Packing for Dakar – 2018
Congratulations on your assignment to Dakar, Senegal!
Please use the following checklist as a guideline for your packing and shopping preparations as you embark on your adventure. Dakar has grown in size and diversity over the past several years and provides most everything you may need. New hotels, shops, and restaurants are opening every day – your choices in Dakar for goods and services are on the rise!
Please feel to contact the CLO Office in Dakar should you have any questions whatsoever – We are looking forward to meeting you!
Pack an adequate supply of non-breakable cooking utensils, small kitchen appliances, tableware, basic linens, pillows, hangers, an iron (220v, if possible), and a battery-operated or wind-up clock. Families with children should bring toys and books. Be sure to pack everything that you will need for the first 2 to 3 months.
Clothing – Women:
Lightweight, durable cotton clothing is best for the hot season, from June through November. Bring cotton or linen dresses, skirts, short – sleeved or sleeveless blouses, T-shirts, lightweight slacks, jeans, shorts (for home, pool, sports), lots of underwear (100% cotton recommended), bathing suits, hats, visors, sportswear, comfortable low-heeled shoes, slip-ons, sandals, and athletic shoes.
For the cool season (and air-conditioned offices), you’ll need scarves, long-sleeved blouses and dresses, lightweight sweaters, sweatshirts or jackets, and a small selection of heavy clothing for travel to the U.S. or Europe in winter. Pantyhose are rarely worn here and are not available locally, so bring a supply if you can’t do without them! The cool season is the only time you will be comfortable in synthetic fabrics or lightweight wools. Bring a formal or cocktail dress for the Marine Ball, held in early November. You can also choose to have one made locally; there are some amazing fabrics here!
Clothing – Men:
Lightweight, durable, cotton clothing is best for the hot season (June – November). If you normally wear suits or sports jackets to work, look for lightweight materials. For casual wear, bring slacks, jeans, shorts, short – sleeved shirts and T-shirts, lots of 100% cotton underwear, lightweight sweaters, sweatshirts or jackets, sportswear (including hats), bathing suits, sandals, tennis shoes, softball shoes (if you have them, bring them; we have an active softball league), and a small selection of heavy clothing for winter travel to the U.S. or Europe.
Clothing – Children:
Again, lightweight, durable, cotton clothing for the hot season. School-aged children will need sports clothes for gym days, and bathing suits. It is very difficult to find sport accessories (e.g. goggles and shoes) in Dakar. During the winter, longer pants and/or sleeves and a light jacket are useful, especially in the mornings and evenings. Kids’ swimwear also tends to wear out very quickly, so it’s good to have a couple in rotation, and then have the next size up on-hand, too, just in case. Swimming season can go year-round for the more hardy kids (embassy pool is now heated, so even the more faint of heart can brave a swim in the cooler months), and finding swim wear online during what would traditionally be considered ‘winter months’ can be challenging.
What to bring?
It is very easy to find everything you need (or a very good substitute) for your pantry in Dakar. Some notable exceptions: Sour Cream is replaced by crème fraiche, local peanut butter is very different than what you might be used to in the U.S., and cereal is very expensive. We highly recommend setting up an account at an online grocer, such as NetGrocer or Amazon and shipping the things you love instead of worrying about expiration dates during packout. Just note that aerosols cannot be shipped through DPO (and likely not in your shipments, either) due to shipping regulations. Shelf-stable items are always good to have on hand but there is a large selection in Dakar and online. Fresh fruits, vegetables and canned goods are found all year long and are very good.
Bringing a selection of toys and gifts to have on-hand for the numerous birthday parties you (and your children) will be invited to is a good idea. Toys and wrapping supplies are available locally, but they are very expensive. A Gift closet is a sanity saver and no child will care that you bought the lego kit you are gifting them months earlier.
Most items are available locally, though brands and quality may be unfamiliar. It is best to bring as many bulk paper items as possible in your shipments. Bring kitchen appliances and utensils you normally use. The Embassy only supplies about 3 transformers per household, though you can request one or two more; if they have them on-hand they will bring them. Bring enough of your own to operate your 110v appliances. You can buy 220-volt appliances often cheaper in the States than here.
Per the recently updated 6 FAH-5 H-513.2-2 Standard and Supplemental FAP Items, Washington will no longer allow posts to issue certain items now deemed to be the personal responsibility of the occupant. This means employees are now responsible for bringing or purchasing their own vacuum cleaners and garden and yard equipment (hose, sprinkler, trimmers, etc.).
