What does one pack when they get ready to go to Cameroon, Africa for four months? That is actually a really good question and one that I tried to figure out in the days leading up to my departure. In the end, I was packed a ready to go with hopefully everything I needed.
Going into the trip I found out I had THREE CHECKED BAGS, plus my carry-on bags. Honestly, this seemed a little excessive to me, but it allowed me the flexibility to bring things I otherwise wouldn’t be able to bring.
Bag #1: Backpack I got a new Kavu backpack from REI that I’m absolutely in love with! It’s the perfect size to carry around on day trips and has pockets in the front for my chargers, phone, or wallet! I’m going to be storing my passport, a book (or three!), my phone, portable charger, and other cords in this bag. Its cross-body style is perfect and the bag can be swung around to the front for easy access while working my way through the airports.
Bag #2: Duffel Bag This bag will be the other bag that I will be carrying onto the plane with me. My laptop will go in this bag because it cannot fit into my new Kavu bag. I’ll also bring a sweatshirt and a change of clothes just in case something happens to my luggage– you can never be too safe. In addition to clothes, I will have travel-sized toiletries in my bag. The small Patagonia duffel will also be the perfect size for overnight trips while we are visiting other fields in Cameroon.
Bag #3: Suitcase No. 1 The family, the Conrods, that I will be living with in Cameroon, asked if I would be willing to bring some stuff over to them from the U.S.A. Of course, I said that would be no problem whatsoever. Soon after I gave my confirmation, the Amazon packages began to arrive. They have me bringing them everything from chocolate chips to Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing packets to a new set of full-sized sheets. It really puts in perspective the accessibility of some products outside of the United States. I honestly rely way to heavily on Amazon two-day shipping to fulfill my needs!
Bag #4: Suitcase No. 2 The second suitcase I am checking is also not for myself. This one will stay in Yaoundé, Cameroon with the Conrods kids. This one was a little more exciting to pack considering it included a seventeen-pound sewing machine. It took up the majority of the mid-sized suitcase I chose to put their stuff in, but luckily the other items were relatively small and fit in around it. I’m just happy that I won’t need to take this suitcase all the way to the village with me.
Bag #5: Suitcase No. 3 This is the biggest suitcase that I’m bringing and the one that holds all of my clothes and toiletries for the next four months (that fact is actually kind of terrifying!). I tried to pack enough toiletries that I will not need to replenish while I’m away. I was told that while I can get more shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc while I’m there, it will mostly be cheap quality and more expensive than it should be.
For clothes, I brought a mix of long sleeve and short sleeve shirts of pretty basic colors so I can mix and match. I brought a variety of long pants that are pretty light-weight and breathable. The most important thing about clothing is ensuring there is mosquito protection. I also have a couple of skirts for if we go to church or somewhere else where more formal attire is culturally appropriate. The rest of my clothing is made up of workday clothes that can get dirty, workout clothes, and a pair or two of pajamas. Luckily, I will have access to a washer and dryer, making for easy laundry days.
For shoes, I limited myself to a mere five pairs. I’m bringing my brand new Glacier National Park Chacos!! They were somewhat of an impulse buy, but I had been eyeing them on the Chacos website for way too long to not just give in. I also got a pair of sandals from REI that have slightly thicker bottoms so they offer more support and are more durable. Then, I brought an old pair of Nike sneakers, flipflops, a nicer pair of black Vans, and my Birkenstocks because I couldn’t bear to part with them!
Surprisingly, I had some extra room in my main suitcase, so I was able to throw in some extra books– I decided on bringing six. One for each month of being on the field, plus two dedicated to the plane rides! I also fit my yoga mat into the bag!
All the traveling I had done definitely paid off as I was able to pack effectively and efficiently for this new adventure!