Packing list for Mozambique
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Mozambique and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. You can get almost everything you need in Mozambique, including clothing, so do not try to bring two years’ worth of everything.
When choosing luggage, remember that you will be hauling it in and out of taxis, trains, and buses and often lugging it around on foot. It should be durable, lightweight, lockable, and easy to carry. Wheels are a plus, especially those that allow you to wheel the luggage over nonpaved surfaces. Nylon is the best material for resisting mold. A backpack without a frame is very practical, and a midsize backpack (2,000 to 3,000 cubic inches) for weekend trips is essential. A regular-size book bag is also a good thing to bring.
Most clothes are washed by hand using harsh detergents and rocks for scrubbing. This method and the intense sun wear out clothes quickly, so try to bring lightweight but sturdy clothes. Clothes made of rayon or nylon are good, since they dry quickly and do not need ironing. Although lightweight fabrics are best for the hot climate, it can get cold in the winter (45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit), especially in poorly insulated housing, so you will need some warm clothes too.
White clothes soil easily, so colored clothing is best for hiding dirt. Dry cleaning is not really an option for Volunteers because of the expense and the limited availability. It is a good idea to bring one outfit for special occasions, such as the swearing-in ceremony, going out in Maputo, or attending a cocktail party at the U.S. ambassador’s residence.
- Lightweight coat or jacket
- Waterproof rain jacket or poncho
- Two pairs of jeans or casual pants – the comfy ones that you wear at home
- Two or three pairs of walking-length shorts
- T-shirts (in neutral colors)
- One or two heavy sweatshirts or sweaters
- One or two long-sleeved shirts
- Six to eight pairs of good-quality socks
- Two or three pairs of dress pants
- Three or four button-down shirts, both short- and long-sleeved
- One or two ties
- Six to eight pairs of underwear
- One or two belts
- Three to five knee-length or longer skirts or dresses
- Three to five button-up or collared dress shirts
- Two nice pairs of pants for work (black or brown is professional; khakis are also good)
- One nice outfit for going out
- Tank tops are fine as long as they are not spaghetti straps
- Five to seven T-shirts
- Ten to 20 pairs of underwear
- Cotton bras and sports bras
Volunteers walk many miles every week, so shoes wear out quickly. Past Volunteers recommend newer and more expensive footwear because it will last longer. Female Volunteers suggest bringing one pair of fashionable sandals or shoes, as there are chances to dress up a bit and go out in Maputo. People with large feet (especially men or women who wear size 11 or larger) should bring an extra pair or two of shoes, as larger sizes are hard to come by in Mozambique.
- Closed walking shoes
- Athletic shoes
- Waterproof, low-top, all-purpose walking / running shoes with good soles
- Sturdy sandals
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
You should bring only enough of your usual toiletry items to get you through your first months in Mozambique. All the basic items one finds in the United States are available at reasonable prices in Mozambique, albeit in a limited selection. However, if you have some space it is a good idea to bring a couple of months’ worth of your favorite toiletries;
Volunteers especially suggest deodorant (the variety available in Mozambique is limited), good razors (hard to find), and shaving cream (expensive).
You do not need a two-year supply of aspirin, vitamins, dental floss, and insect repellent because the Peace Corps provides such items after training. But do bring a three-month supply of any prescription drugs you take, to cover what you will need until the Peace Corps medical office can order more for you.
You can easily buy most kitchen supplies—dishes, pots, glasses, and utensils—in Mozambique. Consider bringing small packages of soft-drink and sauce mixes and some spices. Peace Corps/Mozambique will provide you with a locally appropriate cookbook.
- Journal and/or sketch books
- Watch—reliable, durable, preferably with indiglo, but inexpensive
- One medium-size cotton towel
- Makeup (you can get makeup here, but good makeup can be expensive and hard to find)
- Slippers or socks to keep your feet warm in the winter
- Money belt that fits under your clothes
- Duct tape (extremely useful and unavailable locally); also rope/string
- Swiss army or Leatherman knife, preferably with bottle and can openers
- Sewing kit with clothing thread and nylon thread for fixing bags and hanging items on walls in your home
- Small, portable tool kit
- Pictures of home, family, friends, or anything “American”
- Sturdy water bottle (e.g., Nalgene; available at any sporting good store)
- Self-adhesive U.S. stamps, including a few one-cent stamps
- Lightweight sleeping bag or fleece blanket
- Flashlight—(e.g., Maglite) or a headlamp with extra batteries and bulbs is useful
- Camera, film or digital (Advantix is not available in Mozambique), and batteries
- Plastic storage bags—a must
- Walkman, Discman, iPod or tape recorder with portable speakers
- Mini voice recorder (help with Portuguese accents, local dialects, and recording beautiful impromptu music sessions) Your favorite music mp3s, tapes or CDs
- Shortwave radio (Some Volunteers recommend Radio Shack’s DX 375, about $80, because it is easy to tune)
- Solar bulbs or/and solar power panels. With a power panel you can charge your cell or any other low-voltage USB-port devices, such as IPod, Kindle, etc. All you need is sun, and that's plentiful. You may want to check the Nokero and Solio products. Peace Corps Volunteers get a 25%-50% discount on Nokero products when they join Market for Change .
- Games and/or cards (Scrabble, Uno, Phase 10, etc.)
- Funds for travel and vacations (cash and credit cards are more practical than traveler’s checks)
- Compact umbrella
- Compact tent, if you like to camp
- Hobby materials
- Art supplies
- Seeds for vegetable garden
- Favorite books
- Teaching supplies (e.g., colored chalk, felt-tipped markers, crayons, books for science teachers)
Volunteers recommend that you not bring a solar shower, sheets, two-year supply of vitamins, pencils, flip-flops, and toothbrushes. Nor should you bring anything you would be heartbroken to lose. The main things to bring are yourself and a sense of service and adventure!