Top ten things to bring to Tacloban! A packing list for volunteers.

You’ve booked your placement and flights. You’ve had your vaccinations – now for the packing!

What should you bring? How should you use your precious baggage allowance?

I asked present volunteers ‘What could you not do without during your stay?’ to let future volunteers know… what top ten things to bring to Tacloban!

plastic shoes

Plastic shoes

ear plugs

Ear plugs – for those cockerel/too much Bieber moments…







  1. Plastic footwear. It rains hard and fast in Tacloban plus the streets can be dirty. It’s easy to wash and dry plastic shoes – they won’t stain or start to smell like fabric shoes. As well as flip-flops/thongs (called ‘slippers’ here) you can now get many other styles of plastic shoes from ballet flats to deck shoes.
  2. Lightweight waterproof – almost as essential as your swimwear! Even in the so called dry months we have been caught out by rain that comes at you at all angles. At least it’s warm though…
  3. A small back pack to carry your sanitizer, water bottle, sun cream, umbrella wherever you go. You can get ones that fold down into a small pocket – these are great.
  4. Dry bag – essential for protecting your expensive electronic gear in torrential downpours or on kayaking and waterfall trips. Use for your swimming stuff in after taking a dip. Put your toiletries in it when you pack so your clothes aren’t ruined if anything leaks.
  5. Your personal sun shade: hat, bandana or umbrella. Even in the cooler months the Tacloban heat and humidity can get too much. The umbrella is handy in downpours too!
  6. A jumper or scarf for the cinema. What? Yes, really! Some volunteers have been caught out by the overzealous A/C at the local cinema and have shivered their way through films.
  7. Enough hot/humid weather clothes. Basics like T-shirts. Filipinos are very petite so finding clothes that fit and are the right length can be a challenge for some volunteers. Plus the customer service staff are brutally honest: ‘No ma’am you’re too big for that’!
  8. A journal – for recording your reflections on your time here in Tacloban.
  9. Travel towel – thin, quick drying. As well as for swimming and drying can also double up as a sarong or thin blanket.
  10. Ear plugs – for when the cockerel crowing, dog barking, Bieber singing mash-up gets too much…




rucksack in pocket








Things you will need that you can easily find in Tacloban:

  • Hand sanitizer and wet wipes – I have never gone through so much hand gel in my life!
  • Sun cream/after sun
  • Your personal stash of toilet paper – most public toilets don’t have paper. Remember to throw it in the bin and not in the toilet. You can find mini packs of toilet paper in supermarkets.
  • Mosquito/Insect repellent – protect yourself against Dengue fever!
  • A big water bottle – so, so important to keep hydrated. The local supermarkets have a good selection


A big thanks to my fellow volunteers for helping to compile this list. I hope future volunteers will find it useful.

Happy packing! Or if you are still thinking about volunteering find out how you can volunteer with us!


Story and photos: Liz Avery VFV Media Intern


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