What to Pack on Your Summer Mission Trip
By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer
Dress for the Weather
Be sure to check to get a weather report for the place you
are going so you know if you are going to need a heavy jacket
or a rain jacket or a T-shirt. Ask your missions trip director
and, in some cases, you can Google in your location. Remember:
You might have to consider various locations. The difference
between a valley region and a mountainous area can be great enough
to require heavier clothing.
Dress for Activities
If you are doing a construction project, heavy work boots and
jeans and T-shirts would be in order. If you are there to do
street performances, a costume may be in order. If you are teaching
and training inside a church, you might need Sunday dress. Find
out what kinds of activities you will be doing there. This will
help you know what to pack. Generally speaking, you are going
to need comfortable shoes at some point in your trip. Don't dress
for fashion; be practical.
Dress for Modesty
Women: no belly shirts and low-rider jeans. Also, many trips
require a one-piece bathing suit. If you have to bring a two-piece,
make sure that it is modest and be sure to take a T-shirt to
wear over the top as a cover-up. Ask your mission trip coordinator
if you have questions.
Dress for Culture
Often when we think summer mission trips, we as Americans think
shorts, T-shirts, tank tops, and sandals. But this might offend
the culture you are entering. Some Muslim cultures, in particular,
require long pants, long shirts, and long skirts for the women,
and some even require head coverings. Try to find this out as
soon as you can in case you need to go shopping.
This can be one of the scariest concerns of those going on
international mission trips to places like the jungle or remote
areas. You can't simply say no to food that has been placed in
front of you because it looks uninviting. You will offend your
host(s) and you defeat the purpose of being there, which is to
show Christ's love. Pray and ask for God's grace!
Be sure to always pack medications like Pepto Bismal and some
form of anti-diarrheal medication. I suggest the chewable Pepto
Bismal in case you can't locate water. Also, you can often get
some form of antibiotic before you go on your trip if you visit
your doctor in advance of your trip. A doctor might suggest amoxicilan
or even ciprofloxacin (cipro tabs). Cipro is particularly good
for stomach and intestinal bacterial infections.
If you have issues with blood sugar and require regular eating
times, you might consider packing extra snacks such as peanuts
or cheese and cracker packets, or even energy bars. Once again,
these should be in original wrapping so that you don't have trouble
getting through Customs. Don't take fresh fruit or vegetables.
Customs won't appreciate that. Be sure to check with your mission
trip director to let them know your medical situation and ask
if this is something you can do.
If you can bring bottled water, I highly recommend it. You
can get quickly dehydrated in the summer, especially in warmer
climates without realizing it. Signs of dehydration: tiredness,
confusion or fuzzy thinking, inability to concentrate, urine
that is bright yellow gold, and salty lips when you lick them.
The key is to keep hydrated. If you can pack some Gatorade, this
is particularly good in areas where the sun will be blazing and
you are working outdoors. Gatorade and Powerade products not
only rehydrate, but they balance your electrolytes. Unbalanced
electrolytes can cause major headaches and dizziness.
Don't forget soap, wash cloth, towel, toothbrush and toothpaste,
hand sanitizer for times when you can't wash hands with water,
baby wipes in small packs to take with you and to use if for
some reason you can't get a shower, and shampoo/conditioner.
Perfume and cologne are optional and may not be wise if you
are going to be outside for long periods of time or are in an
insect-rich area. Bugs are drawn to flower smells and you are
likely going to get bitten more. This also goes for hair products.
Gnats seem to love hair spray. Try to avoid these.
One note about razors: If you are in an area where the water
is questionable, don't shave in the shower or at the sink or
water to rinse. If you have a cut anywhere on your body from
shaving, you could infect yourself with water-borne diseases.
If you have to shave, wait until after your shower. Use shave
gel without water. Do not immerse any part of your body in water
until several hours after to heal any abrasions. I recommend
not shaving at all in areas where the water is infected. It isn't
worth the risk.
It's a good idea to wear flip-flops in the shower or bathtub
when you are in country on a mission trip. It's good protection
against fungal problems like warts.
Be careful not to bring anything that might be considered a
weapon. I think tweezers and nail clippers are still OK, but
Beyond bringing over-the-counter stomach aids and antibiotics,
it is wise to bring some form of ginger with you. You can buy
ginger pills or candied ginger at your local health food store.
You can also buy candied ginger (also called crystallized ginger)
in the spice section of your grocery story, but you will buy
almost twice as much. Ginger is great for nausea brought on by
motion sickness or any digestive discomfort. It doesn't take
much and it works very quickly.
Keep all medicines, supplements in original bottles as much
as possible. Pills in plastic bags look suspicious. Buy smaller
bottles and take these with you.
Consider buying a small first aid kit. It could really help
you or one of your team members in case of a small medical
Be sure to wear sunscreen in hotter climates, as you will be
more susceptible to burns if you don't. You don't want blisters
and a peeling back or worse, sun poisoning, because you forgot
to pack your sunscreen. Be sure the SPF rating is above 8. Between
15 and 30 will do.
Consider taking bug spray with you also. If you are going to
mosquito-infested areas, this is important. Bounce dryer sheets
are also a good repellant against mosquitoes. You can put Bounce
sheets in the pockets of your shirts or pants to help keep the
Because some areas are purse-snatching areas, and because you
are carrying very important documents with you, consider a belly
pouch, or, better yet, a money belt that you can wear underneath
your clothes. You can get these at luggage places or even places
Be sure to keep your passport on you at all times. Don't just
lock it in your suitcase. It is also wise to make a copy of your
passport inside flap that has your passport number and picture
in case your passport gets stolen or misplaced. Put the copy
in another area, not on your person.
Frequently, suitcases get transported tied to the top of trucks.
It is not the time for that brand-new beautiful matching luggage!
Make your luggage identifiable. Be sure ALL luggage, even carryons,
have your name and address. I suggest a brightly colored tie
on to identify your luggage. Lots of people have the basic blue
or black canvas luggage. You don't want someone picking up your
bags by mistake. My father used to bring luggage that had a big "R" made
out of strips of electrical tape slapped in the middle of the
suitcase that was very easy to spot.
Try to pack things tightly. Ironing and then folding items
will help them lay flatter so you can pack more. Packing a compact
rain jacket or windbreaker is recommended over a heavier item.
If you are in an area where the water is safe and you can hand-wash
items, you can bring mild soap like Woolite or even mild liquid
dish soap to wash clothes in. Bring some plastic hangers and
clothespins, also to hang wet clothes on to dry. I did this while
on a trip to Spain and it saved me from having to pack more clothes.
Quick Packing List of Important Items
- Pepto Bismal and Anti-diarrheal meds
- Antibiotics (like Cipro
- Melatonin pills – helpful for the first
few nights to get you on their clock
- Ginger for motion sickness and digestive issues
- Dramamine for motion sickness
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Towel and washcloth
- Plastic bag for dirty laundry
- Hanger and clothespins to hang up clothes that you need to
- Liquid soap to wash clothes
- Appropriate dress
- Appropriate footwear
- Tweezers and First Aid kit
- Hat/sunglasses for the sun
- Bug spray
- Personal, battery powered fan
- Flip-flops for the shower
- One-piece bathing suit (for women) with T-shirt to wear over
- Rainproof windbreaker that folds up small
- Foreign currency
- Waist pouch or money belt for passport,
- Camera and accessories
- Roll of toilet paper (crushed to fit in suitcase) or Kleenex tissues
- Pack of Plug adapters
- Travel iron / travel hair dryer
- Ear plugs and face mask to help you sleep at night or on the plane
- Deflateable neck pillow for the plane
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