nepal:
- Work supplies: Peace Corps Nepal discourages Volunteers bringing job aids from outside that may create conditions that are not replicable after the Volunteer’s departure. One of the jobs of the Volunteer is to work with counterparts to identify local solutions to resource constraints using available means.
- Swiss knives: Swiss knives and folding pocket knives are allowed in Nepal. (Should be in luggage not in hand carry.)
- Food: Other than snacks such as trail bars or trail mix that you may want for your first week of transition to the local diet, please do not bring large quantities of food. Part of cultural integration is learning to embrace and share local ways of eating.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer, your appearance reflects on you, your peers, and the Peace Corps. You are therefore expected to dress appropriately whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. While you may see young Nepalese dressing in many different ways, you are expected to dress as your professional counterparts dress, appropriate to the occasion.
While working in the field, Food Security Volunteers wear casual shirts that cover shoulders along with untorn jeans, trousers, or shorts that are loose fitting and cover the knee. Education Volunteers wear uniforms required by their schools, and Peace Corps provides an allowance to purchase these materials.
Appropriate professional attire for both the Education Volunteers and Agriculture Volunteers consists of long pants, jeans, long skirts, or long dresses, and shirts/tops that cover the shoulders and upper arms, waist, and lower back. All dresses and skirts should cover the knees, even when sitting. We recommend that you bring at least one outfit such as button-down/slacks or blouse/skirt for high-level meetings.
Shorts are normally worn for exercise, or by children and students rather than adults and are not appropriate in professional environments. Similarly, short skirts, tops that expose the stomach or lower back, low-rise pants, backless dresses, tank tops and spaghetti-strap tops are considered inappropriate in rural and professional settings.
Plastic flip-flops are not considered appropriate for professionals outside of the home, and especially not when taking part in any formal meeting, working at school, or visiting a district office.
Underwear and bras are available locally but may not be easily available in your size. They also tend to wear out more quickly due to rough washing and line drying.
Leisure and recreational clothing
Peace Corps Nepal highly recommends that you plan on transitioning to locally available clothing as part of integration into your new community. That said, pre-service training is a busy time and it takes time to adjust to feeling comfortable buying at the market or having clothing tailored.
We recommend that you bring enough clothing for your first four months in Nepal. Clothes are washed by hand and line dried. Most trainees wash their clothes on Saturdays with some spot cleaning throughout the week.
- Leisure: Undershirts, tank tops, lightweight T-Shirts, shorts, yoga pants, and leggings are appropriate for sleep and lounging at home.
- Exercise: It is appropriate to wear shorts and tank-tops for sports and exercise. If shorts are worn for exercise, they should be knee-length or longer. Sports bras and tight-fitting leggings should be covered for public exercise.
- Sun protection: The sun in the dry season can be strong. Sunscreen is available in the big towns in Nepal, but if you use sunscreen regularly, we recommend bringing at least a 6-12 months’ supply. We recommend bringing a hat. Sunglasses are available locally but may not be the quality you are used to and may not offer the same protections from UV.
Shoes are available for purchase in Kathmandu and at local markets. They are available in a large variety of quality and sizes but may be difficult at first to locate. We recommend that you use the below guidance to bring at least one pair of each type of shoe you think you will need to get you started. If your feet are larger than size 12 in either men or women, you may consider bringing more than one pair.
- Education sector: Closed toed shoes are appropriate for all school-related activities and government-related events. Open-toed sandals, sneakers, running shoes, sports shoes and mountain shoes are also allowed, but NOT during school-related activities and government-related events.
- Agriculture sector: The agriculture sector requires frequent walking to the field work locations. We recommend sneakers or durable, fully securing sandals. Lightweight, inexpensive leather shoes are appropriate for higher level work meetings.
- Leisure and recreation: We recommend bringing one pair of shoes for your preferred form of recreation, whether it is running, trail running, bicycling and so on.
- Rubber slippers: Many Nepalese wear inexpensive rubber or plastic slippers while going about their daily activities. These are appropriate for casual public activities such as going to the market or visiting friends during off hours. They are inappropriate for professional settings and important public events such as weddings but wearing them when appropriate will help you integrate and prolong the life of your work and leisure footwear. A pair of rubber slippers costs around 200 Nepali Rupees ($1.50), and are readily available in most market areas.
During the rainy season, roads and paths become extremely muddy. Many Nepalese wear rubber slippers and some wear rubber boots during the rainy season. Although available locally, it may be difficult to find them in sizes larger than men’s 10, and the quality may not be the same as in the US. Although not strictly necessary, you may consider bringing waterproof boots or shoes. Keep in mind it should be something you feel comfortable walking in.
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.
Additional guidance for Nepal:
- Hair: Salons and barbers are available in small towns in Nepal. For those Volunteers who do not use local salons and barbers, some seek haircuts from fellow volunteers, while others choose to groom themselves. You may consider rechargeable clippers/trimmers, hair cutting scissors, and/or razors.
- Menstrual products: Medical unit provides tampons and reusable menstrual cups on PCT/V’s request. However, Menstrual pads are not provided by medical unit and PCV/T should manage cost from monthly allowance if they prefer menstrual pads.
Electric outlets in Nepal typically provide 220v (Volts) of power, and electronics sold in Nepal are 220v compatible. Most phone and laptop chargers are compatible with both 120v (US standard) and 220v. Make sure in advance of bringing any electronics from the US that they are compatible with 220v. Electronics that are only 120v compatible may burn out, catch fire, or damage the battery if they are plugged into 220v. Small travel voltage converters are available for purchase online, but are generally low amperage and will not support high amperage electronics such as hair dryers or kitchen appliances.
