Saturday, April 30, 2005

What to Bring

What to bring in your...

1. A change of clothes
2. Necessary medicines, vitamins, ESPECIALLY MALARIA PILLS
3. Basic toiletries
4. Passport
5. Immunization card (They’ll give you this where you get your shots.)
6. Camera
7. ANYTHING valuable
8. Airline Tickets
9. A good book
10. Snacks
11. A bottle of water
12. Melatonin (to help with jet lag - separate blog posting to follow with specific instructions)
13. AIRBORNE (available at any drugstore - invaluable to avoid catching colds during flight)
14. Cash
15. An ATM card or credit card
16. Journal - Record as much of your trip as you can. I think it can very valuable to use writing as a tool to help you process what you're doing and how you're feeling.
17. Anything you need to make you more comfortable on a long flight. Travel pillow, eyeshades, etc. As long as I'm on this subject, drink LOTS of water on the plane and PLEASE either get up and walk around occasionally or do the exercises they show you in-flight. No leg clots allowed!
18. OPTIONAL BUT FUN - Small tape recorder and extra cassettes - to record your experience. It's also an amazing ice-breaker to ask people questions about their lives, let children listen to their voices, record your new friends singing their favorite songs, etc.
19. Tissues - important to have a small package with you when you're out and about. Don't count on paper in any public bathrooms.
20. Rather than a wallet or purse, bring either a money belt or a little travel wallet with a cord to go around your neck or waist so you can can tuck the wallet inside your clothes - EAGLE CREEK is a good line and fairly inexpensive.


1. Photocopy of your passport, including your visa (Leave a photocopy at home, too.)
2. Flashlight - Electricity may only be on occasionally and will definitely go out at inconvenient times. I always have a small but powerful mag light with me.
3. Hand sanitizer / handi-wipes / bath wipes - You can buy the really large "instant bath" sheets in the Adult Diaper section of your local drugstore. They really do make you feel a lot better if you can't get a proper shower before going to bed.
4. Toilet paper - Scott tissue offers the most compact roll with the most sheets. (Never thought you would need to know that, did you?)
5. Extra batteries for your camera and/or charger if you have digital. My opinion on this is that you should bring those disposable digital camera batteries. They run $8 - $10 and are better than having your re-chargable battery blow out because you were charging it in during a power surge.
6. Voltage transformers and plug adapters if you need them (If you do have anything to plug in, UNPLUG IT as soon as you are finished to help avoid getting blown out by the power surge/brown out problem.)
7. Extra film or extra storage cards for a digital camera (TAKE MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED. Take LOTS of photos. I've heard others recommend this and I believe it, too - take more of people than of places. They'll be what you most want to remember. Just remember the general guideline to ask permission first if you don't know them.)
8. Towel - I recommend a lightweight travel towel - you can get them at camping stores. If you can't locate one or would rather save the money, just bring an old towel from home and leave it behind.
9. Scrubgloves or washcloth - I prefer shower gloves, since they dry so much faster than washcloths.
10. Soap, shampoo, conditioner - I recommend liquid soap sealed in a very secure bottle.
11. Ziploc bags - bring a box of the kind that seal really well. Bag anything that could leak in the airplane.
12. "Dressy" Clothes - bring one outfit that is not hot but can qualify as “nice”. Believe me, even in a refugee camp, Africans dress to impress.
13. Regular clothes - This is so individual, so I won't tell you how many pairs of what to bring. I will say take less than you want to. Bring lightweight items that dry quickly, because it's all line-dry. General guidelines - Ladies, I think you'll feel more comfortable if you bring at least one versatile skirt. Shorts are a bit questionable. Definitely no “short shorts.” The weather is hot. Now here's more information than you probably want to know: a great tip if you can find them - travel underwear - my favorite brand by Ex-Officio. Try a sporting goods store.
14. Mosquito net - I have a little pop-up one that doesn't need to be hung from a string. This one is important. You may have one on your bed in the hotel, but I always carry one anyway. (Again, REI or Adventure Sixteen or Sporting Goods stores.)
15. Shoes - Comfortable, broken-in, closed-toe shoes are preferred since there are lots of yucky, sharp things to step on. Sturdy sandals may be okay, too - just use judgement.
16. Sunblock
17. Mosquito repellent with DEET. Skin So Soft won't cut it. No aerosol cans, please. (Airline rules sometimes.)
18. OPTIONAL - A pair of walkie-talkies - the kind you use in snowboarding or ski trips - just if you have them.
19. Travel alarm
20. Photos of your family, home, pets - to share with your new friends
21. Postcards of your hometown to give away or show
22. Daypack or lightweight bag to use during the day (this can also be your carryon).
23. Snacks - important. Plastic jars of peanut butter, PowerBars, crackers, anything filling and tasty that you will want to supplement your rice and potatoes and goat stew. I always bring little bags of Folger’s coffee (like teabags) and packets of instant oatmeal. BRING MORE than you think you will need. I promise that at the end of a long day - or in the middle of a stressful day - you will be SOO glad that you have that Cliff Bar. (Warning - nothing too melty!)
24. Sense of humor
25. Desire to learn
26. Flexible spirit
27. Willing heart


1) No fancy jewelry, including gold or silver watches. Get a plastic or canvas-band sport watch. If you want to wear a wedding ring for symbolic purposes, I think it's best to get a cheap silver one and leave the real one at home. Basic silver earrings are okay or simple costume jewelry is fine.
2) No camoflauge clothing.
3) No really strong perfume or cologne - attracts mosquitos.
4) Nothing irreplaceable


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