Packing list for Turkmenistan

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This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Turkmenistan 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 at the Peace Corps office (and unlike Volunteers in many Peace Corps countries, you will not be charged customs taxes). As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have a 100-pound weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Turkmenistan.

Dress is very important in Turkmenistan. The popular image of a Peace Corps Volunteer in sandals and a T-shirt with a university logo is inappropriate here. Fair or not, people are judged by the way they dress in Turkmenistan, more so than in the United States. Your colleagues will dress as professionals and for you to do otherwise will be considered disrespectful. If you come to work inappropriately dressed, your colleagues and clients (e.g., students or clinic patients) will probably not say anything to you directly but may talk unfavorably about you to others. Following the lead of your co-workers will help you gain acceptance and respect in your community and in your development work. But this does not mean that you need to spend a lot of money on new clothing. Rather, be selective in what you bring, and consider buying some of your professional clothing in Ashgabat. If you plan on this, bring along some extra money in order to do so.

Female Volunteers in Turkmenistan usually wear mid-length to long dresses or skirts at work, though pants may be acceptable in some areas. Tops can be short sleeved, but should be modest. You should probably bring at least one versatile dressy outfit for social events in the capital. Fashionable clothing can be bought in Ashgabat or made by a local dressmaker.

Male Volunteers are expected to wear pressed chinos or dress slacks with a shirt and tie, and shined professional-looking shoes are a must. Consider buying some of your professional clothing in Ashgabat. The quality and style may not be equal to that found in American brands (though several high-quality European manufacturers have opened outlet stores here for excess inventory), but they are the same clothes your local colleagues will be wearing. However, if you are very tall or large, you may not find the sizes you need.

Many types of appliances and electronics are available in Turkmenistan (including reasonably priced blow-dryers, irons, and boom boxes), and buying them locally eliminates the need to bring a voltage converter. Standard batteries of varying quality are also available. Do not bring items of great sentimental or monetary value, such as expensive jewelry, radio transmitters of any kind, or military surplus clothing.

General Clothing[edit]

  • Mix-and-match clothes for layering, such as solid-color turtlenecks
  • Gloves and hat for cold weather
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Long underwear—silk is lightweight, easy to clean, and warm
  • T-shirts (without wording or pictures about controversial issues such as politics, drugs, and sex)
  • Two pair of jeans
  • Underwear and socks
  • Sports and fitness clothing and supplies (there are tennis courts in some cities); for jogging, lightweight pants are better than shorts, which are inappropriate to wear in most places other than a gym; women should bring clothing that is not too tight and does not reveal too much skin
  • Bandanas and handkerchiefs

For Men[edit]

  • Sport jackets or suit (for special occasions)
  • Several pairs of nice slacks
  • Several shirts with collars
  • A few nice sweaters
  • Ties

For Women[edit]

  • Several skirts or dresses with hems ankle-length (fuller is better because you will sit on the floor a lot)
  • Several nice blouses and shirts (short-sleeved tops are fine if modest)
  • A couple of pairs of nice slacks (which can be worn as professional clothing in some places)
  • A shorter skirt or dress for evenings out (but note that Turkmen women rarely wear miniskirts, but in the cities it is acceptable)
  • Bras and full and half slips to last two years (preferably cotton)
  • Nylons or tights (thicker ones are great for cold weather)
  • Pair of jeans
  • Most women in the village wear full ankle-length dresses, but you can have those made here very cheaply during your first few months so don't over pack on clothes because most female volunteers go to local dressmakers for their clothing needs.


  • Dress shoes—for men, loafers are practical because they can be slipped off easily when entering a home; for women, comfortable, low-heeled pumps are recommended; Volunteers who will be on their feet a lot might consider black sneakers that look like dress shoes
  • Sneakers
  • Hiking boots and/or walking shoes
  • Extra shoelaces
  • Sandals such as Tevas or Chocos for the summer heat. Most volunteers wear sandals during the spring and summer months.

Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items[edit]

  • Enough deodorant, soap, and other toiletries to last you through pre-service training (many of the brands available in Ashgabat will be familiar to you, but if you require specific brands, you may want to bring more)
  • Makeup
  • Fragrant powders, body lotions, or perfume (for when showers are scarce)
  • Contact lens solutions, which the Peace Corps does not provide, if you wear contacts
  • A three-month supply of any prescription medications you take, to last you until the Peace Corps can order them for you (a six-month supply, if possible, is even better as the mail here can be slow)
  • Two pairs of eyeglasses, if you wear them (replacements can take a long time to arrive from the United States); consider bringing a repair kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen (the Peace Corps provides SPF 15)
  • Favorite nutritional supplements (Peace Corps provides multivitamins)
  • Tweezers, items for nail care, pumice stone, callus removers, etc.
  • Panty liners


You can buy most kitchen supplies in-country, but there are a few items that Volunteers recommend bringing:

  • Lots of plastic storage bags (you can pack stuff in them)
  • Aluminum foil (limited availability in Ashgabat)
  • Peanut butter (but local varieties are available)
  • Packaged mixes for sauces, salad dressings, and soft drinks
  • Your favorite spices
  • Artificial sweetener, if you use it
  • French coffee press (instant coffee is readily available, and regular coffee is sometimes available in Ashgabat)


  • World map
  • Musical instrument(s)
  • Sewing kit
  • Key chain with mini-flashlight
  • Subscriptions to favorite magazines
  • Small, inexpensive tool kit
  • Laptop
  • Small, durable flashlight with extra batteries
  • Watch (durable, water-resistant, and inexpensive) with extra batteries
  • Sleeping bag with stuff sack (for traveling in cold weather)
  • A durable water bottle (e.g., Nalgene)
  • Pillowcase
  • Laundry bag
  • Camera (35 mm compacts or digital cameras are best because they are more inconspicuous during travel). APS film is not available here, but 35 mm can be widely developed and prints and CDs from digital cameras can be made in Ashgabat
  • Money belt or holder
  • Internal frame backpack or small overnight bag
  • Envelopes of various sizes, including padded ones
  • U.S. postage stamps for mail carried by people traveling back home
  • Duct tape
  • Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool
  • Bath towel, hand towel, and washcloth
  • American gifts (for all ages; raid your local dollar store)
  • Two-year planner
  • Good Russian-to-English and English-to-Russian dictionary
  • Photos from home (picture sharing is important in Turkmenistan)
  • Luggage straps
  • Bungee cords
  • Games such as playing cards, Uno, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, chess, and Frisbee NOTES