Packing list for Samoa

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(New page: There are some suggestions for packing, generated by Volunteers serving in Samoa. You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you ...)

Revision as of 23:58, 8 April 2008

There are some suggestions for packing, generated by Volunteers serving in Samoa. You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have items sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. As mentioned earlier, Volunteers who choose to go with the airline allowances over the Peace Corps allowances do so at their own risk and potential expense. Remember, less is often more, and you can get almost everything you need in Samoa. Use this list as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list!

Keep in mind also that what you bring probably will not make it back to the U.S., so don’t bring anything you would be heartbroken to lose.


General Clothing

Clothes should be lightweight, easily washable, quick drying, and the less ironing, the better. Cottons or cotton blends are cooler and more comfortable than nylon or other synthetics. Synthetics do not breathe, hold in moisture, and create breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi. Don't bring leather items (e.g., shoes or journals) because they get moldy quickly. "Business casual" clothes in the U.S. and in Samoa are slightly different. Business casual clothes for Samoa take into account the ever-present heat, humidity, and sweating. Modesty and neatness are important. Business casual clothes, especially closed-toe shoes, will probably be used only at staging or be tucked away for potential vacations to colder-weather climates. Lightweight U.S. business casual clothes and nice sandals can be useful to Volunteers assigned to offices and for church functions until they have a few Samoan outfits made.

For work and formal occasions, women wear puletasis, which are a fitted blouse and long skirt, while men wear button-down shirts with a lava lava (wraparound skirt). For other everyday use, especially in the villages, a neat T-shirt and lava lava are worn. Please note that clothes can be made or purchased inexpensively in-country. (A lava lava ranges from around $3 to $10 (U.S.) and puletasis start around $30 and go up depending on the quality of fabric and style.) Also, there are a few secondhand stores where clothes can be purchased cheaply ($1 to $3). Therefore, when trying to make the luggage weight limits, do not stress over clothing, less in terms of clothing is the way to go.

Following are some suggestions for both men and women:

For Women

For Men

You can find most toiletries and necessities in Samoa, but if you prefer certain brands, bring them with you. Deodorant is widely available in-country, but the quality varies, so you may want to bring some extras with you or have some mailed later on down the line. Tampons are available in the capital, Apia, but at prices slightly higher than in the United States.

Lotion, baby powder, and leave-in conditioner are useful. Lotion often has SPF in it; plus, with the sun you will be getting, it will keep your skin from getting leathery. Baby powder absorbs moisture. Diet, stress, and humidity can result in thinner hair, so leave-in conditioner will help keep sunned hair moist and healthy; it can also be a de-tangler. These items can be found in Samoa, but usually at higher prices than in the U.S., and the quality varies.

Shaving in Samoa can sometimes be dangerous. Rainwater tanks are happy homes for bacteria like strep. Moving water is less likely to have these bacteria. Shaving with water from tanks can also result in boils. It can be challenging to find good-quality razors in-country, and replacement blades for U.S.made razors can be costly. Consider bringing an ample supply. Papaya, which are plentiful in Samoa, work as a mild depilatory.

Contact lens solution, for those authorized in advance by the Office of Medical Services to bring along contacts, is available in-country, but very expensive, so bring lots of extra solution with you. Alcohol gel solution is nice, especially if you wear contacts. This will help prevent eye infections, especially for Volunteers living in villages, where hand soap is not always available.

Individually wrapped antiseptic/antibacterial wipes (like those you would get at a restaurant) are great to keep in your pocket or purse, as hand soap is not always standard in bathrooms, kitchens, etc.

Volunteers can get sunscreen from the Peace Corps medical officer, but if you have a favorite brand bring it. Waterproof sunscreen is also recommended.

Quality hair ties and clips can be difficult to find here, so bring plenty of extras if you use them.


Most items can be found in Samoa, but are generally expensive and/or of poor quality. Food items (fresh fruits and meats cannot be brought through customs) should be double bagged and air tight. Ants and humidity can get into almost anything.



Special Notes

You will probably exchange gifts with your host family at the end of training. Expensive gifts are not necessary. Suggested items include inexpensive perfumes and T-shirts or hats with logos (e.g., Nike, FUBU, Adidas, basketball teams, USA, your state, university names, etc.) or that have to do with “The Rock.” American items like flags, posters, pens, and pencils are wonderful. Taped action movies/DVDs are quite popular. A tourist book or wall calendar of where you live is always fun to give.

Care Package Considerations

Of great interest is how to get care packages here, and whether they will actually arrive. The mail varies greatly even from where you send it in the U.S. The following are some tips to getting mail here a little more quickly and smoothly.

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