Mission trips provide participants with the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only can you travel around the world, but you make a difference as well. Before your next mission trip, use this checklist to prepare for the experience.
Before packing your bags, decide on a destination. The world sits waiting, and you can choose to travel by yourself or join an existing group. Most mission trips require physical activity so be sure to choose a destination that accommodates your physical abilities.
Next, purchase mission trip insurance. Your regular policy might not cover emergency medical treatment at your destination, particularly if you travel overseas. In addition to insurance, visit your doctor for a medical exam, immunizations and prescription medication refills. Obtain copies of current prescriptions in case you lose your luggage.
If you’re traveling with a team, you want to build rapport and relationships before you spend time traveling and working together. Consider using an online forum if face-to-face meetings are impossible.
In the months and weeks leading up to your trip, ask each other questions like:
- Why do you want to join the team?
- What skills and talents can you share?
- Is this your first mission trip?
- What are the fears you must face before leaving?
- What are you most looking forward to doing or seeing when we arrive?
By answering these questions, your team can solidify their purpose and prepares for a meaningful and memorable trip.
Most mission trip destinations provide unique cultural experiences. Learn about the food, climate, language and history of your destination. Share your new knowledge with your friends and supporters as you make financial preparations for your trip.
Unless you plan to fund the trip from your own pocket, you will need to participate in fundraising ventures. Write a letter that outlines your trip and your financial needs, and send it to family and friends. To raise community support, host a garage sale or a car wash. These and other fundraising events provide you with cash for travel, lodging and food expenses while building your support system.
In the days before your departure, think about your destination. Does your host family need any special items like children’s toys, educational supplies or art and craft materials? Allow plenty of room for these items in your suitcase.
Don’t forget to pack current traveling documents like a passport, Visa and ID. Make copies of these important documents, and store them in your luggage before traveling.
You’ll also want to take:
- Climate and culturally appropriate clothing
- First aid kit with sunscreen, bug repellant, band aids and antiseptic spray
- Cash for souvenirs
- Camera, cellphone, laptop and electricity adaptor if needed
- Other items as designated by the trip’s hosts or team leaders
After the Trip
While preparing to leave, think about coming home. You might experience reverse culture shock, especially after an overseas trip. Schedule a team meeting during the week after the trip, and discuss your thoughts and feelings about the experience.
Additionally, share lessons learned, photos taken and experiences gained with community supporters. As you process the trip, you are remembering the trip of a lifetime and motivating others to take part next time!