Packing list for Ghana
With the exception of the last three sections, each section is organized into three categories: The Backpacker, The Traveler, and The Settler. These three categories differentiate the importance, cost, and availability of each item.
The Backpacker can be described as a person who only packs the essentials that can be ergonomically placed inside one or two backpacks with a week-long trip in mind. They pack with the intentions of buying more according to the environment of their destination. Therefore, the list in this category are the items PCVs feel are the most important, cannot be easily found in Ghana, or are really expensive.
The Traveler is a person who packs with the intentions of a being lightweight but include a few nonessential items. This list is in addition to The Backpacker list but these comfort or nonessential items can be bought in Ghana if you do not have high standards. That means that the following items are not found everywhere but in most large cities and some market towns, where market towns are typically within an hour or town of most PCVs. These items are moderately priced.
The Settler is a person who packs with the purpose of establishing permanent residence in Ghana. They are people who pack everything in The Backpacker and The Traveler lists and exceed the one luggage weight limit at the airport . . . for both check-in bags. They pack with the intention of purchasing only disposable items in Ghana. This category consists of luxury items that one could bring if you budget for a small boy to help you carry your bags. These items can usually be easily purchased anywhere in Ghana and are relatively inexpensive.
- If applicable, each category is further divided into sub categories to distinguish gender-specific items.
- This list is not all encompassing but it is a good starting place.
Although airlines have pretty restrictive luggage policies these days, have no fear. Since you are now working for Uncle Sam, Peace Corps will purchase you a full-fare ticket on a U.S. airline (one ticket from your home of record to staging and one ticket from staging to Accra, Ghana) which should entitle you to at least two check-in bags and one carry-on bag at no cost. If you really want to make sure how much you can bring, its best just to call the airline. If the airline charges you for luggage, Peace Corps will reimburse you for any fees you incur (assuming you meet Peace Corps' baggage size and weight limitations – to be sent before staging).
- 1 Hiking backpack or bag (Should be able to live out of 4-7 days for)
- 1 Rolling duffel bag (come's in handy when consolidating other bags, especially those that have loose straps)
- 1 Day-pack (IE. standard size backpack)
- TSA approved locks for backpacks, suitcases, etc.
- 1 Carry on/shoulder bag
- 1 Money belt
You are forewarned that you will have to HAND WASH all of your clothes or pay someone to which is hard on clothes. Cotton clothes are the most durable, practical and comfortable. FYI, you can buy back the clothes you donated in the past to Goodwill and Salvation Army here for cheap in the markets.
Furthermore, tailors are everywhere in Ghana. And even though they are not all created equal, you can have almost anything made because labor and material is cheap. Ghanaians really appreciate seeing PCVs wearing Ghanaian-tailored clothes, be it traditional or modern. In addition, the cloth that is bought here is strong enough to endure hand-washing, and it is also breathable.
- 25+ Pairs of cotton underwear (half for the first year, the other half for second year)
- 2-4 T-shirts (pretty cheap here)
- 1 Business casual outfit and shoes
- 1 Pair of shorts (for home/sleeping)
- 1 Adjustable belt
- 3-6 Pairs of socks
- Workout/exercise outfit or clothes
- 1 Hat for the sun
- 1 Lightweight waterproof jacket
- 1 Long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt or fleece (You will get cold at least one night, trust me!)
- 1-2 Bandannas/Handkerchiefs (You will sweat a lot, trust me!)
- 2-3 Pairs of slacks/pants: if you're a teacher you're going to live in these. Also if you're a bit on the heavier side now, you'll probably lose weight, so consider bringing one pair that is slightly smaller.
