12 Tips to Make Your Mission Trip a Success

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According to The Traveling Team, there are Over 400,000 missionaries traveling the world each year. While this number has continued to grow over time, so has the number of those in need. As a result, the demand for missionary support has never been higher. When countries are afflicted by poverty, war, and famine and struggle to overcome these hardships, missionaries step in to help.

However, a successful mission trip is no easy feat and requires adequate preparation. Check out these 12 tips you can apply before, during, and after your mission trip.

Before the Mission

1. Research your organization

What are the main goals of your mission trip organization? What types of projects does it specialize in, and why do its members choose to help others? Knowing more about your missionary organization will help you better understand the purpose of your trip.

2. Learn about your destination

One of the most important things you can do before your mission begins is learn the context of the people you’re serving. What’s the country’s history? What current events shape its society today? Who are the people?  Ask your team leader or other experienced volunteers these types of questions to gain a firsthand understanding.

3. Understand your role

What are you going to be doing during your trip? Construction? Teaching? Medical assistance? Familiarize yourself with the duties of your role in order to be better prepared.

4. Connect with your team

Meet your mission team. It’s common for groups to meet before the trip, but go the extra mile and connect outside of these meetings occasionally. Connect via social media or schedule a dinner with everyone.

5. Get the right vaccines

Be sure to consult with your doctor about your trip at least a month prior to your departure. Talk with your mission trip leader and research which vaccines you’ll need at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler’s Health directory.

6. Make sure you are insured

Many organizations require participants to be covered with travel medical insurance throughout the mission trip. While some organizations provide insurance for their volunteers, others require individuals to seek out personal insurance plans.

If you’re required to possess a travel visa, you may also need to provide proof of your mission trip insurance in order to complete the application. Visa applicants must show that they have adequate means of subsistence during their stay, primarily for food, accommodations, and medical costs.

If you need personal missionary medical insurance, Atlas Travel can provide international medical coverage during your trip. Or, if you’re a mission trip coordinator looking for insurance for your team, Atlas Group provides the same coverage as Atlas Travel at a 10% discount for groups of 5 or more.

Check out additional mission trip coordinator resources here.

7. Mentally prepare

You may encounter various extreme conditions during your trip, such as poverty, famine, and sickness. Talk to your mission trip leader about the situations you will see and how to best prepare/overcome the initial shock you may experience.

8. Pack accordingly

If an organization provides a packing list, do your best to adhere to it. However, if you do not receive a packing list, you can start by packing clothing and items according to the work you’ll be doing and the destination’s climate.

Check out the Missionary Travel Checklist to help you figure out what you’ll need for your trip.

During the Mission

9. Start journaling

Even if you’re not an avid writer, reflect on your experiences with a daily journal. This is a good way to measure how you grow throughout the trip. When you return home, it’ll be a good thing to look back on.

10. Respect the people you serve

Remember that you’re visiting someone else’s home. While it’s important to help and cultivate positive relationships with the locals, it’s vital that you do not impose your own ideals and way of living onto others. Respect customs and cultures, even if you don’t agree with them. Focus on the mission and the goal of the trip.

11. Tread with caution

As an outsider, you’ll naturally draw attention to yourself. However, you may draw the wrong attention if you’re not careful. Consider these additional safety practices to help lower the chance of being stalked or kidnapped:

  • Avoid patterns — Try to vary your schedule as much as possible. For example, don’t use the bathroom at the same time every day.
  • Avoid public disputes — If you see a fight break out between a few people or a large group, do not get involved. Instead, walk away.
  • Avoid traveling alone — Always travel with a buddy or in a group. This can help lower your chances of being mugged or kidnapped for ransom. Atlas Travel insurance from HCCMIS can also help pay for costs affiliated with ransoms, personal belongings surrendered during a kidnapping, and an experienced crisis response team to negotiate your release. Learn more about the Crisis Response coverage.
  • Avoid isolated areas — Waking in public areas with crowds is generally safer than walking alone in a dark alley or empty street.
  • Keep a low profile — Avoid wearing clothing that sticks out from a crowd. If you have cash, keep it hidden on your person. Avoid displaying large amounts of money wherever you go.
  • Keep everything securedLock your doors and stow away any valuables, money, or personal items you wouldn’t want stolen, no matter how safe your destination appears to be.
  • Report to a trusted colleagueMake sure someone from your mission group knows what you’re doing at all times. This ensures that someone will know where to find you should something happen.  

After the Mission

12. Stay in touch with your mission team

After the trip, try to stay in contact with your mission team. Exchange phone numbers and connect on social media. Within two and four weeks, plan to reunite everyone as a way to reflect on your experiences since your return. Your team will be a good support as you adjust back to your home life.  

What happens if you get sick overseas? Guarantee you have health coverage.

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Tokio Marine HCC - Medical Insurance Services Group (MIS Group) is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by Tokio Marine HCC – International Group.