According to Peace Crops guidelines, we get “two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height)… with a maximum weight of 50 pounds per bag“. So, basically:
the first leg of what will be lots of travel
We’d been saying for weeks that we’d be fine, it was so much space! Those suitcases are massive! How can people struggle to fit everything they need! Other people must over-pack so much!
Then we actually started packing, and realized that, in fact, sweaters and shoes take up a massive amount of space. So do winter boots and coats. And actually we both needed at least 100 of those 107 allotted inches. Oops. It was supposed to be an hour or two of putting stuff in suitcases and turned into a 7 hour marathon of spreading all of our things across our room, doing laundry, folding clothes, manipulating packing cubes, and making decisions about what really mattered.
stuff strewn across the room because this was harder than we thought it’d be
Personally, I kept getting frustrated with the packing cubes, because I felt like there were nooks and crannies that I could sneak another pair of socks or something into, which the packing cubes made me miss out on. But Chris was the brilliant voice of reason that the great utility of packing cubes isn’t the actual packing/space, but the keeping one organized upon reopening the suitcase. Now that we are living out of these suitcases, he was 100% correct. Get some packing cubes. Worth it.
killin’ it with the packing cubes
Peace Corps Ukraine Packing List
Jessica: So I am known for over-packing. It’s usually an issue. But I’m also a super Type-A compulsive researcher and Excel-lover, so 4 months before we were set to leave I spent a Saturday morning combing through the internet and every PC Ukraine blog that I could find and assembled a cross-referenced, fully detailed, color-coded, Excel packing list with the exact items I owned and which I needed to buy then updated it as time progressed. Necessary? No. Did it keep me from adding an extra dress or two? Also no. But it made me feel prepared, so worth it! (This was also the reason Chris did not write a packing list; I was going to obsess enough for both of us.)
I’ll update this list when we arrive, because most likely I over-packed and missed some things that I’ll be wishing I spent the precious space on, but this is what I’m taking: Jess’ Peace Corps Ukraine Packing List (PDF)
In addition to the items like those on that list, Chris also has a good kitchen knife, a honing rod, and a measuring cup with metric and standard markings.
TEFL Peace Corps Packing List
Barring the 2 coats, 2 pairs of boots, and blanket, all of that went into one 28-inch rolling suitcase. But, I’m a TEFL volunteer and a teacher by trade, so I really wanted to bring teaching supplies and have been on the lookout for months for good tools. This is what I brought, and it, plus the 2 coats, 2 pairs of boots, and a fleece blanket, fit in a 23-inch rolling suitcase:
teaching supplies for TEFL
1 binder with dividers (for pre-service training)
Realia (menus for teaching food and ordering etiquette and 1 gallon Zip-Loc bag full of laminated scenes from American magazines)
1 flat clipboard
Expo Markers (and 15 laminated white sheets of paper)
15 EIU pens to give as prizes
50 States early reader book
150 “Hello My Name is …” stickers (for English clubs)
4 inflatable dice
10 regular dice
1 deck of alphabet flashcards with animals
1 deck of English shapes and colors cards
1 USA Map
1 inflatable globe
Binder & paper clips
1 stapler & staples & staple remover
1 small calendar from Obvious State
1 Hate Has No Home Here sticker
3 packs of index cards and a case for them (for pre-service training, not teaching)
The Dollar Store and the “dollar” section at Target were incredible for acquiring stuff on the cheap. But, most of this teaching stuff I expect to mostly stay packed away until we get to the placement site and I’m at the school in which I’ll be working.
And some of the things on this list definitely seem frivolous (small calendar, blanket, two paperbacks) but one of the things I kept reading on other PCV blogs was that almost no one regretted bringing some things that made them smile or made a host-family’s room seem more like a home.