Sunday, January 20, 2008

What To Pack and How To Pack It



IN GENERAL: PNG is very casual. You will need mostly work clothes. Your other activities are still very casual. You may want something a little nicer for Sunday service in the village and for “R&R” activities, but still casual.

Be prepared for hot & humid, and perhaps rain. April is the last of the wet season, beginning of the dry, so we‘ll probably get both.. Temperatures will range from 25-30 degrees Celsius (get used to Celsius and other metric measures!) during the Habitat building and recreation time. To change Celsius to Fahrenheit just multiply the Celsius temperature times 2 (precisely it is 1.8) and add 32. To change Fahrenheit to Celsius just subtract 32 from the Fahrenheit temperature and divide by one half (precisely it is .56).

HOW MUCH CAN I TAKE? Let’s start with that question because the rest of this will make a lot more sense, such as when we’re suggesting “wear your heaviest shoes on the airplane”. The flight from Port Moresby to Wewak is the limiting factor. You can check in 16kgs (35#) and carry on 5kgs (11#). And if you think that you might want to bring back a souvenir or two (PNG is famous for their wooden carved masks!), you might want to go even lighter than that. If you are planning on traveling elsewhere after the team is done, you MIGHT be able to leave an extra bag with things you don’t need in PNG at a hotel where you’re overnight, such as in Singapore, or maybe even one in POM, but you would have to check into that, and you would have to do so at your own risk.


KEEP IT APPROPRIATE!: Women cannot wear shorts unless they cover the knees (like Capri pants) nor can they have bare or slightly covered shoulders (like tank tops). Men can wear shorts, but consider the longer shorts as more appropriate (but don’t need to cover knees). Men can wear tank tops, but it is not recommended because of the sun. You may, men as well as women, find it easier to wear a “laplap” to the shower building instead of all of your clothes. This is a “wrap around”, like a sarong, or lavalava. I don’t know that there will be an opportunity to buy one of them before getting to the village, so you may want to look around for something, or just make one out of lightweight fabric.

KEEP IT LIGHT! You will find jeans and t-shirts to be very hot and uncomfortable. Try to wear lightweight pants/shorts and short-sleeved cotton shirts and blouses for work during the day. If you don’t have any, consider “scrubs”, those lightweight cotton pants worn by your dental hygienists, nurses, doctors. They are looser than you may usually like, but that helps keep you cool. They usually have an elastic waist, which you may find more comfortable also. You can buy them at uniform stores, but they are also often available at Salvation Army or Goodwill or Value Village. If possible, get them with pockets. If you want to spend more money there is lightweight clothing available in travel stores and magazines.

KEEP IT SAFE! We will be in a malarial area (have you talked to your doc about meds and other immunizations yet?). This is caused by mosquitoes that bite during dusk, dawn, and dark. Therefore you are going to want to wear long sleeved pants and long-sleeved shirts, as lightweight and loose as possible, but “secure” around your wrists and ankles (elastic or buttons - rubber bands work too). If you are wearing sandals, wear a lightweight sock with them. There is currently no outbreak of dengue fever in our area, which is caused by a mosquito that bites during the day, so we won’t need to worry about that.. As well as protecting against mosquitoes, wear what is necessary to protect yourself from the sun: hat, bandana, etc.

FEWER IS BETTER! You only need 2-3 changes of work clothes for the whole time you are in the village. The “women’s group” (a group of trained women that we pay to do the food prep & cooking) will be doing laundry, and if that isn’t often enough, you can rinse out your own shirt/pants at night. That’s the other reason to keep things lightweight - they dry faster in humid climates. It’s another reason to not bring your best - you can pretty much count on your clothes getting sweat stains, and the laundering methods won’t be the most careful. Don’t count on laundry opportunities while you are traveling or during “R&R” - wash out at night, or bring enough to change - or just don’t change!

