Thursday, April 1, 2010

The 4-1-1: What to Pack

What to Bring and How to Bring It
In addition to personal needs, you will need to bring:
  • all supplies needed to do the job you are volunteering to do
  • a few Band-aids and antiseptic cream
  • a few basic over-the-counter medications, in original containers, something to treat:
    colds/ cough/ stuffy noses
    diarrhea/ vomiting/ stomachache
    fever/ headache/ general aches and pains
    motion sickness
  • any prescription drugs you need on a regular basis or any drug that you might need on an emergency basis (such as someone who has a severe allergy to something, tendency to asthma attack, etc.) in the original containers, enough for the whole trip
  • Bible, journal, pencil/ pen
  • camera and film or extra cards
  • flashlight and batteries
  • a very generous quantity of wet wipes and hand cleansers
  • travel-size Kleenex and toilet paper
  • chap stick
  • lotion, light face moisturizer
  • sunglasses
  • hat (guys, for sun protection) or scarf/bandana (girls, for modesty)
  • insulated, water bottle or thermos to hold at least 1 quart of water that has an opening big enough to add ice
  • sun screen and aloe
  • mosquito repellant and an anti-itch cream
  • some snacks (nothing that will melt)
  • comfortable, protective, walking shoes
  • loose, comfortable, modest clothing - cottons, jeans and khaki work well
  • a can (or dry mix) of chicken noodle soup, some saltine crackers, some Gatorade or Kool-Aid-type mix, and a small box of Jell-o, in case of sickness
  • a package of Clorox cleaning wipes
  • Visine eye drops and saline nose drops are good to sooth dry eyes and noses
  • an alarm clock
  • battery powered fan (if sleeping outdoors)
  • sleeping bag & pillow (if sleeping outdoors)
  • tent or mosquito net (if sleeping outdoors)
  • a copy of your passport and visas (in your carry-on)
  • a copy of your yellow card (in your carry-on)
  • a back pack/ day pack/ bag to carry things in each day
How to bring it
You must contact your air carrier and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to determine current limitations and restrictions.

In your carry-on luggage
Think, "What would I need to survive if my suitcase got delayed or lost for several days?" This is a VERY GOOD possibility!
  • a least one complete change of clothes
  • all your prescription and emergency medications
  • a few toiletries (keep in mind current airline restrictions, consider samples or travel-sized items)
  • copies of your passport, visas, and health card
  • contact information (who will be meeting you, address and phone number of where you will be staying)
  • travel itinerary and tickets
  • money (or on your person)
  • a snack
  • really important stuff
  • you CANNOT carry pastes and liquids in your carry-on (peanut butter, tooth paste, canned fruits or tuna, make-up....)
In your checked luggage
When you come to West Africa from the US, you will be allowed two 50-pound bags on major international carriers. Confirm your luggage weight allowances, size restrictions, and excess weight prices with your airlines. If your trip out includes a flight on a tiny, singl engine plane, luggage and weight will be greatly restricted. For the return trip, many volunteers choose to bring older clothing and leave it, which allows space for souvenirs. Others bring suitcases that can "nest" into one another for the return trip.

Packing tips
Try to avoid packing liquids and items that could melt. Anything liquid or squishy should be placed in a double zip lock bag. If you purchase anything new to bring, whether for yourself, for ministry, or for a gift, take it out of the original packaging and remove the price tags. Keep the receipts separately, if needed. Pack discreetly; any personal electronics can be wrapped up in clothing so as to not be so visible.

Secure your luggage with zip-ties. Place a baggie, containing several extra zip-ties and a piece of paper with your name, home address, and destination address, on the inside of each of your suitcases so that it is the first thing Homeland Security sees; it is nice to add a thank you note to security officers for keeping you safe.

Some teams tie a certain colored bandana or ribbon to each of the suitcases, which is a good visual to the baggage handlers, helping them to know you are all going to the same place.

Do not bring anything that cannot be replaced.

Special Instructions for Cassettes and films
If you are bringing cassettes, videos, or medical supplies for give-away, divide them equally between all team members' luggage (i.e. DO NOT bring a whole suitcase of videos; it looks to customs officials like you will be selling them.) It will help to have on hand as you clear customs a letter from your home church stating that these items are for gifts to the Songhai people of the village where you will be ministering. The letter should be on the church's letterhead, nice quality paper, in English or French, signed by several people and their titles, perhaps with a notarized stamp or gold sticker and ribbon.

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