Everybody makes mistakes. Many mistakes can be avoided by planning ahead and heeding some good advice. When it comes to going on a mission trip, there are certainly a lot of areas to make mistakes. Mission work is a blend of planning, emotions, physical work, spiritual work, and new experiences in one (often short-term) trip. Christian missions can be a lot of fun, but they’ll also stretch you to your limits. Therefore, it’s easy to see why somebody might make a mistake or two on a mission trip. Here are the 5 worst things to do on a mission trip:

  1. Overpack– The opportunity to volunteer abroad doing Christian missions work is a huge opportunity. You’ll probably be asked to fill a number of roles during your trip. However, you need to remember that you’re with a group of people and space will be limited. It’s easy to overpack when traveling on a mission trip because you want to be ready for every single situation. Go ahead and get that thinking out of your mind. You won’t be prepared for every single situation. Instead, be flexible and ready to adapt with whatever clothing and supplies you do bring. You can pack skillfully without being the person on the trip with two gigantic 80lb suitcases. Also, with a lighter suitcase, you’ll be much happier when you’re racing through an unfamiliar airport to catch a last-minute flight.
  2. Go to Seek Romance– Missionary opportunities are an amazing time to connect with new and old friends. You’re likely to create memories that will last a lifetime when you volunteer abroad. However, be wary of the desire to find romance during a mission trip. Mission work and travel can make for an incredibly emotional time, and sometimes this can be confused with desiring to start a relationship during a mission trip. This isn’t your purpose in going. You’re more likely to remember in 10 years how God worked through your trip than a short-term love interest.
  3. Point the Finger– Christian missions are a time to come together, with one Spirit, and focus on doing good. Traveling in a group will naturally lead to noticing each other’s faults. Don’t focus too much on the things that bother you about your fellow team members. It’s easy to point the finger and highlight each other’s flaws (if only in your own mind). Don’t forget about how valuable unity is when you’re working as a team. If you must be critical, then make sure you’re being constructive and gracious.
  4. Only Focus on the Spiritual Things– Of course, missionary opportunities have an incredible spiritual impact. However, don’t be too narrow-minded when it comes to focusing on the spiritual applications of Christian missions. Don’t overlook things like loading the van, building fences, and digging ditches. There’s a certain spirituality in the hard work that comes with Christian missions.
  5. Expect a Strict Schedule– Be flexible! Expecting to stick to a strict schedule is a big mistake when you volunteer abroad. The rest of the world might seem to work on a different time system all together. Don’t stress if meetings get started late and programs get cancelled. You aren’t doing anything but hurting yourself by expecting a perfectly executed schedule. Go with the flow.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re planning your next mission trip. You’ll get so much more out of your trip if you can avoid these 5 common mistakes.