Peace Corps Packing: Dante's 10th Circle.

Peace Corps Packing List

My packing experience.

Y’all. Y’all! Let me talk to you about packing for the Peace Corps. I thought in my final few days that I was doing great. I was calm. I was excited. I hadn’t cried or had a nervous breakdown. I was proud of myself for how I was handling the impending transition.

But then I started packing. First of all I waited until two days before I left to start. I had a breakfast,a lunch, and a dinner scheduled with different sets of friends to say goodbye. The day after I had a hair appointment and dinner plans. The only time I really had was in between all my meals. Truthfully I just didn't give myself enough time.

The Peace Corps provides strict luggage requirements. For cold weather countries ( They specify this a lot which leads me to believe that warm weather countries might have different requirements but I haven’t looked into it) you can bring 2 checked bags totaling 100 lbs, a carry on, and a personal bag.

My bags of choice are pictured below. I brought a Vera Bradly duffel as my carry on. ( get one they fit so much!) My brother or my father’s old hiking backpack ( I can't remember who owns it), a regular suitcase, and the backpack that my brothers got my for Christmas as my personal bag. I chose these bags because they would be easy to transport myself when I arrive in country.

The first thing I packed was my carry on. I had heard from my peer adviser as well as from the country desk that it is wise to pack what you will need for the first week into your carry on as your other checked bags will be stored during in country orientation. I flew to DC 4 days before we were to leave so I had to pack roughly 10 days’ worth of clothes into my carry on. ( If you a boy I understand this is laughably easy.)

I ended up creating a capsule wardrobe with every piece being able to work with two or three other items. Listed below is what was in my carry on

4 Pants

2 Blazers

1 Casual top

3 Button downs

1 Sweater

1 Cardigan

1 Blouse

1 Skirt

1 Dress

1 Pair of tights

1 Pair of heels

1 Paid of flats

The whole wardrobe had a blue, grey, and pink motif as it is early spring. Pretty much everything in the bag can be worn with anything else in the bag so it gives me a lot more than 10 options.

I thought I was in the clear regarding stress once I had nailed down all of these outfits and what day to wear them. I figured packing the rest wouldn’t be that bad because it didn’t matter where it went, it just mattered that it got in a bag.

Peace Corps packing list

I can tell you right now I probably brought too many clothes. I can also tell your right now I definitely tried to bring more. I packed and culled three times. The first time I put every dress and every pair of pants I own into a space bag. I started to come to terms with the fact that I have a problem when just my pants dresses and skirts alone took up 2 large space bags. Not to be deterred I continued hoping that I could make it work. It very clearly didn’t. I had to take everything out of the space bags and started eliminating things.

For me, this was a hard time of year to pack for. I fully understand that I am super weird about clothes, but my issue was I needed winter warmth but spring time colors. After removing what I thought would be enough items, I tried again to get things into the bags. I could fit two condensed space bags in my grey suitcase. But If I put them both there, I would have no way to transport my rain boots( To double as snow boots) or my riding boots. For my second attempt I opted for one space bag in the grey suitcase an two space bags in the hiking backpack. I stuffed as many socks small tops and other items into the legs of both my booths and lined the bottom of the suitcase with them. From there I put a space bag on top and filled that as full as would fit. I got pretty excited when that fit…. But then the other bags didn’t fit into the hiking backpack.

peace corps packing list

Cue round 3: At this point I was really frustrated and ended up quitting to go to dinner. When I got back I tackled unpacking the space bags for the 3rd time. This round (maybe due to the mimosa we had a dinner ( It was national pancake day) or due to the fact that I just wanted to sleep) I started to remove things at a pace that I considered pretty ruthless. Finally after an hour of 'pull out two items you can only repack one', I got all of my suitcases closed. Granted they are bursting at the seams and I already have piles of things I need my parents to send my but still, I was technically finished.

Upon arriving in country I will post a detailed list of everything that I did bring for reference. Check back for edit.

My tips for packing

  • Give yourself plenty of time and set yourself some realistic expectations.

  • Start early.

  • Lay out outfits. Make sure things are culturally appropriate and seasonally appropriate.

  • Get space bags

  • Get creative with how you pack.

  • anything that was hallow and would retain it’s shape had things stuffed in it.

  • Make a list of everything you need that way you can check it off.

  • Try and stay calm. Anything you can't fit can be shipped or bought in country.

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