Packing for the Peace Corps: Volunteers share their must-haves

What do current and former Peace Corps volunteers pack during their service abroad? Photo by:  cmor15 / CC BY

Once volunteers are accepted into the Peace Corps and notified where they’ll be serving, they must carefully decide which items get to make the journey overseas with them, from the practical to the sentimental.

The Peace Corps provides volunteers a list of suggested items, with variations based on which of the agency’s 65 host countries they will soon call home.

There are the common standbys — like reliable shoes and clothing, a water bottle, batteries, an all-purpose knife, a flashlight, a camera and a journal — and then there are the items that are specific to a particular country or region. In Namibia, for instance, volunteers might want to bring a headlamp to cope with the lack of electricity, while volunteers in the Republic of Georgia might consider investing in warm socks to combat freezing winter temperatures.

And the kinds of items volunteers bring have changed since the Peace Corps’ founding in 1961.

Those heading out for their post are now more likely to opt for technology that will help them stay in touch and online, like laptops, music players and smartphones. In areas where electricity is scarce or nonexistent, volunteers often turn to solar-powered chargers and wireless data plans to keep their devices powered and connected.

As part of Devex’s Doing More, an online series on volunteering and its impact on global development, Devex asked current and returned volunteers to share what they packed to serve abroad, as well as their advice for what future volunteers should bring. Volunteers suggested taking items with sentimental value, like photos of family and friends, and noted that the items volunteers should bring differ depending on the climate and customs of their countries of service.

Here’s what current and former Peace Corps volunteers had to say about what they brought and what they think other volunteers should pack.

Via @phylasophy
Via @CMooreIntlDev
Returned Peace Corps volunteer Chuck Cascio, Zambia

Check out more career advice stories online, and subscribe to Doing Good to receive top international development career and recruitment news.

Via @ChrisArr
Returned Peace Corps volunteer Kirsten Radewagen, Bulgaria
Via @BlueOceanView
Returned Peace Corps volunteer Kelley Gallagher, The Republic of Georgia
Via @kelsewhere
Returned Peace Corps volunteer Zachary Rosen, The Gambia
Via @zaneaskins
Peace Corps volunteer Stephanie Godfroy, Botswana
Via @mayalau

Check out more career advice stories online, and subscribe to Doing Good to receive top international development career and recruitment news.

About the author

  • New photo2%2521

    Claire Peracchio

    Claire Peracchio works on Devex's digital strategy and is based in Washington, D.C. Claire joins us from Atlantic Media, where she contributed to the marketing team within the company's in-house digital consultancy, as well as its business development and corporate strategy divisions. A recent graduate of Brown University, Claire also brings experience from her tenure as editor-in-chief and president of the Brown Daily Herald.

Join the Discussion