I’ve never excelled at packing. In fact, magazine stories about rolling, folding, and stacking clothes in perfect little packages are generally way too uptight for me. But for this trip, I need to pack as efficiently as possible. Think 10 days in African climate, with highs in the 70s. Sounds like a breeze, no? Here's the catch: no pants, no shorts, and no skirts above the knee. Oh, and shoulders can’t be showing, so nothing sleeveless. No, Malawi isn't a predominantly Muslim country (most Malawians are, in fact, Christians). But Malawian women have only been allowed to wear pants in urban areas for the past 10 or so years. We’ll be arriving to and leaving from cities, but much of our time will be spent in rural villages where women still dress conservatively. In an effort to respect their way of life, we'll be dressing similarly.
Here’s what I'm planning to pack — all of which is (hopefully) happening on a $100 budget (special thanks to H&M, Forever 21, Target). It's also worth noting that the most popular trend of spring 14: African print everything. Don't think that'll go over so well, so sticking to neutrals.
- Maxi dresses with cap sleeves (or light sweaters/sleeved tops like kimonos)
- Long skirts (but not too long, so they don’t drag the dusty streets)
- Comfy pants for the plane
- Solid colored t-shirts
- Sun hat
- Hair wraps (there won't be a hair dryer in sight)
Add that to a host of shots (which I got last week for Hepatitis, Typhoid, Tdap) and pills (Malarone, antibiotics), plus some serious mosquito protection, snacks, reading materials, and tech stuff (computer, camera, chargers) — and I’ll be ready to go! I think. Actually, I'm sure I'll forget something.