Before leaving for service, many Peace Corps invitees post their packing list on their blogs so when the next wave of volunteers comes along they can have an idea what to pack. Well now that I think about it that’s kind of really stupid because its like the blind leading the blind. You’re making a recommended packing list for future volunteers without having even been to your country of service yet.
I know that the invitations for the next training group (Peru 27) have already started to go out and if any of the invitees are like I was, they’re busy stalking PC Peru Volunteer blogs or starting to plan what they want to pack. So I replaced my original, ridiculously detailed packing list with this list of all of the things I am happy I packed.
- Laptop: Really don’t play yourself and not bring a laptop. I don’t care how minimalist you are – you will NEED one. Not just for entertainment purposes but for all kinds of documents. And unless you have a super expensive tablet that can do everything a laptop does, don’t play yourself and only bring a tablet.
- External Hard Drive: This isn’t absolutely necessarily but I will say that everyone that didn’t bring one ended buying one here where they are more expensive than they are in the States. There is so much media sharing that goes on between volunteers. You’re gonna want the hard drive for movies and pictures. Buy at least at 1TB hard drive.
- Portable Speakers: I bought a small little portable speaker that literally cost like $10 from Walmart and it works fabulously. It basically took up zero space in my luggage and is rechargeable. I probably use it everyday and it is especially useful for laundry day.
- Smart Phone: My iPhone is my lifeline back home. I text and talk to my friends and family back home everyday. iPhones also take great pictures and I actually never use my digital camera. Yes, I am lucky enough to have wifi but if you end up in a site where thats not possible you’ll still want to have your smart phone for those days you do have wifi. Some people even get them unlocked and get a small mobile plan so they can use it without wifi.
- Kindle: I’m a reader so this was a necessary. If you aren’t a reader, I suggest you get one. You’ll eventually have a lot of spare time and maybe you’ll want to pick up reading.
- iPod: Do I really need to explain? Next.
- Watch: I wasn’t a watch person back in the states but its so useful here. Again, not necessary but very useful!
- Iron: You can’t get away with the raggedy Peace Corps look here in Peru. Bring an iron, it’s worth it.
- This will be just a note. I brought enough hair/skin products to last me about 4 months. I highly, highly recommend doing this. I brought 2 of everything. You can get products here in Peru but they are expensive and you most likely won’t find your favorite brands. Now for all you other Black girls out there, you WILL NOT be able to find Black hair care products here in Peru – not even coconut oil with the exception of one place. There is a Sally Beauty supply in Lima (close to the main PC office) that randomly sells Silk Elements and Proclaim product lines but you won’t get many chances to go there and again, it is expensive. So bring what you need for the first 4 months or so and when you get to your site and have your family send over stuff periodically.
- Tampons: You can’t get tampons here. I’ve probably only have seen them once in a box of only 8 and they were expensive. You can buy them in bulk on ebay for really cheap. I bought 100 for 10 dollars before heading to Peru.
- Exfoliating Glove: This may sound ridiculous but I’m so glad I brought it. You have no idea how much dead skin needs to be scraped off if you haven’t taken a shower in a few days.
- Bikini Trimmer/Personal Groomer: And this may be TMI but if you should find yourself placed in a permanent site where it is hot all the time you’ll want this. The less hair down there the better. You’ll be sweating in places you never knew you had and nothing traps the smell of sweat like hair. You don’t have to spend money on waxing (not like its available anyway) or razors. My bikini trimmer doubles as dry razor so I can also shave my legs and underarms. It was also only $20 and now I never have to buy razors!
- Business Casual Clothing: Please do yourself a favor and bring decent clothing here. They told us this a million times before heading over and yet somehow people still found away to complain about not having business casual clothes.
- Business Formal Clothing: Bring 2 outfits that are even a step up from business casual. There will be 2 or 3 times when you will need to wear something like this during training, including the Swearing In Ceremony.
- Lots of Underwear: I brought about 30 pairs of underwear and I am so happy I did. The underwear here in most places are cheaply made and flimsy. Hoping these 30 pairs will last me for a minute.
- Crocs Sandals: I probably wear these the most. They’re easy to slip on and so comfortable! Every day I’m so happy I brought them… And, no, they’re not the ugly crocs, they look like regular sandals.
- Sneakers: Even if you’re not a runner (I certainly am not) pack some of these!
- Heels/Nice Shoes: Bring a pair of business heels or flats for those business casual/business formal outfits!
- For shoes, I definitely say pack more for comfort and practicality than for style.
- Purses: Ladies (or gentlemen) bring at least one purse! I suggest something that is over the should that is on your body. Its more secure!
- Water Bottle: I am so much more conscious about my water intake here. In the states you probably drink a lot more water than you think – at least a glass here or there. Well Peruvians don’t really drink water like that and you won’t be able to just drink water from the tap. You’ll have to boil it first. And if you get placed in a site where its hot you’ll want to drink water all day long or else you’ll faint.
- Travel Pillow: Omg, don’t come here without one! You’ll be on so many LONG bus rides. You’ll be sick if you don’t have a comfortable travel pillow.
- Photos/Momentos: Bring photos or little things from home to make you feel, well… at home. I’m so happy I packed pictures. If you forget to pack pictures, don’t worry! You can get them printed here!
In one of my first blog posts, I wrote was about how stressful the packing process is and I mocked the advice of volunteers who said that you really shouldn’t worry about every little detail of what to pack. I know when you’re going through it, it can be so stressful and every time you have to remove an item from your suitcase you feel a piece of your soul disintegrate. Well now I’m one of those people who say, get it together cause its really not that serious. If you leave something at home, you can always get it sent over or you might even be able to buy it here! Hope this helps someone.