Knowing how to pack for your first mission trip, or even your first mission trip in a new country can be intimidating. After years of taking teams on short-term mission trips, we have learned a few things about packing. We want to share them with you!
You may not need everything on this list.. in fact you probably won’t. Only pack what you really think will be useful in the area you are traveling too. And always check with your team leader in case there are any special items that you need to bring.
ALWAYS pack these in your carry-on luggage:
- Spending Money
- Emergency money
- Shot records if required
- Prescription and other necessary medication in the original packaging
- One change of clothes (just in case your luggage gets lost or delayed)
- Camera and its charger
- Phone and its charger (if you can use it while you are there)
- Clothes (Depending on what you are doing, you may need work clothes, church clothes, casual clothes, sportswear, etc.)
- Swimsuit (ask your leader about dress code)
- Light rain jacket
- Socks and sneakers or work shoes
- Flip-flops for the shower
- Dry powder laundry soap
- Extra toilet paper
- Extra bags. Ziploc bags, grocery bags…they come in handy!
- Bug spray
- Journal and pens
- Girls: hair brush and hair ties
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes
- Small first aid kit (If your leaders bring one, you may not need to. Check with them before adding it)
- Water bottle
- Durable wristwatch
- Deck of cards (for those long airport layovers)
- Language phrasebook (to help you communicate a little bit even without a translator)
- Snacks (Granola bars, nuts, packaged food that does not require refrigeration and, if you will be in a hot climate, won’t melt!)
- Any medication you think you will need that your leader might not have in his or her first aid kit (i.e. your own ibuprofen, Benadryl cream for bug bites, etc.)
- Intentional empty space for souvenirs!
*Pro tip: Always double-bag liquid containers to avoid a giant mess if they burst or leak during travel. Check with your airline’s regulations and make sure that you only put liquids in your carry-on luggage that are small enough to comply with the guidelines. All bigger liquid containers can go in your checked bag.
DO NOT pack:
- Expensive jewelry or other valuable or fragile belongings
- Anything airlines will take away from you (i.e. pocket knives, large bottles of liquid in your carry-on luggage, etc. Check your airline’s website to see what is prohibited.)
- Fresh produce. If you are traveling internationally, customs will not be happy about it.
- Too many books. They’re heavy and you probably won’t have much time to read them anyway.
- Too many snacks. You don’t need half a suitcase full; they will feed you. If you have a dietary restriction: talk to your leader and make sure that those coordinating your team’s food in the country are prepared to accommodate it and carry a few extra snacks just in case.
- Too much stuff. You probably will not need nearly as much as you think you might. Try to go with lightweight clothes that you can easily wash, dry, and use again.