Tips for a Successful Mission Trip

Where do you begin? This page offers several helpful resources for planning a mission trip from start to finish.

Before You Leave

Planning and preparing for your trip can be very overwhelming. These tips and tricks will help take you through the process smoothly.

Planning Guide

Guidelines

Summary

Find a meaningful service

The first thing you need to decide is what type of service you want to perform. What do you feel called to do? Are you a teenager trying to decide among a variety of youth mission trips, or are you a seasoned veteran who is comfortable with being away from home for longer periods of time? Whatever your interests are, you should start by researching the various mission fields.  

Choose a place to go

If you are unsure of what type of mission work you want to do, then you should start planning by choosing a country to go to. If you know what type of work you want to do, then you need to find a place that will allow you to do it. Remember to keep an open mind while doing research about all the places you can go.

Decide if you want to go it alone or through an established organization

Some groups who embark upon youth mission trips and short-term trips decide to travel and serve independently; this is not the most common choice, but some people prefer the freedom it gives them. Others choose to use an organization for financial, travel, and work support

Remember to stay open minded and positive

Staying positive through the process will make it all more enjoyable. You may run into complications that prevent you from going exactly where you want to go or doing exactly what you want to do. But that does not mean you should stay at home. It simply means you need to keep an open mind about where else you could go.

Mission Service Types and Locations

Service

Common Places

Construction

Many countries around the world are seeking workers to help them build new schools and churches, while other countries are trying to rebuild their towns and cities. Most of these construction type mission trips take place in Eastern Europe and Africa.

Teaching/Childcare

Almost any country that you could possibly want to visit for a mission trip will allow you the opportunity to teach in a school or volunteer at an orphanage. Some of these schools will even allow and encourage you to write your own lesson plans.

Medical

These trips are designed to allow you to serve and also work in your field. If you are looking for a way to help those in need, gain practical experience, make a difference and/or work on your medical skills, then you might want to consider a mission trip in the medical field.

Conservation

Many countries in South and Central America are starting to recognize the importance of beaches, rain forests, and mountainous areas. Because of the new national parks and conservation acts, these countries are opening their doors to volunteers who are willing to help them in the fight to save the planet.

If you are interested in ecotourism and conservation and you want to see Central/South America, then a mission trip in conservation might be the perfect trip for you.

*Note

Click here to discover a mission trip that is right for you. Search by region, country, ministry type, age, length, time frame or keyword. Also, check out the great articles that ShortTermMissions.com has to help you decide what kind of trip is right for you and how to best prepare for it.

Top 5 Missionary Locations

Location

Opportunity

Sierra Leone

As one of the poorest countries in the world, Sierra Leone is a popular destination for missionaries in Africa. Sierra Leone attracts missionaries to its capital city of Freetown. Wrecked by civil war, this area is in an ongoing process to rebuild its government, school system, and buildings.

Costa Rica

If you are looking to serve in an orphanage, school, or medical clinic, then Costa Rica might be the place you want. There are also a number of opportunities to work in communities that are protecting the environment.

Romania

A country in Eastern Europe, Romania has struggled through many economic hardships. Most missionaries that travel to the country serve in orphanages and work with youth in the communities.

Peru

Most Central and South American mission trips will have you working in orphanages, other educational institutions, and medical clinics. If you want to serve in these capacities, Peru is a great destination for you.

Haiti

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti left an already struggling country even more ravaged. If you choose to travel to Haiti, you can expect to work with children, in camps where the homeless have gathered, rebuilding, and in medical clinics.

Preparing to Leave

Packing

There’s no need to over-pack on a mission trip, and Mission Discovery offers a starting point with their list of 10 Essential Items For an International Mission Trip.

Immunizations

This chart shows the recommended vaccinations for missionaries traveling to these top five mission destinations according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All travelers should get those vaccines highlighted in yellow, most travelers should get those highlighted in green, and some travelers, depending on where you are going, what you are doing, and how long you will be there, should get those highlighted in blue. Go to http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel to see what vaccines you might need for your next mission trip. Simply enter the location and click “Go” to find out what vaccinations are recommended and other great tips on how to keep yourself safe and healthy. Don’t forget to visit your doctor before your trip to get his or her recommendations as well.

