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 

  • A breathable rain jacket
  • A fleece or light jacket (it does get cold)
  • A couple of long-sleeved shirts
  • A sweater
  • 3–4 good-quality T-shirts
  • 2-year supply of cotton underwear and socks
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Knee-length shorts for sports or wearing around your house
  • 2–3 pairs of comfortable pants
  • Hat (baseball or safari-type to shade you from the sun)


  • Lots of bras (especially sports bras)
  • 2 nicer tops or blouses (must be modest)
  • 2 long easy-care skirts or dresses (must be to the knee)


  • 2 pairs of dressy, easy-care, trousers (khaki is good)
  • 2 button-down shirts
  • 1 tie


  • 2 pairs of good sandals (e.g., Tevas or Chacos)
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • A pair of shoes that can be worn when trying to look nice 

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

Unless you have favorite brands you can’t do without, you should be able to buy what you need in Lusaka and provincial capitals. These include cosmetics, soap, toothpaste, general cleaning products and deodorants, hair conditioner, good razors and razor blades, Q-tips, and hair-care products. Bring just enough to get you through pre-service training. Feminine hygiene products are not provided by the Peace Corps Zambia medical office, but tampons and sanitary pads are available within the country for you to purchase. If you have a preferred brand or product, please bring those as you may not be able to find it in Zambia.

  • 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.)


  • Umbrella
  • Headlamp (2)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Tent
  • Leatherman or Swiss Army knife
  • Music (iPod)
  • Mini-speakers
  • Laptop
  • Solar charger for your iPod and digital camera
  • Shortwave radio (3–7 band)
  • Games (cards, chess, Scrabble, etc.) Hair elastics
  • Two sturdy water bottles (e.g., Nalgene)
  • Sunglasses (2)
  • Camera with memory cards
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Small backpack/bag
  • Money belt
  • Journal
  • Fitted bed-sheet (full-size)
  • 10 or more color photos of you (photo booth-type is OK) for visas, work permits, and ID cards
  • 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


  • Spices
  • Can opener
  • Basic cookbook
  • Zip-close storage bags
  • Packaged mixes for rice, pasta, sauces, and drinks (e.g., Kool Aid, Crystal Light single servings), etc.
  • Binoculars
  • Small sewing kit
  • Pictures or posters for hut decoration
  • Bandanna
  • Duct tape|
  • Guitar (bring a lot of extra strings and picks)
  • Sports equipment (football, volleyball, basketball, Frisbees, etc.)
  • Fishing equipment
  • Batteries (you can buy them here, but they are expensive)
  • Sleeping pad
  • U.S. stamps (letters may be mailed in the States by people traveling home from post)
  • Maps of the United States and the world (good teaching aids and wall hangings)
  • Art supplies, sketch book
  • Padded mailing envelopes
  • Good markers/pens