How to Prepare for Your Next Overseas Mission Trip: Student’s Guide

Are you ready to embark on the journey you’ve been called on? Mission trips are one of the best ways to serve others in a physical, emotional, spiritual and meaningful way. If you feel called to explore missions work, you should know, unlike packing for a typical trip or vacation, long-term and short–term mission trips require more preparation both mentally and physically.

Mission trips tend to bring out the best and worst in us because of the new feelings and experiences we have the opportunity to navigate, but it’s the spiritual growth and redemptive relationships we build that make each trip so gratifying. If you’re preparing for your first student internship or missions trip, we hope you’ll find our preparation tips most helpful!

Make a List of Essential Items

Sometimes we get so fixated on the fundraising and packing the most essential items that we tend to forget preparation for the people we’ll be meeting and ministering to on the trip. Before you start preparing the tangible items, prepare your mind and heart for the new experiences that lay ahead. Once you’ve done that, then you can really focus getting your bags packed. Our ABWE missionaries have found it’s often easier and most enjoyable when possessions are kept to a minimum. However, certain items are essential when heading out to your field.

Make sure you have the following items on your packing list for short-term mission trips:

  • Necessary documentation: Your first objective should be ensuring your passport is up to date. Make sure you have your identification card or driver’s license in your wallet before departure, as well. We also recommend investing in a reliable holder to keep all of your documentation together, protected, and organized throughout your travels!

  • A Bible and your go-to- evangelistic tool: Embarking on a mission trip can be eye-opening. You may encounter uncomfortable interactions, poverty, or other difficult realities. Keep your favorite Scripture’s fresh in your mind and focus on WHO’s leading you on your trip. We also recommend carrying a notebook and pencil to record any new thoughts or experiences that may be presented to you while on your journey. Additionally, sharing the Gospel in another country to individuals with different worldviews can often present a challenging task. We recommend packing any cross-cultural evangelism & discipleship resources you own or any notes you may have taken during a prefield missions training.

  • Climate-appropriate clothing: Knowing what clothing to pack when going on a mission trip is often contingent on the landscape and environment of the area you are traveling to. Investigate the appropriate clothing for the climate, culture, and landscape you’ll be experiencing. Invest in a comfortable pair of shoes.

You may also want to bring a memento from home or pictures to keep you grounded when spending longer periods away from friends and family. It’s also nice to consider bringing a gift for your host family as a token of your appreciation.

Other items you might want to pack include cameras, snacks, and a safety kit. Regardless of the length of your mission trip, we recommend leaving behind any unnecessary electronics, perfumes, and expensive clothing or accessories.

Put Your Faith in God

Ultimately, how you decide to pack for your mission depends on where you’re headed, how long you’ll be there and what essentials you as an individual need. Once your flight is booked and your suitcase is packed, the rest of your journey lies in God’s hands. If you want extra preparation before setting out on your flight, consider attending 24-hour DEMO with ABWE to learn more.

Minimalism is advisable when packing, as it eases travel. But also because stripping away material objects allows you to focus more wholeheartedly on the purpose of your trip and sharing the Gospel to those who need it. Active, on-going prayer is the most important thing to remember and ask for on your next trip. God has chosen you to go and to use you in His divine plan—so keep in an open mind, embrace grace in all situations, and respond to challenges instead of reacting to them. Most importantly, remember God is the same in every country, community and every place you find yourself—it’s you who will change on your next mission trip.