Here’s a little list of things I brought to Togo that have really pulled their weight. The list that Peace Corps gives Invitees is pretty good, though it says they give you Gatorade powder here which is NOT true. Bring your own powdered drinks with you.
Headlamp: Even if you “have” electricity, it’s imported from Ghana or Cote d’Ivoire, and may be off more than it is on. You can get flashlights here, but not great ones, and certainly not headlamps. Bring good batteries too. The batteries here are worthless.
Key-chain pocket knife: I brought a leatherman, too, but my little knife, file, scissors, and tweezers Swiss Army Knife has been way more useful. It takes up no space and comes in handy all the time.
Key-chain compass: When you’re kind of lost in the bush, having a compass is a good idea. If you’re going north when you should be going south, it’s a good thing to know it. You can definitely get turned around walking or riding on trails in your big Togolese backyard.
Chaco Flip-Flops: These flip-flops have been awesome. If you’re like me, the extra few seconds it takes to strap into the classic chacos is just too much. The chaco flip-flops give you arch support and a thick sole that’ll protect you from rocks, and are super convenient and comfy once you break them in.
Sony SRS-TP1 Stereo System Speakers: These speakers have decent volume for listening to music in your house, and don’t need batteries. They run off your iPod’s power, but don’t drain it noticeably.
Ex Officio underwear: I love this underwear. They’ve shown no wear and tear after 11 months, their texture makes them easy to hand wash, and they’re really nicely ventilated, which is big in Togo.
Cassette adapter for iPod: A lot of bush taxis here have tape decks, so you can do a little cross-cultural DJ’ing and make your trip a lot more bearable if you have one of these.
Shortwave radio: I have a shortwave radio that is crank-powered and solar-powered from Kaito that is pretty awesome. I listen to BBC News most nights, and keep pretty well informed. I did miss out on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s scandal though, so it’s not perfect.