What to Pack for Vanautu
Before going to Vanuatu, I did a fair amount of research online. I read plenty of good articles with advice about transport, recommendations on places to go, basic Bislama phrases to know... I read a lot, basically. However, I still met a few surprises over the course of our two weeks there. I wish I had been able to find a little bit more information about what to expect once you leave a city, hop islands, and/or stay in a village homestay. As soon as the tourist hub of Port Vila (or Luganville) is in your rear window, you may not see a shop or an ATM again until you return. Thus, without further ado....
My Must-Haves for Traveling Around Vanuatu
- BEACH GEAR. (Swimsuit/sunscreen/towel/snorkel&mask/fins).
This is sort of a given, but it never hurts to have a reminder. Your bungalow by the sea may be staffed by friendly and hospitable hosts, but that doesn't mean they'll have snorkels to rent or even towels for you to use.
Also: having a small dry bag for valuables or electronic gear was really great for our peace of mind on boat rides.
Vanuatu has a big sharing & giving culture. You must bring gifts or items to share. Think practical items or snacks or a cool trinket from your home country. We gave out American flag bandannas to quite a few friends we made along the way. Women seem to be often interested in Western jewelry or clothes - I gave away hairbands, a dress, and one of my bracelets on Tanna. I wish I had brought a bunch of fun costume jewelry to give away, that would have been perfect.
- MEDICINE & TOILETRIES.
Again, a given but necessary.
- FLASHLIGHT/TORCH/LANTERN. Many of the homestays in more remote locations do not have electricity; usually just one or two solar lamps in common areas. We have a small inflatable solar lantern that we ended up using quite a bit after dark.
- For Women: MODEST CLOTHES such as knee-length dresses, skirts, or shorts. Modern Vanuatu is somewhat religious and conservative outside of kastom villages. Even in kastom villages, your over-exposed white legs may attract negative attention. Respect the culture and dress accordingly.
- SPARE BATTERIES/ PORTABLE CHARGER. Vanuatu is an incredibly photogenic country. I took countless photos while I was there. This was possible even off the beaten track because I have three GoPro batteries and three batteries for my Nikon. The GoPro in particular runs through batteries really quickly, so it's nice to have spares when you're without electricity. That being said, a portable charger might do just as much good - plus you could use it on a phone.
- CASH. Cash is king! Always have more than you think because ATMs are basically non-existent outside of resorts, Vila, & Luganville. I cannot stress this enough. We did not have nearly as much cash with us on Tanna as we needed to do each of the activities we were interested in. It put a damper on what was otherwise a fantastic trip.
- Ok, so this is not a must-have for everybody. That said, if you want to relax with a cocktail or beer at your accommodation, BRING YOUR OWN ALCOHOL. You can't find much outside of the cities and what you might find will likely have little variety and marked-up prices. Same goes for packaged food. Are you a chocolate addict like me & Emmett? Bring some candy or oreos to ration out during desperate times.
There you have it! I hope that this post will be helpful to anyone who wants to travel independently in Vanuatu. If you have any more Vanuatu travel planning concerns or questions, feel free to comment below!