After I had accepted my invitation and gotten over the initial excitement, the next thing that crossed my mind was…”How do I pack for two years in two suitcases?!” I talked to some current volunteers in Colombia, reviewed the packing list sent to me by Peace Corps, and checked out some volunteer blogs online who had posted their packing lists for future volunteers! In case there are any soon to be volunteers out there, here is my packing list and some tips now that I have done it!
Note: Things in red are notes I am adding after being in country.Packing List: Luggage: Kelty 65 L Lakota hiking backpack (check…ended up getting stuffed in a rolling suitcase at the last minute) FUL Rolling Duffle (check) Outdoor Daypack (carry on) Clothes: Underwear (14) /socks (9) -Wish I had brought more underwear…hand washing is rough (some volunteers have machines). Bras (5) /Sports Bras (3) -Bras here are generally low quality and it is hard to find large sizes with good support. Undershirts (2) Jeans (1 denim, 1 black) -As hot as it is, people wear a lot of jeans! Capris (black, white, black dress, 2 denim) Short shorts (white, tan) Long shorts (black, white) -Did not need the long shorts, many people here wear very short shorts. Athletic shorts (running, cotton) Skirts (black, white) Dresses (1 dressy for swearing in/5 casual) -I wear sun dresses almost everyday because of the heat, but some volunteers hate them and most locals do not wear them very often. Tshirts (4)
Blouses (How ever many I had left after my garage sale!) Yoga pants (1capri/1 long) PJs Bathing suits (2) Cover up (1) Jewelry (simple necklaces, probably way more earrings than I need) -Jewelry is interesting and inexpensive to buy here! Cardigan/Shrug (1 of each) ASU hat Shoes: Tevas (for wearing at home/weekends) Flip flops (shower shoes) Sandals (tan/black) Brown flats Black peep toe flats Green Merrill Barefoot (running/hiking shoes) Black Toms Brown wedges -I never wear these and wish I had left them, but women here do wear LOTS of high heels. Toiletries: -You can buy ALL toiletries here so just bring enough to get you started, unless you need a specific brand. Travel size shampoo/conditioner (for the first few days) Toothbrush/case/paste Brush/comb Facewash (St. Ives Apricot Scrub) Soap (Dove cucumber) Hand sanitizer (Bath and Body Works pocket bacs) Q-tips (travel sized box) Sunscreen (Neutrogena SPF 70) -PC medkit has sunscreen if you are not picky! Make Up (Compact, mascara, lip gloss) Lip balm (I can’t go a day without Burt’s Bees) Tampons/Diva Cup -Tampons are pretty expensive here but easy to find (no applicator). Tweezers/Nail kit Bobby pins/hair ties/headbands Razor/blades Deodorant (Secret Clinical Strength waterproof) Prescription drugs (3 month supply) Electronics: Laptop/charger (HP 14inch) -Necessity. Ipod nano/charger/headphones Camera/charger/memory card Travel alarm clock Flash drives Battery charger/rechargeable batteries (4 AA, 4 AAA) Flashlight Surge protector External hard drive Kindle/charger Other: Microfiber camping towel (quick dry) Washcloths Set of 100% cotton sheets -Sheets here are more expensive, but your host family might provide them. I was glad to have them. Lint roller/wrinkle releaser Combination lock Brita water bottle/Nalgene/Camelbak Sunglasses (3 cheap pairs) Umbrella Propel zero packets/Arnold Palmer packets Index cards/pens/scissors Odwalla bars/Cliff bars 20Q (game that takes up virtually no space) Colombian guidebook Small purse Gifts for Host Family: Small Arizona calendar Arizona deck of cards Candy and stickers Jump rope/Frisbee
Generally you can buy anything you would need once you get here so if you prefer to pack light, more power to you! You can also have people send you things once you get here and see what you need. Keep in mind that it is very hot and humid but you will also be living in a modern city so you don’t want to be dressed like you are camping! Make sure to bring something that reminds you of home or makes you happy. Good luck and feel free to email me if you have any questions at katiecmccarthy at hotmail dot com! Happy packing!
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