Here are specific answers to some of the most common questions asked by invitees.
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Tanzania?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.
What is the electric current in Tanzania and what type of plug adapter do I need?
The local current is 220-240 volts/50 cycles. Small electrical appliances can generally be used with transformers. Some Volunteer sites have electricity. We suggest that you bring a converter. Electric clocks will not keep time because of different cycles. There are power surges and fluctuations as well as outages, which take a toll on equipment.
In general, do not bring electrical appliances. If you are one of the few Peace Corps Volunteers to have electricity, appliances for 220 voltages are available in-country, but are very expensive. If you do not have electricity, a solar battery recharger may be useful.
If you bring a computer or other device, check the power cord if it accepts an input voltage of 220 volts (most computers do), if so you do not need a converter. Voltage regulators and UPS devices are available here so that you can protect your equipment from power fluctuations.
Plugs are of the two parallel flat pins with ground pin variety. For a picture see here.
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, the last three months of service, or, for teachers, the school term, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged, and any stay over 30 days requires permission from the country director. The Peace Corps cannot provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave by contacting your own insurance company. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Laptops, iPods, jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available. We cannot repeat this often enough â€“ take out property insurance on your valuables or be prepared to replace them at your own cost! One company PCVs use is www.clements.com. There are many others.
Do I need an international driver's license?
Volunteers in Tanzania do not need to get an international driver's license, and are prohibited from driving for safety and security reasons at their sites, and while on authorized leave. Most urban travel is by bus, minibus, or taxi. Rural travel usual means taking buses, bicycle taxis, minibuses, or lots of walking.
What should I bring as gifts for Tanzanian friends and my host family?
While this is not a requirement, a token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be ?
Peace Corps trainees in Tanzania are assigned to individual sites after they have completed approximately two-thirds of pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee's technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts. You will have the opportunity to express your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages, and are usually within two or three hours from another Volunteer. Some sites require a two day journey from Dar es Salaam
How can my family contact me in an emergency?
The Peace Corps' Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 1-800-424-8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For non-emergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 1-800-424-8580
Can I call home from Tanzania?
International phone service from Tanzania to the United States is poor to good depending on the location. It is easier (and far cheaper) for your family and friends to call you from the United States. However, you are likely to find a phone from which you can call family and friends within a few hours of your site. Personal overseas calls cannot be made from any Peace Corps office. Volunteers must use locally available public phones or mobile phones for all personal calls
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Cell phone service is growing in many, but not all, parts of the country. About 98 percent of Volunteers in Tanzania now have cell phones, and the number is growing. Not all Volunteers have network coverage at their sites, but use the phones when they get to a location with coverage. Differences in technology make most U.S. cell phones incompatible with local service, so only phones purchased in Tanzania are likely to work. Yet, if you have a GSM (usually T-Mobile/AT&T) quad band phone (frequency of signal) then ask your cell phone carrier if they can unlock it for you so you can bring it with you to Tanzania. Inexpensive cell phones are also available in Tanzania.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
E-mail and Internet services are available for reasonable fees at cybercafes in all large towns and a growing number of smaller towns. Volunteers also have access to e-mail at the Peace Corps office in Dar es Salaam. Many Volunteers set up a free e-mail account (e.g., Gmail or Yahoo) that allows them to retrieve and send e-mail from any computer with Internet access. However, many sites are not near large towns, so you may only be able to communicate regularly by e-mail once or twice a month after training. But things are changing rapidly and in some areas, PCVs can use mobile modems purchased from the Internet provider here that they plug into a computer.
There may not be a functioning computer or printer at your school so a laptop could be useful. Many sites, and certainly all environment Volunteer sites, are in rural areas with no, limited, or sporadic electricity. If you decide to bring a computer, you should insure it and expect humidity, fluctuating current, and limited resources for repairs and replacement parts. Laptops are also very attractive commodities here. So once again, insure any valuables before you leave the U.S.! Most volunteers do find laptops useful for writing reports, watching movies at site, etc. More popular with volunteers are Netbooks such as the Asus EEE or Acer Aspire. If you buy a netbook be sure to get an external DVDRW drive so that you can play DVDs and make your own DVDs (which could be useful for sending pictures home).