- 3-5 Collar short sleeve dress shirts (you will definitely need these if you're a teacher)
- 1-2 Undershirts
- 1 Pair of board shorts (for swimming)
- 1 Pair of shorts
- 1-2 Dresses (more if you are a teacher; fyi, they are easy to have made here)
- 2+ Blouses (don't bring anything too fancy, bring more if you are a teacher)
- 2 -3 Lightweight knee-length skirts (bring more if you are a teacher)
- Conservative swimsuit
- 2 Sport bras
- 6-8 Bras (Definitely bring bras, you can buy them here, but it's awkward, so bring enough to last. Also if you can get away without using an under-wire do so, since it's really hard to hand wash with it)
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 1 Pair of sturdy pants or zip-off hiking pants: something comfy that you don't mind getting dirty
- 1 Pair of jeans
- 1 Baseball cap
- 1 Extra belt
- 1-2 Pairs of knee-length shorts or capris
- 2-3 Cami-tanks
- Scrub bottoms or Lounge Clothes
- 2 Pairs of smart wool socks
- 1 Pair of dressy shoes or sandals (Chacos are permissible)
- 1 Pair of durable sandals (IE. Chacos, Teva's, etc)
- 1 Pair of sneakers
- 1 Pair of hiking boots (especially if you're an environment or health/watsan volunteer)
- 1 Pair of flip flops (for the shower and just walking around; can easily be purchased here)
- Running shoes (these are available in Ghana but are expensive, bringing a couple of pairs would be a good idea if you are into running)
- 1 Pair of flats
- 1 Extra pair of flip flops
- Toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss
- Pack enough to last at least through the 10-week training.
- 2-4 Deodorant sticks (it is hard to find stick deodorant in Ghana, so unless you are okay with roll-on, bring a few with you & have more sent later)
- 1 Towel (camp towel preferable)
- Nail clippers/tweezers
- 1 Travel size soap, shampoo, and conditioner
- 1 Sturdy hairbrush/wide tooth comb
- 2 Bottles of shampoo/conditioner (Use shampoo bars from LUSH, they save on space and smell nice. You can buy shampoo here, but it's either really expensive or really bad, so shampoo bars are the way to go)
- Personal medication (Bring a three-month supply of all medications, including birth control pills, you are presently taking)
- 2 Pairs of prescription eyeglasses (if applicable) - If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you — your current pair and a spare. If a either pair breaks, gets stolen, etc., the Peace Corps will replace it only once, using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination.
- 1 Eyeglasses strap/holder
- 1 Screwdriver for eyeglasses
- 1-2 Pairs of sunglasses
- Contact solution - virtually impossible to find in Ghana
Important Note: Over the counter medications are provided in the first aid kit). Although this kit is provided to you a few weeks after you first arrive, some of the OTC medications are given to you on your first day here in Ghana.
- 2-year supply of aftershave (the antiseptic here burns!)
- 80 Tampons: Bring the O.B. brand, you don't want to deal with applicators here (Also tampons can be used as packing peanuts in packages if you're friends and family feel ok with doing that).
- PC does provide a limited amount to volunteers.
- Face wash
- 1 camping towel
- Leave in conditioner
- Q-tips (can easily be purchased here, but are of poor quality)
- Disposable razors (you can buy cheap razors here)
- Lotion (small travel size is sufficient, bigger bottles can be purchased here)
- Hand wipes or hand sanitizer (maybe one bottle/packet, but most of the time you really just need soap and water to get your hands clean)
- Travel-size toilet paper (you never know when nature calls!)
- Travel size toiletries bottles (smaller travel size bottles that you can refill from your big bottles)
- Shower cap
- Shower robe
Since electronics require electricity, and since the electricity in Ghana is quite different than in America, there are a few important things you should know prior to coming to Ghana. Please read the following section on Electricity in Ghana for more information.
In addition, see this important section on mobile phones in Ghana.
- 2 Flash drives (at least 8.0 GB total capacity)
- 1 iPod/mp3 player with extra headphones (If you have one, bring it. If you don't, buy one because you will have a lot of downtime and you will need a break from reading all the books you read.)
- 1 Socket/outlet adapter and voltage converter/transformer (See Electrical Plug/Outlet and Voltage Information for for acceptable plugs, converters, adapters, etc. in Ghana)
- 1 Point and shoot camera with memory card, battery, and charger
- 1 Head lamp
- 1 Flash light
- AA/AAA batteries: Make sure they're rechargeable and bring a charger for them, you'll be happy!
- Quality batteries, like Duracell, are expensive and only found in Accra.
- 1 Laptop/Netbook with waterproof case (It is absolutely feasible to bring a laptop or netbook. They come in handy during all the down time you have. However, have a mindset that whatever you bring you are willing to part with it. That is because their are many hazards like electrical fluctuations, viruses, and theft. Therefore, bring a computer at your own risk! (Please read the Computers in Ghana section for more relevant information).
- 1 External hard drive (At least 500GB for all the TV shows and movies you'll watch during your down time. Also bring new stuff for the older volunteers, we'll love you for it!)
