Cale already had a go at suggesting what to pack and what not to pack. I thought I would give it a try from woman's perspective.
We found the lists we had made for ourselves when we first started planning what to pack and I am going to use that as reference.
Chacos, Chacos, Chacos. I cannot emphasize enough how important my Chaco Headwaters have been since I arrived here. I also have a pair of Chaco flip-flops (the ones with no leather). I have not worn my tennis shoes once. I cannot imagine a situation other than hiking through a dense jungle where I would want a shoe other than the Chacos. And even then, I think I would go for the Chaco. If you do not run regularly in the states, you will have no need for tennis shoes in country. You may want them if you travel to Australia or New Zealand while it is cold there.
Sports bras, sports bras, sports bras. A girl can never have too many sports bras. I was not a sports bra wearer in the States. I was not sporty. I am not sporty here either, but damn if sports bras aren't more comfortable when you are sweating like it is your job. Also, my favorite non-sports bra has no underwire.
Bring lots of underwear. Bring more underwear than you can imagine you will ever need. Bring it brand new still in the package. The ants, ahem, like to get into the dirty laundry…and eat them…if you get what I mean.
Boys' boxer shorts. I may never know, but boys' boxer shorts could have saved me from the entire boil debacle.
So I failed entirely on this one. The note to myself says five to six pairs. I brought two pairs of shorts, neither of which were modest enough. I recommend one pair of capri or pedal-pusher type lightweight pants and one to two pairs of board shorts that cover the knee. Covering the knee is key. If I am out in public and my knees are showing, I feel dangerous. Also, they are blindingly white, so there is that. You will most likely only wear these shorts while in Apia, under a lavalava while biking or in the water.
You must think I am crazy. However, I have worn my long-sleeved tee three or four times and my jeans several times. Once while I was sick and I felt cold even in the heat, I wore jeans, the long-sleeved tee AND my hoodie and I was still chilly.
Business casual attire:
Apparently we are supposed to wear business casual attire and no flip-flops to staging in L.A. What a bunch of hooey. I have two outfits that I wore to staging that I have only worn here because I made myself wear some of the clothes I have never worn one day. Dress shoes? Blah. Flip-flops are dress shoes here. If you are a lady and you work in a village, you will wear a puletasi to work. None of this palagi wear. Don't bring it.
Bring a pair of jeans. Bring a pair of lightweight pants (mine even roll up into capris with straps to hold them in place).
Does it cover your knee? If you have to think about it and look in the mirror to decide, it is too short. I know; I have one like that. Wore it once, felt inappropriate the entire time. I would say mid-calf is a better length. Everyone will tell you that lavalavas abound, they are cheap and the staple attire here. This is true. But I occasionally still like to put on something with a waist (and POCKETS! OH FOR THE LOVE OF POCKETS!), instead of dealing with all the complex tying and re-tying of my lavalava all the time.
Yes. When you work you will wear a puletasi, so these are shirts for non-work wear. T-shirts, yes. Nice t-shirts, yes. Something that makes you feel cute, because sometimes you need to feel cute, yes. Can all of these be had here? Yes. Though the cute things can be pricey.
Wow. So I had no concept of modest swimwear at all. I knew that my two-piece wasn't going to cut it here. But I just couldn't bring myself to purchase the booby-smushing speedo-type suits that made me look like a fat 8-year-old. So I ordered this cute one-piece from Victoria Secret and is sure seemed pretty damned covered-up and modest at the time. However, it isn't. There is cleavage. I wear a t-shirt over it anyway. Get a speedo-type suit or don't even bother with that and just have board shorts and a t-shirt to wear in the water. If you feel attractive in your swimwear here, you are not wearing the right swimwear.
I have only worn my belt with my jeans. It is a web belt with simple medal clasp. It works just fine.
Wow, what a long entry and I am still on clothes. I will have to do lotions and shampoos later.
Just a word of advice. What you need in training and what you need when you are done will be different. However, the advice to mail things to yourself is kinda crap. The stuff may appear when you are done with training or it may take longer. Clothes-wise for training, make sure you have some Chaco-type sandals and some flip-flops. Make sure you have some t-shirts and some nice t-shirts. Make sure you have one or two calf-lengthed skirts. Make sure you have one white top and a white skirt for church. Underswears and bras should round it out and you will be good to go.