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The Tiger's Nest in Bhutan. Photo by Chelsea Ferrel.

To Pack Or Not To Pack: Some Notes On Packing

Kuzu Zangpo la dear students and parents!

We hope you are all reading up about Bhutan, practicing your Dzongkha, and generally getting excited for our incredible journey together. To aid you in your course preparation, in this post, we wanted to give you some information specifically about clothing that you can use as a guide while you’re packing. Please refer to the  Course Preparation Manual (CPM) list when packing. This Yak is not instead of the CPM, but to be used in combination with it. If you have any questions about packing from this Yak or the CPM, please post it here! Nine times out of ten, if you have a question someone else does too.

Monsoon Travel

We will be travelling during monsoon season when torrential rains pound Bhutan. Moreover, you will be carrying your pack at various times during the course, sometimes in heavy rainfall. Therefore, be judicious in your packing. Students are often surprised how comfortably they can live with so few things. Before you leave, load up everything in your backpack and walk a few blocks. Also, imagine carrying the same load in rain. Now is there anything you want to leave behind? The key to successful packing is simple: Bring what you need. Not any more and not any less.

Culturally Appropriate Clothing and Footwear

Bhutan is a much more conservative country than many of you have probably visited or lived in before. Both men and women in Bhutan generally wear traditional clothing which tends to be both loose fitting and covers the legs, shoulders and arms. Although you may see young people in Thimpu wearing form-fitting Western-style clothing, Dragons student should expect to dress more conservatively. This will help you to immerse yourself in the local communities and ingratiate yourself with older people (like homestay parents).

So what does that mean in practice? Any clothes you bring should be loose-fitting and conservative in addition to being neat, clean and presentable (so no holes or stains). This means no tight-fitting shirts or pants (including yoga pants) and no tops that are low cut or show your shoulders. Please bring only long pants. Do not bring shorts, shorts will never be appropriate to wear on course. Part of integrating into a new culture is being respectful of their customs and norms. Any dresses or skirts should hit at least mid-calf and be loose enough you can squat in it. If you have to wonder if a piece of clothing is appropriate, it’s probably not in Bhutan, but feel free to ask us! Do not bring any torn shoes or sandals. The state of your footwear in Bhutan will be interpreted by locals as a measure of your politeness and respect for their customs. Please remember that your shoes must fit inside your backpack; they may not be strapped to the outside, which is inappropriate in Buddhist countries.

Remember, don’t stress too much about what you bring or don’t bring. When in doubt, pack light. The most important thing is that you bring yourself and an open mind!

If you have any questions, please ask us on the Yak Board or email any one of us. We can’t wait to meet you next month!

Claire, Rishi and Tsering!