Now, I’ve travelled a lot, and I for some reason I thought this would make packing for PC easy, but packing, especially for two years, remained for me a daunting daunting task; in fact, when it came time for me to pack for the Peace Corps I literally had a panic attack, a panic attack with tears, lots of tears! Like most volunteers, I spent tons of time searching blogs and asking in-country volunteers questions BUT when the time finally came to pack I wished I had a better grasp on what I really needed to bring and what I should have left behind! This page, I hope, will be helpful to all the future PC Morocco invitees, especially the female volunteers who either don’t know how to pack light, or who would rather not compromise various belongings [sentimental or not] from the U.S.
I guess the first thing to tackle when discussing what to bring into the Peace Corps is this whole 2 bag business… I ended up taking three BIG bags but be cautious and make sure you are able to at least drag your bags through the airport by yourself! [I am of the belief that I would rather be in discomfort for a couple hours and have everything I need/want then under pack for comfort, BUT be forewarned, you absolutely DO NOT want to be the girl that on the first day asks the boys to carry your bags! no one likes a high maintenance PC volunteer!]
- Large Duffle w/ Wheels: Whoever started this whole don’t bring rolling luggage into the Peace Corps rumor was just yanking your chain! I have yet to encounter a time in Morocco when a rolling suitcase was not helpful! Also, your huge bag will most likely be the one you leave at hub during PST so you won’t even have to think about it after arriving in country until after swearing in, and even then, Peace Corps will ship it to your permanent site for free!
- 55 Liter The Northface Terra Backpack: perfect for travelling and extremely comfortable. I originally intended to carry this on the plane but last minute decided to gate check it! [a sneaky way to bring 3 big bags without paying extra!]
- Medium The Northface Base camp Duffle: bomb-proof material & has backpack straps, I used this bag during home stay because it was small enough to shove in the trunk of a very tiny taxi but big enough to hold everything I needed
- Small Nike Backpack: I packed this in my big duffle and used it every day during training
- Longchamp Bucket Purse: I used this as my carry-on. It holds EVERYTHING and is extremely durable [and cute]
- Small Cross body Purse [Urban Outfitters]
Shoes: I was NOT a Peace Corps poster child with regard to shoes…I am happy with everything I brought BUT I highly recommend bringing a pair of comfy boots if you can find room. Also, I wish I had brought my UGGS with me as I arrived in country during winter and completed my CBT in a colder site.
- Plastic Flip-Flops: for the shower & the Turkish toilet!
- Rainbows Sandals: just bring something sturdy: Rainbows, Chacos, Birkenstocks, etc.
- Tennis Shoes (2): my running shoes and an extra grubby pair for hiking/daily wear
- Dress Shoes: I packed my most comfortable flats to wear for staging, swearing-in, and nights out!
- Favorite Shoes: Let’s see, I brought two pairs of TOMS [they are light and don’t take up much room in your suitcase], my Sperry boat shoes [which have been amazing thus far], and my favorite pair of gladiator sandals [b/c I couldn’t bear to leave them behind]
- Heels: I didn’t pack a pair of heels but ended up buying some for New Years. If I could go back, I would have simply brought a pair with me as these were shwiya expensive, BUT I have worn them a few times now, and LOVE them!
**Don’t bring shoes that you’d be upset ruining because they WILL get ruined or lost or stolen if you aren’t careful!
- Camera [Canon EOS Rebel T3] + Battery, Insulated Camera Case, & 32GB Memory Card: takes amazing pictures, super lightweight, and relatively inexpensive! It is a perfect EOS camera for those individuals who don’t know much about photography.
- Kindle [+ Case & Charger]: okay so in the U.S. I was extremely anti-e-readers but I eventually broke down and bought a kindle specifically for Morocco; I didn’t use it once in the States and was questioning my purchase until in-country. If I can recommend any big purchase it is a kindle or a nook. Books are super easy to download and share, and while there is a PC library and volunteers do pass around hard copies of books, the kindle is just so convenient! [Also, the first week I was in country a guy in my stajj passed around a hard drive with literally hundreds of e-books on it…books that unless you have an e-reader would have to be read on a computer]
- iPod Touch & iPod Shuffle
- Small Point & Shoot Sony Camera & Case
- Sony Laptop & Charger: I recommend bringing your laptop, wireless is cheap at cyber cafés and internet in Morocco [from what I can tell so far] is pretty readily available
- Small Travel Book Light
- North Face Sleeping Bag & Sleeping Bag Liner: Definitely bring one! I’ve only been in country 3 months and i’ve used mine numerous times already! I recommend getting a heavier sleeping bag [for colder weather]…Morocco gets pretty damn cold at night and in the winter!
- Eagle Creek Pack-it Bags (2)
- Small Flashlights (3)
- Headlamp: nerdy but great for reading, hiking, and hanging laundry outside in the dark!
