If you are planning volunteering abroad with World Endeavors, one of your biggest questions may be “What should I bring?” Have no fear — this is a very common concern, and we have some fantastic packing tips to help you along in the process. Just sit back and relax, follow the Three C’s of Packing and we will have you on your way to changing the world in no time!
Tip #1 – Consider the Climate
World Endeavors offers volunteer programs in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, and Vietnam (now say those as fast as you can!). While all of these are in the global south, each location has varying weather patterns and climates. Do some research in preparation for packing and look up things such as the time of year, typical weather patterns, and even the 10-day forecast. This will help give you an idea of the heat index, humidity, and rainfall — all of which are important in deciding what to pack for a destination.
Tip #2 – Consider the Culture
Just as weather patterns vary, so do the cultural climates. What may be appropriate in Guatemala may not be appropriate in Ghana, and vice versa. Almost any question you have is just a Google search away, but keep in mind that some destinations are more conservative and it is always best to err on the side of modesty. In locations such as India and Sri Lanka, it is generally best to cover up as much as you comfortably can. In these countries as well as Thailand and Vietnam, one should always cover their shoulders when entering temples or other religious sites. Countries such as Argentina, Ecuador, and Costa Rica tend to be more relaxed, and shorts are generally appropriate for day-to-day wear. When in doubt, ask your World Endeavors advisor or someone you know who has traveled to your destination.
Tip #3 – Consider your Comfort
The most important factor when packing is to bring what is comfortable. Take into account the climate, culture, and your volunteer project site, and you will be able to formulate an idea of what you need. For volunteer projects working with children, you may want to bring comfortable yet tasteful clothes that allow you to interact with children easily. If you are working in community or women’s development, slightly more professional attire may be helpful. Environmental conservation and other hands-on projects may require more sturdy clothing or even work gloves. As soon as you find out your volunteer placement, you will have a good idea of what is required of you and what tools you will need to be successful.
Bonus – Consider Everything Else
Ask yourself a few key questions. How long will you be gone? How long does a bottle of your shampoo last? Ergo, how many bottles of shampoo will you need to bring? Consider luxuries and necessary items you use on a daily or even weekly basis at home, and assume that you won’t be able to find an exact replica in your host country. Be sure to bring enough of the basics to last until you are comfortable in your new home, or be adventurous and sample what’s available locally! Your host family and in-country-coordinator will always be happy to help you find what you need.
Do you have any other great packing tips? Let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #WEpacking!
Have you made the decision yet to volunteer abroad with World Endeavors? Get in touch with an advisor today and we will help you on your journey.