What to pack..
As well has having your passport, it is important to take copies of your travel documents. Email these to yourself, give copies to a friend or family member, and take hardcopies in an A4 envelope. Make sure you include copies of your passport, travel insurance, visas, plane tickets, itineraries and contact numbers. Also, a few passport sized photos can come in handy for various administrative requirements.
Remember to include your own personal toiletries. Some items and brands will be hard to find and might be more expensive to buy locally. If you can fit toiletries for the majority of your stay in your luggage, it is recommended.
Include some photos from your life at home to share with your host family and new friends. They will be excited to learn more about your home country, your family and friends, where you work or go to school, and what you do for fun.
Take a backpack that you can use each day for lunch, drinks and work items. It will also come in handy on the weekend as an overnight bag.
It is important to be suitably dressed for work but you will also have the opportunity to get involved in other local activities outside of your volunteer placement so finding versatile items that can be used for both will save you space. Jeans, t shirts and closed toe shoes are good and comfortable options. In many cases you will encounter very conservative people therefore women especially should be prepared to wear shirts that cover mid rifts and shoulders. These can be paired with long skirts, trousers or 3/4 pants. It is highly likely that as a volunteer you will be involved in a community event, function or church service so we suggest taking a good set of clothes.
Most volunteers plan weekend excursions where you will most likely be in a tourist environment allowing you to wear more relaxed clothing. You will want comfortable shoes especially if you’re planning sightseeing trips. Don’t forget shorts, swimwear, a sun hat, sunglasses and a towel.
Often items in this category will be in short supply at your program. They can be found locally but it’s a good idea to take a basic first aid kit. Make sure you include insect repellent, sun screen, lip balm, band aids and antiseptic as well as a small pair of scissors, tweezers and a couple of pairs of gloves. When discussing vaccinations with your doctor you should also ask for medications for allergies, diarrhea, headaches, stomach upsets and pain relief. Also if you are on any medication you should bring the necessary supply for the time you are traveling.
Often during your travels you will have some ‘down time’ so pack a good book, some playing cards, your iPod or other items to help pass the time. Also copies of any research you have done on the area e.g. Lonely Planet books, this booklet.
A sleeping bag is almost a must especially if you are planning to travel during the weekends or before or after your placement. Depending on the weather conditions at the time of your placement a sleeping bag liner might be sufficient. Take a pillow case which can make an effective pillow (filled with clothes) or you can use it for laundry. In many areas a mosquito net is useful, but can be bought locally if required.
- A small torch and spare batteries
- Mobile phone as you can generally buy a SIM card and get a local mobile number to send/receive tests and make calls
- A laptop, although an internet connection may not always be available
- Camera (and charger) to keep track of your volunteering experience and a journal and pens to keep a diary
- A small pocket knife and a padlock but remember to pack the knife in your checked luggage
- Some small gifts from your own country are useful, small calendars, pens, key rings, postcards showing tourist attractions
Also you may be given items for the program you are going to; look to take small items and check with your program coordinator for items they specifically need at that time. Some of these items might include: balloons, bubble solution and blowers, face paint, balls, toys and group games such as Twister, Snakes and Ladders, Guess Who, Connect Four.