*Sturdy closed-toe shoes (tennis shoes are OK)
*Shorts, pants as described above
*Blouses, shirts as described above
*Work gloves - if they are light enough, you can wash at night if you need to
*Hat or bandanna - sunburn is a reality and a danger. Some people prefer a broad-rimmed hat, such as a straw hat, to protect the neck.
*Water bottle
*Day pack/small bag - It will be very helpful if you have a small, simple day pack or bag to put your valuables - camera, documents, etc. - when you are at the worksite. At this point we cannot guarantee security for these items if they are left in the community building. We won’t know until we get there, so just count on keeping these items with you at all times. You may want to wear a passport carrier around your waist or neck for documents, cash, etc, but put them in a zip-lock bag to keep them from soaking up your sweat!

OTHER CLOTHING YOU WILL NEED when not at the worksite:
*Comfortable/casual walking shoes (tennis shoes) for travel & R&R - tennis shoes or sandals
*Shower shoes - something to wear to and in the wash house - flip flops are OK, but you can also wear your sandals if they are waterproof and that would cut down on an extra shoe to pack.
*Pants/shorts as described above
*Shirts/blouses as described above
*Skirt/dress - women may want to bring something different for Sundays or R&R (but remember, not for evening because of exposed legs and arms)
*Socks - lightweight - enough to wear between washings
*Something very lightweight to sleep in - we are suppose to have mosquito nets available for our beds
*Bathing suit
*Poncho or lightweight rain jacket - it will probably make you hot to wear and you may choose to just be wet; but you may really want it on the speed boat rides if it's raining!
*Umbrella - small, collapsible

*Flexibility, patience, and a sense of humor
*Passport with PNG visa
*Spending money - for whatever you need for traveling. It is recommended to have $100 cash while in PNG for souvenirs, gifts, etc. You can change to PNG kina at the Port Moresby airport, and perhaps even in Singapore
*Insect repellent - DEET level of 30 or higher is suggested
*Sunscreen or lotion
*More patience
*TP Kit (zip-lock bag with hand sanitizer & toilet paper for a couple of trips to the latrine)
*1-2 rolls of TP of your own - to refill your TP kit
*Alarm clock
*Throw in an extra dose of “sense of humor”
*Lightweight, small towel (something that dries quickly in humidity) - travel/outdoor stores have them, or use a small, thin worn-out from home
*An extra dose of “flexibility”
*Extra zip-lock bags - to put your own trash to carry out
*Laundry bag (mesh, or old pillowcase, or your first dirty shirt)
*Bed linens - mattresses on the floor are provided, so you’ll need a sheet or sleep sack
*More and more patience
*Prescription medication, contact lens supplies (could be very dusty) and any other personal needs, including feminine hygiene supplies
*Flashlight, extra batteries - there are kerosene lanterns in the buildings, but otherwise it’s dark!
*LED headlamp - a lot handier than a flashlight when using the latrine at night! These lamps come on a strap for around your head, or there is the kind that snaps onto the bill of a baseball cap
*Waterless antibacterial wash when water is not available (towlettes not recommended because of disposal problem)
*Personal first aid supplies for cuts, blisters, diarrhea ( we will also have a Team First Aid kit, but it helps for you to have your own available in your pocket at the worksite)
*Electrical adapters and converters, depending on what you are bringing (see note at bottom for more info)
*What the heck - a little more won’t hurt - add even more flexibility, patience, sense of humor
*Snack foods - it may happen that you don’t care for all the local foods, and find yourself hungry. There are no stores to buy anything. It wouldn’t be acceptable to bring your own food to a meal prepared by our hosts, but you could have something back at your own room. You have to keep in mind bugs and heat and humidity and weight. You will need to keep anything stored in zip-lock bags, and take care of any trash/packaging by packing it back out with you. Suggestions: nuts, seeds, protein or granola bars that aren’t gooey, crackers.

Tools you could bring if you have them: (keep in mind weight and that they have to be in checked baggage).
Tools left with the village will be greatly appreciated, but you can bring along your own to take back with you as well
*Hand saws - for wood
*Tape measures - metric
*Wood chisels
*Wood planers
*Ratchet drills and bits 16-20 mm
*Tri squares

