I have some suggestions about what to bring to
- A lightweight raincoat. I bought the lightest possible weight Marmot jacket before I left for Rwanda and it has been one of the best $40 (or whatever it cost) that I have ever spent. I wore it all the time while hiking through mountains to visit goats in
. I lived in it for the first month I was in Rwanda South Sudan. I even used it in . Works for rain, works for wind. Not too hot to wear in warm temperatures unless the weather goes over 90 F. Then any clothes are too hot. New York
- A good flashlight. You can buy flashlights almost anywhere in
Africa, so I’m not talking about any old flashlight. I’m talking about either a light that will stand on its own (like a maglight) or a headlamp. I scorned the headlamps when I was in , but I have been converted. A colleague lent me hers here in Rwanda and it might well be the only thing that kept me here, knowing that I had reliable light that wouldn’t fall into the latrine because it was firmly attached to my head. Obviously you won’t need this if you live in a place 1. with constant power, 2. with an indoor bathroom, 3. with a low risk of snakes, but I strongly advise it for anyone else. You will 100% certainly look like an idiot, but you will be a hands-free, LED-lit idiot. That’s worth the $100 or so for a good one, no? Sudan
- Snacks enough to last until you find treats that you like in the new place. If you are going for a short while to the middle of nowhere, like this trip, you might want to go as high as one per day. I brought 75 granola bars to
for a 93 day trip. I didn’t eat them all, and I’ve shared quite a few of them, which was always fun. There’s nothing like sitting in a Land Cruiser saying, “Now, who wants a peanut butter granola bar? What about cinnamon?” This doesn’t work very well when one of the parties doesn’t speak English, but unless you happen to prefer snacks like pork rinds that might offend people of certain religions, it’s probably safe to give someone a maple and brown sugar flavored Sudan granola bar. Nature Valley
You can live on three halves of a
If you are going to live in
- A piece of cloth, along the lines of a sarong/kikoi/lapa/kitenge. I have a great one that I bought in
that is a little thicker than a classic sarong. I use it for everything: towel, cover-up on the way to the shower, coat, mosquito-repellant, skirt. It is surprisingly warm when you wrap yourself in it around the shoulders and tuck your hands underneath it. Tanzania
- Travel towel. I have a Towl, and between that and the kikoi, I don’t even need a regular towel. The Towl dries quickly and soaks up a lot of water.
- Shoes: a good pair of sandals, a good pair of dress shoes, and a good pair of walking/hiking shoes. I really don’t suggest combining these. I know people who live in their Tevas or Chacos, but let’s just recall that Tevas and Chacos start to smell like foot with constant wear. Buy some sandals that are a little dressier, that you won’t mind wearing to meetings with important people, important people who will judge you by your shoes. Because they will judge you by your shoes.
Please do not wear flipflops outside the house unless you are a child or you genuinely cannot afford anything else. Flipflops are for the bathroom. They are called shower slippers here.
Most parts of
- This is a corollary of the previous one. Or not a corollary, but related. Please, please, I beg you by whatever begging standard I can possibly beg, do not dress like you are on safari. Even if you ARE on safari, do not dress as if you are. No khaki vests. No floppy khaki hats. No khaki zip-off trousers. In fact, no zip-off trousers at all. Okay, you can bring one pair for hiking, on the occasions when you would wear the same ones in your home country. But if I see you wearing them to a meeting, I will disown you.
Dress up for work and meetings. Dress like you would dress for meetings in your own country, unless you are in a place where, for example, trousers are not okay for women. Wear button-down shirts, or an otherwise nice shirt, and a nice skirt or trousers. Do not assume that
Do, though, bring one nice pair of jeans. No matter how hot it is, you’ll want to feel comfortable sometimes, plus you can wear them to go out at night in the city.
- I don’t know, some clothes and toiletries and stuff. Things for which you have specific brand preferences. Antibacterial ointment can be hard to find.
In case you can’t tell, I have a small issue with the grunge look when people wear it in
Ergh. I’m getting strident again. Must stop. This is not a classroom.