- Adapter: Morocco uses the same type of outlet as Europe; I bought mine at Target for like $9. I don’t recommend spending a lot of money on a converter as they are heavy, break easy, and are not really necessary unless you plan on using a U.S. manufactured blow dryer or other high voltage stuff
- Small Umbrella
- Eye Mask: great for the plane, overnight bus rides, and nights when your host sister insists on keeping the bedroom light on till 3:00am
- Ziploc Bags: [Sandwich, Snack, & Freezer size]
- Nalgene Bottle (2)
- Wipes: Huggies, Wet Ones, Clorox Wipes, & Shout Wipes
- Pepper Spray (2): illegal in Morocco but somehow made it through customs unnoticed!
- Perfume: if you regularly wear perfume at home then bring it with you! It will keep you feeling like yourself!
- Exercise Bands & Jump Rope
- Oatmeal, LUNA Bars, Cliff Bars, & Crystal Light Powder [highly recommended]
- Duct Tape
- Tote Bag
Books & Magazines
- Lonely Planet Morocco Travel Guide
- Moroccan Arabic Pocket Phrase Book by Lonely Planet
- Culture Shock Morocco
- Moleskin Book Journal
- Moleskin 2 Year Date Book
- Small Moleskin Address Book
- Small Moleskin Notebook (3): I keep one of these with me at all times to jot down words or phrases I don’t know in Darija, directions, quotes, etc.
School Supplies: You can get just about every type of school supply at the Marjan [Moroccan Costco] except good mechanical pencils, refill lead, and sharpies. I wasted weight and space bringing crayons, pencils, pens, etc. Just bring enough stuff to get you through two months of language classes, after that you will be able to stop at a Marjan or a school supply souq before moving to your permanent site. In addition to the recommendations above, I brought the following things that I also suggest you bring…
- Small Pencil Case
- Index Card Holder
- Index Cards
Toiletries: Mer, where to begin! DO NOT waste space and weight on toiletries! They sell everything you could possibly need in Morocco, and unless you actually plan on having someone send you refills of your favorite shampoo or face wash every couple of months then you have to realize you will eventually run out and turn to a brand found in Morocco. Bring just a small travel bottle of stuff like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, etc. We were given plenty of time [and guidance] after arriving in country to buy anything we may have forgotten or left behind in the U.S. My step-dad tried to convey this to me before I left but I was stubborn. There are many other sentimental things I would rather have packed than an extra bottle of this or that. The following is a list of all the toiletries I brought with me, and I placed a (*) next to everything that is readily available in Morocco [aka only bring a little or none of these with you!].
- Hairbrush, Bobby Pins & *Hair Ties (one pack each): bring your favorite brush and/or comb, the only brushes I’ve seen in Morocco thus far look and feel like a brush you would use on your dog or cat!
- Make-up: I promise there will be days when you will want to put on make-up! Especially when you are going out in the cities, swearing-in, or just want to be reminded you are a girl! Also women in Morocco do wear make-up and often expect you to do the same on special occasions such as weddings, religious ceremonies, and when they introduce you to friends and family.
- *Mouthwash, *Toothpaste, Toothbrush (2), Floss: when it comes to dental & gum care I would say don’t skimp…Moroccan people put TONS of sugar in EVERYTHING! There will be days when you fear for the very existence of your teeth! Good floss is hard to come by, as are soft/extra soft toothbrushes so load up! [Toothpaste is everywhere so I say just bring a small travel size or one regular tube to get you through the staging and pre-training at hub]
- Q-tips: same as my experience in South Africa, there are q-tips in Morocco but they don’t have much cotton on them…they are more like sticks with very little padding! I bought a huge box of q-tips, took them out of the box, and put them in a Ziploc to save space [I will ask family to send these when I run out]
- Burt’s Bees Chapstick (3)
- *Deodorant (4): I may ask my family to send me more someday but I definitely didn’t need to bring four sticks! The sell deodorant at hanut’s, souq’s, and at the Marjan
- *Make-up removing wipes (1), *Face Lotion(1), *Bactine (1), *Baby Lotion [they sell the J&J kind here], *Shampoo (1 Big Bottle), *Conditioner (1 Big Bottle), *Dr. Bronner’s Soap (3) [no there isn’t dr. bronners soap in Morocco but there is good soap and body wash lol], *Razors (6 Pack) [razors are available but expensive]
- *T-Gel (1): they sell the exact brand in the Marjan
- *Baby Wash: I have really sensitive skin so I brought a lot of J&J baby wash, but I it was super heavy and not worth the weight and space taken-up
- * Face wash (3): I clearly didn’t want to leave behind my favorite face wash but they have tons of brands in the Marjan and spa’s in large cities that can recommend a good brand if necessary
- Tampons (x a lot): I wasn’t too keen on the diva cup nor am I too comfortable using pads so I brought literally 5 or 6 boxes of tampons that I took out of the boxes and put into Ziploc bags. Tampons are expensive and only found in big cities but if they make you happy and comfortable then bring them and plan to have more sent!
