Peace Corps Zambia: Packing List Updated 2023

Hello! If you are new here, I began my Peace Corps service with the Rural Aquaculture Promotion project in 2018 and was evacuated due to COVID-19 in 2020. My partner, Adam, and I were lucky enough to reinstate back to our community in 2022. So we went through the packing process all over again and knew more of what we should bring. I decided to write an updated list on what I brought this time!

(Original packing list in 2018)

I once again brought everything in my trust 70-L Osprey backpack–which has been with me for over a decade–a duffle bag, and day backpack. Most of the weight came from skincare and food items that I’ll consume during service. I intend to leave with just my traveling backpack.

Adam, Ilini (it means egg in Bemba), and I hanging out at home


  • Rain jacket – absolutely essential
  • Down jacket- It actually. does get cold in June/July. You won’t regret bringing warm clothes.
  • 1 skirt (I prefer to just easily wear chitenge around the village)
  • A few shirts and tank tops
  • 1 pair of hiking zip-off pants – Pretty much use for biking and going to the fish ponds
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of business casual pants for trainings, around the PC office
  • Pajama pants
  • Black leggings 
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 flannel
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 simple dress
  • Quick drying underwear 
  • A few pairs of socks
  • 2 sports bras
  • Hat – wide-brimmed and cap. Very important for the hot sun!
  • Chacos – Wear these A LOT
  • Running shoes
  • Flip flops
  • Sunglasses
Ok clothes pics are boring so here’s more of our cat


  • MacBook Air – I’m glad I have it for reporting, grant work, video editing, watching movies, etc. I have a solar setup so I can charge my computer at site, but we do not have internet
  • Smartphone – Obviously! I’d get one that is durable with. a good case, is unlocked, and is compatible internationally (GSM). Bonus if dual SIM! You might want to consider bringing a backup because loss, theft, and drops happen. The only decent smartphone available here is Samsung. You do need a smartphone to be able to communicate with the Peace Corps medical officers and other official communication.
  • SSD Hard Drive. It’s worth investing in an SSD that is less prone to physical damage. Volunteers often share movies, workout videos, books, manuals, music, etc. as well
  • Kindle Paperwhite 
  • Universal adapter – I used to buy a plug adapter in every country, but now I just travel with this one thing. Zambia uses the same two-prong plugs as the UK
  • Battery pack and extra charging cords
  • Bluetooth headphones – I wish I brought extra! I LOVE these.
  • Bluetooth speakers

*Peace Corps Zambia has been issuing Samsung Tablets to volunteers in lieu of printing manuals. I had too many devices and decided to sell my Kindle, especially since I have been primarily listening to audiobooks!


  • Diva cup – I switched over to menstrual cups over 10 years ago and never looked back. Every menstruating person should try it out.
  • My favorite skincare products to last a year. I ran out of moisturizer a year into the first service and it was painful for me who loves skincare! It is difficult to find a simple fragrance-free face moisturizer affordably in Zambia. People actually ask me a lot about my skincare routine. I keep it simple while in Zambia. CeraVe foaming cleanser, moisturizing cream, Aquaphor, rose water toner, tretinoin (can get over the counter in Zambia), and obsessive sunscreen. I also brought some bentonite clay and sheet masks for feeling fancy!
  • BRING SOFT TOOTHBRUSHES if you use those! I can only find medium here.


  • Klean Kanteen – My all-time favorite water bottle.
  • Stainless steel food containers – I prefer to eat from these instead of plastic. I will stuff things inside so they don’t take up much space.
  • 12-in-1 Multi-tool
  • Sleeping bag – *Useful when traveling and visiting sites but you can always borrow from the prov house
  • Rechargeable headlamp *Highly recommend
  • Passport photos
  • Photos of friends and family
  • Bicycle panniers I bike a lot so I DEFINITELY recommend it. I carry all of my groceries and everything I need on my bike
  • Mini sewing kit – *you can buy in country
  • Embroidery kit – I took this up as a new hobby and completed. a few projects, but quickly fell off 😅
  • Wire combination locks – I use them to lock my box at the provincial house
  • USD – Cash can always come in handy when it comes to visas and border crossing
  • Blank checks – Old school, but I know I’m going to have to renew my passport before 2020 and that will require a check to the U.S. Embassy


This is extra, but cooking andfood ingredients make me happy, so I prioritized room in my luggage for these. Bring what you really like! You can always contact me if you have questions about whether certain foods are available in Zambia or not. Family can send packages, but it’s quite expensive. I consider cooking a major hobby of mine during service.

  • Chia and flax seeds (you can buy in Lusaka though)
  • Seeds for gardening
  • Korean ingredients: gochujang, gochukaru (powder for making kimchi), doenjang (fermented soybean paste), seaweed sheets, dried seaweed for soup. The amount I brought lasted all year. There is now a Korean restaurant and grocery store in Lusaka where you can find all of these ingredients, though a bit expensive.

Another post on cooking in the village

Other ideas on common foods PCVs like to pack:

Loose leaf tea

Mac n cheese powder

Nutritional yeast

Protein power


Your favorite specialty spices and hot sauces

Special supplements. I personally take Omega 3’s and Vitamin D. I like to get a lot of health products and foods from iHerb. Great prices, super fast and free shipping over $20, and often there are discounts. I have discount codes through my link. I’ve been ordering from iHerb since 2012 and I love it!

Making kimchi!

My top tips for packing for the Peace Corps in Zambia:

  • Don’t overthink it.
  • Pack light.
  • Bring what really makes you happy
  • Be okay with the fact that you may lose something. In other words, don’t bring super sentimental items that are invaluable. If an evacuation were to happen, be okay with having to leave that item there.

Everyone’s packing list for the Peace Corps will be different depending on your personal preferences, your job (education volunteers need more professional clothes than agriculture like me), country, etc.

Hope this was helpful! If you have any recommendations based on your experience, please let me know in the comments! Feel free to read some other posts I wrote about Peace Corps in Zambia.

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