Here are some more unusual items to pack that will be VERY useful on this trip, or really ANY international trip:
Zip Lock bags, various sizes – These are incredibly useful, and take up almost no room. They can be used to pack up wet or dirty clothing, used to store liquids when going through airport security, waterproof important documents or electronics, pack potentially leaking toiletries, etc. This site has some other wonderful ideas for these incredibly useful items.
Garbage bags – For the same reasons as above, but for bigger and bulkier, or more, things. And they make a handy emergency poncho.
Duct tape – This is obvious. You can repair your bag, use it as a label, repair clothing….its uses are only limited by your imagination. Here are some more ideas. You can bring an entire roll, or roll some around your water bottle or other cylindrical object. And yes, in a pinch, you can create an evening gown out of duct tape.
Zip Ties – These are great impromptu luggage locks, but they also work great for repairs. Bring a bunch of miscellaneous sizes.
Microfiber Travel Towel – Yes, you can bring a bath towel. Yes, you can buy one there cheap. But the problem with these are that they are incredibly bulky, and dry very slowly. So instead, buy a microfiber travel towel like these. They dry quickly, and fold very compactly. I never travel without one.
Headlamp or small flashlight – Because sometimes it gets dark. And we go to a village without electricity.
Bandannas/Buffs – An essential travel item is a bandanna. Again, there are many uses for it; you can use it as a hat, a head band, a sweat band, a towel, an emergency bandage, etc. I go one step further and use a Buff, which is a tube of elastic fabric that is even more versatile than a bandanna.
Ear Plugs – Because roosters. And snoring. And a million other noisy things infringing on your beauty rest.
External Battery for iPhone, iPad, etc. – Because running out of batteries on your iPhone 6 hours into a 12 hour flight sucks. I use one that can be used on many devices. Such as this one.
Work Gloves – This is a must have for the manual labor we will be doing in the villages. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something that will save your hands while we dig, saw, plant, etc.
Optional: Noise Cancellation Headphones – These are a bit more expensive, but if you travel a lot, they are worth it. There are two types: active and passive. An active noise cancellation headset, such as the Bose Comfort series, actually listens to the sounds around you and actually “cancels” those sounds by sending out “opposite” sound waves (if you want to learn more about the actual technology beyond my simplistic description, this is a good place). Passive noise cancellation isn’t really cancellation; it’s a glorified ear plug. These headphones fit tightly into your ear canal so that no sound can penetrate your ears. I use these, mainly because they are so much cheaper. These are the ones I use.
Optional: Airline Headphone Adapter – For some reason, airplanes use a 2-prong audio outlet for headphones. I suspect they do that so you were forced to buy or rent their headphones. They are compatible with normal headphones, but will only work with one ear. So instead, get one of these, so you can use your own headphones with the airplane’s audio/video system.