A Life Within a Suitcase..and Two Carry-on Bags

A major step in preparing for departure is figuring what to take with you. After reading over the regulations set by the Peace Corps for luggage and the TSA, I picked out a nice 26 in High Sierra expandable duffel.

It holds 5466 cubic, and is 26×14.5×14.5. The color I have is a very nice multi-tone blue with bright orange piping, which should help make it visible in an airport.  It has three functions – rolling duffel, duffel, and hidden straps to make it a backpack. Another great feature is the drop bottom compartment that can separate the heavier items from clothes and other things. Overall I am happy with my purchase, I got it on clearance for $70, compared to the $100-120 prices online, and none of the sites I visited had this color. The only thing I wish were different was the actual weight of the bag. I am allowed to bring 50# with me in it, and the bag itself is already 10#. Yes, it has the wheel feature, which probably adds weight, but overall, if it comes down to it, I have a smaller duffel that I can check with it, because the Peace Corps gives me a limit of two bags not to exceed 80#, not to mention I’ll have my two carry on bags, so overall the weight wasn’t my biggest concern, besides the point is to try to pack as light as possible since you have to lug it around yourself. Don’t bring what you can’t carry, right?  The reviews online give the weight as the only complaint as well, so let’s hope the construction of the bag holds up well for the next 27 months.  I ended up choosing this bag over others because it was smaller, but in terms of space had a bigger capacity, which could even be bigger if I extended it. I’m going for compact and light on this trip. Here is my first draft of a packing list, based on the packing list given to me by the Peace Corps, and other lists I have found from various volunteer blogs.

  • Spice packs/Hot Sauce/Instant coffee/Water mixes
  • Solar calculator
  • Shirt packs, tanks and T’s
  • Chap stick packs
  • Stationary, envelopes
  • Multivitamin with iron, emergen-c, pro biotic
  • Natural Deodorant packs
  • Scotch Tape, pens, colored pencils, sharpies, journal
  •  Waterproof Mascara, sunscreen foundation
  • Hair Ties, sport headband
  • Shorts, pants, skirts
  • Soap saver puffs
  • Quick dry shower towel –large, medium, and hand towels
  • Sport bras, cotton bras
  • Lotion/SPF/bug spray (Lots of bug spray)
  • Camelback
  • Portable board games/Computer/Camera equipment
  • Solar charger
  • Tent/sleeping bag or blanket and sheets/pillow/small portable utensils
  • Coffee press
  • Shaving stuff
  • Headlamp
  • Maps/dialogue books
  • Watch
  • Postcards
  • Poncho

Overall, the list is rather basic, some things I’ve added because it’s what volunteers are asking for or wish they packed more of that are in the region I am going to (Hot sauce…who knew?!) For the most part it’s all basics, I’ll have to get a few things, but nothing that Amazon or REI won’t have. This list is going to get a (few) modification the closer I get to leaving. But for anyone wondering how I am supposed to live out of a suitcase, well here you go! It won’t be that bad though, we get spending money for the markets and a move-in expense, we get taken care of well, but from everything I have researched if there are certain “necessities” or at least things that I am more comfortable with (name brands for instance), it would be best to purchase them now. Once I am living over there with an address I may provide “wish lists” in case anyone wants to send me a care package as well =)


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