Saturday, February 13, 2010

What I wish I knew when I packed

This post is dedicated to all the future PC'ers who are getting ready to come to Bulgaria in a few months. And if they were anything like me... trying to find various people's packing lists to see what's up.  This list isn't what I actually brought because honestly, I brought way too much stuff. (I was one of those people who had to pay extra because my baggage was too expensive.) Back in the States I always washed everything after I wore it... in BG, that's not normal. And you'll get over it quick. Promise. These are my thoughts after being here 9(ish) months.

Keep in mind, I'm a COD volunteer without a dress code for my work. I've never had the need to dress up - look nice, yes - but heels and dress, no.

Peace Corps Bulgaria Packing List
- 2 or 3 pair of jeans
- 2 pair of shorts
- 5 or 6 tops
- 3 tank tops
- 2 tshirts
- 2 warm sweaters
- 1 cotton dress
(I brought two pair of dress pants and two button tops. I have NEVER worn them out here. For our swearing ceremony I wore a cotton dress and was sweating profusely. It's hot in the summer.)
- 1 or 2 pair yoga/comfy pants
- 5 pairs underwear (ExOfficio is the BEST! Available at any outdoor store. I live by these, seriously! Made for handwashing.)
- Lots of WOOL socks (I'm a fan of Smartwool athletic and hiking. They're more expensive but worth it.)
- 2 pair long underwear (top and bottoms)
- Rain jacket with hood
- Fleece/Lightweight jacket
- Winter jacket (waterproof/windproof/warm)
- Flip Flops
- Outdoor sandals (Chaco, Keens, etc)
- "Dress" flats (for your dressier shoes - available cheap in BG. I always wore heels in Dallas but I can't walk on the roads here. It's a mystery to me how the women wear tall heels on these crazy roads and sidewalks and don't fall. I also brought 2 pairs of heels that I wore one time and decided it was a terrible idea.)
- Athletic shoes
- Hiking boots (waterproof)
- Snow boots (I wish I had brought some in the States but my hiking boots work okay)
- Gloves (Good quality. Hats/scarves/mittens are available here - cute and cheap.)

Everything else:
- Laptops, external hard drive, flash drive, iPod
- Digital camera
- Swiss army knife w/corkscrew
- Small, durable flashlight (I'm also a personal fan of the headlamp! Handy for when the electricity goes out!)
- Regular size backpack
- Camelbak bladder 
- Sleeping bag
- Quick dry towel (MSR Packtowl Ultralite is my fav availabe at any outdoor store)
- Vegetable peeler
- Cheese slicer
- Water bottle (Nalgene, Sigg, etc)
- Favorite spices (ranch or onion packets, seasoning salt)
- Purse/Bag (I have this Eagle Creek bag and it's super awesome. Good for travel and everyday. You can also find 'fancier' ones locally.)
- MagicJack (A lot of people use Skype but this is a 'landline' phone that you register in the States, get a US phone number and as long as you have an internet connection, you plug it into your USB and go. Also means you need a phone. I think it's awesome and way better than Skype. $20/year.)
- 2 or 3 books (PC has a library with lots of books. Don't use all your luggage weight for books. These can always be shipped to you. Lots of options!)
- Host family gift (local stuff from where you're from. I gave a Texas magnet, picture frame and a couple other trinkets.)

Personal Hygiene
(I'm pretty particular about my makeup (Bare Escentuals) so bring extra because it's not available here. Neither is MAC cosmetics. My favorite eyeliners!)
Most things you can find here and PC supplies you with Lubriderm lotion. I definitely over-packed on "beauty supplies."  I brought a lot of things that are nice to have but I can find here such as nail polish, lotions, etc. They have American brand toothpaste, floss, facial cleanser if you're worried about those things. Bring what you need for a week or two and then go to Kaufland's or Billa or a beauty shop in Vratsa!

 I packed my things in a big suitcase and a hiking backpack. The hiking backpack is pretty essential.

* Keep in mind you can have your parents send you some of the winter stuff if you don't have enough room. Before I left, I made a pile of "stuff I want you to send later" for my parents and this worked out well.
** Insure your things! Clements, Intl isn't too expensive and worth it! Seriously, personal experience on this one.
*** Bring what you want - these are only my opinions. I just know I overpacked and when my parents come in May... well, they'll be going home with a big suitcase full of things I don't need/want.

Any of my other PCV Bulgaria friends have ideas or suggestions?

Wow, that was long. Hope it helps someone. This is also what happens when the weather is gross and you have lots of free time.


Vicki said...

I'll bet it does help some future PCers. Looking forward to the big suitcase transfer...cause it means we will be with our Veevesie in Bulgaria!

Alexa said...

This is so helpful! Im leaving for Bulgaria in may and am currently in the packing process. What kind of suitcase did you take? Wheels, can you carry it? Im stuck on that one.