- Sunscreen (2): there is sunscreen here but its kind of expensive, and there isn’t a huge selection
- Hanging Toiletry Bags (2)
- Large Towels (2)
- Hand Towel (1)
** In addition to saving space in your bags, bringing small travel size bottles are great for refilling and bringing with you when you travel to hub for meetings during training
Meds: The Peace Corps Medical Staff gives you an annoyingly large medical kit with tons of stuff, but a few things you won’t find are Excedrine [I brought a costco size bottle], Day & Nyquil, Melatonin, Midol, Tums, & good/various vitamins [I brought a daily, fish oil pills, Vitamin C, & Calcium]
Clothing: It’s really hard to anticipate what type of weather you will encounter in Morocco as the climate is so vastly different from city to city and region to region. I was not so pleasantly surprised by the cold in the Fes area and I personally wish I had brought a few more cold weather options.
- Eagle Creek Packing Cubes (3)
- Cotton Shorts (2): just for sleeping or walking around your house
- Workout Shorts (1) & Spandex Workout Pants (1): I’ve used the pants running in Fes but I wouldn’t wear them in my site as they attract much unwanted attention. I do use these for working out in my house though.
- Flannel Long Sleeve Shirts (2)
- Light [Swoushy] Track Pants (1)
- Large Sleeping Tee’s (3)
- Scarf (3): You can buy nice scarves in Morocco for really cheap but having a couple on hand has been very nice. I have worn a scarf everyday in my CBT site
- Light Cardigans (3): great for layering and for going out in bigger cities. These have been my go-to/ favorite thing to wear in my site also
- Jackets (2): [1 Soft Shell, 1 Fleece]
- Raincoat (1)
- Sweatshirts (2): I wish I had brought one or two more as I generally spend a lot of time in my sweatshirts and at any given time one is usually dirty or hanging out to dry
- Aladdin Pants (1): My most favorite can’t-live-without-them pants
- Knit Sweater (1)
- Sweatpants (1)
- Long Skirts (2)
- Jeans (2): [ 1 Nice, 1 Grubby] though I wish I would’ve brought a least one more pair…i personally wear them almost everyday in my site and as of now [6 months in, both pairs I brought have large holes on the inner thigh/ crotch area]
- Leggings (3)
- Hat (2): baseball caps
- Socks: I brought maybe four or five pairs of thick comfy socks and a bunch of short ankle socks, you can buy more in any clothing souq or at the Marjan
- Bra (6): ummm well I was warned that nice bra’s are difficult to find in Morocco, especially for larger sizes, so I just stocked up at VS before I left
- Sports Bra (6): I live in these things so I brought a bunch
- Underwear (a lot): I have an unhealthy addiction to Hanky-Panky undies so I brought a lot of them since you can’t get them in Morocco. As long as YOU hand wash these delicately then they should last!
- Gloves (2): try to find one pair that has the fingers cut off so that you can type and still have toasty hands!
- Tank Tops (10): for layering or cute tank tops for Europe
- Short Sleeve Shirts/ Short Sleeve T-shirts (25): you don’t need this many…I just got a little carried away lol I haven’t worn half of these yet
- Long Sleeve Shirts/ Long Sleeve T-shirts (7)
- Cloth Laundry Bag
** I brought a bunch of clothes that aren’t considered culturally appropriate to wear in Morocco but that I plan on wearing in Europe and in other African countries when I travel out-of-country during service. [Also, I would’ve brought way more cute clothes had I known I would be living in a city!…oh and a pea coat!]
- hshuma [shameful] shirts (5)
- Bathing Suit (1): I brought a bikini, again for Greece, BUT I live right outside of Agadir and all the tourists wear bikinis so I intend to wear it there as well
- Dress (3): couldn’t even dream of wearing these in Morocco BUT they will look great in Greece!
- Jean Shorts (1)
** Last thing…everyone says it…bring warm clothes! Morocco is COLD in winter! Bring lots of light-butt covering-cardigans, bring a wine bottle opener, a bottle opener, a pumice stone [seriously, no matter how nice your feet may be right now, they will become disgusting, come prepared!], comfy sweats, thermals, & an external hard drive [and take care of it! I dropped mine the first week I was in country and it broke so bring a hard case for it too]! Don’t bring a blow dryer [higher voltage in the U.S./ you can buy them here along with straighteners], expensive jewelery, or a bunch of heavy books!
Good Luck & Trek Salama!