Packing list for Senegal

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

We recommend that you bring a minimal amount of clothing. Although ready-made imported clothing is expensive in Senegal, local tailors can produce custom-made pants, shirts, and dresses for less than the cost of ready-made equivalents in the United States. Making use of these tailors will free up some packing space for other things and ensure that your clothes are suitable for the climate. Likewise, toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, and razor blades can be found in Senegal, so bring only enough to last you through the 11-week training period. Also bring items that will make you feel a little like your old self in a completely new and strange home.

Remember to bring 18 photos with you for purposes such as visas and ID cards. These photos need not be expensive; those taken in a photo booth will suffice. Two final bits of advice: When packing, choose items that are modest, not ostentatious, and if in doubt, leave it out.

General Clothing[edit]

  • One pair of jeans (expensive to buy locally), but because of the extreme heat, most people prefer to wear them loose or wear dresses
  • Loose cotton tops—some sleeveless and some with sleeves to protect bare shoulders from sunburn
  • One light jacket and a few sweatshirts, sweaters, or flannel shirts (after you have been in Senegal a while, 60-degree evenings and mornings will seem very cold)
  • Underwear—cotton is best; even better is travel underwear made of fast-drying material (like Ex Officio) or thongs
  • One or two pairs of shorts (but note that they are inappropriate to wear in most contexts)
  • For women, several skirts or dresses, below knee length (short skirts are inappropriate except for at a few places in Dakar)
  • For men, two or three pairs of lightweight pants (cotton or cotton blend)
  • Two or more dressy outfits for more formal work or social occasions
  • One or two hats or caps for sun protection
  • Two or three pairs of socks; Volunteers wear sandals most of the time, but you will need them for other shoes
  • One pair of sturdy slip on sandals such as Birkenstocks, Mephistos, or Tevas for daily wear (you're constantly taking on and off your sandals to sit on mats)
  • Casual shoes with closed toes, such as sneakers or running shoes
  • Dress shoes

Note: Many volunteers have clothing made out of beautiful and colorful African material, which is made in Dakar. If you take favorite designs or even patterns, the tailors can copy them.


  • A laptop to write grants, proposals, and engage in meetings.
  • One or two USB keys to transfer files
  • An unlocked Iphone to text, save contacts, and use as your peace corps phone
  • A kindle or other reading device for long trips
  • A hard drive to exchange movies and music
  • A portable speaker for get togethers

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items[edit]

  • One bath towel (when it wears out you can buy a local one that is not as plush but does the job)
  • Two pairs of prescription eyeglasses and one pair of prescription sunglasses, if you wear them
  • Contact lens solutions (although dust is a real problem, some Volunteers wear them; note that the Peace Corps does not recommend their use or provide replacements)
  • Stick Deodorant (the only ones available in Senegal are the aerosol and roll-on kind)
  • Sunglasses—the darker, the better (the ones in Senegal do not have UV protection)
  • Hair conditioner (it is expensive in Senegal, so most Volunteers do without it)
  • Tampons (very expensive in Senegal)
  • Soft-drink mixes like Kool Aid or Tang (some Volunteers use them to cover the taste of chemically treated water)
  • Canteen or unbreakable thermos to carry clean water
  • Plastic food storage containers with airtight lids
  • A box of zip lock bags, which come in handy
  • Coffeepot, if you prefer real coffee over instant (You can buy an Italian style moka pot[1] in country for around 10$)

Miscellaneous Essential Items[edit]

  • Planner or Calendar for projects, events, and deadlines
  • Good quality pens
  • Lined 1 subject notebooks for notes (these are not available here)
  • Pillow
  • Camera (preferably inexpensive)
  • Swiss Army knife and small whetstone
  • Daypack or sports bag for weekend trips
  • Pictures of your family and friends to share with Senegalese in friends
  • One or two bathing suits for beach or pool swimming
  • Watch—inexpensive, rugged, waterproof, and dustproof (cheap ones are available locally)
  • Solar bulbs or/and solar power panels. With a power panel you can charge your cell or any other low-voltage USB-port devices, such as IPod, Kindle, etc. All you need is sun, and that's plentiful. You may want to check the Nokero and Solio products. Peace Corps Volunteers get a 25%-50% discount on Nokero products when they join Market for Change [2].
  • Leggings that are a size too large to wear under short dresses or to go running in
  • Three or four bandannas
  • Scissors for cutting hair
  • One set of fitted and flat sheets—double size is best (good, inexpensive flat sheets are available in Senegal)
  • A set of different sized bags: a small backpack, a larger backpacking bag, a suitcase
  • A 2 dollar us-eu plug converter, there are cheap ones available here
  • Earrings - the bigger the better but also ones for everyday

Nice to Have but Not Essential[edit]

  • Books (the Peace Corps office has many, but additions are always welcome)
  • Maps
  • Light sleeping bag (many Volunteers use them as portable mattresses)
  • Musical instrument, if you play one and can tolerate possible damage to it from the climate
  • Cosmetics
  • Games, e.g., Frisbee, Scrabble, playing cards
  • Sports equipment, e.g., football, softball and mitt, tennis racket (some cities have courts)
  • Flashlight (standard metal ones are available in Senegal); if you bring a Maglite, do not forget to bring extra bulbs
  • Solar calculator (available locally)
  • Small stapler and staples
  • Warm blanket (some find one comforting)
  • Sunscreen, at least SPF 15 (non-hypoallergenic varieties are available in Senegal)