OPTIONAL (consider value, weight, and security):
*Back support - the work is all manual
*Extra prescription glasses
*Laplap (sarong, lavalava) to wear to the shower
*Journal, paper, pencil or pen
*Bible/meditation material
*Games, cards to use at night with just team members (some may not be appropriate to be used with community members)
*Games to play with children - frisbee, jump rope, finger puppets (do not give these to children - even simple gifts are not allowed. They can use them with you, but must give them back when you are done playing with the kids each time)
*Laundry powder- in case you want to wash something out at night
*A few photos of family and home to share with team and host (remember, pictures of who we are, not what we have - like boats, houses, cars, etc)
*Camera, batteries, extra memory
*Small musical instrument - recorder, harmonica
*Ear plugs

*Illegal drugs (you might want to try the chewing local beetle nut instead….not)
*Firearms, firecrackers
*Bad sense of humor
*Short tempers

You are allowed only 16 kilos for checked baggage (35 pounds) and 5 kilos for hand carry (11 pounds). If you are not used to those kinds of limits, make sure you pack and weigh in advance so you know what to leave behind. Your weight limit is more than that for getting through the US and on to Port Moresby, but it becomes limited on the flight from POM to Wewak.

For those of you doing personal traveling after PNG: if you are staying overnight somewhere on the way in to PNG (such as Singapore) and you are also going to go back through that same city, you may be able to leave a bag behind that you don’t need in PNG but want for the rest of your trip. Check with the hotel where you have your reservations. Don’t count on airport storage. You’ll have to make your own decisions as to whether you think it is secure enough. You’ll also have to check the baggage limits for where you are going.

Consider using luggage that is lightweight and “soft”, perhaps without wheels because it will weigh less, giving you more allowance for clothing, and it crams more easily in trucks, small overhead compartments, and other transportation we may encounter.

Your carry-on should have a little of everything, to get you through several days of not having your luggage catch up with you. (the last time I was in PNG, mine didn’t catch up with me the whole week I was there - I picked it up at the airport on my way back out!!)

Wear as much weight as you can on the airplane to keep your bags lighter - wear your heaviest shoes, and possibly several layers of clothes.

Make sure you can padlock your bag to help insure against theft enroute. Do not put items in unlocked outside pockets. (a simple duffle, with no outside pockets works best). Use a combination padlock instead of a key. If you have the special locks that only TSA can open, remember that may not work overseas…you will need to be able to open the locks yourself in other airports for inspection.

Pack leaky items (shampoo, lotions) in zip lock bags - and tighten the cap right before you put them in. Pack most of that in your checked baggage. Read up on the current allowances for liquids in your carry-on.

Be sure your bag(s) are well labeled with your name.

If you need a pillow to sleep, consider just putting your clean clothing in a pillow case or clean shirt and using that.

Simplify your toiletries - if shampoo will work as your body soap, and even laundering your clothes, that will cut down on number of bottles.

Dr Bonner’s soap - you can wash EVERYTHING, including your teeth, body, hair, laundry, dishes…whatever! It’s biodegradable, “green”, plus the bottle is fun to read! Get it in “trial size” and there will be enough for you and a friend. One team member recommends “mint” as it leaves behind a nice tingle, and is best flavor for tooth-brushing. REI (outdoor equipment store) and natural food stores carry it

Roll-up style space bags are great for compacting clothing items….no vacuum necessary!

Hair dryers and other electrical accessories won’t work in the village because there’s no electricity! If you can share with others while on R&R, that will help cut down on your weight. Those of us traveling on our own afterwards will probably carry a hair dryer, so the rest of you don’t have to (us girls can chat about that on our own).

NOTE: Electrical adapters and converters - PNG uses the “I” style plug/socket (that’s “I” as in Indian). It’s the same one used in Australia and New Zealand. Singapore uses the “G” style. The “I” plug has a grounding pin and two flat prongs forming a V-shape. The “G” style has three rectangular prongs that form a triangle. For more information you can go on the web to You can also find information at that site about other countries as well.
A converter is not the same thing as an adapter. The adapter just makes it so that your plug can fit in to their socket. Your appliance, such as a hair dryer, must also be able to change voltage from 120 to 240. If your appliance doesn’t have that kind of switch, then you need a converter as well. You are only going to be able to use electrical appliances while traveling and on R&R, and if you are traveling elsewhere after the team trip, so decide if you want to even bother. Converters and adapters can be purchased at a travel store or online ( Target carries them. I have been told that Lowe’s does as well. Check department stores that carry luggage. Maybe Radio Shack?

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