Packing list for Tanzania
This section has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Tanzania 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. Luggage should be durable, lockable, and easy to carry. Because you will probably travel a lot by bus, duffel bags or small internal frame backpacks are more practical than suitcases.
There are numerous used clothes markets throughout Tanzania where you can purchase inexpensive clothing. Tailors can also make clothing for you. It is possible in the early weeks of training to buy most clothing you will need or to expand on what you have brought. Think of East Africa as the world’s largest thrift store; the clothing will all be familiar to you. Once at site, you can pick up quality used clothing at markets that are adequate for your service. Clothing found at markets generally range from $1-$5 for an article of clothing. In addition, clothes in Tanzania are hand washed, hung dry and ironed. Therefore, cotton items generally tend to stretch out over time and some materials are not durable enough to endure hand washing.
Tanzanians generally dress more conservatively than Americans do. During pre-service training and in office or school settings, you will be expected to dress professionally. This means closed-toe shoes or sandals, trousers (not jeans), and shirts with collars for men and below-the-knee dresses or skirts for women. Although you can dress more casually while at home, most Tanzanians do not approve of short shorts, tank tops, or dirty or ripped clothing.
In the following lists, items marked with an asterisk are difficult to find or very expensive to buy in Tanzania or are of poor quality.
- One or two pairs of comfortable jeans or khakis (especially important for environment Volunteers who should bring three)
- Two sweaters, fleece tops, or warm jackets and a stocking cap (some places in the southern highlands get cold in June and July)
- Hat and sunglasses
- One or two long-sleeved T-shirts
- Windbreaker or rain jacket*
Note: If you have a specific brand you like or a unique piece of clothing or size that is hard to find, bring enough of that item for two years (e.g., size 13 shoes or sports bras are impossible to find).
- Three to five cotton or polyester dresses or skirts (below the knee or longer); these are required for training 2 Peace coRPS
- Two or three blouses or dressy shirts (no bare shoulders)
- One extra-nice dress for official functions (e.g., swearing-in ceremony)
- Socks* (Tanzanian women generally do not wear pantyhose)
- Two-year supply of underwear* (women must wear bras and slips)
- One pair of lightweight, quick-drying ankle pants for travel and when riding a bike or exercising
- Five or six short-sleeved T-shirts
- Three-to-five cotton or synthetic, dark-colored dress or casual pants
- Six or seven button-down shirts (mix of short and long sleeved)
- Two-year supply of underwear* and socks*
- Three short-sleeved T-shirts
- Two pairs of lightweight, quick-drying pants for travel, bike riding, and exercise
- One jacket and tie for official functions (This is not recommended as local kitenge button up shirts can be used in official functions. You will be wasting space on your bag if you bring formal wear.)
- One or two pairs of shorts
- Two pairs of nice but comfortable shoes (to wear with professional clothes)
- Durable walking shoes or hiking boots*
- Sandals, e.g., Teva* brand or chacos* brand. Strongly recommended (a must for environment Volunteers)
- One pair of sneakers or running shoes
- Closed-toe shoes or dressy sandals
Note: hiking boots are only necessary if you’re going to be doing a lot of mountain climbing. Even then, fairly high-quality used boots are available in-country. Your best bet may be to buy a decent pair of tennis shoes which will be more than adequate 99 percent of the time. Also, flip-flops are available in abundance; don’t bring any!
Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
Most toiletries are readily available in Tanzania, but you may not find your favorite brand. You will not find good-quality hairbrushes or toothbrushes, and certain items will be comparatively expensive. Tampons (Tampax) may not be available near your site, and are no longer being provided by the Peace Corps Medical Office. It is recommended that you bring at least a three month supply of tampons, or a diva cup. Some Volunteers have highly recommended the new anti-bacterial lotion that you can just rub on your hands.
Most household items are readily available but may not be of the best quality. If you like to cook, consider bringing some of the following items.
- Plastic ziploc storage bags of various sizes (a must to keep out unwanted crawling critters)*
- Multipurpose cookbook* (Fannie Farmer is a favorite of Volunteers, and PCTZ has its own cookbook which you will receive during PST)
- Good kitchen knife*
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mexican or your favorite, unique spices* (most other spices are available especially Italian and Indian spices)
- Various powdered mixes (e.g., soft-drink mixes, salad dressings, soups, and sauce packets) 4
Volunteers often have downtime, so bringing some of the items suggested below can make a difference. But remember that most rural areas do not have electricity. Consider bringing a good supply of batteries, including solar-powered batteries or rechargeable batteries and a charger. Please note that in Tanzania the electricity that is used is 210V.
- Tape player or Walkman with small speakers and tapes (prerecorded and blank); for those without electricity, a Walkman uses fewer batteries than a large tape player
- Shortwave radio
- Camera and film
- Musical instruments (plus extra strings, reeds, etc.)
- Sport, hobby, and art equipment and supplies
- Games (e.g., cards, dice, hacky sack, yo-yos, Frisbee, juggling balls, dominoes)
- Camping gear (tent, backpack, sleeping pad, etc.), if you are interested in camping
- A small current converter (if you bring small appliances like a shaver, etc.)
- One set of sheets with pillowcase
- English dictionary and/or thesaurus
- Multi-purpose knife (e.g., Swiss Army knife, Leatherman or Gerber; a must for environment Volunteers)
- Flashlight/headlamp and batteries (Note that AAA batteries are hard to come by 5
- A small amount of seeds to plant, especially herbs for the garden
- A solar battery charger and rechargeable batteries
- 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
- Combination padlocks of various sizes (good key locks can be found in-country)
- Sewing kit
- Photos of your home and family (your neighbors will love them)
- Sturdy water bottle (e.g., Nalgene)
- Plastic egg carrier
- Money belt (critical for traveling on public transport)
- Travel alarm clock
- Shoe waterproofing kit
- Duct or packing tape
- Day pack
- Journal or diary
- U.S. stamps (to send mail with people returning home)
- Traveler’s checks for vacation travel
- For education Volunteers, a couple of high-quality secondary-level textbooks (Peace Corps/Tanzania has a resource library, and you will get some books in training for basic needs, but we suggest that you leave some items with friends or family to send you after you have moved to your site.
Special Considerations for Environmental Volunteers
Women: Cut back on the number of skirts you bring. And remember that loose-fitting skirts are best because you will be jumping gullies and riding bikes in them. Cut back on blouses, too. Substitute one pair of pants with a pair of Capri pants.
Men: Cut back on the number of pants. At most, bring three button-down shirts.