You got your packing list. You studied it in detail, or maybe you skimmed it. Or maybe you didn't check your email at all and you have no idea what you're supposed to bring. Whichever way, you're wondering what is actually important to take on your missions trip. Please, get your packing list out if you have one! This list has mainly hot climates and rural areas in mind, but they apply for other outreaches as well. So, here are five things to pack—that I discovered to be essential—on mission trips across the world.
1. Wet Wipes
These damp little pieces of paper aren't just for diaper bags—they are a miracle waiting to happen if you let them. After a dusty day of ministry, when a bucket shower is just a bit too much effort, whipping these out is what we like to call a "portable shower". They're also great for messy meals when hand sanitiser isn't going to cut it. Then, when toilet paper isn't accessible (or maybe just isn't going to cut it)... well let's just say wet wipes are just as effective, if not more. If you're grossed out now, don't worry—you'll thank me later.
2. Travel Towel
Travel towels are just plain practical. Even though thick, fluffy towels are sometimes your last piece of comfort, they're often extra weight in your suitcase or backpack. And let me tell you, extra weight builds up and it is not comfortable. Small, thin towels also dry quicker, which helps when you are traveling from location to location. This means you can feel confident when you do have a shower! (If not, you know wet wipes will be your bestie).
3. Power Adapter
This is pretty self-explanatory, but it's so necessary that I want to mention it just in case your brain is filled with 501 other things as you prepare to go to a new country. A quick Google search will let you know what type of power or plug adapter you need for whatever country you're going to. If you already have an adapter, a life-hack is buying a power strip in your home country then just use that one adapter, and you'll have multiple outlets for you and your teammates. Just check that the voltage is similar so you don't blow your devices!
4. Flashlight or Headlamp
Despite all your best efforts to keep things charged, sometimes you'll hit a long day (or week) with no access to power. Instead of worrying constantly about your phone, keep a flashlight or headlamp in a consistent, accessible place in your bag. This helps for sudden power outages, 3-AM bathroom trips, or just reading late when your roommates are snoring next to you. When you're in a team, you can easily get by with using your friend's light—I did it so many times—but when I finally got my own, it felt great to help them out, too. Plus, do you really want to wake them up for that 3-AM bathroom trip?
5. Family Photos
The last item is something you might not consider as essential, I know I sure didn't when my mom first suggested it! But when I saw little children and curious women crowded around her in a Cambodian village, I understood. Wherever you are in the world, people are fascinated by photos—especially family photos. There's something bonding about sharing snapshots of parents, brothers, or sisters and your own awkward smile. Instead of being divided by language and culture—you suddenly have a conversation starter. And although wet wipes, travel towels, power adapters, and flashlights help us thrive on our mission trip—being connected with people is the reason why we travel all that way in the first place.
(But seriously, if you don't believe me about wet wipes, I dare you to try them. You really will thank me later.)
Other posts in our Packing for Missions Trips & DTS series: