Packing list for Azerbaijan
This list has been compiled by Peace Corps/Azerbaijan and Volunteers 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 a weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Azerbaijan.
Luggage should be durable, lightweight, and flexible; a duffel bag or a hiking backpack is a good option. When choosing luggage, remember that you will be hauling it in and out of taxis and trains, and often lugging it around on foot.
You can buy clothing in Azerbaijan, but much of it is made of synthetic materials and may not meet your taste. You can also have clothes made locally, but bring what you will need until you know where the best tailors are. Variety in clothing is not as important as how it looks and how sturdy it is. Following are some suggestions for what to pack.
- A good supply of underwear
- Polypropylene, wool, and cotton socks and glove liners
- Good wool hiking socks (that wick moisture and dry quickly); 3-4 pairs recommended
- Long underwear of two or three different weights (e.g., wool and silk)
- Polyfill outerwear/coat. Some people suggest bringing two—a full-length black wool coat and a down coat. (Informal, sport-type winter coats can be useful and warm, but draw a lot of attention, whereas black pea coats will not. Winters can be quite cold, especially in the north; you may find yourself wearing a jacket, hat, and gloves in the classroom)
- Medium-weight jacket for spring/fall.
- Woolen or ski-type hats, gloves, and scarves
- Bathing suit (for trips to the beach)
Note: Keep in mind the only dry cleaning is in Baku. So you’ll be washing everything by hand, but you still need to look professional.
You will still be an American when you live here, so if you have a style of dressing, plan on keeping it, just making the modifications necessary in this culture. This means NO exposed midriffs or backs; any sleeveless tops should be VERY modest, NO short skirts, and clothes should not be too tight.
- An assortment of winter and summer clothing: skirts and blouses, dresses, knit tops, dressy and casual slacks, and jeans; skirts and dresses should be full or mid-calf length
- 2-3 sweaters or dressy sweatshirts
- 2-3 cardigans (good for layering)
- One good outfit for formal events
- Some comfortable “house” clothes; sweatpants, etc.
- Slips (cotton is recommended)
- Leggings, tights, and stockings (good-quality ones may be hard to find locally)
- Shorts (for safety reasons, to be worn only at home or while jogging early in the morning) 4
- An assortment of winter and summer clothing: khakis, casual dress pants, jeans, and long-sleeved button-down shirts (dark-colored clothing will look clean longer than light-colored clothing)
- At least one sport coat.
- 2-3 dress shirts and ties.
- Shorts (because shorts are considered even more inappropriate for men than for women, to be worn only at home or while jogging early in the morning)
- Professional shoes that are comfortable for walking
- Tennis shoes or running shoes (very difficult to find here)
- Warm, waterproof boots for winter
- Hiking shoes (if you like to hike)
- Well-made fleece/winter slippers.
- Any favorite over-the-counter medical supplies. (those provided by the Peace Corps are generic ones) Peace Corps does not provide nasal spray or cold medicine, both of which are great. Bring a couple doses of AM and PM.
- A three-month supply of any prescription drugs you take, to give the Peace Corps ample time to order your special needs
- At least two pairs of eyeglasses, if you wear them, since replacements can take several months to arrive from the United States (contact lens supplies are not available in Azerbaijan and are not supplied by the Peace Corps)
- While Peace Corps discourages contact lenses, wearing them is quite feasible in Azerbaijan. Bring a few bottles of solution with you (including a couple compact ones for traveling in-country) or prepare to have some sent to you, as solution is very expensive (around $15 a bottle) in Baku.
- Towels (of good-quality; absorbent cotton); Volunteers also recommend “quick-dry” towels.
- Jewelry and makeup, if you like to wear them (Azerbaijani women in towns wear both)
- Hair-coloring products, if you use them (U.S. brands are not available locally) Kitchen
- Good can opener
- Vegetable Peeler
- Kitchen knife (they can be purchased here, but become dull really quickly)
- Favorite spices (they may be difficult to find, especially in winter. Many are available in Baku, but can be expensive.)
- Favorite cooking supplies (pots and pans can be found in Azerbaijan)
- Quality hot pad / oven mitt
- Basic cookbook (Peace Corps will also provide you with a cookbook)
- An assortment of plastic storage bags (zip lock bags, a couple large American sized garbage bags) Miscellaneous
- Reliable watch (durable, water-resistant, and inexpensive)
- Travel alarm clock (battery-operated is best)
- Sturdy work gloves, if you like to garden or work outdoors
- Small day pack without frame (great for shopping or carrying books or work materials)
- Camera (compact ones are best, since they are inconspicuous and travel well); film and photo processing is available locally
- 110/220 transformers, if you bring 110-volt appliances (though a lot of appliances can stand both voltages, such as computers, camera batter chargers, etc.)
- Flashlight and batteries; head-lamp (very useful)
- MP3 Player
- Portable, battery powered speakers
- Flash Drive (the bigger the better so you can swap movies/music with other PCVS)
- One or two sets of sheets (because you do not know the size of your bed, double flats are most useful)
- Small, inexpensive tool kit
- Swiss army knife (very important to many Volunteers)
- Sewing kit
- Duct Tape
- Clothing patterns, if you plan to sew by hand
- Pictures of home for yourself and to share with friends and students
- U.S. postage stamps (people traveling home can sometimes hand-carry your mail)
- U.S. and world maps, to use as teaching aids or wall hangings
- Inexpensive gifts (toys, costume jewelry, perfume, magazines, books, pencils, key chains, etc.)
- Any equipment for hobbies
- Games (e.g., Scrabble, chess, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary)
- Sports equipment (e.g., bat, baseball, and glove, football, Frisbee, hacky sack, etc.)
- Liquid soap for washing clothes by hand (the availability of dry cleaning is unpredictable. Unless you have an item that specifically needs liquid soap, you can get powdered soap anywhere. All PCVS use powdered detergent)
- Down or synthetic sleeping bag, preferably compactable, rated for minus 10 to minus 20 degrees Fahrenhei. Also consider a fleece liner (Peace Corps will issue you a “monster” sleeping bag for winter.)
- Sleeping pad for visiting other PCVS
- Journal, diary, or schedule book
- Small, retractable tape measure
- A notebook computer with DVD player. PCVs use both Mac and PC. There is an Apple store in Baku but it is unreliable. If you have a Macbook, be sure to get the USB modem that allows you to use dial-up. PCs can be fixed easily and cheaply in Baku and there is a ton of pirated software available. Consider getting a small external hard drive as well.