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Packing Personal Items

The personal items listed below depend on the anticipated living conditions and recreational possibilities in the country where the mission site is located. Being prudent in terms of the number of personal items that are packed is important because everyone has a tendency to over pack. A piece of advice; pack two bags and then leave one at home.

  • Clothing, toiletries, other personal items, and recreational items
  • toiletries including soap, shampoo, shaving cream, razors, a small mirror, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, feminine-hygiene items, sewing kit,
    emergency toilet paper
  • towels, bed linens, and mosquito net (check ahead as many sites might provide these items)
  • sunglasses, including an extra pair
  • prescription eyeglasses, including an extra pair (in dusty areas, wearing contact lenses may be uncomfortable - bring a copy of the prescription)
  • camera (be sure to bring plenty of film or large-capacity memory cards and extra batteries for the newer automatic cameras)
  • appropriate clothes for the climate and culture (check information about local customs, as they are quite variable. Local traditions often date back to colonial times. For example, more formal attire might be appropriate for presentations in former British Commonwealth countries than in some Latin or Asian countries.)
  • scrubs (these are the most comfortable clothes to work in. Be careful not to work in shorts as some small creatures could find their way into some uncomfortable spots)
  • music (this could include a larger AM/FM/cassette/CD radio for general use as well as personal tape or CD players). Having background music is nice when treating patients (include copies of favorite tapes or CDs). Radios, tapes, and CDs may be left as gifts at the end of the project.
  • personal flashlight and batteries (a pocket flashlight or penlight should be carried at all times as it will come in handy when examining a person in the village square who has a dental problem or definitely at night when the lights suddenly go out. This item should be kept apart from flashlights used for dental treatment)
  • sunscreen (do not underestimate the power of the sun, especially at tropical latitudes and in the mountains)
  • swimming gear, especially a mask and snorkel if there is a beach nearby (beware of swimming in any fresh water, a stream, or lake)
  • dictionary and phrase book (most people are appreciative of attempts to speak their language)
  • things for relaxation, such as books, playing cards, Wiffle ball set, music, I-Pod, etc
  • balloons and trinkets for young patients
  • personal medications, particularly prescription drugs in sufficient quantities (do not assume that these medications will be available in-country)
  • two to six extra passport photos
  • basic first aid kit
  • mosquito nets and mosquito repellent (with DEET)
  • water-purification tablets–halazone or tincture of iodine
  • altitude sickness medicine and/or motion sickness pills
  • flip-flops to wear in the shower
  • electric adapter plugs
  • earplugs (dogs, chickens, burros, and other creatures can be very noisy at night)