- FIRST-AID KIT At some point during your trip, your toe is going to get run over by a beverage cart, your finger is going to get hit by a hammer, or your pants are going to get ripped. Being prepared with a small first-aid kit will help you brush off the pain (or stress) of the moment, and keep your day moving. You don’t need a huge kit. Some bandages, disinfectant, and some safety pins will take care of most issues.
- FLASHLIGHT OR HEADLAMP Keep a flashlight or headlamp in your backpack throughout your entire trip, especially if you’re traveling to a developing country. Electricity in many parts of the world can be intermittent, and having a light source nearby when the power goes out can be a huge convenience.
- DISINFECTANT WIPES Disinfectant wipes are great for sanitizing when sinks and soap are not available (like right before lunch while you’re out in the community).
- Tip: Use wipes instead of bottled hand sanitizer. You can get pretty dirty on a mission trip, especially if you’re working outdoors. Hand sanitizer will sanitize you just fine, but it doesn’t wipe the dirt away. Wipes will not only sanitize your hands but also wipe away dirt and grime, keeping your PB&J sandwich free from dirt smudges.
- INSECT REPELLENT In many parts of the world, mosquitoes and other insects can cause serious issues and carry diseases. Insect repellent will not only help keep the nuisances away but also reduce the chance that you’re exposed to an insect-borne disease. Apply insect repellent early in the day and often.
- Tip: Use a spray with 30% DEET, not 100% DEET. Both amounts have the same level of insect repellent power. Here’s the difference: Spray with 30% DEET will last about 4 hours, and spray with 100% DEET will last about 12 hours. While 12 hours of protection sounds better than 4, DEET can be unhealthy for the body in high concentrations. The CDC has determined that 30% DEET is a safe concentration level for both children and adults.
- SUNSCREEN Applying sunscreen throughout your trip is a great idea, especially if you’re traveling closer to the equator, where the sun’s rays are more intense. Even if you’re traveling to a region where sunburn doesn’t seem like a real risk, if you’re working outdoors at all, just go ahead and apply sunscreen. Unless you work outside on a regular basis, your body is not used to the prolonged sun exposure outdoors.
- SUITCASE These are the items that you need to access in the morning and in the evening during your mission trip. The key to this part of the packing system is to avoid overpacking. And the key to avoiding overpacking is to keep the “what if” questions in your head get the best of you. “What if it gets really cold?” “What if my shoes are uncomfortable?” Pack for the big what-ifs, and don’t sweat the small ones. You’ll be able to navigate around the smaller situations during the trip.