Packing list for Namibia
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Namibia 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 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. And remember, because of Namibia’s proximity to South Africa, you can get almost everything you need in Namibia at prices comparable to those in the United States.
While it is impossible to bring everything on the packing list, may items area available in Windhoek and other large towns. Devote the space in your luggage to items that are important to you, and plan to purchase items like linens (sheets/towels) upon your arrival in Namibia.
Namibians place an importance on professional dress in the workplace, and dressing “smart” is seen as a sign of respect for others. Dress slacks and skirts or dresses are required in the classroom and are the norm in most other work environments.
Tennis shoes are not appropriate at work. Short shorts and extremely short dresses are inappropriate for women in both towns and villages. Tank tops are acceptable for women in both urban and rural areas, but not in professional settings. All clothing should be clean and well mended.
You should bring professional washable clothes for work. For men, bring wrinkle-free business casual slacks, and 3-4 ties for more formal events. For women, dresses and skirts that fall below the knee are acceptable, as are dress slacks. Sandals (such as Chacos or Keens) are acceptable footwear for women in some schools/offices; in others, the norm is for women to wear closed toed shoes. Men should wear closed toed shoes at work. Shorts (at mid-knee or longer) and jeans can be worn after work, weekends and holidays. Bring a nice outfit for more formal events, such as Swearing In, weddings, and funerals.
We recommend you bring along some warm clothing for the winter months. The temperature can drop into the 30 degrees Farenheit range at night during the three months of ”winter”’ (June–August). You’ll be much more comfortable if you bring along a fleece jacket, some sweaters, warm socks, winter cap that covers the ears, scarf and gloves.
Shoes are key. Everyone will walk many miles every week. Volunteers recommend four pairs of shoes. Bring newer shoes as your shoes will wear out quickly. The Volunteers also recommend more expensive footwear, just because it’s better and lasts longer. Some female Volunteers say one pair of trendy sandals or shoes is also nice,as there are chances to go out and dress up a bit in Windhoek.
A suggested list of shoes for men and women includes:
- Closed walking shoes for teaching and meetings or comfortable dress shoes or nice sandals for work
- Athletic shoes, tennis shoes, or other casual shoes
- Waterproof hiking boots (if you like to hike)
- Shower sandals/flip flops
- Sandals (e.g., Tevas, Birkenstocks, etc).
Note that people with large feet (especially men with size 11 or bigger) should bring an extra pair or two of shoes or sandals, as larger sizes can be difficult to find in Namibia
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
Bring enough of your favorites to get you through your first five or six weeks. Volunteers have also suggested bringing good-quality body and facial lotion for dry skin and a pumice stone. Sunglasses are a must, and if you wear prescription glasses, you should bring prescription sunglasses. A case for your glasses and/or sunglasses is also recommended. Remember that you can get almost everything you need in Namibia at prices comparable to those in the United States.
You can easily buy most kitchen supplies here—dishes, pots, glasses, and utensils, plastic food containers and storage bags, etc. Also, a basic cookbook can be useful once you get to your permanent site. Peace Corps/Namibia provides you with a locally appropriate cookbook.
- Sleeping bag; a travel pillow and sleeping pad are also nice but not essential
- Good quality batteries (AA are expensive and 9V can be hard to find in Namibia)
- Back-up (spare) watch since locally available models are generally not of good quality
- Crayons, colored markers, colored pencils, Sharpies
- Craft idea books
- Stickers (if you will be a classroom teacher)
- Duct tape
- Swiss army knife or Leatherman tool
- Travel-size clock
- Small flashlight or headlamp and extra bulbs
- Guidebooks about the region
- Maps, pictures, and wall hangings to decorate your home
- Inexpensive gifts to give to your hosts and to children
- Digital camera (and good camera bag to keep out the dust)
- Laptop and external hard drive
- iPOD/MP3 player
- Two sturdy water bottles (e.g., Nalgene)
- A jump/flash/pen/USB drive
- For women, feminine hygiene items like Diva Cup, the Keeper, GladRag, etc. are recommended; pads and tampons are available but are often quite expensive
- Favorite recipes
- A few books
- Small book bag or backpack for work and weekends
- Special equipment for your hobbies (tent and camping stove for camping, rock climbing equipment, etc.)
I suggest taking some sticky insect traps. You can get bug spray, but I never found the traps.
Things we shouldn’t have brought
- Too many toiletries (mouthwash, dental floss, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc.; they can all be purchased inexpensively in Namibia)
- Kitchen equipment (pots, pans, can openers, silverware, etc.)
- White clothes and clothes that require dry cleaning or cannot be washed by hand.
- Mosquito net (Peace Corps/Namibia gives you one)
- An electric adapter (you can’t get the right one if you buy it elsewhere)
- Too many formal clothes
- Wireless reading devices (such as the Kindle or Nook). Many Volunteers have experienced problems with these devices in Namibia due to the electrical current, and shipping them back to the U.S. for repair is prohibitively expensive.