Packing Tips by Nava

Prior to leaving, one of the hottest topics of conversation was what to pack, what to buy, where do buy it etc. so I figure I’d share what made it into my bag and what got cut. I planned to continue on with travels after our time in Ghana so I packed light in a 40L REI backpack and found I was able to squeeze in everything I needed no problem. This did require doing laundry in the sink a few times but I had no problem drying clothing overnight on a line.

My clothing list included:

  • Bottoms (3 pants, 3 skirts, 1 shorts): 1 pair of linen pants, 1 pair of very light Northface pants, 1 pair of leggings (for travel days), 1 maxi skirt, 1 mid-calf Northface skirt, 1 nicer skirt (for church), and one pair of running shorts (for hiking and waterfalls)
  • Tops (6): 4 cotton target t’s, 2 Hanes cotton t’s (to be ruined and left behind
  • Shoes: One pair of runners and one pair of Teva flip-flops
  • Underwear: 5 pairs and 5 sports bras (much easier to wash and clean that regular bras)
  • 1 Rain jacket
  • 1 Bathing suit

Other things I brought along included:

  • Travel size bathroom stuff (deodorant, toothbrush/paste, REI travel shampoo/conditioner)
  • REI Travel detergent
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mini medical kit and prescriptions – ibuprofen, antimalarial, anti-diarreals, band aids, neosporine, tums…
  • Sunscreen
  • Copies of insurance/passport/credit cards/tickets/immunization records
  • Passport/yellow fever card
  • Cash to convert at the airport – they had a good rate and if you’re heading to Volta, this is possibly your only opportunity to convert cash)
  • Electrical converter – we only encountered the two round prong kind (I’ve heard this referred to as British but not sure)
  • Travel towel
  • Baby wipes
  • Deet bug spray
  • Day bag
  • Journal & pens – I like small Field Notes, for portability and convenience
  • Kindle & charger
  • Phone & charger
  • Camera, charger, extra storage card
  • Cocoon Sack
  • Water bottle
  • Toilet paper/tissues

And food! I brought 16 bars and two bags of trail mix, chocolate and dried fruit.

All done it looked kinda like this:

2014-05-14 18.05.36

Tips and things I would change if I were doing it again:

  • Pants vs. Skirts: I’m really not a skirt person but found myself wearing skirts a lot because of the airflow they allow. The majority of our trip members shared a uniform of target t-shirts and old navy skirts which seemed to work really well and are very cheap. We also often unintentionally matched which was pretty funny.
  • Never needed any special shoes. Many people chose to bring older running shoes and leave them behind after our hike.
  • Bug spray: The wipes are awesome because they don’t count against your liquid amount and are easy to apply. If you’re going the liquid route, a normal size, normal deet content (like 35%) would have been fine for the bugs we encountered. I would recommend testing it before you go as Macy had a minor allergic reaction to using my bug spray! A few people went for the permethrin (spray for your clothing/sleep sack) but it turned out to not be necessary, at least for the time of year we were there.
  • Baby wipes and tissues came in handy often as you never know what/when/where your next bathroom will be and the wipes were helpful for wiping down your face or hands from the dirt. Hand sanny was nice as well but doesn’t do as much to help with the dirt.
  • Food: I really don’t love bars and luckily in the heat, we all just found that we were not that hungry until the sun went down. That said, there were often times during the day when I could just feel my energy crashing and then the dried fruit and trail mix was my go-to. If you’re going the bar route, I suggest mixing up the brands you’re bringing so that you don’t get burnt out on any one brand.
  • If you are a MasterCard user, we found that many ATMs were not accepting of MasterCard so be prepared with an alternative method or bring cash. Also maybe this will be different in a year?
  • If you’re going to Ghana through VCU OT’s program, ask people who went last year if you can borrow things such as sleep sacs, skirts, sink detergent etc. If you go the target/old navy route, you can really spent very little on what you’re packing.
  • Things I wish I’d brought: AFTER BITE! Only Rick had the foresight to pack this and oh man, did it come in handy. Also more dried fruit. And one old navy skirt
  • Things I wish I’d left at home: 1 pair of pants (traded for the skirt), 2 of the 4 little hand sanitizer (took up too much liquid room and didn’t use ’em)



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