Joining a mission team and traveling to another country can be a life changing event and one you will probably remember for the rest of your life but will require a lot of planning before you land at your destination in country. There are many items to check off your to-do list as you are getting ready, so here is a short list of tips to help make that pre-trip planning and the trip itself go a little smoother.
Make copies of the photo page of your passport and put one in each suitcase. Or scan it into your computer and email the copy to yourself so you will have it in your email on your phone, I-pad or laptop. If you lose your passport while on the trip it will be much easier to get a replacement if you have a copy of your original.
Always pack a small flashlight with you – you never know when it will come in handy - electricity in developing countries is not always reliable.
Take a suitcase lock. Even though you can't use it on your luggage when flying you can use it in the hotel room to lock up your valuables in your suitcase.
Snap a photo of all of your prescription bottle labels in case you need to get a refill – a photo on your phone will give you the information you need in another country for a refill.
Remember to use Skype or Facetime when calling home so you don't have a huge cellphone bill after the trip.
At times airlines misplace luggage so it is a good idea to pack into your carry-on suitcase enough clothes and needed essentials for about 3 days in the event that your checked luggage is delayed.
Fancy clothes and flashy jewelry only indicate you are a tourist with money. Dress down. Leave the fancy jewelry, flashy handbags, etc at home.
Ask permission before taking a person's photograph.
Respect the culture and differences in the country you are visiting. For example: are the clothes you are wearing appropriate for the culture of the country?
Take time to interact, smile a lot, laugh a lot; be friendly and display positive emotion, be a good listener; be honest, courteous, sensitive and sincere.
Try new foods, the new language and everything that comes along. Get out of your comfort zone and try it all!
It's a good idea to take along an antibiotic so in the unlikely event you end up with traveler's diarrhea you will already have the medication you need.
Toss in your suitcase a few ziploc plastic bags – quart or gallon size. They are very handy for so many different uses on a trip.
Many people around the world speak English and many children learn basic English in school. To avoid hurt feelings, remember this when you are talking with teammates around the local people.
Consider eating yogurt with active probiotic cultures for several days before leaving on your trip. Probiotics are good bacteria that help your digestive system. Many people find they keep themselves in better health on trips by using probiotics – either in the form of yogurt or in pill form. They might just help keep traveler's diarrhea at bay!
Check with your doctor to see if you will need any vaccinations for the area where you will be traveling. Vaccinations such as hepatitis, rabies, malaria, etc.
Consider buying a cheap cell phone in the country you will be visiting. Often you will be able to buy a cheap flip phone for about $20-$25 and then buy minutes so you can call back to the States at a very reasonable price.
Help us out and add your tips in the comment section below!
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