Ten Things To Pack On Your International Short-Term Missions Trip

It’s time for me to start packing for our trip to Guatemala.  We can take up to 50 pounds in our suitcases.  We must plan appropriately to make sure we are bringing the necessary items.  Here is a list of things you should consider if you are traveling internationally for a short-term missions trip:

10 Things To Pack On Your International Short-Term Missions Trip

  1. Long pants or long dresses.  Short shorts are not the norm in most of the world.  In fact, uncovered upper legs are quite offensive in most cultures.  We will be wearing pants and long shorts, and the girls will also be wearing long dresses and capris.  If you are traveling overseas, make sure you dress appropriately.
  2. Clothes to leave behind.  The past two years, I have come home with less than half of the clothing I brought.  I can always get more t-shirts and shoes at home in America.  My shirts and shoes are treasured possessions for our friends in Guatemala.  If you are planning to go to a third world country, plan to come home with lighter or fewer suitcases.
  3. Camera.  You don’t have to or want to bring an expensive camera, but you want to bring something to capture the faces and places you will be visiting. Our pictures from last summer of some of my most prize “possessions.”  I treasure the beautiful people and memories represented through these pictures.  (Plan to leave many of the other devices at home.  For one, you probably won’t have access to internet.  Secondly, our devices could cause us to stick out like a sore thumb to a pick-pocket or thief.)
  4. Snacks.  You will want to try some of the food in the foreign land you are visiting, but there are times when you need a little snack or just a taste of home.  Pack granola bars, nuts, gum, or trail mix just in case.  These will come in handy when you are in the middle of a busy day far away from safe food and water.
  5. Water bottle.  We drank a lot of bottled water during our trip last year.  This water was safe to drink, and it kept us hydrated during our travels.  Make sure your water source is safe before you drink it.  Once you find a safe water source, be sure to fill your water bottle as often as possible.
  6. Rain gear and light weight jackets.  It is the rainy season in Guatemala while we are there, and it also gets cool at night.  Rain gear will help you stay dry during the random rain showers, and a jacket or sweatshirt will keep you warm in the cool evenings.  People often think we will be really hot in Guatemala, but we will actually be hanging out at 7,500 feet above sea level.  It’s much cooler at this elevation.  Find out what the weather is like where you are traveling, so you can plan and dress appropriately.
  7. Hand sanitizer.  I can’t guarantee there will be soap and water around when you get dirty.  Make sure you have some type of hand cleaner on hand just in case.  You’ll need it.
  8. Bible and journal.  I would probably recommend a small travel Bible to safe space.  You will want this while you are in the mission field.  God will speak to you in amazing ways, and His Word should be an important part of your listening.  You will also want to have a journal so you can capture your thoughts along the way.
  9. Spending money.  Don’t go overboard here.  You don’t need a lot of money.  You can exchange it at the airport or at a local bank.  You need just enough for snacks, a few souvenirs, and a small gift for your hosts.  We brought $100 per person which seemed to be the right about for a week-long trip.  I would guess that we spend most of this on souvenirs for those at home and for a gift to our host family.  Carrying around lots of money is a recipe for trouble.
  10. Cipro. Cipro is short for a longer pharmaceutical name.  This medicine is crucial for traveling overseas to third world countries.  Despite your best efforts, you will most likely be exposed to bacteria and germs your body is not used to having around.  Travel diarrhea is not fun.  In fact, it can be pretty hard on your body.  Make sure you have Cipro around just in case.  (Malaria is not a problem where we are going, but this is something you should be aware of depending on what part of the world you are visiting.  Depending on where you are heading in Guatemala, you may or may not need to take medicine for malaria.  Malaria medication typically must be taken before, during, and after your trip, so plan ahead.)

One more thing:  Don’t forget your passport!  You might need this to get into and out of a country.

What am I missing?  What questions to you have about packing for an international short-term missions trip?  What else would you want to bring on your trip?