This is the second post in a three-part series of posts about what I packed for Peace Corps service in Colombia. See the first post about my luggage, clothing, and shoes here, or about the toiletries and miscellaneous items I packed here.
I’m writing this post for all my Type A CII-10 (and beyond, because the internet is forever) homies, because I know that October is around when I started Googling “Peace Corps packing list” and “Peace Corps Colombia packing list.” The former brings up a bajillion results, but a packing list for Mongolia isn’t going to help a Colombia volunteer; the latter only brings up two real results, neither of which are super comprehensive because they lack follow-up.
I’ve been in country nine months now. I know what I am glad I brought, I know what I wish I had brought, and I know what I wish I hadn’t (for me: not much).
I want to emphasize the words my and I; I could ask each of my fellow cohort members to write a post like this and all 24 would look very different. This is specific to my experience (no volunteer’s experience is the same, even if we’re in the same sector in the same country), and is much more a guideline than a Bible. And it’s long so sorrrrrrrryyyyyyy.
To make it slightly easier to see what I don’t recommend bringing based on my own experience, I have marked those things with red text.
The items marked in orange text are things I am still glad I brought, but would have changed somehow.
What I brought:
- Laptop & charger – the handbook says that this is not necessary, but almost everyone I know would disagree. I use my laptop to do work, to blog, to submit reports, and to watch TV/movies. One note: it’s not necessarily worth buying a new one if you can get a cheaper used one, because water damage is a real thing, as is theft.
- Kindle and charger- it’s just so easy to travel with
- 1 TB shockproof hard drive – I got mine during a holiday sale from Amazon. I brought a handful of TV shows and movies on it, but got a ton from fellow volunteers. Plus backup for photos.
- 3 8GB flash drives – flash drives are useful for being able to print stuff, getting files from Peace Corps staff during training, and more easily sharing one-off movies and TV shows. I brought multiple because they’re so easy to lose.
- 2 pairs headphones (because they’re so easy to lose)
- iPhone and charger – all volunteers are issued basic smartphones, but for Pre-Service Training you’re on your own for data (and if you only have one phone, you may have to be switching SIM cards). I kept my T-Mobile plan for PST (unlimited data and texting for about $30/month), and then cancelled it when I was able to get data through Peace Corps ($30mil for 3GB; there are also plans with more data available).
I did not bring a camera, so all of my photos are taken with my phone. Please wish me the best that this never gets robbed from me.
- Fitbit and charger – This is totally an unnecessary item. I got this at a super discount as part of a health initiative my workplace had. It got really damaged after being here just 5 months, thanks to humidity and sand during rugby, but after complaining to Fitbit they sent a new one to a US address for me, and it’s being brought to me here.
- Surge protector – this is important because electricity flow isn’t always consistent and the surges can be damaging to your electronic goods. You can also purchase these in-country if you don’t have the space/weight for one.
- 2 3-prong to 2-prong converters – These aren’t super necessary because most outlets have three holes, but they’re inexpensive and small. My extension cord (purchased in-country for not much money) only has 2 holes, so I have been using it.
- Camping headlamp – this comes in handy during power outages
What I wish I had brought:
- Rechargeable battery-operated fan – I know these are sold here somewhere, but I don’t know for how much
- Extra iPhone cables – the cheap non-Apple ones here only last me a couple months at a time, and my dog chewed through my actual one.
Be sure to check out my other packing posts for the remainder of my packing list!
For more great suggestions from PCVs around the world, check out My Peace Corps Story’s ultimate packing list.