Packing list for Ethiopia

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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Ethiopia 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 on the list, 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 limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Ethiopia.

General Clothing[edit]

Bring clothing that makes you feel good, but still works with Ethiopian dress standards. You will find that clothing you bring from home will suffer more wear and tear than usual, so don’t bring anything you will be sad to see ruined. Most Ethiopians wear the same outfit for several days – you will probably adopt the same practice. Also, Ethiopians are pretty thin people so finding clothes in-country can be difficult. Height is different too.

Some suggestions:

  • Several pairs of lightwweight trousers (khaki, linen, etc.)
  • Long and short-sleeved shirts
  • Sweat shirt/fleece/light jacket
  • Jeans
  • One or two dressy outfits (do not bother bringing a suit)
  • Long skirts or conservative dresses (below the knee)
  • Spandex bike shorts (for wearing under skirts in hot weather)
  • Rain coat
  • Swimsuits/exercise/sports clothing
  • Socks and undergarments (bring extra bras – they are hard to find)


Durable shoes are essential. Shoes will wear out more quickly in Ethiopia because of all the walking you will do. Sizes run small so most American sizes are not available.

  • Walking/hiking shoes or boots (Chacos, keens, etc.)
  • Sneakers or running shoes
  • Comfortable dress shoes for work
  • Comfortable sandals, preferably waterproof (Tevas, Chaco flips)
  • Rain boots – for the rainy season

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items[edit]

Most basic hygiene items are available, but selection is limited. Peace Corps provides a medical kit with first aid supplies, insect repellent, sun screen and over-the-counter medications. Also consider:

  • Deodorant (stick is not available in Ethiopia)
  • Contact lenses and solution (not recommended or paid for by Peace Corps)
  • Three months supply of any prescription drugs, including birth control pills
  • Tampons (bring a lot) or Diva cup
  • Aloe or after-sun lotion
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Lip balm (with SPF)
  • Face wash or scrub/acne medicine (expensive in-country)
  • Q-tips/cotton balls
  • Nail clippers/tweezers
  • Wet wipes (useful during traveling or water shortages)
  • Shampoo and conditioner (not the best quality in country)
  • Pumice stone/loofah (your skin will get dirtier in Ethiopia)


You will find yourself with an unprecedented amount of free time once you are at site, particularly at night. Bring your favorite hobbies or materials to learn new ones, such as:

  • Camera and accessories (film and digital printing/ burning is available locally)
  • Music - iPod, MP3 player, Discman, charger
  • DVDs (even if you don’t bring a laptop or DVD player, DVD players are available in most towns)
  • Shortwave radio (three- to seven-band is recommended)
  • Portable musical instruments
  • Sports equipment (e.g., Frisbee, football or soccer, jump rope, etc.)
  • Art supplies
  • Knitting/crochet/sewing supplies
  • Games and puzzle books (e.g., playing cards, Scrabble, chess, etc.)
  • Books (the Peace Corps office in Addis Ababa maintains a Volunteer library, but bring others)
  • Camping or hiking gear (including a tent, which is useful for backpacking)
  • Sleeping bag/thermarest (if you do not camp)
  • Seeds (if you intend to garden)
  • External hard drive with movies and TV shows
  • Laptop

Kitchen/Household Items[edit]

Most kitchenware/household items can be found in the capital or big cities. However, the first couple of months are not spent in these cities. Some useful items include:

  • Sharp paring knife (chopping vegetables will become a pastime)
  • Vegetable peeler and can opener
  • Packaged seasonings (herbs, parmesan, pesto, etc.)
  • Powdered drink mixes (Gatorade, Crystal Light, etc.)
  • Sturdy water bottle (Nalgene)
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Scissors
  • 10 weeks worth of junk food or favorite snacks


  • Pens and pencils, stationary, and journals
  • Alarm clock
  • Rechargeable batteries with two round pin adapters (continental Europe transformer)
  • Head lamp and/or flashlight (a small keychain with one is very useful)
  • Earplugs
  • Sewing kit and scissors
  • Sun glasses and bandanas/hat
  • Tools such as Leatherman/Swiss Army knife and duct tape
  • Solar shower
  • Cash
  • Pictures from home
  • Checks from a U.S. bank account (handy for ordering things from home)
  • Umbrella
  • Good pillow

Just as added help and to reiterate: Here is a list of things NOT to bring:

  • Males: Suits (not necessary – nice shirts, ties and dress pants is enough)
  • Solar charger – most Volunteers discovered they were not that useful

Note: Again, bring things you cannot live without. Items that make you feel good, should be packed.