Packing list for Kiribati
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Kiribati and is based on their experiences. 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. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage as far as Peace Corps’ official reimbursement. Air Pacific, which you will take for the last leg of your trip has a 20 kg. (44 lbs.) checked baggage allowance and doesn’t allow large carry-on items. If you are charged extra, Peace Corps/Kiribati will reimburse you, but only up to your 80-pound Peace Corps’ limit. Remember, you can get almost everything you need in Kiribati.
- Cotton underwear (some people find boxers are cooler in the heat)
- One pair of long pants
- Three or four dark colored khaki shorts (to or below the knee)
- Two or three pairs of exercise shorts (any variety, to the knee)
- Four 100-percent cotton, short-sleeved, button-down dress shirts
- Three or four T-shirts or tank tops for informal wear
- Swim trunks
- Cotton underwear (some female Volunteers find cotton boxers cooler) and bras, two or three sports bras for exercise or swimming
- Three or four long, light cotton skirts or dresses (something you can sit cross-legged in on the floor without showing anything above your knee)
- One or two slips to wear under skirts
- Three or four light cotton blouses or shirts (sleeveless is okay, tight is not! (Shoulders should be covered and no spaghetti straps!)
- Two or three T-shirts or tank tops for informal wear
- Three or four pairs of loose, long, lightweight below-the-knee/mid-calf length shorts (cropped pants/pedal pushers that are loose)
- Swimwear (typically long shorts, a T-shirt, and sports bra)
- Clothes for going out on South Tarawa
Optional: loose, long pants for evening wear in your house or for vacations; swimsuit (mainly for international vacations).
(You will get several locally made shirts that are lightweight and more comfortable in the heat so do not worry too much about T-shirts.)
Note to women: With clothes, the issue isn’t necessarily seeing skin, it is seeing the shape of the body. In particular, it is not acceptable for people to be able to determine the shape of the legs and crotch area. That is why you have to wear something under any skirt that might be even remotely transparent. Shop accordingly.
- One pair or two pairs of sturdy sports sandals (e.g., Tevas); keep in mind that you’ll be putting shoes on and taking them off constantly and many Volunteers prefer flip-flops or slip-on sandals)
- One pair of dive booties/reef shoes or other surf/ swimming shoes
- Two pair of high-quality flip-flops (cheap ones can be purchased in Tarawa)
- Exercise shoes, if you plan to exercise (do not forget your socks if you bring shoes); turf cleats are great for soccer
- Socks (to protect your cut-up and bandaged feet while they heal during the natural adjustment to walking on a coral atoll.)
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Hair conditioner, especially if you like a certain brand
- Good toothbrushes (you can get toothpaste here)
- Shaving cream, a good razor, and extra blades Optional: Nice-smelling lotions, nail clippers, makeup (although this is rarely worn in Kiribati, you might want it for vacations), a month’s supply of tampons, Q-Tips, contact lens solution.
Note: Almost all standard personal hygiene items are available in South Tarawa (often imported from Australia), so you do not need to bring most items unless you prefer particular brands.
- One decent non-stick frying pan (you can get a cheap one here)
- One good-quality fish fillet knife (you can get a cheap one here)
- One good-quality all-purpose kitchen knife (you can get a cheap one here)
- Plastic spatula
- Thin cutting board
- Good can opener
- Measuring cups and spoons
Note: The above kitchen utensils can all be purchased in Tarawa. Though there are some spices, if you are a creative cook you may want to bring your own.
The following are particularly important for education Volunteers, but will prove useful no matter your sector or project.
- A good English dictionary
- Plenty of stickers...then get a few MORE stickers
- Markers (colored, scented, sparkling, etc.)
- Art supplies (if you like to be creative—and that helps here)
- A bottle of glue
- Nice pens
- Gifts for your host family
- Two sturdy bottles that can hold recently boiled water (e.g., Nalgene)
- Duct tape
- Therm-a-Rest or sleeping mat (some people prefer not to use them because they are warm; others find them very comfortable)
- Deck of cards
- Pictures of friends and family (laminated or copies are best)
- Leatherman or other utility tool
- Two water-resistant flashlights (with extra bulbs and easily accessible batteries)
- A head lamp (for keeping hands free if riding a bike or going to the toilet at night)
- Snorkel, mask, and fins (can be purchased here); note that there are currently no SCUBA facilities in the country, so there’s no need to bring any SCUBA gear
- Walkman/Discman with small speakers or a small, self-contained unit, or iPod with battery charger/battery pack
- Plastic bags (e.g., ziploc bags) and/or containers of different sizes
- A good day pack
- Two pairs of UV-protection sunglasses
- Two cotton pillowcases and a flat sheet
- Waterproof watch with an extra battery and band
- Travel alarm clock
- Two lightweight towels
- Camera and film
- Hats, caps, visors (several)
- Radio, preferably hand cranking
- A few small or medium-size combination locks
- Index cards and file folders (good for making flash cards)
- U.S. postage stamps to send mail back with travelers
- Batteries (see below)
Optional: Rechargeable batteries and solar battery charger, five-gallon collapsible water jug, silica gel packets (to help prevent moisture in electronics), games, books, videos, hammock, camping chair, shortwave radio and antenna extension, bicycle tire patches (available in Tarawa), musical instruments, songbooks, inflatable globe or maps.
Note about batteries: The batteries in Kiribati are not of good quality, but are not as harmful to the environment as U.S. batteries. You will have to take whatever batteries you bring into the country with you when you leave, as there is no environmentally friendly way to dispose of batteries in Kiribati. It is recommended that you run all your battery-powered equipment using the same size of batteries. Some Volunteers recommend lithium batteries for their long life.
A note about surfing in Kiribati: Surf is very inconsistent here and waves do not have good shape. It can also be dangerous because it breaks on the coral reef. Please keep these points in mind if you are considering bringing a surfboard.
Peace Corps will provide you with a mosquito net, life vest, water filter, bike helmet, and medical kit. With your settling-in allowance, you will purchase a gas stove, tin oven, buckets, basins, plates, and a bicycle.