Packing for the Peace Corps is quite the undertaking. So what do you need to bring with you for the next 27 months? Here's a list of must-have items for Peace Corps Volunteers, based on feedback from past PCVs. Make sure you're prepared with the items you need, but may not think of before departing. Know someone becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer? Here's where you'll find the perfect gift to help them prepare for their mission.
The village in Madagascar where Tyler Bradford served in 2016 had no electricity, and most night time activities were conducted by candlelight or battery-powered lights. Having a compact and rechargeable light source like LuminAID was invaluable for him, the community health workers, and their families. Not only do they now have a consistent light source, but they also save costs on replacing candles and batteries, which can quickly become expensive.
Hannah Marqusee, a RPCV, was in Nepal when a disastrous earthquake struck. She said, “Even before the earthquake, light was a precious commodity in Nepal. My former village, once on the grid, is now totally dependent on candles or solar after dark. It was a great relief that several Peace Corps volunteers and I were able to distribute 20 donated LuminAID lanterns to our former host families.”
LuminAID provides support by offering Peace Corps Volunteers 10% off their individual purchases. And if buying in bulk -- a dozen or more -- we offer further discounted prices via the LuminAID subsidy program. According to many volunteers, a LuminAID solar lantern was a necessary, and often lifesaving item.
Though each country has its own needs, here are some more tips and unexpected items you should include on your packing list according to former Peace Corps Volunteers.
- For clothing it’s best to see what the Peace Corps recommends for your country based on climate and customs. And get in touch with an RPCV from that location on what they actually wore. But don’t forget to pack clothes to wear during down time, which can be abundant. Whatever makes you feel comfortable.
Comfort goes for other items as well! You will get homesick, so little reminders are helpful. Whether it’s a copy of your favorite book, photos of friends and family, or a lucky hat, if it makes you happy you should bring it with.
- Some stores and companies -- such as Marmot, Chaco, and Hydro Flask -- offer “humanitarian discounts” for PCVs. You can check out this reddit post for a list.
- Access to your favorite spices, coffee, tea, or other pantry items may be hard to come by, and you’ll definitely want to bring them for cooking at home.
- You’ll find myriad uses for duct tape and a swiss army knife during your service.
Since you may not have reliable access to electricity, a solar lantern can be a life saver! You can use it in your home, while camping, and donate them to the local community. The PackLite Max 2-in-1 from LuminAID also includes a phone charger, so you can continue to be in touch from afar.
- You may not have reliable access to wifi, and during free time you might want to curl up and watch a movie or TV show. Use an external hard drive to download them before you leave, along with pictures of home, or anything else you might need.
- With hours of downtime and during travel, an e-reader or tablet will be invaluable. Make sure to download tons of books before you go, because you will not be able to carry all the ones you want with you. Pro-tip: take advantage of books that are in the public domain and download the classics for free.
- Art supplies and stickers will go a long way towards making friends with children in your village or neighborhood.
Find a way to commemorate your time in the Peace Corps, because it’s definitely an experience you’ll want to remember forever. For some that’s journaling, and for others it’s taking photos, whether on a phone or DSLR camera.
Enjoy the rest of your time stateside, and best of luck on your travels!
Distribution of lights is made possible through LuminAID's Give Light, Get Light program. You can read more stories of light distribution in our Notes from the Field series, including:
Community Growth in Madagascar
Bringing Light to Rural Artisans of Madagascar
Hannah Marqusee in Nepal
At LuminAID we’re always looking to learn more from our customers by hearing how they are using their lights. We would love to see photos or hear stories from your Peace Corps service, charity work, camping trip, or evening BBQ. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org