How To Pack For A Month Volunteering in Sri Lanka


I must say that before I left I had a hard time figuring out what I needed to be able to travel by backpack and volunteer for a month in Sri Lanka. With previous travel experience, I simply guessed at what would work. I packed pretty light, but as soon as I showed up I knew I even still had too much. Here’s what I would recommend.

Pack everything into a backpack. Really. I’ve  seen quite a few people around the country with suitcases, and it’s just so much easier to pack into a backpack. You’ll be able to travel around easier and you shouldn’t need more than what fits into a backpack anyways.

Tips for Packing:

  • A day-pack is great. For weekend trips you can pack into the smaller pack so you can leave the majority of your things at the field house.
  • Bring a few outfits of clothes you don’t really care about. Don’t bring anything white. You can do laundry if you need to and you’ll probably pick up some clothes along the way.
  • Minimize toiletries. Bring travel sized things and if you need to buy more then do so along the way.
  • Bring a bandanna or a scarf to cover your mouth and nose as you drive around, it gets quite dusty.
  • Cards and other small games are always good, we play a lot of cards in the evenings after dinner.
  • Bring a lot of books! There are two activities a day at the project and there is a lot of down time. It’s a great opportunity to catch up on that list of books you’ve been meaning to read.
  • A journal and pen is nice to write about your adventures along the way.
  • A swimsuit. This may or may not seem obvious, but it’s worth noting. You can spend weekends at the beach.
  • Bring a wrist watch! It’s so helpful to have the time easily accessible.
  • Binoculars are very helpful to see elephants up close. Most of the time you are a fair distance from them, and it’s cool to see them better.
  • A hard plastic water bottle has also been very handy and much better than a refilling a small plastic bottle of water from the store all the time.
flatlay packing picture

I brought two pairs of shoes and that really is all you need. For this particular project, I think hiking boots are heavy, hot and unnecessary. I brought simple running shoes and they do just fine.

I’m very happy I bought a pair of athletic sandals, because they are what I have worn the majority of my time here. They dry quickly, are durable, and are comfortable in the heat.

Snacks are always nice for long bus rides or times when the meals aren’t enough. Don’t bring many electronics. You’re going to a very isolated place and you don’t need to be connected.

I found a phone and a camera to be the main things I’ve used. Many people get a SIM card upon arrival. A phone comes in handy while traveling on the weekend as it can help you to reserve hotels, find train times, etc.

Lastly, bring a good guide book. I’ve never used one before on any of my trips, but I got one this time and it is very useful for a wide variety of things.



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