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Duffel bags

Any recommendations from the volunteers on duffel bags? I will be travelling to Senegal next February and will be on board for 2 weeks. I am guilty of always over packing and I know space is very limited on board ship. What size duffel bag works best and would you get on with wheels?

Just want to know what previous volunteers have used and what they would recommend.

Carol V.

Volunteering in February as an OR nurse


  • AndreaSchmidAndreaSchmid Programs Senior Staffing Manager Posts: 141 admin

    @CarolVanVoorhis Hi Carol! Thank you for being one of our amazing volunteers! We appreciate the sacrifices you will make to serve with Mercy Ships.

    Duffel bags are definitely recommended. Bringing one with wheels is fine.

    This link might be helpful to you. It is a series of YouTube videos created by one of our crew members.

    The information found in the link below is from an Alumni Mercy Shipper, written to be helpful when packing to come as a long term volunteer. You definitely don't need everything on this list for a short time of service, but it might be helpful for you to see it and think about what your own needs are.  Perhaps it will be helpful information as to what type of luggage to use.

    Blessings as you prepare to serve!

  • SarahBurdetteSarahBurdette ✭✭ Posts: 26 ✭✭

    I was in Guinea for two weeks as an OR Nurse this past February/March and definitely overpacked! You'll need appropriate pants/t-shirt and tennis shoes for if you want to go off-ship on the weekend or off days. I also recommend having some sort of small bag to carry your things in when out - I was stuck carrying my backpack since I didn't consider this before departing. If you don't have converters, it isn't a big deal. They are sold in the ship shop for a very reasonable price. I brought the wrong type, and so bought two there and it was fine. There is laundry facilities on board, you just need to sign up for a slot to use the machine. So bring detergent and a few dryer sheets along and you'll be able to pack far less. They provide you with scrubs, and on the days you're working that's honestly almost all you have time to wear. Bring OR dedicated shoes, obviously. Less outfits than you think, and an appropriate dress/skirt if you plan on attending church off-ship. I never did, and people wore their normal clothing to the church services on board. Bring magnets!! The walls are metal and you can secure your work schedule/important ship meeting times, etc. right onto the wall where you can see them. Bug spray, sunscreen are a must! Watching the sunset from the top deck was one of my favorite things on my trip. Bring your fun OR hats, and if you have extras bring those to leave behind! There is a bin of hats for the day crew (or those who otherwise need them) and adding to that collection is always welcome. They will provide you with a water bottle, and you can also purchase extra in the shop if you want to. I bought one and have the one they gave me also - and I was thankful to have a backup. Shower shoes for sure - it's a shared bathroom (I just used flip flops). They provide towels and a washcloth. Try to pack all your things into ONE wheeled duffel bag. Carrying your bag through the airport afterwards and onto the ship is a lot easier if you have wheels and only one bag.

    Best suggestion: fix your face and hair right before you get to the ship! They take your ID photo after you've been traveling for 24 hours and haven't showered yet. HAHA. You are stuck with that picture on your ID that you wear 24/7 for the rest of the trip. It's funny to see everyone's photos, though. Because it happens to us all. :)

    In all seriousness, this experience will change your life. I'm so excited for you! I will be there for three weeks in December/January. Enjoy your time, keep a blog or journal of your experience to reflect on later when you return. I'm glad I did.


    What a beautiful informative message. Thank you so much for your support and experience. Your answer helped me with decisions also in packing. One thing for sure: I will be looking at just one bag and my backpack. But what about going away to beach, what did you take? My purse 👜 is enough or I need something else as you mentioned another smaller pack?

    Excited to be there in December until March

  • jaxie_ryan87jaxie_ryan87 Surgical Placement Facilitator Posts: 20

    @SarahBurdette, what a helpful and informative blurb of expectations for packing. Thank you so much sharing this. It was wonderful working with you for Guinea. Thank you for being one of our wonderful Volunteers who bring hope and healing!

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