Since the electrical grid in Nepal experiences occasional power outages, we recommend using a surge protector when plugging in your electronics. Surge protector multiplugs are available in Nepal, but may be more expensive than what is available in the US. Before buying a surge protector, make sure that it is 220v compatible.
Access and reliability
Access to electricity varies greatly at Volunteer sites. Some Volunteers will have electricity in their homes more regular than others. Many Volunteers find extra batteries, battery extenders, and/or solar chargers very useful for keeping phones and other small devices charged.
Considering this, we recommend you bring at least on rechargeable headlamp and/or rechargeable lantern. Candles, flashlights, and rechargeable LED strips are widely available in Nepal.
Outlets in Nepal are not sourced from a single country. It is common to find Nepali, Indian, US and Chinese outlets – sometimes in the same room. Plug adapters are available for purchase in Nepal but are sometimes low quality and may present a fire hazard if they fit poorly. We recommend bringing at least one high quality adapter or adapter set that is compatible with all these plugs/outlets.
Peace Corps Nepal does not require Volunteers to bring laptops, external hard drives, tablets, smart phones, or other devices. Peace Corps Nepal issues smart phones and shared office computers are adequate for all work and reporting requirements. That said, many volunteers find laptops, personal smart phones, tablets, and other personal devices convenient for entertainment and work. Please use your judgements before deciding what to bring.
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.
The Peace Corps Nepal Volunteer Lounge has a lending library of novels and educational textbooks that are available to Volunteers. Some Volunteers prefer e-readers to paper books due to the weight of transport.
Many Volunteers find comfort and connection in cooking for themselves and others. Traditional Nepali kitchens are very different from kitchens in the United States. Cooking is typically done in pots rather than pans, food is cut while being held in the hand rather than on cutting boards, and meals are heated over wood fires, or gas burners rather than stove tops – although most Volunteers use a two-burner gas range similar to a stove top. For Volunteers who love to cook, consider bringing a good quality pan, small cutting board, decent chef knife and sharpening rod, and any other “essential” cooking utensils.
Traditional Nepali cuisine consists primarily of rice with a lentil soup.
- Snacks and supplements: High-nutrition snack foods such as granola or protein bars can be difficult to find or are expensive, but many volunteers supplement their diets with locally available peanuts and peanut butter. Snacks like chips, cookies, and crackers are widely available. Vitamins and nutritional supplements are widely unavailable even outside of Kathmandu.
- Spicy foods: Generally, Nepalese love spicy food. The vegetable curry and instant pickles are generally hot and spicy.
- Coffee: Instant coffee is widely available in Nepal. Drinking coffee is not that common in rural Nepal, rather drinking tea is very common and it is customary to offer tea to the visitors/guests.
Many Volunteers take up gardening as a physical outlet but it’s not required as part of their project responsibility. If someone wants to work on garden, PCV needs to coordinate with host family.
- Greens: Nepal has abundant cooking greens such as mustard leaves and spinach, but other fresh greens like lettuce, leek, celery and kales are harder to come by.
- Herbs: Herbs such as basil, parsley, mint, dill, cilantro, turmeric, ginger, and sage grow well in the Nepali climate, and are almost non-existent in the market.
- Vegetables: Fresh vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower, bitter-gourd, green peas, and pumpkin are available seasonally.
- Seeds: Seeds are available in Nepal. These seeds are mostly open pollinated and local varieties. PCVs may not bring seeds from outside Nepal; there are prohibitions to bring seeds and agriculture products into Nepal.
- Tools: Most gardening implements are available locally, but pocketknives and clippers can be hard to find.
Ludo, Carrom board, and chess are popular indoor games and locally available in Nepal. Games such as cards can be fun and engaging ways of connecting to your friends – Just no gambling!
While by no means required, a small gift can be a nice way to make early connections with host families and community members. Calendars of American Scenes, coffee table books, pictures of yourself in the US, and small knickknacks are very much appreciated.
Pillows, bedsheets, towels, and other household goods are available in Nepal, but the comfort and quality may be far below what is available in the United States. Consider packing any “can’t do without” household items.
Many Volunteers who play a musical instrument find comfort and connection by bringing an instrument with them to Nepal. Please be aware that the climate can be very hard on musical instruments, and they may be attractive to theft. If you consider bringing a musical instrument, please do not bring something of high monetary or sentimental value. Many Volunteers enjoy having a small, portable Bluetooth speaker to play music in their home and with community members. Please see the section on electricity before selecting a rechargeable speaker.
Showing photos of your home and family can be an excellent way to connect with your new community and work partners. Consider bringing a small photo album with prints as internet connectivity is not always reliable. Consider bringing other sentimental or personal items that help keep you connected to your sense of home and self, but please do not bring anything that you could not live without in case of loss or damage.
Many Volunteers take excellent photos on their smart phones. For more avid photographers, consider bringing your camera equipment, but understand that it may present a temptation to theft. Please consider how you intend to use your camera equipment, especially when taking photos of people. “Extractive” photography is highly discouraged by Peace Corps Nepal and can create conflict when photos are taken without the subject’s consent. Please seek consent before photographing others.
Many Volunteers travel within Nepal and internationally over the course of their service. Peace Corps Nepal recommends that you secure checked baggage during international flights with TSA-approved locks. You may also consider bringing lockable cables for securing bags to the top of vehicles while using local transportation. You may also want to consider a backpack, small mouthed-water-bottle (easier to drink from on bumpy roads), and a debit or credit card if you intend to travel outside of Nepal.