Once You Arrive In Dakar:
Due to the amount of time it takes to receive your shipment, you will want to consider mailing a few boxes of dry and any other special items which will make your first days more comfortable prior to your departure. Ask your social sponsor if you can mail it to them and if they could get it to your home. It really helps for making the transition. Definitely bring or mail any items you will need for kids, especially if they will be celebrating a birthday soon after arriving at post. Consider sending pet food and supplies ahead, too, as this will ease their transition to their new home. Your shipment can take up to two months to arrive and you will want to be prepared.
Save Money! In general, nearly everything can be found in Dakar but usually at a price. Therefore, if you’re below your weight allowance on your shipments, you’ll save money by sending anything that you use in large quantities or any specialty foods and liquid cleaners you like and use often (remember: food, liquid or glass items are not allowed through the pouch; many items can be sent via DPO, but not everything) . Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised by the fact that certain items and services are quite inexpensive when compared to prices in the United States. For example, labor, framing, tailors and jewelry amongst others. Shop around – you may be surprised by what you find here in Dakar!!
On top of your regular list, may we suggest?
Plastic containers (various sizes) with tight fitting lids to control pest!
Kitchen trashcan (you can get bags here)
An oven thermometer
Ice cream maker/bread maker
Shelf paper for cupboards
Paper towels (very different quality here but ships easily)
Toilet paper (same as above)
Paper plates with US themes
Steel wool pads
Dust mops and sponge mops (with lots of extra sponges)
2 or 3 heavy – duty brooms
Wastebaskets for bedrooms and bathrooms
Plastic countertop dish dryer (no dishwashing machine)
Extra cookie sheets and serving platters
Pressure or slow cooker (comes in handy for those tough meats, 220v is best)
Laundry detergent – the local stuff is VERY expensive
Fabric softener – sheets and liquid
All your bath needs:
Soap (Excellent French soap is available here)
Lotion/ cold cream
Dental floss, toothpaste, toothbrush
Feminine Hygiene Products – very expensive here and limited
Make up, nail polish, nail polish remover (Note: you cannot ship nail polish or remover through the mail, and most packing companies will not pack it)
If you wear contact lenses, ship a supply of rinsing/storing solution as it is not available here and is difficult to ship in the pouch
Laundry washing bag for delicate clothes
Shower curtains and hooks – for the number of bathrooms plus extras (note: a lot of the bathrooms have extremely tall rods for shower curtains; you might need a special size)
Towels, washcloths, bath mats, tub mats, beach towels
Bed linens (queen and twin sheets)
Cedar blocks for storing winter clothes
Small sewing kit
Pet food and supplies can be ordered from on-line grocery sites, or you may consider including some in your consumables. Just remember that most houses have ant and/or mouse issues at one time or another so food storage may become an issue. It works well to set up a regular supply/shipment through pet websites’ subscription services.
Flea and tick shampoos
Heart Guard Heartworm medication and Frontline -helps to prevent the dogs from getting Mango worms (shots are available from the local vets)
Liquid pet stain remover
Medical items: Be mindful of expiration dates. You can generally restock through online sites. You can find French alternatives for many of these.
Bug bite meds
Sun block – you will use this daily
Mosquito spray, cream – daily use
Put together a small med kit for the car and for the house
Band-Aids and compression wrap bandages in a few widths
Antibiotic ointment and other medicated creams
Any kids’ medicine
Envelopes – letter, legal, brown for mailing photos and videos home
Stamps – not available, get some larger denominations $5, $1, as well as your regular postage (note: you can use USPS.com for postage for packages and buying more stamps)
Birthday and other candles
Gift-wrap and ribbon
School supplies (get list ahead of time on school website; French schools and ISD 9-12th grades are require to bring supplies)
Glue, construction paper
Cards – any you will want to mail home for special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, etc.
Tape (packing and scotch)
Special printer paper and labels
Printer ink cartridges
Camera – video and regular.
