Packing for Peace Corps Swaziland: Home supplies

Packing my non-clothes items was easier than choosing my clothes. There were many fewer questions about what I would use or could buy in Swaziland. I assumed I could buy nothing in Swaziland, which is definitely not the truth. I am able to buy almost everything I could want here, so remember that when buying more goods than can fit into your luggage. Of course, you pay more for more specialized items or for a higher quality, but you can find it here.

In regards to toiletries, Clicks, a drugstore (it also sells tortilla chips!), and Spar, a European grocery store, seem to have the best variety of name brands. You should be able to find suitable replacements here unless you are extremely picky. Most deodorant choices are roll-on, with a regular stick costing more, but there are still American brands available. I am happy that I brought at least one additional item of all my toiletries, especially because it is one less item to purchase at the beginning.

I am happy with everything I brought, what I have purchased here, and with what I have had sent. That said, I could have brought only clothes, electronics, and food and bought the rest here.

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These units with three shelves are how I stay organized.

And now, this list:

Kitchenware and food

  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing spatula
  • Measuring cups
  • Plastic turner
  • Recipe box
  • Kitchen shears
  • Heavy-duty hand can opener
  • Scraper, a tiny thing used to help scrape food off surfaces it is stuck to
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • 2 hand towels
  • 2 pairing knives
  • Lid gripper
  • 2 potholders
  • Reusable silicone muffin cups
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Jerky
  • Hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper (Bring the pepper with you or make sure it is one of the first things you buy. Grinders and peppercorns are available.)

What I have bought

  • Peeler
  • Measuring spoons
  • Nonstick skillet
  • 8×8 pan
  • Glass loaf pan with lid
  • Spices (Make your own taco seasoning with cumin, cayenne, and garlic, and all the pumpkin pie spices are available too)

What was mailed

  • French press coffee thermos
  • Coffee
  • Grinder
  • Grater
  • Tupperware
  • Plastic dishes
  • Whisk

Camping

  • Compact two person tent from Sierra Designs (lots of good pro deals are available with Kelty, Marmot, and Cascade Designs, so do not buy from REI or another such store unless you are getting a really good deal. Check backcountry.com if you do not want to get a pro deal.)
  • Sleeping bag from Big Agnes (Big Agnes makes great bags particularly for car campers because the bag does not have padding on the bottom, because if you drove to your campsite, you will bring something more substantial than a sleeping pad to sleep on. Unfortunately, I will not be car camping in Swaziland, so I also have to carry a sleeping pad.)
  • Sleeping pad from Thermarest (Get a pro deal from Cascade Designs to buy yours.)
  • Daypack from Marmot (Pro deal purchased.)
  • 2L Hydromedary water bladder from MSR (Purchased with a Cascade Designs pro deal. I would recommend this bladder because it is made from a heavy material that will not rip and is a hydration system.)
    Whistle

Electronics

  • DSLR camera (I do not take it out at home to keep it safe. I also have an extra battery.)
  • Pocket camera from Fuji that is wind, water, sand, and drop resistant (I’m not afraid to pass this one to the children.)
  • Computer
  • Smart phone (essential for the use of WhatsApp)
  • Mini speaker
  • The bunny phone, my backup, unlocked flip phone from 2008. I hate this phone, but it still works, so it will continue to be my backup.
  • SteriPen (I bought this for my first trip to Africa in 2014 and it has worked great. It is rechargeable, so it needs electricity. There are other versions that do not. I have not yet had to use it in Swaziland, but may need to while traveling.)
  • External hard drive (The PCV movie and book selection is vast.)
  • Portable battery
  • Solar panel from Goal Zero (I have not needed this, although if I was in the other training village I would have, so I am happy I have it. There are also a few permanent sites without electricity. The panels from Solio are also recommended.)
  • Outlet converter
  • More complex outlet converter with lots of plug and USB space
  • Flash drives
  • Black Diamond Titan Lantern (Not the lantern I was going to choose because it does not have a crank or solar power, but it was such a great deal at the BD warehouse sale that I bought it and rechargeable D batteries. I use it every night.)
  • Petzl headlamp (A required item for everyone coming to a country without guaranteed electricity. There are other brands, but Petzl is the foremost. There are rechargeable headlamps, but they are not worth the cost. Simply use rechargeable batteries in your headlamp.)
    Rechargeable and regular batteries in AAA, AA, and D sizes (All are available in Swaziland.)
  • Clock and indoor/outdoor thermometer from LLBean (This has worked extremely well and I enjoy knowing the temperature. It even will tell you if there is likely to be ice outside. I wonder if that will ever happen in Swaziland.)

