Depending on your outlook, packing for a trip can be exciting, because you get to look forward to the place you are going, or stress-inducing, because you’re not sure what to pack and if you’re forgetting something important.
If you’re packing up your life for two years in the Peace Corps, I’d say the whole experience leans more on the “stress” side of the equation. If you’re currently working on getting packed to come to Morocco, embrace the stress (because Peace Corps wouldn’t be Peace Corps without some nerves involved) but don’t let it overwhelm you. Even if you completely pack the wrong things, you can sort that out when you get to country. Except maybe don’t forget to bring a really warm jacket… It’s going to be cold when you get here.
Anyway, here is my packing list as posted on this blog last January. This is mostly what I brought and I thought it would be helpful to go through item by item and say whether I was glad I brought that thing. So here it goes. Bold items are things I’m really glad I brought, italicized are things I wish I had brought a different version of, strikethroughs are for things I wish I hadn’t wasted the space on.
- hiking backpack – good for extended trips in places where there aren’t paved roads
- carry-on rolling suitcase – if I could have revolutionized my packing process and not brought this bag (and also reducing the amount of stuff I brought) I would have
- school-sized backpack – for short trips, carrying my computer, hauling notebooks around, buying things at souk
- duffle bag – awesome for trainings/week-long trips that are too short for the big backpack
- Columbia jacket with removable fleece lining (wearing on the plane) – I thought I might have been crazy for bringing this, but I’m so glad I did, especially for the fleece lining. It doesn’t look cute, but it kept me warm during training. Also, I haven’t worn it yet since I got to site, but I would have died in a tiny shivering ball of cold if I hadn’t had it those first few months. If you end up not needing a huge jacket, you can always send it home or just not wear it. But remember, there are sites here where your olive oil freezes in the winter.
- hiking boots – very good for walking through mud
- Mary Jane-style shoes (wearing on plane) – love them
- hiking sandals – should have brought Chacos instead. My Keens get too many rocks stuck in them
- sneakers – I brought running shoes, but since I don’t run in my site, I use them mostly for doing other exercises inside. If you like to work out, bring the shoes.
- flip flops – great for showering in hostels, walking around town; if you are really strapped for space, you can easily get them here
- everyday walking shoes – I should have picked a more comfortable pair, my own fault
- pants (4 pairs, one worn on plane)
- skirts (all below the knee) – should have brought longer skirts in general (to the ankle) – see previous post on clothing choices.
- long sleeve shirts for layering (7) – these are lovely in the winter
- short sleeve shirts (4) – good for wearing under something loose but long-sleeved in the summer
- workout and pajama shirts (3) – bring your workout clothes!!!!!
- button down shirts/blouses – these are nice because a lot of them are ¾ length sleeves and a bit cooler in the summer/can serve as something professional looking if needed
- what are actually sun dresses but will serve to cover the butt for shirts that don’t already do so (4)
- cardigans (6) – essential!!!
- leggings (2) – brought one pair that are fully to the ankle and one pair that are to the knee – haven’t worn the to the knee pair yet.
- Tights (2) – if it’s cold enough to wear tights, you might as well just wear leggins. Not that they take up that much space
- long johns (2) – you will live in these during training
- capris (2) – not long enough to be worn in my site
- tank top (1) – wish I had brought more for either wearing inside the house during summer or for layering under a shirt with a too-low neckline
- bathing suit (2) – hotels have pools here! I would also suggest bringing a set of t-shirt and shorts you can wear over your suit in case you’re in a place that isn’t strictly for tourists
- workout capris (1) – too short to wear outside and too hot to wear inside
- workout shorts (1) – inside exercising FTW!
- fleece pullover
- sports bras (2)
- regular bras (3) – should have brought more, what was I thinking?!?!?
- pajamas (3) – I have one pair of heavy fleece pajama pants, one pair of flannel and one pair of sleep shorts
- underwear (20 pairs) – I firmly believe you can never have too many clean underwear options. Also I like to go for ridiculously long amounts of time without doing laundry
- socks (hopefully enough and in an acceptable combination of short, tall and workout) – I don’t wear socks in the summer, love them in the winter, bring ones that will keep you warm
- mittens – The problem isn’t so much being cold outside, it’s being cold inside
- gloves – thin ones you can work or write in
- fingerless gloves – love them!
- warm hat – worn constantly in training, usually inside
- scarves (2) – if you don’t have one you like at home, they are widely available here – nice big drapey fashion scarves that can double as blankets or pillows, I wouldn’t bother with a knitted winter scarf
- sleeping bag – super great if you are cold or traveling
- sleeping bag liner – like a sheet for your sleeping bag – during the summer I just travel with this if I’m visiting another volunteer
- towel – mine is a large or extra large quick-dry thing that packs nicely
- pillow case
- pocket knives (2) – mine have screwdriver attachments on them, which is what I use them mostly for
- silverware kit – this is a spoon/fork/knife combination that folds up, I haven’t really used it much, but I wouldn’t say it’s a complete waste
- headlamp (2) – I love these for reading at night, midnight bathroom trips
- umbrella – hopelessly broke during training. It rained a ton. It kept me kind of dry. If you have space bring one, but don’t expect it to survive the winds.
- Scissors – small to pack, good for art projects
- markers – Crayola is my most favorite thing in the world
- Nalgene bottle – no, I lied, this is my most favorite thing in the world. I bring it everywhere. In the summer I drink about 5 a day. Also, Moroccan custom is to share a water glass for the entire table, so if you don’t want to feel like you’re monopolizing the water, you can bring your own.
- Sunglasses – there is a lot of sun in this country
- extra pair of regular glasses – required by Peace Corps
- earrings – nothing that you’re afraid of losing
- 3 months of medication – you start getting your prescriptions from Peace Corps at the end of training
- hair ties
- deodorant – deodorant here is a bit strange, so if you’re in love with a particular kind, bring several sticks of it
- shampoo (travel size) – shampoo and other toiletries are widely available here
- conditioner (travel size)
- toothbrushes – I did bring several extra toothbrushes with me
- razors – if you like a particular kind of razor, bring extras
- nail clippers
- Diva cup – this is among the top things I am glad I brought with me, makes everything so so SO much easier. Practice with it for a cycle or two before you leave.
- sewing kit
- laptop and necessary software disks – don’t forget your software disks. Your computer might crash here and you want to get it up and running
- Nook and necessary charging cord – I love my Nook.
- electrical outlet adapter/converter set – if it works in Europe, it works here
- camera – preserve the memories!
- batteries and recharger – I brought rechargeable batteries and a charger, it’s kind of nice to not have to find out how to dispose of batteries
- DVD/CD case (including four workout DVDs) – workout programs you can do indoors – they save my sanity
Stuff for me
- pencil case
- pictures of home – they’re a fun thing to show to your host family – just make sure the pictures don’t show you or your family wearing shorts/tanktops or drinking
- knitting needles in case – if you like to knit, Moroccan ladies will be absolutely thrilled to see you doing something domestic. Crochet hooks have been easy for me to find here, but knitting needles have not been
Cultural outreach items
- host family gifts (2 sets) – I brought keychains and some other Michigan-themed items.
- Bananagrams – games of any kind can be hard to find here – Uno is one that Moroccans love and can be played without English
- Peace Corps papers
- immunization records
There’s my list. I think I stuck basically to it, but there might be some things that got thrown in last minute.
My top six items
- Diva Cup
- Nalgene bottle
- recipe book
Top 5 Items I Wish I Had Brought
- external hard drive for exchanging movies and such
- Chaco sandals
- set of measuring cups/spoons
- address book with addresses of family/friends
- more long skirts