Below is the GO-TO packing list. As there is no one way to travel or to live, there is no one way to pack. We all may have different styles of packing. You yourself know what will make you happiest. Each participant will get a phone call from one of the instructors over the next few weeks where you can ask any questions you have about the trip or packing. If you have questions about this list, please post a message to the Yak board or email Kelsey at [email protected]. There is another general list for Cambodia trips that was mailed to you. It is very similar, but if there are discrepancies, USE THIS ONE.
THINK LIGHT! You will have to put whatever you bring onto buses and into the backs of trucks, often on local transportation with limited space for luggage. You also may have to carry your bag for long distances, so please keep this in mind. The lighter you pack, the happier you (and the rest of the group) will be! Pack your bag and then walk around the block three times. Anything you can live without? Students who arrive at the airport drastically over packed will be asked to send extra items home at their own expense. We recommend that you bring what’s listed here and not much more. It is very freeing to travel without so much stuff. Keep it simple! It is very important that you can fit all of your belongings, including shoes, inside one backpack (and a day pack) that you are comfortable carrying on your own! Note: you will not have to fit your day pack into your backpack. When we are carrying all of our things, your backpack will be on your back, and your day pack on your front. Additionally, you will be asked to help carry group gear with your free hands. We will become adept at hauling our world!
EQUIPMENT: The most important thing is that you should be comfortable with your gear. Be sure you know how to pack and adjust your backpack, and that you can carry it comfortably when it is full. Comfort is key!
- A BACKPACK around 50 or 60 liters. If you bring a bigger one, you’re likely to over pack. If your stuff doesn’t fit into this size pack, you are packing too much!
- A BACKPACK COVER. A waterproof slip to fit over your backpack is important as the group will be traveling during a rain and mud season. HEFTY trash bags (to line both the inside and outside of your bag) can also work equally well.
- Small (~20 liters) DAY PACK to carry your water bottle, camera, wallet, journal/notebook, sunscreen, rain jacket, etc. (i.e. anything you will need for day trips).
- Security WALLET or MONEY BELT. Instructors will collect and carry student passports, but you’ll want to keep your other valuables in a secure wallet. This is not required, so do what makes you most comfortable. This is where you should have your student ID, emergency info card, cash, atm card, and photocopy of your passport. This should be comfortable, incognito, and accessible enough to use on a daily basis. Eagle Creek and Hopsooken make good products. You are responsible for developing a system for not losing your stuff!
- TWO REUSEABLE WATER BOTTLES (like a Nalgene). Some students recommend one regular water bottle and one pouch style water bottle that rolls up.
- Small, lightweight HEADLAMP and extra batteries. Headlamps with a red light option (instead of just white) help reduce bugs at night. Also, there are rechargeable versions available that eliminate the need for extra batteries!
- Waterproof WATCH with an alarm. Practice setting the alarm before the trip to become familiar with your gear.
- Small ALBUM of pictures of family and friends (culturally appropriate) including pictures of your house and school. Pictures are great for starting conversations, using in English lessons, or just to ward off homesickness. Consider bringing extra copies to give away as gifts to homestays. Modest pictures are more appropriate than those showing a lot of skin.
- A diary or JOURNAL and pens. These will be used often.
- STUDENT ID card. There are sites that will give us discounted entrance tickets with a valid student ID. If you don’t currently have a student ID, then bring a picture ID as this often works. The money that we save during course will largely be added to your student expedition budget, which allows you to go bigger!
- PASSPORT COPIES. It’s a good idea to scan the main page (with your photo) of your passport and print three hard copies: two to carry with you and one to leave at home. Email yourself and your parents a copy of the scans so that you can access them online if necessary.
- One PASSPORT SIZE PHOTO for the Cambodia visa on arrival.
- CASH AND ATM DEBIT/CREDIT CARDS. For payment of your visa on arrival, you will need approximately $40 USD in cash; an extra $100 USD in cash for incidentals is a good amount to have on hand. USD is used widely throughout Cambodia. You’ll be able to go to the ATM to withdraw more cash if needed during the program. Visa and Mastercard are widely used, and we will have relatively regular access to ATMs. Having an emergency credit card is also handy in case you need to go to a clinic or hospital.
