What To Pack For Your Mission Trip: 25 Essentials


Mission trip packing can be overwhelming.

On one hand, you will be far away from home, and may not have access to the things you need if you forget something.

But on the other hand, you don’t want to over-do it.

What to put in and what to leave out. It can really be a challenge as you begin planning for your mission trip packing.

For the most part, I have found that it is better to pack as lightly as you can. You want to have everything you need, but “less” has so many advantages!

You will be grateful for:

-less to keep up with
-less clothing in cramped quarters
-less baggage to lug around and check at the airport
As you consider what to pack for a mission trip, keep in mind that you can fit more into a smaller piece of luggage when you roll together your entire outfit, including underwear.
Another advantage is that you can grab something to wear quickly, without having to dig around in a bag.

Keep in mind the maximum weights for checked bags during air travel. Just because it will fit in the bag doesn’t mean it will meet weight requirements!
I found this out the hard way on my second trip, when my bag that should have weighed 50 pounds or less weighed in at 75 pounds! Turns out I had gotten a little carried away with wanting to take back gifts for everyone I met the year before!
You might even consider purchasing a luggage scale so you can check it yourself before it’s weighed at the airport.

What To Pack For A Mission Trip:

  1. Extra tooth brushes in case you are in a place where it’s not safe to drink the water and you accidentally run water over your toothbrush. (You can always rinse your brush with purified water or allow it to air dry after contact with contaminated water, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.)

2. Tea tree oil to prevent head lice. Just put a little behind each ear in the morning or after bathing.

3. Foldable canvas cubbies for storage if you’re in a bunk room with limited space. You can hang this from the end of your bed to put your essentials at your fingertips. Command hooks may also come in handy to hang towels or clothing if you have a place to stick one.

4. Small shower caddy with everything you need to bathe and get ready. Keep in mind that the whole less is more thing applies to bathing too. Less soap and shampoo to rinse is a good idea with low water pressure or limited water supply. I’ll admit, I normally use a ton of shower gel and shampoo. But the place where we stay has no hot water (it’s hot enough there that I don’t even miss it most of the time.  Also, the water pressure is not great and we are asked to turn off the water between getting wet and rinsing off. So I tried using just a little shampoo and soap. So much easier to rinse! And although I probably wouldn’t want to make that adjustment long-term, it worked just fine. I was still clean while conserving water.

5. Insect repellent. You need a good insect repellent with a high deet content.

6. Baby wipes. (Invaluable for those times when you can’t shower, or when you just need to wash your face and no water is available.)

7. Antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer.

8. Bandana, small towel or frog togs (chilly pad) cooling clothes to dip in water and wear around your neck, or just to wipe sweat if there’s no water you can use.

9. Water bottle. In hot climates, it is so important to stay hydrated.

10. Closed in shoes. It’s tempting to go with Chacos or flip-flops when temperatures soar, but closed toed shoes prevent coming in contact with gray water, sewage, worms and fungi, and protect your feet from injury. (You could bring a pair of flip flops for the shower or to wear where you are staying.)

11. Small, light-weight Bible and Evangecube. Evangecube can help you hold your train of thought when speaking through an interpreter.  Here’s a demonstration of how the Evangecube is used.

12. Sunscreen. You need this even more if you burn easily. When you are closer to the equator, you can have a sunburn before you even realize it.

13. Hair ties, headbands, etc. to keep your hair out of your face and off your  neck. If you have long hair, you might want to practice braiding before you leave. I am not a good braider, but I did my own one day and got someone else to do it for me the next, because it is really great to not have to worry about your hair coming down.

14. Large towel or light-weight, short robe to wear if you need to shower and leave the area quickly to make room for others.

15. Extra wash cloths. People in some countries don’t typically use them, so you may not have one even in a hotel.

16. Gold Bond powder for chafing. (Store brand works just as well.)

17. Anti-itch cream for insect bites.

18. Medicines for headaches, indigestion or anything else you might need. You might want to include a stool softener, since travel can slow things down, or even bring them to a screeching halt.

19. Band-aides to keep in your back-pack just in case you need them are also a good idea.

20. Sunglasses. Don’t wear them while sharing the Gospel, since people need to be able to see your eyes when you share. But between stops and during travel, you’ll be glad your brought your sunglasses.

21. Backpack with everything you will need in the field. A small draw-string bag can also come in handy for times when you can leave the backpack at a church or other base while you walk around for evangelism. If you can fit what little you will need as you walk in the drawstring, the heavier backpack can be left behind.

22. More socks and underwear than you think you will need. In a hot climate where you will be sweating a lot, you want to be sure to have enough socks and underwear to get you through. You may want to change more than once a day if you have an opportunity.

 23. Culturally appropriate clothing. Check with your team leader or mission organization to find out what to wear. What you wear in the field may be different from what you will wear to church services. (At home, our church is pretty casual and ladies often wear pants. In the area where we minister, dresses or skirts are expected for church. We can wear long shorts or capris in the field, but for church, this is not culturally appropriate.)

24. Suckers or other small treats for the children. Always ask parents first before you hand them out.

25. A camera or phone to take pictures where allowed. You will make lifetime memories, and will want these to look back on. Use discretion in deciding when to take pictures and be careful to not make anyone feel that they are an oddity or on display.

* A small notebook or journal will also help you document your memories. If you can jot down the events of the day before you go to bed at night. You will be on the go much that the days will run together and you may even forget details, but if you write it down, you can always look back on these note and remember those remarkable days.

Although I have only traveled to Central America, I think most of the items on the list for any hot weather location for a mission trip.

Some of them, like the canvas shelf and the command hooks, probably wouldn’t work if you will be sleeping on the ground in a tent, but they are great for bunk house lodging.

Listed above are the 25 essential things you need when choosing what to pack for a mission trip.

But there are a couple of others that you can’t put in your suitcase.

An open mind and a great attitude are so important. Know up front that circumstances and needs can change quickly, so you need to be flexible.

What to pack for a mission trip doesn’t have to be mind-boggling. Even if you will be gone a week or more in a remote location, there are some things you can do without for a little while.

So as you consider what to pack for a mission trip, try not to stress. Take the time to think it through, make a list of things that are essential to you, and go for it!

Pack as lightly as you can, and if possible, plan to leave some things behind to lighten your load on the way back.

Once you’re done, forget about it! Don’t worry about what you may have left out that you might need.  (Chances are you can borrow from another team member.)

Get your mind focused and get out there and do what you came to do! Share the love of Jesus!


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