Hello from your instructor team! We hope you are all reading up about the places we will visit, thinking about what you want out of the semester, and generally getting excited for our incredible course together. To help you in your course preparation, this Yak post covers some packing considerations.
You already have an extensive packing list in your Course Preparation Manual (CPM), so please read that list thoroughly and refer to it when packing. This Yak is not an exhaustive packing list, nor is it the same one in your CPM, but simply some additional packing tips from our instructor team and instructor teams past. We hope this Yak answers some of your packing questions, but if you have other questions, please ask us on the Yak board.
THINK LIGHT! You will have to put whatever you bring onto the tops of buses and into the backs of trucks, and you may have to carry your bag for long distances. 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? Ditch it.
As instructors, we pack super light. We travel with backpacks around 45 liters and we like to pack some empty space in case we might need it later.
Students who arrive at the airport over-packed will be asked to send extra items home at their own expense. We may be taking flights with weight restrictions of 15kg of checked luggage per person so please keep this in mind. And although there will be many opportunities to do laundry by hand, you’ll be happiest with light, wrinkle-free, quick-dry clothing that doesn’t easily show dirt.
Backpack: For your larger pack, a 45-liter backpack should be ample. Up to 60 liters will be OK. You will be carrying it around yourself, so the smaller the better. One cultural consideration is that your shoes need to fit inside your pack; they should not be hanging off it. In South East Asian culture, it is rude for anyone else to touch your shoes, so please keep this in mind. Nothing should really be hanging off your pack, everything should be inside it.
Toiletries: You can bring small, travel-size toiletries for the first few weeks, but you do not need to bring large quantities from home unless you are partial to certain brands. Most toiletries are available for purchase in-country. The Dr. Bronner’s 2 or 8 oz. bottles can be great options for travel, as you can continue to add water to dilute the soap, and can use it for almost our whole time on course.
If you are a person who may mensturate on course we will provide you with tips and tricks on how to manage that while traveling in remote and rural areas. The packing list in the CPM recommends bringing enough tampons and pads to last you for three months. We want to offer other options are well, which are reusable and easy to manage: the Diva cup, the Moon cup, and reusable menstrual pads. These items eliminate waste and take up less space!
Footwear: You really only need one pair of hiking/walking shoes and one pair of sandals. You will be able to buy shoes in-country, but note that it may be difficult to find particularly large sizes. We recommend that your sandals are full strap, so that they stay on when we are swimming or exploring. Some great brands to check out are Bedrock Sandals, Luna Sandals, and Chaco. It is easy to buy a pair of flip-flops once we are on course.
Clothing considerations: Past students have commented that they wish they brought fewer collared/formal shirts and more casual T-shirts with no writing on them, so please feel free to bring only one formal shirt
Electronic devices: Please refer to our soon-to-be-posted Yak post on electronics.
Weather considerations as it relates to packing: The Course Preparation Manual tells you that we will be climates that are hot and humid, and for the most part that is true. While in China we will be at high elevations which will require warmer layers, so please make sure to pack a warm hat and warm fleece. As for rain considerations, you definitely do need a waterproof rain jacket, not just a light jacket, as when it rains hard it is a soaking rain.
Make SURE to bring:
You will NOT need:
A 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.
Remember, this is all just stuff. Don’t stress too much about what you bring or don’t bring. When in doubt, pack light. If you forget something you decide you need, chances are you can buy it in-country. The most important thing is that you bring yourself and an open mind! We can’t wait to meet you next month!
Your (super excited) instructor team
Gai, Karlee, and Anna