- Note: You may be charged withdrawal fees; please check with your bank in advance and be sure to set a TRAVEL NOTICE BEFORE you depart if you plan to use your card to withdraw abroad.
- Small travel size SHAMPOO and conditioner that will last about one week. You can buy more there when you run out.
- TOOTHBRUSH, small tube of TOOTHPASTE, and FLOSS. These are available in Cambodia. There’s no need to bring a tube larger than 1 oz. Any more takes up unnecessary weight and space.
- Small travel size SOAP. You can buy more when you run out.
- One DEODORANT that you prefer. More can be purchased in Cambodia if needed.
- Small MOSQUITO REPELLENT (smaller than 3 oz). You can buy more there. 20-50% DEET is the most effective for stopping mosquitos from biting you.
- SPF 45+, waterproof/sweat-proof, in a resealable bag. If you have sensitive skin, make sure to bring enough of your preferred brand for the whole trip. If not, it’s possible to find generic replacements in Cambodia.
- LIP BALM with sunscreen. This is hard to find in Cambodia.
- GLASSES or CONTACTS and contact solution stored in a resealable bag. If you wear contacts make sure you have enough for the entire trip (plus an extra case and enough solution too), or if you wear glasses bring a backup pair.
- NECESSARY MEDICATIONS, prescription or over the counter, with instructions on use and dosage (by your doctor if by prescription). The Instructor Team will carry a comprehensive medical kit with first aid supplies, OTC medications, and broad-spectrum antibiotics, so there is no need to bring extra medication if you don’t need it.
- ELECTROLYTE PACKETS. Bring a personal supply of Emergen-C, Airborne, or alternative electrolyte packets. These will be important to replenish our bodies in the heat and humidity of Cambodia and fend off sickness.
- If you shave, a RAZOR and a few extra blades. Small bottle or tube of shaving cream. If you have facial hair, it’s appropriate to keep it well trimmed at all times on course. Cleanly shaven is the norm in Cambodia.
- TAMPONS are hard to find in Cambodia. If you use these please bring enough for the trip. PADS are available in cities, but we recommend you bring your own supply. We recommend looking into DIVA CUP as an alternative. These reduce waste as well, which can be awkward to get rid of in a homestay setting. You should be comfortable using this prior to the trip if you bring it. Don’t be shy to ask your female instructors about them!
Cambodia is largely hot and humid. Although there will be many opportunities to do your laundry by hand, you’ll be happiest with lightweight, breathable, wrinkle-free, quick dry, sun-protective clothing that is not too dark (absorbs heat), not too light (shows dirt easily and may be more see-through), and very modest. You do not need to spend a lot of money getting all new clothes! When it comes to clothing, keep it simple! You don’t need a lot, and if you find you’re lacking something, inexpensive clothing can be found in Cambodia.
Please make sure that clothing is CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE. Please don’t bring any shorts that go above the knee, short dresses or skirts, any tight leggings (except for sleeping in), or any tops that expose your shoulders, are low cut, or see-through; these are not acceptable. Sleeveless shirts are not appropriate for anyone. When it comes to shirts, no deep V-necks or loose-hanging, wide cut necklines. Make sure that bras (which must be worn everyday by female-bodied students) do not show through shirts or armholes (transparency can be an issue with lightweight fabrics), and that your shirt is long enough to cover your midriff. Clothes with swear words or satirical jokes are not appropriate for anyone at any time on course. Low hanging pants that reveal underwear are not appropriate. Though some people wear shorts in urban Phnom Penh, they’ll attract unwanted attention, so it is important you have capris/pants/longer skirts that you’re comfortable in.
As a good rule of thumb, if you’re questioning whether a piece of clothing is appropriate, it probably isn’t. It can sometimes be frustrating to find clothes that meet these specifications in the US, but you’ll be very happy you followed them! Students who arrive without culturally sensitive clothing will be asked to buy additional clothes at their own cost.
- One pair of walking OR hiking SHOES (you don’t need both). The best option is a light, low top, hiker or mountain running shoe that can double as a street shoe (these must be able to fit inside your pack). You do not need hiking boots.
- One pair of walking SANDALS like Chacos, Tevas, Keens, etc. (again, these should fit inside your pack). Please note: people either love or hate sandals like these. If you love Chacos and wear them all the time they can be great. If you do not want sport sandals you can use almost any other comfortable sandal. There is no need to spend a lot of $$ if you don’t think you will wear them.
