Forget me not, a packing list

It doesn’t make sense, packing for two years. Where do I put the ironing board? Begin thinking of how you would pack for two years with a limit of 104 lbs and you’ll realize how much you’re going to leave behind.

I imagine some PCVs will be stuck in an airport explaining why he’s bringing a pizza slicer onto the plane—I would be smart enough to pack mine in checked luggage. Peace Corps says that most volunteers bring too much with them.

Bringing a lot of stuff doesn't mean you will necessarily bring the right stuff.

Bringing a lot of stuff doesn't mean you will necessarily bring the right stuff.

Our baggage limit equals about three to four large duffel bags stuffed with clothes (or cutlery). There’s a chapter in the Peace Corps handbook, How to Pack for Two Years, which is an interesting idea. Yet when I spoke with a RPCV, I was told, That’s a terrible idea. Who told you to pack for two years?

Suddenly the hypothetical question, If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have one book/shirt/album/etc., what would it be? is a packing mantra. What the RPCV meant was that I shouldn’t pack as if I were on vacation, because to pack enough mouthwash for two years would require a crate.

Instead, I should pack as if I’m moving to a far away place. The things I take with me are the things I’m going to cling to as I transition into Peace Corps life. Think Lawrence of Arabia. He went to Arabia dressed as a British officer. He left looking like an Arab. It’s an stupid example, sure, but I think that a great part of the Peace Corps is dressing and living in a similar manner to the locals.

So here is what I’m taking. It’s a long list, so skip it if you like:

  • 2 pairs cotton slacks (wrinkle-free type)
  • 2 pairs jeans
  • 3 dress shirts (to look ‘professional’)
  • 1 blazer
  • 1 tie
  • 3 T-shirts from my college
  • 15 pairs socks
  • 10 pairs boxers
  • 3 undershirts
  • 1 rain slicker
  • 1 fleece jacket
  • 1 pair gloves
  • 1 warm hat (Thanks to Steph G.)
  • 2 pairs shorts
  • 1 baseball cap
  • 1 pair long underwear
  • 1 pair hiking boots
  • 1 pair Teva sandals (Chacos are better)
  • 1 pair dress shoes
  • 1 pair sneakers
  • 1 tape recorder and 2 blank tapes
  • 4 tapes of music
  • 1 shortwave radio
  • 1 solar AA battery charger, 12 rechargeable batteries
  • 1 camera
  • 1 world almanac
  • 1 Iliad (Lattimore translation, of course)
  • 1 journal
  • 1 body/hand towel (like a chamois)
  • 1 medium backpack (frameless Lowe Alpine Mountain 70)
  • 1 satchel
  • 1 Maglight
  • 1 Peace Corps Handbook and 1 Welcome to Peace Corps/Nepal
  • 1 stainless steel flask
  • 1 Nalgene bottle
  • Fistful of locks
  • 1 small sewing kit
  • 1 small first-aid kit
  • 1 small shaving lotion, 1 toothpaste, 1 shampoo, etc.
  • 1 Teach Yourself Nepali with the audio tapes
  • 1 photo album (with photos)
  • 1 ultralight sleeping bag
  • 1 fleece blanket

All this fits into a garment bag and a large, wheeled duffel bag. The garment bag and camera case will be carried onto the plane.

I read somewhere that 1 out of 200 pieces of luggage never reach their destination. There will be 58 PCVs on the plane to Kathmandu, which makes that statistic pretty grim.