Medications and health supplies (I brought so much in this category because I already had it, and I wanted to make sure I had access to whatever I thought I needed upon arrival because it was unclear when we would receive our med kits. Some of what I brought was in the kits, and some is available from the medical officer. I have used almost everything, which tells you I have had colds, coughs, lots of bug bites, a sore back, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and sleepless nights all in a matter of 14 weeks. So much for never getting sick.)

  • Three-month supply of all prescriptions
  • 2 mini first aid kits
  • Small tissue packs
  • Hand wipes
  • Lotion
  • Eucerin cream (there is an abundance of Vaseline here, so unnecessary.)
  • Icyhot
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Acetaminophen
  • Bag Balm
  • Cough drops
  • Meclizine (anti-nausea)
  • Clotrimazole cream
  • Loperamide
  • Pink bismuth
  • Loratadine
  • Bisacodyl
  • Migraine medication
  • Tums
  • Guaifenesin tabs
  • Cetirizine
  • Thermometer
  • Sunscreen
  • Miralax
  • Bug spray and cream
  • Lip balm
  • Docusate sodium
  • Benadryl
  • Bandages
  • Bug spray (a DEET spray and cream, and a lemongrass and eucalyptus spray)

Toiletries

  • 1 quart bag of travel-sized toiletries
  • LLBean hanging bag to hold toiletries (Love this for staying organized!)
    1 3-oz. bottle of each: shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel (These lasted all of PST.)
  • Loofa
  • Pumice stone (Essential for keeping your feet closer to their original color.)
  • Toothbrush and cover (plus one extra)
  • Toothpaste (plus one extra)
  • Comb and brush
  • Deodorant (plus three extras)
  • Face wash (plus one extra)
  • Retainers
  • 2 wash cloths
  • 1 large and 1 small quick dry towels from Pack Towel (Purchase with a Cascade Designs pro deal.)
  • 2 bars of soap and containers (There is no hand soap at SIMPA, where our dorms were and where the training classes were held. Bring your own.)
  • Tweezers
  • Small scissors
  • Nail clippers
  • Floss
  • Razors
  • Qtips
  • Tongue scraper
  • Small assortment of pads and tampons (With trash being a very complicated problem in Swaziland, I would recommend switching to products with less waste, reusable, or skip your period entirely by taking birth control continuously.)

School supplies

  • 4 children’s books
  • Crayons
  • Scissors
  • Photos
  • Pens
  • Notebook
  • Expandable folder with important papers
  • A silly book called All my Friends are Dead
  • Sticky notes
  • Paper clips

Jewelry and glasses

  • Necklaces and bracelets
  • Headbands
  • Bobby pins
  • 3 watches
  • Makeup
  • Hair ties
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • 2 pairs of glasses (required)
  • Leftover contacts (Peace Corps does not recommend wearing them. They will be fine at my site.)
  • Contact solution
  • Regular sunglasses
  • Eyeglass repair kit

Water bottles

  • Nalgene water bottle
  • Klean Kanteen water bottle with a no-spill top
  • Hydroflask water bottle that is insulated

Tools and gadgets

  • Command hooks
  • Clothes line
  • Rope
  • Leatherman multi-tool (some kind of knife is recommended, and tools are recommended for your permanent site, so this covers most of your needs. Pro deal is available.)
  • Pocket knife
  • Duct tape
  • Metal clips (Bring or buy clothespins upon arrival.)
  • Heavy duty padlock
  • Carabiner
  • Umbrella
  • Reusable latex gloves (I have even seen these in Swaziland!)
  • Balloons (So happy for these to be a surprise later for one of my brothers who says he loves balloons.)
  • Money belt
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Deck of cards
  • Lanyards
  • Sewing kit
  • Reusable shopping bag (Had two big, beach-sized bags sent. They are really helpful for keeping all your items together on public transportation.)

Of all the items mentioned above, I purchased a variety of items from Cascade Designs and my solar panel with a pro deal. Everything else I purchased at full price or during sales.

 

 

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