You’ve booked your mission trip and you’re busy fundraising and counting down the weeks until you go. Now is a good time to start planning a simple, functional and practical wardrobe to bring with you. Volunteering abroad requires specific items. Here are some tips to think about before you start to pack.
Check 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. 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. The contents of your suitcase for a mission trip to Haiti will look very different to a mission trip to Tennessee.
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 teaching and training inside a church, you’ll likely need Sunday dress clothes. Find out what kinds of activities you will be doing there. This will help you know what to pack. Comfortable shoes, plenty of socks and a waterproof jacket are essentials. Don't dress for fashion; be practical.
Dress for Culture
It may seem obvious, but it’s imperative that you consider the culture of the country you are visiting. For women, this means keeping your wardrobe modest. Low-riding jeans and low cut shirts are not appropriate. Also, many trips require a one-piece bathing suit. and a cover-up if . Ask your mission trip coordinator if you have questions.
Be sure to always pack medications like Pepto Bismol and some form of anti-diarrheal medication. 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. The same goes for any Rx medication you take regularly. If you have issues with blood sugar and require regular eating times, you might consider packing extra snacks such as peanuts or energy bars. Don't take fresh fruit or vegetables and check with your mission trip director to let them know your medical situation.
Don't forget soap, wash cloth, towel, toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitizer for times when you can't wash your 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. Rubber flip-flops are a good idea for showering. A sunscreen with a high SPF is essential, as is insect repellent.
Because purse-snatching is common in some areas, and because you are carrying very important documents with you, consider a money belt that you can wear underneath your clothes. Be sure to keep your passport on you at all times, or check with your mission trip leader for a secure storage area. It is also wise to make a copy of your passport where your passport number and picture are, in case your passport gets stolen or misplaced.
Make your luggage identifiable. Be sure ALL luggage, even carry-ons, is labelled. A brightly colored tie on will make identifying your luggage easy. 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 clothes pins, to dry clothes on.
Mission Discovery has downloads available to help you decide what to pack and what to leave at home. If this is your first mission trip, check in with your team leader to make sure you have all the information you’ll need to get the most out of your time abroad.