Packing for a mission trip might look something like this:
Step 1. Make a list of things I need.
Step 2. Pack bag.
Step 3. Realize I’ve overpacked.
Step 4. Unpack bag.
Step 5. Repack with only the essentials.
Step 6. Arrive at host country and realize I’ve forgotten at least 3 things that would have been very useful. Sigh.
We hear from mission trip travelers all the time. One of our favorite questions to ask is this, “What do you wish you had on your trip?” Here are their most common replies. Do you have something to add to this list? Leave us a comment below.
1. Water bottle.
This is vital. Don’t just assume that you will have access to a water fountain or clean water. Pack an empty water bottle and keep it with you always. Drinking plenty of water while working on a mission trip, especially if you’re in a warm climate, is key to avoiding heat-related illnesses.
2. Copies of your travel documents.
When I was traveling from Kenya to Tanzania on a mission trip in 2010, I made the mistake of leaving my passport locked in my hotel room in Kenya. This obviously caused me some problems when I attempted to gain entrance into Tanzania – I had no way to prove that I had a valid U.S. Passport. The lesson here: always carry copies of your travel documents in case something is lost, stolen, or forgotten.
3. First aid kit.
There are a few things that should be found in as many bags as possible to ensure safety on your next mission trip. If you haven’t already, add these things to your packing list:
- Sterile compresses, gauze, and dressings and adhesive bandages
- Cleansing agents (soap, antiseptic wipes and/or hydrogen peroxide, alcohol wipes)
- Antibiotic, burn, and hydrocortisone ointments
- Thermometer (oral, non-mercury/non-glass)
- Scissors and tweezers
- Petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- Aspirin and non-aspirin pain relievers
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Emergency phone numbers (including 24/7 assistance line)
4. Plastic bags.
You may be questioning this one, but trust me, you’ll be glad you packed them along. Plastic bags are good for so many things such as packing out trash from your volunteer site, storing small items that could otherwise get lost, and protecting your cell phone and I.D. from sweat, water or dirt.
5. Host gifts.
Being a full-time missionary is hard work. Leave a small blessing for your host along with a thank you note for their commitment to mission work.
Extended exposure to the sun is not only bad for your skin in the long-run but it can put a damper on your trip if you end up with a bad sunburn. Don’t just expect that this will be provided for you by hosts or trip leaders or that you’ll be able to easily acquire it at the local grocery story in your host country. Pack a bottle of your favorite sunscreen, SPF 30 or above, in your suitcase.
7. The right shoes.
Take into consideration the type of project you will be working on. If construction, bring work boots; If outdoor activities or play, bring closed-toe tennis shoes; If water-related, bring water shoes. You get the idea.