Important note: maximum maggage allowance including hand luggage is 20 kg (44 lbs)

Jump to:

  1. Clothing & accessories
  2. Toiletries, etc.
  3. Equipment, etc.
  4. School supplies
  5. Optional
  6. Items to consider leaving at home
  7. Other suggestions/notes

Clothing & accessories

  • TBI offers laundry services twice a week
  • Mandatory Dress-Code when on field excursions: a brimmed hat, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt

In order to respect the traditions and customs of the local people, you (both males and females) must ALWAYS wear pants, capris, or a wrap/skirt/kanga/shorts that reaches your knees and covers your thighs (no leggings). Furthermore, no cropped shirts that expose your stomach.  


  • Lightweight, wide brim (a baseball hat will not provide enough coverage in the field but some may want one for wearing around the compound or purchase a type with material that covers the neck)

Hiking boots

  • Lightweight with ankle support
  • They should be comfortable: you may want to invest in a more expensive pair (ex: Merrell, ASOLO or Vasque brand)
  • Make sure to wear them a few times before leaving to break them in!


  • They should be comfortable for long walks on sandy or rocky terrain (ex: Teva or Chaco brand)
  • Flip-flops for inside dorm only

Socks (at least 5 pairs)

  • Light-weight hiking type that wick away moisture, e.g. Smartwool brand)

Long-Sleeve Shirts (at least 2)

Short-sleeve shirts/tank tops

  • Fine for around the compound

Trousers/Pants/Capris (at least 2 pairs) – lightweight, with pockets, breathable


  • Knee length, to wear in the compound or when swimming, but NOT in the field

Dress /Skirt/Sarong

  • Something comfortable for around camp, must cover knees

Sundress/Polo shirt

  • A dressier outfit to wear on occasions when a VIP may visit the compound


  • For the lake/Turkwel river!

Light jacket/hoodie/sweater or rain jacket

  • It’s not likely to rain, but if it does, it can be cold and uncomfortable
  • It may also be chilly in the mornings and evenings at Mpala – a warm fleece is appropriate there

Sunglasses (at least 1 pair)

  • Light polarization, UV protected, side coverage
  • Not too expensive in case it becomes lost or damaged

Day Backpack

  • Quality, rugged construction
  • Should fit clipboard and other items

Bandana (at least 1)

  • To hold your hair back, keep dust out of face, and to keep the sun off your neck


  • Nothing expensive (the dusty conditions may affect it after a while)

Toiletries, etc.

Toiletry Bag

  • With or without a hook (you will not be able to leave items in the bathroom)


  • Bring a large tube if you are very pale
  • Avoid the spray type
  • This is VERY expensive in Kenya

Bug Spray

  • No more than 30% DEET or with 30% Picaridin

Shampoo & Conditioner

  • Pack what you will need for the entire time

Lip balm with SPF protection

Baby wipes

  • A small pack, just enough to clean yourself on days without a shower (camping)

Sanitary supplies

  • Pack what you will need for the entire time; limited supplies available in the compound
  • Optional: Consider purchasing a 12-hour, reusable silicone menstrual cup (Lena, Evacup, Moon cup) and a small amount of disposable supplies for approximately 5 days of camping

Powder or Anti-Chafing Balm


  • 3 months’ worth of prescriptions
  • You may also want to bring aspirin, eye drops, cough drops, antacids (all of which you should be able to get for free at your campus health center) – please note that TBI has a stocked kit with non-prescription meds but you may need them while on transit to and from the field
  • If you get motion sickness, be sure to bring enough Dramamine for approximately 4 flights in Kenya and at least 20 days in the car which will have very bumpy rides

Equipment, etc.

Water bottles/reservoirs

  • You need containers that together hold at least 3 liters
  • Metal bottles are best, especially ones that have a cloth or polyethylene cover to allow evaporation to cool the water inside (like Sigg or Smartsource; Nalgene, or Camelback also acceptable) – no smaller bottles!
  • Instead of 3 bottles, you may have one water bottle and a large water-reservoir (e.g. Camelback) for your backpack

Head lamp or flashlights

  • LED-based illumination is suggested (plus batteries)
  • In general, you want a light that is bright enough to see your walking path at night to avoid stepping on any desert critters
  • Optional: Self-rechargeable BOGO lights – basically indestructible and do not require batteries

Plug adaptor and/or converter

  • Check if your electronics can take the 220 volts or if a converter is needed
  • If your electronics do not need a converter, get an adaptor – Kenya uses the British-style plug

Flash drive/memory card

  • 8 GB minimum or larger if you plan on sharing pictures/videos

School supplies

Sharpies (various colors) or colored pencils

Mechanical pencils + eraser and extra lead


  • Two or more for course lectures
  • Should have enough pages to take notes for 5 intense courses

Field Notebooks

  • Three with good binding and at least one with graph paper (Moleskine 5”x8” with 200 pages is best, or Field Notes, Ecosystemlife, other brands


Money belt

  • For your passport, money and other travel documents.