- Small portable speakers
- There are enough books at the Peace Corps offices, but bring one at your own interest.
- Digital SLR Camera
- Solar charger
- BBC is broadcasted in Ghana.
- Cell phone (if you want to get it unlocked here in Ghana)
- Spare computer parts (ie. power adapter, network cables, hard drive) - quality replacement parts are difficult to find and expensive in Ghana.
Important Note: Since many of your electronics are valuable, it is also recommended to insure these items prior to coming to Ghana. Information on insurance will be included in your invitation packet.
You can easily buy most kitchen supplies here — dishes, pots, glasses, and utensils. But if you are particular about your kitchen supplies (as the quality of these might not live up to the standards you are accustomed to in America), then there are a few items we highly recommend bringing:
- A good-quality small non-stick Teflon fry pan
- Two dozen Ziploc baggies (freezer bags are best)
- A good-quality small cutting knife (knives here in Ghana are of poor quality)
- 1 Set of utensils
- Powdered cheese (in general, cheese is difficult to find in Ghana)
- Drink mixes
- Powder sauce packets
- Seasoning (Italian, taco, etc.)
- 1-2 sturdy water bottles (IE. Nalgene)
- 1 Travel alarm clock
- 2 Rolls of duct tape
- 1 Multi-tool/knife
- Leatherman's Skeletool or Swiss Army Knife is great but remember don't pack it in your carry-on.
- Even though there is a well-developed collection of books at all of the offices and an unofficial system of exchanging the most popular books, you may want to bring a couple of your top choices to last through the 10-week training.
- Pictures of family and friends (including the 4-legged ones)
- 10 Extra passport pictures (they can be used for visas if you choose to travel to neighboring countries)
- 1 Pair of scissors
- Small games or deck of cards
- These are like travel chess boards, Yahtzee, Frisbee, American football, soccer ball, etc.
- Ziplock bags
- 1 Set of earplugs
- 1 Paper hand fan
- 1 Set of sheets: (You can buy sheets in country but they're typically poor quality, so bring one good set with you, you'll be happy)
- Photo album
- 4 Folders (PC will give you about 4 clear plastic folders throughout your training)
- 2 Notebooks/Journals (definitely journals, cheap notebooks can be bought here)
- 15 Envelopes (letter size and manila; you can also buy envelopes in Ghana)
- Host family gifts: Definitely!!!! Good ideas: headlamps (Ghanians love our headlamps), multi-tools (if you can find some inexpensive ones), small toys, and American candies.
- Ones of decent quality can be purchased in country.
- 1 Small tent or any camping gear (there are some places here like the beach where they allow you to camp for cheap)
- 1 Nylon hammock with mosquito net (During the hot season a lot of PCVs sleep outside in a hammock. Unfortunately you won't know if you have a place to hang a hammock until you go to your site, so it's kind of a gamble.)
- 1 Travel-size pillow, unless you have a certain pillow you need. Find a way to pack that pillow, or you'll be stuck with a neck ache until you can find a good one again.
- 1 Small sewing kit: Tailors are everywhere here, so you can buy needle and tread easily.
Although all PCVs receive a per diem during training, a sizable move-in allowance (from which you can buy items for your house/room and a cell phone), and a regular living allowance, it is always a good idea to bring some extra financial resources in the event of an emergency:
- Cash $100 USD
- Travelers checks: $100 - $200 USD (use American Express – they never expire)
- ATM card (see "Financial Management" section in the Pre-Departure Checklist for Ghana.)
- ATM's are located in numerous locations across Ghana.
- Credit Card (see "Financial Management" section in the Pre-Departure Checklist for Ghana.)
- Can only be used in large cities
Items Peace Corps Provides
- Mosquito net
- Water filter
- First-aid kit (For a list of items in the first aid kit click here)
- A bunch of books - there are plenty of books here that we all trade around, so just bring one or two that you can read and then pass on
- Travel Guides/Map of Ghana (There are a ton of Ghana, West Africa, and other travel guides here in the offices. Plus you’ll get a map when you first come to country.)
- DO NOT BRING A BIKE HELMET! They can be bought after training and COSing volunteers donate them or sell them for cheap. Save that space for something important.
Other Important Information
- As a Peace Corps volunteer, you are eligible for many discounts offered by companies selling footwear, clothing, outdoor gear, electronics, and more.
Also see: Ghana