The Things They Carried

“If at the customs gate you were to go through all that luggage, you’ d see the things that they carried were as unique as were the aspirantes. There was a clump of fresh ginger in all that stuff, and a kite with a roll of string, and some fresh chili peppers and a shortwave radio the size of a TV. There was a frisbee with a scrape on the edge, and a kayak bailer…[But] not everything they carried showed up on the scales at the check-in counter at Miami, though some of it weighed heavily. They carried the best wishes of family and friends, and all that sundrenched enthusiasm…they brought the fear of failure and the shadow of loneliness…Some of that baggage they carried the whole time they were in Nicaragua, and some of it they even carried back home again.” Randall Wood

Co-author of my excellent Moon Nicaragua travel guide wrote this interpretation of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried in his blog.  If you follow the link on his name above, you’ll see the entire article.

And here it is: the things I will carry with me to DC, to Miami, to Managua, to Granada, to my training town, and finally, to my assigned community.

(Drum roll, please…)


  • Tops:
    • 3 button-down shirts
    • 6 t-shirts
    • 6 tank tops  with thick-ish straps
    • 1 long sleeve shirt
    • 2 cardigans
  • Bottoms:
    • 5 skirts
    • 1 shorts (apparently people hate shorts in Nica.  Good–I do too.)
    • 2 jeans
    • 1 khakis
    • 1 cotton pants
  • 1 nice dress for Swearing In
  • 1 raincoat
  • 1 fleece
  • 2 pajama sets (conservative)
  • 2 workout clothes (3 sports bras, 2 shorts, 2 shirts)
  • 2 bathing suits (1 bikini, 1 one piece)/ goggles/ macacão (thanks Ari)
  • 5 bras/ 4 wks of underwear/3 wks of socks (some will be put away until later on)
  • 1 Red Sox hat (duh)
  • 1 bandanna
  • Fun but inexpensive jewelery
  • 2 sunglasses

I was warned by a RPCV that if you’re going to invest in anything before going to Nicaragua, invest in good shoes.  Well, if you insist:

  • 2 running shoes
  • 1 hiking shoes (half off! see this link for PC discounts)
  • 1 chacos
  • 1 Sperry Topsider
  • 2 nice professional sandals
  • 1 house shoe (apparently no one goes barefoot en casa)
  • 1 shower shoe

Peace Corps gives volunteers all the medicine they will need in a first aid kit.  For list of items, see the Welcome Book.  Most items can be found in country, and volunteers are requested to bring only a 3 month supply. With that in mind, here’s my list:

  • 1 mesh shower bag
  • 1 lightweight bathrobe
  • 3 super absorbent awesome towels
  • 1 laundry bag
  • 1 shampoo/ conditioner
  • 2 bars of soap
  • 2 face wash (I like a certain brand)
  • 1 Stridex (my face WILL be zit free)
  • 2 of my favorite hair product
  • 1 sparkly blue retainer (I got to pick the color myself)
  • 1 toothpaste
  • 2 toothbrushes
  • 2 deodorants
  • 1 razor/ razor blades
  • 1-2 year supply of tampons/ diva cup for backup
  • 1 box q-tips
  • Some hair and make-up supplies too
  • 1 box earplugs
  • 3 month supply of birth control pills
  • 1 plan B


  • 1 water bottle
  • 1 french press
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Spices: cumin, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, etc…

Host Family Gifts

  • Red Sox hats
  • Wild Maine blueberry jam
  • Postcards of Boston
  • Stuff for kids: Boston-themed Silly Bandz, jigsaw puzzle, baseball, and non-Boston themed slinky, harmonica, toy car, stickers

Desk supplies

  • 2 folders
  • 1 notebook
  • Colored pencils/ pencil sharpener
  • Thumb tacks
  • Address book
  • Calendar

Stuff to make me happy

  • 3 books
  • 2 gournals (extra points if you get the reference)
  • Photos
  • My small lightweight Patriots fleece blanket (fo’ free! Thanks Becca)
  • Map of Boston
  • Map of world
  • 2 frisbees
  • 1 sarong thing for decoration or towel/ blanket use


  • Ziplock bags
  • 1 set of sheets/pillow case (I got a full set so it can fit on any bed)
  • 1 pillow (these are rare in Nica)
  • A few hangers
  • Batteries
  • Swiss Army Knife (I got the Climber–thanks Chip, Molly, and Lindsay)
  • Headlamp
  • Backup flashlight
  • Bicycle helmet (apparently these are required AND impossible to find)
  • Duct tape
  • Small mirror
  • Mezuzah (thanks Naa)
  • Lock
  • 1 deck of cards
  • SET: the game
  • Electronics…keeping it to the minimum.  If you must know, e-mail me.

Luggage/ Bags

  • 1 rolling duffle
  • 1 backpacking backpack
  • 1 regular backpack
  • 2 totes (was going to bring one, but then got a FREE Peace Corps tote at an event.  Never hurts to have an extra bag…)
  • 1 purse

The Before Picture:

And voilà! (see Mom, I did learn French in Switzerland)
Everything: combined weight of 68.5 lbs + carry on

This entry was posted in Invitee, Peace Corps. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Things They Carried

  1. Ariel says:

    Great job, Lauren – this looks AMAZING!! You are SO much better at packing than me (note: back of the car). LOVE YOU!


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