- A pair of inexpensive FLIP-FLOPS is convenient and appropriate for homestays and time in rural communities, but they are not appropriate for trekking/wilderness exploration, NGO visits, or travel days.
- One lightweight or mid-weight RAIN JACKET (should be breathable material).
- One lightweight WARM PULLOVER or JACKET for mountainous areas or transportation days.
- Three or four presentable and polite T-SHIRTs (no sleeveless shirts). You will get a Dragon’s t-shirt and this can be one. Loose-fitting quick dry t-shirts are best. We will politely ask you to get changed if shirts are too tight or revealing. More t-shirts can be purchased inexpensively along the way if necessary.
- At least one presentable COLLARED SHIRT or BLOUSE. This can be short-sleeved, as it will be hot. This is part of your “nice outfit” to wear to NGO meetings and religious services/ceremonies with your homestay families.
- One pair of LONG NICE PANTS (lightweight like Dockers) and/or LONG SKIRT (must reach below the knee and not be see-through) for more conservative or formal situations. It should not be possible to see underclothing through any of your items. This is part of your “nice outfit” to wear to NGO meetings and to religious services/ceremonies with your homestay families.
- One or two pairs of lightweight QUICK DRY PANTS. Note: these do not have to be expensive zip-offs (these can be great but are sometimes pricy), just make sure the pants are comfortable and can dry out quickly.
- One or two pairs of lightweight LONG SHORTS or CAPRIS (must extend TO/BELOW THE KNEE) that can be used sleeping and/or all-around wear. A pair of leggings for wearing underneath skirts or for sleeping is useful but not appropriate on their own for everyday wear.
- One swimming outfit. A QUICK DRY T-SHIRT (or rash guard) AND a pair of BOARD SHORTS (to the knee). It is often hard to find women’s board shorts to an appropriate length. Many students choose to bring basketball-style shorts or swim in their hiking capris and Cambodians swim in their clothes.
- UNDERWEAR: 7 changes (should not be visible in any cases).
- SOCKS: 3-4 pairs.
- BRAS (if applicable): 2-4 sports bras or your choice, keeping comfort and versatility in mind. Make sure your nipples do not show easily and the bra is not visible through clothing. A sports bra can be used with a quick dry shirt for swimming.
One other thing that is essential: A HEALTHY BODY! SLEEP, HYDRATION, NUTRITION, EXERCISE, GRATITUDE. Your experience will be so much more enjoyable if you come with a body that is fully prepared for the journey. We recommend an exercise regimen that gets your heart rate above 120 beats per minute, for thirty minutes at a stretch, four times a week. If you can’t do this much, do what you can – the more the better! The more you stretch your muscles, the more you will engage and use them. There will be several opportunities on the course to go for long walks or ride bikes from one village to another. The better your condition, the greater the number of opportunities you’ll be able to seize.
- CAMERA and memory cards. A small dry bag and some extra resealable plastic bags are useful for keeping this and other valuables dry.
- HAT to keep the sun off your face. Physical sunscreen is more effective than chemical sunscreen, but only bring a lightweight hat that you will actually wear.
- LIGHTWEIGHT QUICK DRY TOWEL. When you arrive, there will be opportunities to buy the traditional scarves that are used by most people in Cambodia. Some instructors don’t bring a towel, but use a quick dry piece of clothing to dry off in order to carry less. Do what will make you comfortable.
- SMALL DRY BAG or STUFF SACKS. These will come in handy in the rain, on the water when you want to keep valuables dry, and to keep your stuff organized while unpacking and repacking.
- SLEEPING PAD. Most students rarely use their pads on this course. We will be camping for a couple nights; yoga mats will likely be provided with all other bedding. It is your choice if you prefer to carry a small, collapsible sleeping pad for additional comfort. It’s up to you, but if you do choose to bring one we recommend a compact version that can fit inside your pack for flying. Yay rugged travel!
- SLEEPING BAG LINER. Should be cotton and lightweight. This may provide you some extra comfort in homestay or while camping.
- Small, lightweight, collapsible PILLOW. Some people just use clothes for pillows.
- LIGHTWEIGHT TRAVEL YOGA MAT for budding yogis. Travel can be hard on the body and we encourage all forms of exercise. There is no need to stop your practice just because you are coming on course. This can also double as a sleeping pad if desired.