Some volunteers also bring a flash drive and external hard drive with them to backup data. Even if you don't have electricity at your site you can probably charge your laptop in town or at a local store that is powered with a generator.
For more information on internet in TZ please see this website before you leave: Phones as Modem
Can I bring contact lenses?
Peace Corps does not recommend waring contact lenses and will not supply any contact lens solution or new lens. It can be very dry and windy in many parts of Tanzania which can cause iritation and conjunctivitis. Also contact lens solution isn't available in Tanzania.
Be sure to bring your two required pairs of eyeglassess. Getting new glasses can be difficult because of the limited stores available.
Can you give me some packing suggestions?
You can get all sorts of spices (Italian, Indian, Mexican, etc.) in Dar and some other big towns for the same price or even less than what you would pay in the States so don't pack any. Some people like to bring powdered Parmesan cheese or boxed tofu, other than that most food stuff is available here.
You can also get used clothing and tailor made clothes for cheap here in Tanzania so you don't have to pack that many clothes (though you may not find your size). The same goes with shoes, though some sizes are hard to get. Bring enough for training. But do bring enough underwear, bras, and socks to last you at least a year.
Shampoo, facial wash, and body wash are available in the big towns. You should probably bring enough for 3-6 months though. If you can't live without your particular brand, ask your parents to send some later on.
Some volunteers are placed in colder regions, but you won't know if you are till more than halfway into training, so plan accordingly. You can buy used jackets and shirts here, but we suggest you pack a long sleeved shirt or two.
With all that being said, here is a list of packing suggestions from previous volunteers:
Unisex Items (Not Leave at Home)
- 6 month supply of any medicine you will need including OTCs
- 2 pair of eyeglasses and contact lenses (including solution if they are not dailies)
- Fall/Winter jacket, Waterproof rain jacket or poncho
- Swimsuit, 2 pairs of jeans or casual pants
- 2 comfortable T-shirts, pair of sweatpants, 2 long-sleeved shirts, shorts for sleeping in, a belt (if needed)
- Year supply of good-quality socks, underwear, sports and regular bras (for women)
- travel/camping towel
- Baseball hat or visor (for training), duct tape, leatherman tool or swiss army knife, headlamp, wind up flash light
- Rechargeable batteries and charger (lithium ion ones are nice), converter and adaptor (you can get adaptors here so just bring one or two)
- 2 year supply of razors and shavers plus shaving cream.
- 2 year supply of deodrant and conditioner (if you use it)
- Ziplock bags, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, 3 months supply of sunscreen
- Tweezers, hair cutting scissors
- Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Face Wash, Body Wash, Deodorant, etc. (at least to last 3-6 months)
- Few, sharp cooking knives
- Computer (if a netbook then also a external DVD drive), flash drive, external hard drive, camera, iPod, Music CDs including all relevant cords and backup CDs
- Combo locks, More than 1 nalgene water bottle and carabiners, funds for travel and vacations
- pack of Sharpies (different colors)
Shoes (Not to Leave at home)
- Close toed work shoes, Athletic shoes/running shoes with good soles, waterproof hiking boots
- Waterproof low-top all purpose walking, sandals - Chacos, Tevas or Keanes
Miscellaneous (Recommended Stuff)
- A big enough backpack that you can pack things for a weekend trip somewhere (2000-3000 cubic inches)
- Watch, Money belt that fits under your clothes, moleskins
- Printed pictures of home to show your host family, lightweight sleeping bag or fleece blanket, Shortwave radio, Games, compact umbrella
- Compact tent, Hobby materials
- a bag for work, a reusable grocery bag (for the market)
For Men (Not to Leave at Home)
- 2 pairs of dress pants, 3 button-down or polo shirts <
For Women (Not to Leave at Home)
- 3 knee-length or longer skirts or dresses and matching tops
- One nice outfit for going out, tanks tops as long as they are not spaghetti straps
- Hair ties/hair elastics/bobby pins/hair products
- If you wear make up or jewelry bring some
- 3 months supply of feminine products (though pads are readily available in TZ). Tampons aren't readily available, the mdical unit only supplies the generic tampon brand.