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What to Pack When Volunteering Abroad

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Volunteer Abroad Programmes

If you are planning on volunteering abroad , you are probably wondering what you should pack for your trip. Most airlines now limit passengers to one checked bag for an international flight, so deciding what to bring can be tricky. Depending on the length of time in your intended host country, there may be additional items to consider bringing along other than the obvious wardrobe selection. To help prepare you for the nitty gritty art of packing, here is a list of essential items you will need for volunteering abroad, as well as a few suggestions you may not have considered. 


What To Wear
Clothing is one of those areas where many people make the mistake of overpacking. Stick with neutral colored basics that can easily be combined into different outfits. Research your host country to determine whether or not there are any dress restrictions such as skirts or long sleeved shirts for women. In general, these are the clothing items you won't want to leave behind.



• Waterproof jacket
• Socks
• Underwear
• Cargo Pants (Ones that dry quickly and can unzip into shorts are great for outdoor volunteer projects.)
• Closed Toe Shoes
• Sandals
• A couple t-shirts or tops that can be layered.
• A cocktail dress or nice shirt and tie for events such as weddings or nights out.
• A hat or cap to block the sun.

Everyday Essentials

Many of your everyday essentials are widely available throughout the world and can be purchased upon arrival. Unless you require specific brands, toiletries such as shampoo, body soap, and toothpaste can be bought locally.


For ladies, if you prefer tampons over sanitary napkins, you may want to bring enough to last you the entire placement. Particularly if you are volunteering abroad in Asia, these feminine hygiene products can be hard to come by. If you can't survive without make-up, you may consider bringing a sufficient supply of that as well. Although it is easy enough to come by in most places, foundations and powders often have whitening agents added to them.



If you have any electronics such as laptops or chargers for your mobile phone and camera, research the voltage of the intended host country before you depart. You may need to purchase a plug converter or voltage converter depending on the region.


Optional Items To Consider

You have packed plenty of underwear, brand specific contact fluid, and your trusty laptop to blog about your adventures volunteering abroad, but what else should you bring? Although you should try to pack as lightly as possible, especially to easily bring home anything you purchase abroad, you may want to consider these optional items.

• A journal to record your volunteering experience.
• A few small, inexpensive items from home to gift your homestay family or organizers when you arrive.
• A guide on the local region's customs and geography.
• A language dictionary or digital translator.

Volunteering abroad is an incredible experience. There is no doubt that the language, local people, and new culture will make an incredible impact on your life. Keep the packing for your trip as simple as possible, so you can enjoy the limited time you have without feeling weighed down with a bunch of things you didn't need.


Jessica Galbraithis a full-time writer and author of the travel blog The Fly Away American. She spends her free-time travelling, and working on her online reputation management through social media and networking. This year she will be volunteering in Bali, teaching English to school children.

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