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 for Women
- A large supply of underwear and bras. They wear out quickly and take a beating when they are washed. Cotton is best (Bring at least one dozen pairs of underwear. Also, underwire bras are more difficult to wash.)
- Cotton dresses and/or skirts, knee length or longer. Loose cotton dresses can be cooler than a skirt and blouse. (Try to keep in mind that you may want to ride a bike wearing it!)
- Hair bands and barrettes
- Loose fitting cotton tops and T-shirts (nothing too revealing or cropped). Try to stay away from white. It gets dirty fast!
- Tank tops for hot days. (Remember that cultural norms are much more conservative than those in the U.S. You should only wear tank tops while hanging out in your house.)
- One pair of jeans (they are hot, but useful). Khakis and/or cotton pants, capris (ankle length or a little shorter) are better.
- Cotton socks for jogging or sports (and keeping away mosquitoes). No nylons.
- Shorts (for around the house and sports) – should be knee length if possible (Two or three pairs.)
- Cotton bandannas, two or three (Traveling can be dusty.)
- A few nice outfits for those two or three special occasions in your village or when visiting regional capitals (nothing heavy, hot, or too revealing). You can have appropriate outfits made here too.
General Clothing for Men
- Jeans (one or two pairs). They can also be purchased cheaply in Togo at used clothing spots.
- Cotton/khaki pants (two pair). You can have pants made here.
- “Zip-off” pants/shorts (easy to wash.)
- Cotton shirts. You can have shirts made here.
- Cotton underwear, up to two dozen pairs. (Boxers or boxer briefs are recommended because they allow more air circulation.)
- One tie, nice shirt, and pants. Cotton socks for jogging or sports and for keeping mosquitoes away. (If you’re athletic, bring more.)
- Bermuda shorts (two or three pairs) – for in your house or at the beach.
- Baseball cap or bandannas
Other clothing for both Men and Women
- Windbreaker or rain slicker/poncho. Umbrellas can be purchased here.
- Lightweight hooded sweatshirt or long-sleeved shirt for cool evenings
- Day pack for shopping; larger backpack for traveling
- Bathing suit
- Catalogs or pictures of clothing you may want copied
- One pair of good sandals like Tevas, Reefs, or Chacos. These are good for mud, water, biking, and walking.
- 1-2 pair(s) of dress shoes, flats or dress sandals
- Sneakers/running shoes (especially if you exercise)
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- U.S. toiletry items (including shampoo, hair conditioner, facial creams, and toners) are available here, but they are expensive. Face wash is hard to find. It is a good idea to bring at least a three-month supply of toiletries to get you through training. Women may want to bring some makeup for special occasions.
- Tampons (3-month supply) and/or diva cup
- One sturdy hairbrush or wide-toothed comb
- Baby wipes (for sweat and dirt)
- Deodorant, especially if you prefer roll-on or stick
- Three-month supply of any medications, to last through pre-service training; copy of prescriptions
- If you wear glasses, bring two pairs (contacts are not recommended due to elevated rates of eye infections and contact solution is hard to find.)
- Sting Eze/Bite Relief
- 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.
- Luggage that is tough and flexible, such as backpacks plus luggage locks. Have something that will carry your belongings for a weeklong trip.
- Money belt or pouch that can be concealed under clothing or worn on the waist to carry money and other valuables
- A reliable watch plus batteries. (Water resistant sports watches with washable bands are best.)
- A reliable alarm clock (battery-operated), or a watch with an alarm or a cellphone with these features (usable worldwide and unlocked)
- Swiss Army knife or equivalent (i.e., Leatherman tool)
- Small sewing kit and safety pins
- Favorite hat with wide brim for protection from the sun
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Camera (small models are more convenient since they are inconspicuous and travel well.)
- Bring a good case for protection from sun and dust.
- Digital thumb drive and/or hard-drive. Very useful for transporting digital files between computers. (Remember to bring the “drivers,” or any necessary software.)
- Headlamp and/or flashlight (you can also buy flashlights here.)
- Rechargeable batteries and charger. If you plan on bringing rechargeable batteries be sure that your charger will run on 220 volt current, or is multi-voltage. (Solar chargers get mixed reviews from Volunteers.)
- A small pillow
- Sturdy plastic water bottle
- French press/drip filter
- Pillowcases and one flat bed sheet. Bring at least one set from home as you will need them right away.
- Compact, quick drying pack towels. You can buy regular towels in the market.
- Good scissors and nail clippers
- Colored markers, crayons, and construction paper, for making visual aids and playing with kids. These items are available in Togo, but expensive.
- Wall calendar
- Journal (paperback style journals are available in Togo.)
- Pens (Bring plenty; the ones here do not last long.)
- Duct tape/packing tape (highly recommended)
- Pictures of home. Your Togolese friends will be very interested in seeing what your “former life” was like.
- Maps of the United States and the world
- Reading light (a headlamp can also be used as a reading light.)
- Calendar/day planner
- Seeds for personal garden (flowers or vegetables – remember the climate is tropical!)
- GPRS (voice and data) enabled phone to be able to check email wherever there is cell phone reception.
- Shortwave radio or satellite receiver. Stations such as BBC, Voice of America, and Radio France International can be received with a moderate quality shortwave radio.
- iPod or MP3 player and portable speakers
- Hobby items such as sketch book, sewing/crochet needles, paints, sticky tax for hanging pictures and maps
- Surge protector/voltage converter for any expensive electronics such as laptop computer, iPod, or MP3 player
- Games, such as Scrabble, chess, UNO and Frisbee. Ordinary playing cards abound.
- Frisbee, soccer ball, hackey sac, etc.
- Musical instruments – harmonica, guitar (bring extra guitar strings)
- One or two books. There are many books in English in the Peace Corps office library and the libraries at the regional transit houses. We are, however, short on current bestsellers and books (in English) by African authors.
- Ziploc bags, at least one box of various sizes
- Non-stick frying pan
- One good chopping knife
- Your favorite spices or sauce packets. Local markets may have bay leaves, chili peppers, garlic, anise, and peppercorns. Other spices such as curry, oregano, etc., can be bought in Lomé. Seasoning packets for pasta are highly recommended, as are burrito/taco spices.
- Powdered drinks such as Kool-Aid or Crystal Lite.
What Not to BringAll of the items below can be purchased in Lomé at relatively competitive (to the U.S.) prices.
- Plastic food storage containers, a good can opener, frying pans, and other kitchen tools for baking (spatula, bake pans, measuring cups).