February 9, 2002: Headlines: COS - Nepal: Packing - Nepal: Blogs - Nepal: Personal Web Site: Packing for Nepal by Scott Allan Wallick

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Nepal: Peace Corps Nepal : The Peace Corps in Nepal: February 9, 2002: Headlines: COS - Nepal: Packing - Nepal: Blogs - Nepal: Personal Web Site: Packing for Nepal by Scott Allan Wallick

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Packing for Nepal by Scott Allan Wallick

Packing for Nepal by Scott Allan Wallick

Packing for Nepal by Scott Allan Wallick

Forget Me Not (The Packing List)

It doesn't make sense, packing for two years. Where do I put the ironing board? Begin thinking of how'd you'd pack for two years with a limit of 104 lbs. and you'll realize how much you're going to live without. I imagine some Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) will be stuck in an airport explaining why he's brining a pizza slicer onto the plane. I'd be smart enough to pack mine in checked luggage. Peace Corps (PC) says that most volunteers bring too much with them.

Our baggage limit equals about three to four large duffels stuffed with clothes (or cutlery). There's a chapter in the PC handbook called How to pack for two years, which is an interesting idea, but when I talked to returned PCVs (RPCVs), I was told, "That's a terrible idea. Who told you to pack for two years?" Suddenly the hypothetical question, "If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have one book/shirt/album/etc, what would it be?" is a packing mantra. The RPCV meant is that I shouldn't pack as if I were on vacation, because to pack enough mouthwash for two years would require a crate.

Instead, I should pack as if I'm moving to a very far away place. The things I take with me are the things I'm going to cling to as I transition into PCV life. Think Lawrence of Arabia. He went to Arabia dressed as a British officer. He left looking like an Arab. It's an extreme example, but I think that a great part of the Peace Corps is dressing and living in a similar manner to the people of Nepal. Soon I'll be shopping for clothes in the great Nepalese markets (or are they bazaars in Nepal?), which are known for their rugs, but what about shoes? In Nepal, cows are sacred hardly shoe material. So will my dress shoes be canvas? If such things exist, they do in Nepal.

Here is what I'm taking. It's a long list so skip it if you like:

* 2 pairs of cotton slacks (The wrinkle-free type)

* 2 pairs denim jeans

* 3 dress shirts (I have to look 'professional' while on the job)

* Blazer *

* Tie

* 3 t-shirts from my college

* 15 pairs of socks *

* 10 pairs of boxers

* 3 undershirts **

* Rain slicker (which I forgot and ended up buying one that was fine in Kathmandu)

* Fleece jacket

* Wool gloves

* Warm hat (Thanks to Steph G.)

* 2 pair of shorts

* Baseball cap

* Long underwear *

* Pair of hiking boots (Bring light boots, mine were too heavy)

* Pair of Teva sandals (I think Chacos are better)

* Pair of dress shoes

* Pair of sneakers

* Tape recorder with two blank tapes

* 4 tapes of music **

* Shortwave radio

* Solar AA battery charger, 12 batteries, and a battery tester

* My camera (And the famed Quadcam)

* World almanac

* Homer's Iliad (Lattimore translation, of course)

* Journal (I received six journals as presents, which my parents will mail to me)

* Travel body and hand towel (Like a chamois)

* Medium sized backpack for trekking (It's a frameless Lowe Alpine Mountain 70 and it was one of the best things I brought)

* Satchel

* Maglight flashlight

* Security wallet (I prefer the type with a belt loop that is kept between your waist)

* Peace Corps Handbook & Welcome to Peace Corps/Nepal

Stainless steel flask (For booze)

* Nalgene bottles (I wish I'd brought and extra Nalgene that was a half liter) **

* Fistful of locks (Both the luggage and gym locker type)

* Small sewing kit

* Small first-aid kit

* Small bottles each of shaving lotion, toothpaste, shampoo, floss, etc.

* Teach Yourself Nepali with the audio tapes *

* Photoalbum

* Ultralight sleeping bag *

* Fleece blanket (A nice silk sleep sack would have been better, though I love my fleece blanket on the cool nights)

All this fits into a garment bag and a large, wheeled duffle bag. The garment bag and my camera case I will carry onto the plane. I read somewhere that 1 out of 200 pieces of luggage never reach their destination. There will be 58 PCV on the plane to Kathmandu, which makes that statistic pretty grim.


2 October 2002 (Birganj, Nepal)


For the previous list, the asterisks denote

* Items I just shouldn't have brought, or brought so much of.

** Items I should have brought more of.

I've had several folks write me for advice before they left for Nepal. Mainly, I think three things are important to consider when packing:

* Pack light and I mean really, really light and you'll be so glad you did

* Try to only bring two bags you'll actually carry. I packed two bags inside my duffel, which worked great

* Bring as many comfort items as you think you'll actually use, like music, books, art supplies, Frisbees, stationary, journals, games, etc.

I am glad that I brought some nice clothes with me. I think many of the woman who I know wished they had nicer, conservative clothes, since woman typically spend their days in the kurta surwal, the Nepali dress for women. Peace Corps has several good books on learning Nepali, including Teach Yourself Nepali, and Nepali in Context. The tapes aren't available from Peace Corps, but you can easily have them copied (shops that will dub tapes and CDs are plentiful). A PCV here will have them. Hell, I have ?em.

Here are some things that I wish I'd brought from the States with me:

* 110 to 220 voltage converter

* Quality NiMH battery charger

* Pinochle cards

* Nylon zip-off pants (Several pairs)

* Lexan coffee press (If you bring one that is glass it will break)

* Coffee (It's available here, but you'll do without during training besides Nescafe?)

* Laptop

All of these items I have had sent to me here in Nepal and have arrived intact. Arranging having a laptop sent around the world was tricky, to say the least (the service cost me buying a friend a fine meal in Kathmandu ? thanks again, Colin). I'm still thinking of things I should have brought and shouldn't have, but nothing major. My main advice is pack light. Pack light. Pack light.

Any questions, just send me an e-mail.

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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