Packing list for Cape Verde
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Cape Verde and is based on their collective 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 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, although it may be more expensive than back home, you can find and buy most things you may need in Cape Verde!
For those who do need to purchase items there is a list of companies that offer Volunteer discounts.
- Keep in mind that traditional scrub board washing techniques tend to wear out clothing at a fast rate.This is a hot, arid and windy climate: modest cotton clothing is a usually a good choice
- Dresses: light casual and a couple of nice ones for special occasions.
- Skirts: wash and wear
- Blouses: casual blouses for work, any style. Preferably light colors.
- Pants: casual slacks and jeans both come in handy and are acceptable for work. Baggy and ragdy jeans are not acceptable for work, trainings or official events.
- Shorts: are acceptable for casual wear, but not at work.
- Shoes: sneakers, comfortable and durable sandals/shoes (cobblestones, dirt, and rocky roads are tough on shoes), shoes for dressing-up, hiking boots (if you are so inclined) and sturdy flip-flops. Flip-flops are considered too casual to wear to work.
- Socks, underwear, and (sports) bras: a two-year supply. Cotton underwear is preferable (it can get pretty hot here) but difficult to obtain in country
- Pants: light cotton pants, khakis, or jeans for outdoor work, teaching, and evenings. A couple of nice pairs of slacks for dressier occasions. Nice blue jeans are considered appropriate for work but cotton pants or khakis are preferred..
- Shirts: inexpensive short-sleeve cotton dress shirts for classroom and office. Short-sleeved, lightweight work shirts for outside labor. A good supply of T-shirts is crucial. A dress shirt is needed for official occasions. A few long-sleeved shirts for cooler, windy weather.
- Shorts: acceptable and practical for men as casual wear, but not for work.
- Ties: you will need one for weddings, New Year's, swearing in, etc. A blazer would be good for occasions such as these as well.
- Shoes: depending on your preference for footwear, you may want one pair of tennis shoes and one pair of work shoes. Sturdy rubber soles are best. The climate and terrain here (and the cobblestones) will wear shoes down rapidly, and Volunteers tend to do a lot of walking. An inexpensive, yet sturdy pair of casual loafers may be your best bet for dress wear. A pair of sandals for around the house and casual wear will be useful, as well as a pair of sturdy flip-flops. Flip-flops are considered too casual to wear to work. Also, larger sizes are hard to find. Socks and Underwear: a two-year supply.
Men and Women
- A sweatshirt or sweater for cool evenings
- A bathing suit or two
- Bandannas or handkerchiefs. Indispensable for dusty road trips.
- Athletic shorts, for sports or at home only
- Hats/caps and sunglasses
- Socks and underwear: a two-year supply (bring extra as traditional washing techniques tend to wear out clothing at a fast rate). Cotton underwear is preferable and difficult to obtain in-country.
- Small easy to carry umbrella
- Cel Phone - we recommend bringing some $75 for buying a cell phone here. You can bring one but has to be unblocked the specifications are GSM triband
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
Most of the items listed below can be found in Cape Verde, however they are more expensive and of lesser quality, so they may not be up to your standards.
- Razors and shaving cream
- Contact lens solutions (wearing contacts is highly discouraged by Peace Corps due to sand storms)
- Scissors or other hair cutting device
- Lotions and Chapstick: though this comes in your medical kit, you might want to bring your favorite brand or flavor. Those provided by Peace Corps Medical Office but they are generic bulk buy items so you are cannot be given preferences
* Favorite personal hygiene items: you can get shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and brush, deodorant, and lotion, but you may not find your favorite brands, and the prices are high
- Prescription drugs: a three-month supply until the Peace Corps in Praia can order refills
- Travel sewing kit
- Hair dryer, curling iron, or straightener
- Some personal items may not be possible to find or have sent to you (HAZMAT items may not travel in planes): insect repellent, alcohol-based hand cleaner, many things that are come in an aerosol can). Bring a 2 year supply or consider doing without these items.
It is important to note that most electronics items are at higher risk to break because of Cape Verdean's landscape (rust/corrosion,dust, sand, and/or proximity to sea) and climate (heat and/or humidity).
- Electronic gadgets with batteries (some of you may not have regular electricity). A solar battery charger and set of rechargeable batteries Is very practical here.
- Laptop computer: very usable, but bring at your own risk. Power surges are common, so bring a good surge protector and purchase insurance coverage. Peace Corps does not provide insurance for personal items
- Computer software: a lot of places have computers with corrupted files, so you will need the backup disks (or CDs) to fix the problems. Most computers now have USB ports, a jump-drive is ideal for transferring files.
- 220 electricity converter and adaptor plugs (to use for 110-volt electronics you bring from the U.S.)
- Camera and replacement batteries: film can be bought and developed here, but can be expensive. Camera batteries can be purchased here, but they are expensive and may not meet the specific requirements for your camera. (see solar charger above)
- Shortwave radio: good for news; most Volunteers can tune into the BBC or the VOA quite easily
- A cell phone and a flashlight are essential items (see note on cell phones, you can buy them in Cape Verde.)
You can easily buy most kitchen supplies (e.g., dishes, pots, glasses, and utensils)here. There are, however, a few items we highly recommend bringing:
- A good Teflon frying pan
- Good can opener
- Favorite spices
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Rubber spatula
- Good-quality towels
- Anti-bacterial, no-rinse soap
- Extra batteries (rechargable ones are best.)
- One or two sets of double-sized bed sheets, mattress cover, and pillow cases, preferably not white
- Backpack for day trips
- A Swiss Army knife, leatherman tool or the equivalent
- Alarm clock
- Duct tape
- Pocket-size dictionary and thesaurus
- Pictures of home, family, friends
- Money belt or other means of concealing your passport and valuables when traveling
- Your favorite music
- Your favorite games (travel-size)
- Good hairbrushes
- Small sewing kit
- Musical instrument (bring extra strings, reeds, etc.)
- Mattress cover
- Compact sleeping bag or bed roll
- Leash, collar, and other pet necessities (if you are planning on getting a pet)
- Hair dryer
- Roach motels
- Travel iron
- Snorkeling gear (if that is your thing)
- U.S. postage stamps (many people come and go to the United States and can send letters if you have stamps)
- Sturdy water bottle (e.g., Nalgene)
- Sports bras
- Tea (if you have preferences)
- High fluoride (prespcription) toothpaste