Preparing to leave for the Peace Corps

“I’m so excited”. “I’m a little nervous”. “What the hell was I thinking”. “Is it too late to back out”?

I’m so excited”!!!!

As you prepare to leave for your Peace Corps Service, you’ll likely have a lot feelings that go back and forth. That’s normal.

The only thing you can really do to calm your nerves is to breathe, write out your thoughts, and prepare. We’re here to help you prepare!

The things we’re going to discuss are:

  • The Must Have’s

  • Consider a spectrum of temperatures - pack accordingly

  • Start getting a feel for the road

  • EAT

  • Leave some of your baggage at home

  • Just jump

The Must-Have’s:

Alright, now pay attention. The advice below is as good as gold. Your ‘middle of Peace Corps Service self’ is going to cry of overwhelming happiness because you thought ahead to bring the following items.

External Hard drive

Music, shows, movies, electronic books and video workouts are going to keep you sane (period). There is an irresponsible and potential liability inducing amount of pirated content in the Peace Corps world. While you may be a big book reader, 27 months is a long time. Bring an external hard drive with you and thank us later.

If you don’t have an external hard drive, consider these fine options:


The Peace Corps says you don’t need a computer for your service, but, you do.

Or, maybe we should say, it would make your life incredibly less frustrating than it should be.

The Peace Corps requires you to complete a lot of digital documentation over your service. You can take your chances that someone in your site will have a computer or you can trek all the way to the Peace Corps office when you need to fill out something - but the easiest choice is to just bring one with you.

In the market for a computer for your Peace Corps service? Check these out:


Nothing is better than holding a new, crisp, and intriguing book in your hands. Nothing is worse than having to re-read that same book 9 times because you don’t have anything else.

Buy a Kindle for your Peace Corps service. Stockpile a spectrum of fiction and non-fiction and prepare to put those scholastic reading skills to the test.

Need a Kindle for your Peace Corps trip? We’ve got you covered:


Don’t fry your electronics - and don’t be in the position of having a two pronged plug awkwardly pushing against three round holes. Research your Peace Corps country’s electrical set-up and pack accordingly.

Looking for a good universal adapter or converter in case you travel around? Here you go:

Phone Accessories

Ok. The Peace Corps provides you a phone during your service. This means you are not required to bring your personal phone with you.


A government issued phone for 27 months is about as technically fulfilling as it sounds. If you choose to bring your personal phone, bring some accessories that will get you through.

A journal

It doesn’t have to be a fancy bullet journal or an authentic moleskin. Just a simple journal that will allow you to reflect on this ridiculous experience you find yourself in. One of the most satisfying moments is re-reading the ups and downs of your Peace Corps service.

Here are a couple journal options:

Here is a great YouTube video on how to journal

Consider a spectrum of temperatures - pack accordingly

Africa is hot and Eastern Europe is cold, right? Well, kind of.

The truth is, living in the United States, we get accustomed to controlled temperatures. If it’s hot outside, you turn on the A.C. If it’s cold, you blast the heat.

I’m not saying A.C and heat do not exist in your Peace Corps country of service. But what I am saying is the opportunities you’ll have to experience those luxuries will be few and far between.

Nighttime in African counties can be bitter cold. Walking 10k up a hill in Moldova will make anyone break a sweat.

Do yourself a favor and pack for both conditions, regardless of your country. Below are some easy items that will have a dramatic influence on your comfort.

Water Bottles

Ok, picture yourself on a hot, cramped bus for 5 hours or in a cold cement classroom about to teach English at 6:45 in the morning. Having some cold water or hot coffee is just the thing that will keep you sane and happy. Believe us, a good water bottle will pay for itself 1 month into use. The most popular Peace Corps Volunteer options are below.

Other Special Items

Every volunteer has ‘their thing’. I for one was always jealous of the volunteer that brought a mini-projector because she simply side-stepped so many technical issues that I had to endure during service. Consider what your ‘thing’ will be.

Start getting a feel for the road

Information is power. We all know this. But as you prepare to leave for the Peace Corps, sometimes you don’t know what to focus in on. We suggest connecting with your fellow cohort of volunteers on Facebook first - once you do, consider sharing this article with them :)

From there, follow @peacecorps on Instagram and look for your country specific Peace Corps Instagram page (i.e. @peacecorpsparaguay, @peacecorpsrwanda, etc).

Sticking with Instagram for a moment - if you’d like to see some funny memes and gifs about Peace Corps Volunteer service, follow @jadedcorps and @howapcvputsitgently. These pages are ran by anonymous Peace Corps Volunteers and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and they give an exaggerated but funny perspective on service.

Next, learn about your Peace Corps country of service. Type the name of your country into Google News and see what the current events are. Use hashtags on Instagram to find volunteers in your future country of service and try to start up a conversation with them. Finally, try to find YouTube videos and other visual sources to help you get a better idea of the environment.


Whatever your food-vice might be…indulge it. I kid you not, when you are pushing a year into your Peace Corps Service, you will find yourself laying in bed reminiscing of all the food you left back home.

Our advice - write out a list of your favorite restaurants. Consider atmosphere, food, and craft beers; then, start checking them off the list. If you do it fast enough, you just might have enough time to do it again!

Leave the heavy stuff at home

Peace Corps is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But most volunteers agree that the Peace Corps is a great opportunity to reset and get a firmer grasp of your life. This can be hard to do if you pack your mental luggage with all of the trials and tribulations of back home.

You don’t have to ignore these things, but you also don’t need to carry them with you halfway around the world. Make the most of this opportunity and leave the really heavy stuff at home.

Just jump

You have what you need and you know what you have. Nothing is stopping you from jumping right into this new experience and, more than likely, changing your life.

One thing to remember: If at any time you want to go back home, the Peace Corps will fly you back within 48 hours. They do not joke around when it comes to volunteers that change their minds. So, as you work up the courage to pack your bags, hug your family, and set off on a worldly adventure, remember that you’re never stuck and that the worst thing you can do, is nothing.

Congratulations on making it through this article and preparing yourself for your Peace Corps experience. You can find more information about the Staging Process, The 10 things to bring to Peace Corps, and Guide to care packages in our future articles. 

Remember you can support this website by clicking the "support' button and purchasing all of the items you'll need for the upcoming experience through our Amazon Affiliate link. Anything you buy, we get a small % from Amazon. It really helps us keep the site updated and running. 

Hope to hear from you!

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