Each trip you take helps you refine your skills at selecting and
packing what you take. Many factors will influence this process:
for example, the climate to which you travel, the illnesses you
expect to encounter (e.g. war victims in Bosnia vs. famine victims
in Africa), the length of your volunteer assignment and your personal
preferences. Obviously, avoid taking items which may be prohibited
or which are likely to raise eyebrows at customs. For example,
several countries have restrictions on radios and require a license
for their legal possession. Alcohol, literature on certain topics,
sexually-oriented material, even money above a certain amount
may all be forbidden. A good travel guide book can alert you to
which items are prohibited. It may help to take along an official-looking
letter which explains any supplies or equipment you may be carrying.
Take nothing irreplaceable or very fragile. The best-laid plans
can change, and that hour long plane hop may turn into a week
on the back of an elephant.
Items You May Want to Hand Carry
Other Items (for checked baggage)
In many cultures, even those in deepest poverty, appearances are
more important than in our frequently casual-sloppy North America.
Professionals should take their cues from local counterparts.
You will need clothing for whatever seasons you will be experiencing,
e.g. sturdy, comfortable sandals for hot climates, rubber boots
for rainy ones, warm winter boots for snowy spots, and so on.
Don't forget that the seasons are reversed south of the Equator.
In countries with botflies (much of Africa), all clothing and
linens are ironed as a preventive measure.
The electricity in many countries is 220V; thus, you will need
a transformer if you bring any American (120V) appliances. Some
of the most useful appliances are a hair dryer, small blender,
iron, clamp-on spotlight and fan, sewing machine, shaver. You
might want to purchase these en route, e.g. in Europe so that
they will already be for 220V current.