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ChuckLudlam (
Posted on Saturday, December 24, 2005 - 9:17 am:   

Peace Corps Baggage Allowance – What’s “Authorized” and What’s Permitted

The Handbook the Peace Corps issues to Volunteers immediately prior to departure provides detailed – and highly inaccurate – information on how much luggage Volunteers can bring with them on the plane. The Peace Corps limits are not the same as the airline limits, although this is certainly not clear in the Handbook. The Peace Corps “authorized” limit is two checked bags with combined dimensions of 107” and a carryon bag not to exceed 45”. Not mentioned in this is a further limit of 62” per bag. Checked luggage should not exceed 80 pounds for the two and neither bag should exceed 50 pounds. There’s no limit on the weight of the carryon bag. It says, “Do not bring more than you can carry.” The Peace Corps implies that you can’t bring more than this. But “authorized” apparently means nothing in practice. The Peace Corps doesn’t weight or measure your bags separate from the airlines. If the airlines will check it (with or without you paying a penalty), apparently the Peace Corps is happy. Airlines permit you to bring on more weight than the “authorized” amount and larger dimension bags we well. Then if you exceed those limits, you can buy extra weight and dimensions (pay a penalty). This is between you and the airline; the Peace Corps plays no role. The limits and penalties vary airline to airline, so you need to find out which carrier is taking you to the country. Also, the airlines are quite unlikely to charge you for overweight or oversized bags when they are checking in 40 Volunteers as a group. They tend to handle the situation as a whole, not individually. The carry on bag can be as heavy as the airline permits. In terms of being able to carry all your own gear, it’s certainly smart to get wheeled luggage or packs or duffles. As a practical matter, there are four times you’ll have to move bags; when you transfer from your hotel at the staging city to the departure airport; when you transfer from your destination airport to the training site; perhaps when you transfer from your training site to your host family; and then when you transfer from there to your post. In each case, there will be plenty of help around, and you can always work with other Volunteers to shuttle your gear. In short, do not feel bound by the Peace Corps “authorized” limits. In practice, the Peace Corps limits are irrelevant. Look to the airlines and if you are willing to pay a penalty, that’s up to you. Also, don’t worry to much about what you can personally move from point to point.

My wife and I are both RPCVs serving again, this time together and this time in Senegal, 37 years after we served the first time (in Nepal and Kenya).

Chuck Ludlam

Cire Dieng, Phamarcie Rasul-Lilih
Cher Sow, Voluntaire, Corps de la Paix Americain
B.P. 31, Guinguinéo, Senegal, West Africa

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