Packing list for Zambia

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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Zambia 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 can always have things sent to you later. 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 80pound weight restriction on baggage. Pack things that will

help you to be content at your post. Used clothes markets or salualas (places to “rummage through piles”) are plentiful here and most Volunteers shop for clothing here or have items made. All projects require a great deal of field work, so bring clothes that can get dirty. You will be attending office meetings with counterparts, so a pair or two of easy-care slacks and appropriate shirts are necessary. For women, skirts must not be shorter than the knee; blouses and dresses need to be modest. Slips need to be worn.

Lastly, keep in mind that you can get almost everything you need in Zambia.

General Clothing

  • A good raincoat.
  • A fleece or light jacket (it does get cold)
  • A couple of long sleeved shirts of choice.
  • A sweater
  • 3–4 good-quality T-shirts.
  • 2-year supply of cotton underwear and socks
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Lots of bras (especially sports bras)
  • Sweat pants/shirt for warmth, running, sleeping.
  • 2–3 shorts for athletics or in your house (these can be bicycle shorts, but no short running shorts)
  • 2–3 pairs of jeans, zip-off, or other comfortable pants.
  • A couple pairs of dressy, easy-care, trousers (khaki is good) and dressy shirts
  • Hat (baseball or safari-type to shade you from the sun)

Men should bring nice pants and a button-up shirt and at least one jacket and tie for meeting government officials or to attend important meetings or functions. Women should bring shirts with collars and short sleeves, 1–2 dresses and 3–4 skirts of cotton/polyester at or below the knee (not sleeveless, low-cut or revealing) and an outfit for meetings or official functions.


  • 2 pairs of good sandals (e.g., Tevas or Birkenstocks)
  • 1 pair of boots
  • 1 pair of sneakers/low-top hiking shoes.
  • A pair of shoes that can be worn when trying to look nice (male Volunteers suggest bucs or loafers); female Volunteers suggest nice sandals/flats)

Note: Volunteers with large feet may have a hard time finding shoes that fit in Zambia.

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items

Unless you have favorite brands you can’t do without, you should be able to buy what you need in Lusaka and provincial capitals. These include cosmetics, soap, toothpaste, general cleaning products and deodorants, hair conditioner, good razors and razor blades, Q-tips, and hair-care products. Bring only enough to get you through training. Peace Corps provides brand-name tampons; bring only enough for training.


  • Spices
  • Can opener
  • Basic cookbook
  • Ziploc storage bags (although ants and roaches can eat through them)
  • Packaged mixes for rice, pasta, sauces, and drinks (e.g., Kool Aid), etc. Miscellaneous

The following are general items you may wish to have but you will need to prioritize and choose for yourself. Remember that it is a composite list; for each person perhaps only a few items will be critical:

Highly Recommended

  • Umbrella
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlight
  • Sleeping bag
  • Tent
  • Leatherman or Swiss army knife
  • Music (CDs, tapes, I-Pod, etc.) (Note that CDs tend to get scratched up easily)
  • CD player or Walkman
  • Mini-speakers
  • Shortwave radio (3–7 band)
  • Games (cards, chess, Scrabble, etc.)
  • Hair elastics
  • Two good water bottles
  • Good-quality sunglasses
  • Camera with accessories
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Small backpack/bag
  • Money belt
  • Journal
  • Bicycle saddlebags
  • At least eight color photos of you (photo booth-type is okay) for visas, work permits, and ID cards. You can purchase photos here if necessary Optional (depending on your interest)
  • Camel back canteen
  • Bed sheets (since bed sizes vary, double-size flat sheets are the best choice)
  • Binoculars
  • Small sewing kit
  • Pictures or posters for hut decoration
  • Bandana
  • Guitar (bring lots of extra strings and picks)
  • Sports equipment (football, volleyball, basketball, Frisbees, etc.)
  • Fishing equipment
  • Batteries (you can buy them here, but they are expensive)
  • Film (you can buy this here, but it’s cheaper in the U.S.)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Bicycle handlebar extensions
  • U.S. stamps (letters may be mailed in the States by people traveling home from post)
  • Maps of the United States and the world (good teaching aids and wall-hangings).
  • Art supplies, sketch book
  • Film mailers