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.

For Men and Women

  • One or two canvas, web belts
  • Five to six pairs of modest shorts (knee-length preferable board shorts are highly recommended by male Volunteers because they dry quickly but their length is considered too short for females in villages. Some female Volunteers use bicycle or spandex shorts under their lava lavas, especially when exercising)
  • Four to six T-shirts for around the house and non-work occasions
  • One long-sleeved shirt for breezy evenings
  • One or two pairs of lightweight pants (khakis or jeans) for informal occasions or travel (both women and men wear lava lavas almost all of the time)
  • Rash guards are recommended for surfers and frequent snorkelers, scuba divers, and swimmers.
  • Two quick-dry towels
  • Wide-brimmed hats
  • Rain jacket and/or umbrella.
  • A few pairs of socks

 For Women

  • Nicer T-shirts or collared blouses, that cover the shoulders, for casual work situations and running errands, are also useful to mix and match with skirts and lava lavas.
  • Tank tops for exercise inside or sleeping.
  • Bras and underwear (cotton or wicking sports bras)
  • A white top and modest white skirt for White Sunday
  • Board shorts and a rash guard T-shirt, as the normal swimwear for Samoan women is T-shirts, shorts, and lava lavas. Any swimwear that is more revealing isn’t culturally appropriate in a village. One or two-piece bathing suits are acceptable in tourist areas, away from your village.
  • One or two outfits for travel to restaurants or nightclubs occasionally in Apia or while on vacation (something you like and will feel good in).

 For Men

  • Three or four short-sleeved collared shirts (polo or button-down)
  • One short-sleeved, white dress shirt
  • One tie for formal occasions
  • Two-year supply of underwear. Cotton boxers are recommended and bring plenty as they are hard to find here.
  • Two to four pairs of board shorts (quick-drying and lightweight), which also are recommended as swimwear. 


  • One pair of good flip-flops or sports sandals (the latter will provide more support, stability, and security, and can be worn for some athletic/sports activities, light hiking, etc.). Inexpensive rubber and plastic flip-flops can be purchased in-country, but are less durable
  • One or two pairs of running/walking shoes
  • One pair of reef shoes
  • Non-leather hiking shoes, if you are planning to trek in New Zealand on a holiday (or plan to buy an inexpensive pair when you get there)

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

  • You can find most toiletries and necessities in Samoa, but if you prefer certain brands, bring them with you. Deodorant is widely available in-country, but the quality varies, so you may want to bring some extras with you or have some mailed later
  • If you are particular about what you shave with, consider bringing an ample supply with you, as what you like might not be available here. Shaving cream is available in-country
  • 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)
  • Contact lens solution
  • Individually wrapped antiseptic/antibacterial wipes
  • Quality hair ties and clips
  • A plastic container or dish to store bar soap while traveling.
  • Tampons (not currently sold in Samoa) 


  • Rechargeable batteries (AA and AAA)
  • Laptop computer
  • A waterproof digital camera
  • Audio player and speakers
  • USB key/flash drive
  • Flashlight or headlamp.
  • External hard drive
  • Kitchen
  • A good kitchen knife
  • Favorite spice mix
  • Can opener
  • Zip-close bags
  • Favorite recipes and/or a cookbook
  • A small French press 


  • 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
  • A book about your state or hometown area with lots of pictures
  • Small bag for weekend or overnight trips. A sealable, dry bag also is useful for storing computer, camera, etc., while traveling.
  • Swiss Army knife/Leatherman too
  • Wristwatch (water-resistant)
  • Locks for luggage
  • Posters
  • Sunglasses with strong UV protection
  • Sturdy, durable plastic water bottles
  • Games, cards, Frisbee, hobby equipment, etc.
  • Address book
  • Paperback English dictionary and thesaurus
  • Duct or Gorilla tape
  • Putty
  • Basic tools, allen wrenches
  • Dryer sheets (keeps stored clothes from smelling of mildew)
  • Bed sheets (double size; available in-country, but expensive and different quality than in the U.S.)
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Goggles if you like to swim
  • Travel sewing kit
  • Safety pins
  • Pictures of your family, friends, and home