  • They are great for a group run/outdoor game or joining the TBI staff for a soccer game.

Multi-tool or small pocket knife

  • Blades less than 5 centimeters in length and no wider than 1 cm. A Swiss Army knife or similar is recommended
  • NO large knives.


  • Note: it is a dusty and sandy climate, so a retractable lens may not work over time
  • In the past, some students used a dust and waterproof camera or used their mobile phones with a dust/waterproof case

First Aid kit

  • Small personal kit w/ half-dozen waterproof adhesive bandages, topical antibiotic, alcohol or iodine wipes, tweezers (important for thorns), aspirin or equivalent, etc.

Energy bars

  • (Clif or similar) – Helps the body replenish after a long hike.

Electrolyte tabs or Gatorade powder

  • In case you prefer a brand you already known.

Small pad lock

  • If you wish to lock your storage trunk (best with numbers rather than key)

Duct tape


Items to consider leaving at home

Expensive Electronics

  • TBI will provide Netbooks for students to share so it will not be necessary for you to bring your own laptop
  • If you do decide to bring a laptop or tablet, make sure your data is backed up prior to leaving and consider getting a waterproof/dustproof case for your tablet
  • Keep in mind it is hot and dusty so your electronics may get damaged

Expensive Jewelry

  • Jewelry can get damaged or go missing out in the field
  • If you are married, you may want to consider purchasing an inexpensive wedding band to wear in place of your real band

Inappropriate clothing

  • Do not bring/wear revealing tops and shorts that expose your thighs – this could be disturbing to the local people (you may wear your swimsuits in tourist areas if we go to a pool or the beach)
  • Contact lenses (Although you can wear these, they are very difficult to keep free from dust and may end up causing eye infections. If you need to bring contact lenses, consider bringing the disposable daily-use type. Make sure to bring your eyeglasses and extra saline solution.)

Other suggestions/notes


  • For the domestic flights in Kenya, you are only allowed to bring one carry-on and one checked bag, weighing no more than 20 kg (or 44 lbs) total.
  • We are very strict with this so if your bags weigh more than this, you will be required to leave items behind in Nairobi
  • Consider using a duffel bag with wheels instead of a suitcase, since those tend to weigh less.  

Mobile phone

  • Your mobile phone carrier may not be available in Kenya
  • However, an unlocked device may work with the purchase of a Kenyan SIM card (approximately $2), but keep in mind that the network may not be available in all areas
  • Voice, Skype, WhatsApp, and messages via Wi-Fi in the compound is the best way to communicate with family and friends

Travel shots/vaccines/antimalarial medication

  • Get these at least ten days before you travel, as recommended by your doctor
  • You must bring your original immunization records with you (yellow card). Leave a copy at home or email it to yourself in case the original gets lost.
  • Since we are not in the medical field, we are unable to advise you as to which antimalarial medications to take. However, it has been our experience that Lariam should be avoided due to its psychiatric side effects and most visitors to TBI prefer Malarone. Do your research and ask your doctor about the side effects.
  • Additional information:


  • Students should apply for their 3-month tourist single-entry visa online before going to Kenya
  • Link to the visa application website with guidelines:
  • Please see instructions in the FAQ sheet for further details and contact information.


  • Bring two photocopies of the bio-page with you
  • Also create an electronic copy and email it to yourself and to Alicia DeRosalia at TBI so that we have it on file in case it is needed (



  • Kenyan Shillings can only be acquired in Kenya
  • It is a good idea to bring ~$300+ USD (or Euro) in an assortment of bills (1, 5, 10, 20, 50) issued after 2009
  • Most US debit cards will work in Kenya but ATMs are not readily accessible (note: you must notify your bank ahead of time – this goes for credit cards too)

Special needs

  • Let us know beforehand if you have ANY special needs that require preparation on our part
  • These include special medical conditions and dietary restrictions