C. What should you pack before departure?
Clothing and equipment requirements for a mission vary according to the location, climate, culture, season and the state of the local economy. You should expect to be fully independent and self-sufficient throughout the mission with regard to clothing and personal effects. During your periods of leave, you will have to consider restocking on personal items.
The following are recommended items to pack:
1. Documents and related items
- international travel ticket
- valid passport (it is important to check the length of validity)
- spare passport photos (plenty of them)
- work contract and, if necessary, travel authorisation
- international certificate of vaccinations
- international driving licence
- insurance information/documentation
- contact information for: head office and country offices; main contact person details in-country; embassy contact details
- small amount of cash in small denominations to a limit acceptable for security reasons and in a currency acceptable in the destination country (usually US dollars or other major international currencies)
- notebook, pens and pencils
- deployment handbook
- copies of all essential documents
- an updated map of where you are going.
It is advisable to store important information in more than one location, e.g. emergency phone numbers should not only be saved on your mobile phone.
2. Personal items
The following is a checklist of the items that you need to consider packing before going on mission. Some of them might be climate-, country- or organisation-specific. It is important to pack essential items in your hand-luggage in case your main luggage does not arrive on time. However, be aware of hand-luggage regulations and also keep in mind that in some places the use of a camera can be restricted or forbidden.
- holdall or rucksack
- clothing appropriate for the location, elevation, time of year and expected duration of the mission. Remember that short sleeves and shorts may not be culturally acceptable in some countries
- water-resistant, sturdy walking shoes or boots
- smart clothing for official meetings
- culturally appropriate clothing, including long-sleeved garments and headscarves if local customs necessitate them
- rain gear
- sleeping bag with liner
- extra pair of glasses and second pair of sunglasses
- identification kit (i.e. vest and ID), if necessary
- dry wash in case there is a potential for water shortage
- ear plugs
- torch with spare bulb and batteries
- pocket knife/multi-tool (not in hand-luggage)
- sewing kit
- washing powder
- plastic bags
- universal adapters for electronic equipment
- water bottle with purification filter or tablets
- fishing line (multi-purpose, as it is very tough)
- compass, personal GPS
- mosquito net and mosquito repellent (especially for warm climates)
- mobile phone (with a SIM card that will work in your area of deployment)
- alarm clock
- personal laptop and storage device for electronic data
- spare batteries/solar charger (if suitable).
3. Medical preparations
Most organisations will ensure that you are equipped with adequate first aid kits. Some organisations advise you to purchase them yourself. If you are not issued with the necessary equipment, you should carry an individual medical kit to care for minor illnesses or injuries. The contents of the medical kit should be clearly marked, including the names of the medications and instructions for their use. It is recommended that a sturdy waterproof container be used to store the medical kit’s contents. For some quantities and types of medication, it is useful to carry a written declaration from a doctor that confirms they are required for personal usage. Suggested medical supplies include the following:
- prescription medicine for expected length of stay
- painkillers for fever, aches, etc.
- anti-histamines for running noses and allergies
- antacids for abdominal upsets
- antibiotics (generic)
- alcohol wipes
- bandages (triangular, elastic)
- protective gloves
- scissors (not in hand-luggage).
Malaria prevention kit:
- insecticide-treated mosquito net
- DEET-based insect repellent
- malaria prevention tablets
- a standby treatment kit.
Diarrhoea treatment kit:
- packets of oral rehydration salts, loperamide (Imodium) tablets
- ciprofloxacin tablets (250 mg or 500 mg)
- water purification tablets.
Blood-borne diseases prevention kit:
- syringes, sterile needles.
Skin protection kit:
- sun block/sun screen/moisturiser
- powder (possibly with anti-fungal medication)
- hydrocortisone cream against skin allergies or insect bites
- antiseptic cream for cuts and abrasions.
- If you have a history of severe allergies (anaphylaxis), take with you two epinephrine (adrenalin) self-injection kits so as to ensure that one is always available.
- If you suffer from asthma attacks, take two sets of inhalers, thus ensuring that one is always available.
- If you regularly take medication, take adequate supplies and a list of these medicines (with dosages and frequency) signed and stamped by your doctor.
For short-term treatment of oral rehydration, you may mix your own solution consisting of six level teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt, dissolved into one litre of clean water.
It is recommended that you maintain your own health records showing important health data. Important information should include:
- dates and results of health checkups (including dental and visual);
- medical illnesses and medication being used;
- allergies, particularly to medication/drugs;
- personal information, such as blood group;
- health insurance details;
- name and contact details of your usual health care provider, e.g. personal doctor or medical specialist.