- DICTIONARY and/or PHRASE BOOK. We strongly recommend the Khmer-English compact pocket dictionary by Tuttle – it’s great! The Lonely Planet Khmer phrase book is quite helpful too, but the dictionary will be more useful. They can be hard to find in stores, but you can order on Amazon. You won’t regret having one of these in your homestay when you’re trying to make conversation.
- We have found that probiotics are a great thing to travel with as they encourage and support a healthy GI tract. You should be able to purchase a bottle at a local health food store or pharmacy. They aren’t available in Cambodia. Make sure the ones you get don’t have to be refrigerated.
- Some of the places that we stay can be quite noisy and if you are a light sleeper please consider bringing a pair. They’re also great for air travel.
- GAMES, or something to do as a group. You will have many moments together as a group, and it is nice to have games (ideas are cards, Uno, Set, dice, etc.).
- Travel-sized HAND SANITIZER. Though nothing beats good old soap and water to get rid of germs, when in a pinch, hand sanitizer can be useful.
- Small CARABINERS to clip items like water bottles to your backpack so they don’t fall out.
- A big part of Cambodian culture revolves around gift giving, especially when entering our homestay. These gifts can be and are often something as simple as a piece of fruit, a packet of 3 in 1 coffee, a bag of chips, or a similar token gesture. Key chains, postcards from your hometown, and photos are always good, as students always wish they had brought more pictures of themselves and their families and homes. It is nice to print hard copies of family photos as your host family will love to have them and you will notice that there are often pictures of past students hanging on walls in the places and homes we visit. You will stay in one homestay during this trip. You don’t need to bring enough gifts for everyone in your family (as likely there will be many relatives!) but one or two souvenirs will make for a nice gesture.
- Travel sized and inexpensive. Music is a language we all can speak!
DO NOT BRING
- Your cell phone, smartphone, iPad or computer! Make sure to prepare security for email or other accounts so you can access them without using your phone. You should not need to use your phone as a security measure to access and online accounts.
- Any sort of electronic entertainment (includes mp3 players). eReaders without internet capabilities like the Kindle Paperwhite or Nook Glowlight are acceptable to bring on course. Tablet eReaders are not allowed.
- Too many books – they are heavy and do not last long in the rainy season. Many books are available for purchase in-country.
- A mosquito net or sleeping bag (all adequate bedding will be provided).
- Toiletries bigger than 3 oz.
- Full size cotton towels; they are too heavy and take too long to dry.
- Anything made of leather that you don’t want ruined.
- Jeans of any kind. They are heavy and will not have time to dry.
- Tie-dye of any kind or stained and ripped clothing.
- Low cut or see-through shirts that reveal your bra or midriff. Tank tops, short shorts, or tight fitting clothes.
- Low-riding or long pants that drag; not culturally appropriate and a safety concern.
- Swimsuits or bikinis (you can use a quick dry t-shirt, sports bra, and board shorts or hiking capris).
- Ratty, smelly, torn up shoes or flip-flops. The state of your shoes in Cambodia often determines how polite or respectful you are.
- More than one pair of shoes, one pair of sturdy sandals, and one pair of flip-flops (please remember that your shoes must fit inside your backpack; they may not be strapped to the outside as this is inappropriate in Buddhist countries).
- If you do have facial hair or dreadlocks, please keep your hair well trimmed for reasons of culturally appropriateness. While Dragons supports personal choices about appearance, cultural norms in Cambodia value cleanliness. As such, it is HIGHLY encouraged to adhere to local cultural norms in order to have deep and meaningful relationships with local communities based on shared respect.
- Makeup or cosmetics (you’ll just sweat it off anyways).
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO BUY IN CAMBODIA
- Most toiletries
- Clothing if you decide you need it
- Souvenirs, as well as additional boxes or bags for transporting items back home
Note on Shipping: Due to the movement of the course, difficulties with customs, and unreliability of shipping methods, we do not recommend shipping items to students during the program. Please make sure you bring all necessary personal items and medications for the duration of the course. For items like water bottles and headlamps, we definitely recommend bringing those from home, where there is higher quality and more choice.
Your I-Team (Instructor Team),
Claire, Yut and Kelsey