In the last couple of years, planning mission trips has become extremely difficult because of COVID-19 and the restrictions surrounding it. As some of the regulations have lifted, it may leave you wondering what mission trips will look like moving forward and how to best prepare for them. In this article, we’ll dive into how to navigate traveling abroad with any remaining COVID-19 rules in place, what you can expect from short-term mission trips, and additional helpful tips for planning your trip.

Short-Term Mission Trips

Although our trips might be short-term (about 5-10 days), they leave a lasting, long-term impact. Our mission teams aim to make a difference and leave the communities we serve with plenty of resources and follow-up afterward. Especially amidst the pandemic. It’s more important than ever to make sure the work continues once we leave.

At Mission Discovery, our short-term mission trips are focused on servanthood and discipleship. We do this by meeting physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. Some examples of this include building houses, outreach in the community, providing medical care, food, education, and more. We want to make Jesus known where we are and also across the world, and love on other people while doing so.

Navigating COVID-19 Restrictions

It can be hard to know exactly what is going on and what rules and regulations to follow surrounding COVID-19. Since things are always changing and being updated, it’s best to continually check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for restrictions, and you can also go online to to read up on information specific to the country you will be traveling to. Here are some of the regulations as of right now:

  • Masks are required during travel (airports, airplanes, etc.).

    Even if you find out the flight you are on or the airport you are in doesn’t require masks, it’s always helpful to have one just in case you go somewhere that does require it. Or maybe you’ll just have a few extra if someone else needs one.

  • It’s recommended that you’re up to date on the COVID-19 vaccinations, but it’s not required.

    However, if you aren’t vaccinated, you may need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 3 days of leaving on your flight. Thankfully, some airports have set up testing sites at the airport if you either forget to get a test or choose to have it done there. It will likely be more expensive to have it done at the airport, but it’s good to know that a convenient option is available in some airports.

  • Negative COVID-19 test results are required to fly into the U.S.

    Make sure you plan ahead when you return to the U.S. According to the CDC, this is mandatory regardless of your vaccination status or citizenship.

Helpful Tips for Planning to Go on a Mission Trip

Of course, you’ll have your regular packing list for your mission trip, but there are a few things to keep in mind when traveling amidst the effects of COVID-19. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Research where you’re going ahead of time.

    Aside from learning what specific rules you need to abide by, learn about the people and the culture too. This will help you build relationships and connect with people there. Ask heartfelt, meaningful questions and think of some ahead of time as well.

  • Pack practically with COVID-19 in mind.

    Make sure you pack masks, hand sanitizer, vaccination card (if applicable), and anything else you might need. You never know when you’ll need a mask, and you also don’t know if you’ll have access to a washing machine for your cloth masks, so pack a few disposable ones as well.

  • Be prepared to drop the opinions.

    Everyone has a belief about masking or no masking, vaccine mandates, testing, and COVID-19 as a whole. However, a short-term mission trip is not the time to try and agree or disagree in a healthy (or unhealthy) way. Take a team member out to coffee before or afterward if you’re truly concerned about differences, but don’t make the trip focused on opinions. Make it about Jesus and loving others.

  • Be patient and remember that the trip will likely look different than the ones you’ve been on in the past.

    Obviously, COVID-19 has affected everyone in different ways and there are still lasting effects from it. Understandably, the people and places you interact with have gone through a terrible crisis, just like you have, so prepare yourself ahead of time to be extra caring and kind. Try to be patient if you run into things like extra restrictions or mandates, delays, and hard conversations. It’s okay if this mission trip looks and feels different from the ones you’ve experienced previously, and you can rest in knowing that God has a plan for you.

  • Pray, pray, and pray some more.

    Prayer is incredibly important for any mission trip, and especially for going on one after all the confusion, fear, and chaos surrounding COVID-19 and everything else going on in our world today. Not only will you be praying together as a team but try to spend a lot of time praying alone as well. Pray for peace and comfort as you step into the unknown and what God has for you.

  • Above all, trust the Lord.

    Spend time reading the Word and talking with your team and people you trust about your worries, insecurities, and doubts. But remember that we can only prepare so much for the unknown, and we need to trust God with all of it.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20