9 Things I’m Glad I Packed for Peace Corps, and 2 Things I Didn’t Bring but Should Have

Desperately searching the internet for what to bring to Africa for Peace Corps? Look no further!

Ahh the start of peace corps, so many bittersweet memories. I remember like it was yesterday showing up to the airport, guitar on my back, dragging a 50lb suitcase with yet another balanced precariously on top. I had read all the blogs and watched all the videos on what to bring and what to leave at home. While everyone’s service is different, I believe this list will help you pack smart! 

9 Things I’m so glad I brought

Gatorade Powder

 I brought one container of this and I wish I brought more. When the temperature is well over 100 degrees your body craves electrolytes. I loved Gatorade growing up and can’t find any in Senegal, so the powder is the next best thing. Peace Corps gives you ORS(oral rehydration salts) in the medical kit which can taste a little funky so the Gatorade powder helps both disguise the taste and rehydrate you if you’re sick or just hot. 


My Kindle is always nearby. I love reading books at site. When I schedule a meeting with someone and they are an hour late, I spend the downtime reading. Lugging around hard copies of books is simply not practical when you can have a Kindle. 

Solar charger

This is perhaps the most important thing I have brought. Everyone will recommend Voltaic and so will I. The battery charges quickly and works well with my iphone. If you are in a rural area you need a Voltaic!

USB fan

I am an agroforestry volunteer in a village with no electricity. I had no fan at first and the heat made it hard to sleep. When I went on vacation my parents brought me one! Now I sleep in peace. I highly recommend an Opolar. 

Portable battery

The solar charger came with a battery but I am super glad I brought along one with a higher capacity. Having a two battery system at site allows me to use one while the other is charging. This is critical for keeping my phone, kindle, fan, and even computer charged.  I highly recommend this one from Anker!

Luci lamp

Luci lamps are amazing. They are charged easily by the sun and make life with no electricity so much easier. They deflate for easy packing, barely taking up any space. I suggest everyone pick up one or two for service. A Luci Lamp could also make a great gift for your host family if they don’t have electricity!

Asus Laptop

I had a nice laptop at home but it was big, clunky, and EXPENSIVE. Having a cheap ASUS is great for peace corps. It is lightweight, easily packable, and draws less power than a normal laptop. Perfect for my two battery solar system in village. Lots of people’s nice laptops have succumbed to water, dust, and sketchy power outlets. I’m glad I left my pricey laptop at home. 

Quick dry towel

During rainy season it is so difficult to get clothes, sheets, and towels to dry. Having a quick dry towel is great for wiping up sweat then being able to wash and dry easily. 

Osprey Backpack

I love my Osprey. The type I have has a zip-off small backpack for daily use. The big part can be used as a backpack and a suitcase. Since I carried one my guitar on the plane, I checked the big part of the backpack as my second bag. Osprey has a sweet program where Peace Corps volunteers get 40% off.  The Farpoint 70L model that I have is perfect for taking trips within country and the day pack is great for in site. 

A couple things I wish I brought

External hard drive

I didn’t bring a hard drive and feel like a dummy. In Peace Corps there is so much downtime it is great to have shows and movies. Other volunteers are always down to swap media with you. Having a hard drive with lots of space is a great move for keeping yourself entertained. I am forced to keep track of a bunch of flash drives I scrounged up while others flex on me with their terabytes of storage. 


I  didn’t bring one of these, but I really wish I did. I showed up with a couple plastic water bottles and had to envy all the cool kids with their Hydroflasks. These babies are super insulated, keeping your beverage cool in the hot African sun. Meanwhile my clear nalgene-type water bottle supports the growth of various algae, especially when I add drink powder(algae food). 

What I overpacked: 

   I stressed out far too much about what clothes to bring. Since arriving I have bought so many clothes in Senegal I realized I should have focused more on bringing things I would miss from America. Packing three pairs of jeans? Don’t. Bring your most favorite pair and fill the rest of the space with snacks.(beef jerky🤤)

Clothes suggestions:

Go light on the clothes! My suggestion:

5 shirts

1 sweatshirt

2 pairs lightweight pants

1 pair jeans

1 pair running shoes

3 pairs socks

10 pairs underwear

Like I said I have had a ton of stuff made here which I love. The fabric is cheap and nice! Fill the space with stuff you’ll miss and things you can’t find here.

 Best of luck!

I hope this list helped. Again everyone’s service is different but these are the products that make my life easier!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are mine alone and do not express the positions of the United States Government or Peace Corps. This post contains affiliate links which may provide me a small commission at no extra cost to you should you chose to follow the link and buy the product.


3 thoughts on “9 Things I’m Glad I Packed for Peace Corps, and 2 Things I Didn’t Bring but Should Have

  1. Adam,
    Great practical suggestions. If the Peace Corps isn’t already making your article available to prospective volunteers heading to off-the-grid locations, you should send it to your country director and suggest that it be shared. It would likewise be useful for anybody heading to less developed areas for work or pleasure.
    Steve Springer
    Westwood, Massachusetts, USA
    Peace Corps Chile 1968


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