What should I pack?

Thinking about moving to the Philippines?! Here are some more useful items I brought along with me…

1) Umbrella: Filipinos use umbrellas year round! In the rainy season you never know when the sky will open up and dump on you, but in the heat of summer your umbrella is a much needed shelter from the sun. I brought mine from home because umbrellas made here fold up on the outer edge as they collapse, whereas American umbrellas all fold down. Take your pick but there is nothing worse than an inside out umbrella.


2) Snorkeling gear & dive computer: if you expect to scuba dive it is much easier to rent or borrow gear than to travel with your own, however your own properly fitting mask and a pair of fins are invaluable for spontaneous snorkeling. Also a dive computer allows you to maximize your dive time and increase personal safety. I couldn’t imagine diving without it.

3) Pasalubong: Filipinos have an imperative tradition that after returning from traveling you bring back a small gift characteristic of the place you are coming from. Pasalubong may be small candies or obvious tourist items. Some things you cannot buy in the Philippines include cheeze its, wheat thins, swedishfish, sourpatch kids, any American cereal, uno. A few weeks ago I tried to buy stickers, and surely these must be sold in Manila, but in Odiongan, Romblon they do not sell any of the “Great job!” Or “You’re Awesome” stickers, which American elementary teachers commonly place on excellent assignments.

4) Bike lights: For us Peace Corps volunteers unable to ride a motorcycle, a bicycle may be your primary form of transportation. I packed my helmet and bike lights. Specifically, my front bike light is very bright and easily detachable so it is not stolen. Because I recharge it by usb, I never need batteries and it has saved me in many brownouts I am otherwise unable to navigate the darkness. Thanks Dad for recently mailing me a second light!

5) If you like fish identification as much as I do, the Tropical Pacific Reef Fish Identification and possibly Reef Critter Identification books by Allen, Steene, Humann & DeLoach will be your bible. The Peace Corps also has copies of these books in their library but I prefer to carry my own and ID fish after I dive.

And for future Peace Corps volunteers no need to pack sunscreen, bugspray, or dental floss. This will all be included in your Peace Corps-issued medical kit. Refills can be requested by texting our doctor, who then mails needed items directly to your site!


4 thoughts on “What should I pack?”

  1. Didn’t Peace Corps give you a bike helmet? They gave us bike helmets. We also got lights to go with our bikes but they’re not good quality and not waterproof or even water resistant so I got a nicer set of lights sent to me from home (besides, I lost my front light before we even swore in so there was an obvious need for bike lights).

    1. No my batch did not receive helmets or lights. Was that here in the Philippines that you were given them or another Peace Corps country? I’ve heard that PC Senegal issues each volunteer a bike and a maintenance kit and they even have a bike mechanic on staff who does site visits!!

      1. Wow, didn’t know that. I thought for sure PC would provide helmets since they’re required. In PC Thailand we’re provided with a bike, helmet, lights, patch kit, and one extra tube during PST. Wow, a bike mechanic who does site visits, that must be nice.

  2. Thanks for the packing list SJ! Glad to hear you’ve got a good sunscreen dealer close by, haha….my skin hasn’t seen the sun in 4 months so I’mma need a lot of that stuff when Dave and I come see you!

    Also, I have been pricing out mask, snorkel and fins for Dave and I, so we will definitely be purchasing and bringing those when we come. So excited for spontaneous snorkelling with you….GAH!

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