Sierra Leone

Costa Rica

Romania

Peru

Haiti

Routine Vaccines (measles-mumps-rubella; diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis; varicella; polio; yearly flu)

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Fever

 

 

 

  

Hepatitis A

 

  

 

  

Malaria

 

 

 

 

Typhoid

 

 

  

 

Rabies

  

 

 

  

  

Hepatitis B

 

 

 

 

  

Mental Preparedness

Many people don’t know what to expect on a mission trip, which can lead to a difficult adjustment once they are at their mission site. Preparing yourself mentally for what you will see, hear, and experience is invaluable. By understanding how your mission is going to work, what the culture will be like, and learning from the experiences of other missionaries, you can begin to prepare yourself mentally to handle whatever comes your way. Here are some tips from former missionaries about what to expect on your mission trip.  

Insurance

Something many people don’t know about or aren’t familiar with is travel insurance for your mission trip. Going on a mission trip can be more dangerous in some ways than traditional travel. You may be working on a construction site where falls, cuts, and other injuries are common. Or you may be in a country or working in medical facilities where you can be exposed to unfamiliar diseases.

Many people don’t know that their insurance at home typically doesn’t follow them abroad. A trip to the hospital for an illness or injury in a foreign country is expensive, but it could be more costly to let something go untreated. Travel insurance can cover the cost of accidental illnesses or injuries while you are abroad. Atlas Travel insurance from HCC Medical Insurance Services is one example of travel insurance that can cover medical expenses, as well as the acute onset of a pre-existing condition and lost luggage or travel documents. Find out more here.

Once You’re There

There a few things you need to be on guard for once you’ve arrived at your location, including how to prevent illnesses and injuries, how to stay safe, and how to conduct yourself appropriately.

Top 5 Missionary Illnesses and Injuries

Accident

Summary

Construction accidents

If you are traveling to do construction work, consider this: In many remote locations in third world countries, it could take hours to get to a hospital for treatment of even the smallest injuries.

To prevent construction accidents, wear eye protection and gloves, keep the site free of tripping hazards by putting things in the appropriate places, and take your time on your tasks. Rushing leads to carelessness, which can lead to injury.

Parasites

Waterborne parasites are easily ingested and can cause digestive and other issues for missionaries. To prevent this, follow the golden rule of travel – don’t drink water that is not from a bottle! Some food and drink that is safe for locals could harbor parasites your body is not used to fighting.

Natural disasters

Chances are good that you are planning a trip to a region that has been affected by earthquakes, floods, or large storms. While you can’t prevent natural disasters, you can educate yourself on the best times to travel to avoid experiencing these natural disasters firsthand.

Animal attacks

Many exotic locations may have animals that you aren’t used to dealing with. Before leaving, look into the sorts of wildlife you might encounter on your trip. While every situation is unique, there are a few things you can do to stay safe: research where you are going thoroughly before you leave; if you see an animal, do not get too close to it; and if you accidentally end up too close to an animal, remain calm and back away slowly.

Food poisoning

The food you eat abroad may be both unfamiliar to you, and, in developing countries, it may not be up to the sanitation standards of your home country. According to FoodSafety.gov, foods you should avoid are: raw fruits and vegetables, raw or undercooked meat, unpasteurized milk and milk products, and anything that has been cooked and left unrefrigerated.

If you do get food poisoning, remember to drink lots of clean water to prevent dehydration.

Security Advice for Traveling

Tips

Summary

Avoid patterns

Being predictable and doing the same things every day can make you an easy target. Though you may not have the option to change up your schedule with a group, vary it as much as possible; for instance, don’t go to the bathroom at the same time every day.

Avoid public disputes

Whether it is personal confrontations or public demonstrations, do not get involved. Simply walk away from these events, which may get violent.

Keep a low profile

Do not wear flashy clothing and do not show large amounts of cash when paying for things.

Travel in groups

Always try to take someone with you when you leave your larger group.

Avoid poorly lit areas

At night, do not go near areas that have poor lighting or are isolated.

Lock your doors

It is important to chain lock or brace your door, especially at night.

Be prepared for evacuation

You never know when you may need to leave a place in a hurry or for an emergency reason. Know how to get out of an area quickly and as risk-free as possible. In addition, some travel insurance, like Atlas Travel, can help cover the cost of evacuation for medical or even political reasons.

Report to someone

Make sure someone has a copy of your itinerary and knows when you are going to check in with them.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Trip

Many cultures have different views on what is important, what is polite, and what is acceptable in society. As guests in another country, missionaries need to learn and understand what is appropriate and what isn’t. This article is a good starting point for this process, but do some research on the specific country you’re visiting to find out more.

Coming Home

Returning home from a mission trip is often more difficult than you might realize. Check out this post on our blog for a few tips on how to make the transition smoother.

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