Choosing what to pack can be a daunting task, so we’ve put together this handy guide to ensure you bring everything you're likely to need for your placement. 

This is a non-exhaustive guide, but based on our own experiences, and those of previous team members, it's a good start. Try not to pack too much from the offset, as it is likely that you'll want to do some shopping abroad. 

Essential Clothing

Dress in the countries we work in is modest, especially in more rural areas. As a result, all volunteers must dress smartly whilst in the local community and on projects. Please read the ‘What to Wear’ document in your SLV.Global Portal for more detailed advice about dress code whilst on placement.

+ Ladies

Lady Project

Two pairs of full length, plain smart trousers

Loose fitting linen or cotton trousers are cool and smart.

Four plain, neutral-coloured collared shirts

Volunteers are required to be dressed in a collared shirt. Polo shirts are not smart enough and please avoid sheer clothing. Aim for cotton or linen materials in neutral or plain colours.

One long, plain, opaque skirt - no slits

This needs to cover the ankles as some projects are held in temples and require volunteers wear skirts rather than trousers, so even if it’s not your usual style, please bring one just in case. These can be purchased cheaply in country if you require more than one. Underskirts need to be worn as well but these can also be purchased cheaply in country.

Underwear

Make sure it’s comfy and hand washable! You won't be able to wash your undergarments in the washing machine at your homestay due to the cultural belief that dirty underwear is less clean and should not mix with other clothing.

Four vest tops in neutral colours

You must wear thick strapped vest tops under every shirt or t-shirt Monday-Friday.

One pair of smart shoes/sandals for projects

Make sure they are comfy!

One pair of flip flops for the beach

Plastic flip flops are not smart enough for projects, but great for the beach.

One pair of closed-toe shoes

For working in the psychiatric facility and some other projects.

One pair of lightweight Trainers

These may come in handy at on the weekends if you plan on climbing stuff.

Swimwear

PLUS one t-shirt and one pair of shorts to wear over bathing suits

Light-weight jumper

Surprisingly nights can get a bit chilly.

Three t-shirts

Perfect for wearing in the local community, please make sure they are loose and high-necked.

Casual clothes for weekends

Many volunteers still like to wear modest clothing whilst traveling to avoid attracting any unwanted attention, but you can really wear what you like.

+ Gentlemen

Gentlemen Projects

Three pairs of smart, plain trousers

Linen trousers or chinos are a common favourite, please make sure they are full-length.

Four plain, neutral-coloured collared shirts

Volunteers are required to be dressed in a collared shirt. Polo shirts are not smart enough and please avoid sheer materials. Aim for cotton or linen materials in neutral or plain colours.

Aim for lightweight linen or cotton shirts in neutral colours.

Three vests

You will need to wear vests under shirts. You can buy these in Sri Lanka if you need to.

Underwear

Make sure it’s comfy and hand washable! You won't be able to wash your undergarments in the washing machine at your homestay due to the cultural belief that dirty underwear is less clean and should not mix with other clothing.

One pair of smart shoes/ sandals for projects

Make sure they are comfy!

One pair of closed-toe shoes

For working in the psychiatric facility and some other projects.

One pair of flip flops for the beach

Plastic flip flops are not smart enough for projects, but great for the beach.

One pair of lightweight Trainers

These may come in handy at on the weekends if you plan on climbing stuff.

Swimwear

PLease bring a dark t-shirt to wear with your trunks as well. Speedos are not considered approprite.

Light-weight jumper

Surprisingly nights can get a bit chilly.

Three t-shirts

Perfect for wearing in the local community, please make sure they are loose and high-necked.

Casual clothes for weekends

Many volunteers still like to wear modest clothing whilst traveling to avoid attracting any unwanted attention, but you can really wear what you like.

Other Essentials

Now that we’ve covered clothing, don’t forget all the things you’re going to need for your day-to-day life and your weekends away.

+ Toiletries

✔️ Sunscreen 30-50 SPF

The sun is very strong. For each month you are there, bring at least one bottle, more if you’re a sun worshipper.

✔️ Mosquito Repellent

Make sure it has 50% DEET or more. You’ll stink, but you won’t get bitten.

✔️ 3-4 100ml bottles of antibacterial hand-wash/hand sanitizer

At times you might be eating with your hands without wash facilities available.

✔️ Shampoo/shower gel/moisturiser/deodorant

You can definitely buy all this in country, but if you have a brand you prefer it's best to pack some.

✔️ Flannel / Loofah

✔️ 1 Small bath towel

✔️ Beach Towel

If you are pushed for space, you can buy one of these out there

✔️ Prescriptions

If you do regularly take any medication please remember to bring enough for the entire placement

✔️ Face wipes/baby wipes

Your face can get quite sweaty and dusty on those bus journeys. Also good to use as emergency loo roll!

✔️ Sanitary Products

Towels (maxi pads) are available, but if you prefer tampons or any other products, please bring enough for the duration of your placement. You could also consider a moon cup or keeper, as sanitary products can be awkward to dispose of.

+ Our top "must pack" tips

✔️ Small Backpack

To use when you are traveling at the weekends.

✔️ Waterproof jacket/small portable umbrella

Great for short, but vicious downpours.

✔️ Padlock

For your bag whilst you are in your homestay and for travelling. SLV.Global cannot be held responsible for loss of personal property. Please do not travel with valuables or large amounts of cash. If you do insist on travelling with valuables, please ensure you keep them locked in your suitcase for safekeeping.

✔️ First aid kit

Plasters/Band-Aids, painkillers (ibuprofen, paracetamol), anti-histamines. Just to be on the safe side bring some anti-diarrheal tablets and laxitives too. Most people don’t expect they’ll need the latter, but trust us, you might.

✔️ Torch (flashlight)

Essential for power cuts and reading in bed!

✔️ Unlocked mobile (cell) phone

It is essential to have a mobile phone whilst in Sri Lanka so that the team can contact you at all times. We recommend bringing an unlocked one out with you.

✔️ Sri Lankan SIM

You can buy a SIM card at the airport when you arrive – they are relatively cheap. You must buy a Sri Lankan SIM even if you have an international plan on your phone so that we may contact you in the event of an emergency.

✔️ Mp3 + portable speakers

Top tip, load your iPod with some cheesy tunes and these will be invaluable at projects. The Macarena, The Ketchup Song, Boot Scoot Baby. Now’s your chance to finally break out those moves and not be judged in the slightest.

✔️ Photocopy of important docs

We recommend photocopying your passport, visa and medical insurance policy and keeping it in your carry-on case.

✔️ Bum bag / money belt

✔️ Metal head lice comb

There have been cases of our volunteers getting head lice, so it’s best to bring one just in case!

✔️ Earplugs

Volunteers will be sharing rooms so light sleepers may find these invaluable.

✔️ Rehydration salts

Hydration for the nation!

Money

The easiest way of getting local currency is to withdraw it from an ATM once in country. There is an ATM at the airport and ATMs within walking distance of some parts of the program, so this is easy to do.

In our experience this is the safest and most economical way of getting money, rather than having lots of cash on you at any one time. If you would like to, you can bring a small amount of money to exchange at the airport - but we would not advise bringing any more than £100/$100/€100.

+ Debit/ Credit Card

ATMs accept most major credit/debit cards. Remember to let your bank know that you are going abroad, otherwise they may block your card.

+ Travel Cash Card

An alternative to using your debit or credit card is to purchase a travel cash card. The idea behind them is a simple one, you pre-load the card in your own currency by transferring money to the card from your own account, which can be done via the internet, text message or by phone. You can then use the card to withdraw cash or make purchases. There are many options online to browse through but remember to read the terms and conditions!