The is a mission trip packing list brought to you by Caroline. See all packing list posts here.
One of the most difficult trips I’ve ever packed for was one in which I spent two weeks in rural Thailand on a mission trip, followed by another two weeks sailing the Croatian coast. I tried to find items that were versatile enough for both trips, but I needed to bring specific items for my mission trip.
Mission work can take you all over the world, from Southeast Asia to South America and everywhere in between, so it’s important to be prepared. After consulting others who have traveled for mission work, we’ve come up with this mission trip packing list.
As a representative of the organization you are traveling on behalf of, you will likely be expected to follow a certain dress code. Modest clothing is important to pack in effort to respect local cultures.
2 pairs of capri or long pants– Most trips prefer that volunteers not wear shorts during their trip. Instead, wear cargo or lightweight linen pants. I packed my ExOfficio Roughian capris. http://www.exofficio.com/products/details/womens-roughian-capri
2 long sleeved shirts– Bug proof clothing is a must-have for a mission trip. It’s even better if it’s wicking as well. Long sleeved shirts are also great for layering.
2 short sleeved shirts– While working, it’s a good idea to wear basic short sleeved shirts that you don’t mind getting dirty. I recommend cheap tees from a bargain store like Old Navy to throw away if you need to.
1 tank top or sleeveless shirt– If you have a day off you can wear a tank top or wear it under your other shirts.
1 long skirt– You can wear a skirt on your day off or even at work, depending on what your project involves.
3 bras– I recommend packing 2 regular bras and at least one sports bra.
3 pairs of underwear– If I had known about ExOfficio underwear at the time, I would have packed it exclusively and washed it as I went.
1 windbreaker or light jacket– The rain in Thailand came quickly, often when I wasn’t prepared for it.
1 bandana– As the all-purpose travel item, I used mine to wipe off sweat on hot afternoons.
1 hat– Keep the sun out of your eyes and protect yourself.
1 pashmina or sarong– I used my sarong as a long skirt, to cover up when I got out of the shower and sometimes as a blanket.
1 pair of athletic shoes– Closed toed shoes are essential if you’re working on a building project.
1 pair of flip flops– Just like in hostels, volunteer housing has shared showers, so keep your feet clean.
Shampoo/Conditioner – Travel sized and TSA friendly are the way to go.
Soap or Body Wash – I brought body wash instead, but soap is usually easier to pack if you’re flying carry-on only.
Toothbrush/Paste – Also get a snap-on case so you don’t get anything on your toothbrush.
Deodorant – You’ll be glad you had it on the sweltering days.
Razor – You might not see this item as essential, but it’s your call.
Brush – Useful for pulling your hair back.
Hair ties and headbands – Necessary to keep the hair off your neck on those hot days.
Motion Sickness Medicine – You may be taking local transportation, which can be bumpy.
Diva Cup – The Diva Cup is ideal for this trip since you will be active and won’t always have time to change. And not every country has the same feminine products that you might be used to.
Prescriptions and medications– Visit a travel doctor before your trip to see what vaccinations and medications you need beforehand.
First aid kit– The basics, like band-aids, ibuprofen and burn cream, should be sufficient.
Protection from the Elements
Mosquito spray– I purchased heavy-duty DEET mosquito spray for my trip to Thailand but didn’t put it on as much as I should have.
Sunblock– Save yourself from a miserable week of sunburn.
Travel insurance– You don’t want to be put in a situation where you need to be airlifted out of the country without travel insurance.
Camera– Capture the memories of your mission trip, but make sure your camera is fully charged before you go in case you don’t get a chance to plug it in.
iPod– Keep yourself entertained on the long flight.
Adapters– Don’t forget adapters for your chosen country.
Towel– Pack a quick-drying towel for convenience and extra space.
Passport and necessary visas– Make sure you’ve acquired all necessary paperwork to visit the country you’ll be working in. Also throw in extra cash in case you can’t find an ATM right away.
Deck of cards– I always pack a deck of cards because it’s a form of entertainment that never needs charging.
Books– I rarely had a chance to charge my electronics, so I was glad to have real books, rather than an e-reader. I also didn’t feel bad about leaving them behind.
Language guide– There are lots of language guide options, but you should at least know a few words of the local language.
Headlamp– On a few occasions I had to fumble around in the dark to go to the restroom, so it was handy to have my headlamp next to my bed.
Wet wipes– You won’t be able to shower as much as you might back home, so a quick face wipe can make you feel cleaner immediately.
Water bottle– Make sure your bottle is filled with potable water before drinking it. If you’re unsure, pack iodine tablets or a SteriPen.
Gifts for kids– If you will be working with children, you can bring items like pencils as a treat for the children. Just make sure it’s nothing that can’t get refilled.