Digital photo paper
Smartstick or other portable data storage device
Batteries for digital items (like watch batteries)
DVD/Blu-Ray – A must – not much on regular TV and it is expensive. But bring a multi-system so you can watch PAL and SECAM dvds, too
Musical instruments (we do have a piano tuner in Dakar); Music books and musical instrument accessories (strings)
Paperback books, magazines (keep subscriptions current)
Extra fuses for appliances that use them
Voltage regulators for sensitive electronic equipment (dual voltage models for 90 – 150v and 210 – 270v are best)
Radio and/or short wave radio (It is possible to pick up the BBC World Service as well as a wide range of stations if you have a short-wave radio
Note: The RTS (RadioDiffusion Television du Senegal is the national radio and TV network. Radio broadcasts take place in Wolof, Diola and Pulaar but French is the official and the most-used language. Satellite TV is available in English from DSTV South Africa. Also, there is French Canal Horizon and TV5.
Holiday decorations – Fake Christmas tree is recommended
Small hostess gifts – boxed cards, candles, smelly stuff
Board games, cards (for adults!)
All your sports equipment for softball, running, fishing, swimming, croquet, badminton, horseback riding, basketball, frisbee, bicycling, scuba diving, golf, basketball, yoga, pool and beach, scuba, tennis
Sewing equipment: The markets are full of beautiful material
Sewing machine needles
Machine oil and a spare belt for your sewing machine
Variety of thread, trims, buttons, seam binding, elastic, zippers, etc. Sewing notions are available but expensive
Cooler – small and large. Especially helpful if it has wheels!
BBQ Grill – if you have a gas grill, you can use it here. You will have to have an adapter made for the tanks here, but that is easy.
Battery-operated alarm clocks
Swiffer sweeper and replacement sheets (your housekeeper will likely not use these, but good for quick clean-ups when on the weekends and vacations days)
Couch covers – some of the fabrics on the issued furniture may not be to your liking and may not match each other. They can also be ordered online once you arrive or made locally.
Candles – very expensive here
Electric drill, power tools, any hardware (tools, nails, hooks)
Concrete nails if you are the sort that likes to hang their own pictures and wall-hangings.
Kids’ party supplies and decorations, goody bag items
A small inflatable or plastic pool for the yard
Baby food – runs about $1.50 a small jar
Prepared baby food (also available locally, but expensive)
Plastic bottles, nipples, bottle sterilizers
Formula (if you want to use American brand; French brands are available and inexpensive)
Toilet seat or potty
Mosquito nets for crib and playpen. (Mosquito nets can be ordered locally from Ameublement Gandour, 59, Avenue General Pompidou, telephone number 822-1438)
Crib and crib linens
Pajamas for air‑conditioned bedrooms or cool nights
If you plan to use disposable diapers, be aware that they are very expensive locally
Any special washing aids
Bring 5 – 6 dozen cloth diapers if you plan to use them
While some baby clothes and supplies are available locally (at high prices) it is best to pack adequate supplies of everything that you will need! Often families restock through end-of-season sales from on-line retailers, too.
Crayons, non – toxic paints, other arts and crafts supplies
Games, toys and other amusements
Sneakers, play shoes, sandals, cotton socks, flip flops, pool shoes, slippers
lots of underwear
Shorts, jeans, T‑shirts
Lightweight sweaters or jackets, windbreaker
Some dressier clothes
At least 2‑3 bathing suits
Pajamas suitable for air-conditioned bedrooms or cool nights,
Small selection of heavy clothing for colder-weather travel to the U.S. or Europe.
Halloween costumes (remember that Halloween here occurs during the hottest month, so costumes should be as light as possible)
Books (reading and coloring)
Inexpensive gifts to give friends at Christmas and birthdays (at least 10 or 15 for small children)
Lunchbox, water bottles and non-breakable thermos
Tricycle or bike
Beach toys and sports equipment
Toys, float, swim rings for the pool
Big play equipment like swing sets, slides, playhouses, sandboxes or inflatable swimming pools – the things you can’t mail order. Wait until you have your housing assignment, though, before purchasing large items for your yard, as there might be limited yard space.
FOR THE CAR and YARD:
Lawn umbrella or garden sunshade
Mosquito coils and citronella candles
Folding sports/lawn chairs
Gardening tools – the Embassy does not provide yard tools. You can find some tools locally, but they are expensive and not of good quality. Bring small garden tools and seeds. You will want to consider growing some of your own veggies/fruits due to drought and we do not always have things available at the market
Seed starting trays
Look into bringing a supply of auto parts, such as oil and air filters, belts, shocks – they are very expensive and could save you bundle!
Sunshade for car
Good jumper cables for car
Any camping gear (tents, lanterns, etc)
Remember: You can buy most items here, but the costs are often much higher due to import costs.