Short-Term Trips: Pack Smart, Pack Light

January 26, 2023

Pack Smart, Pack Light. 

Adapted by Anna Owens

Keep three things in mind when you pack: 

• Climate of your assigned country or region

• Culture of your assigned country-region

• Your ministry project 

A team member traveling to France is going to pack very differently than someone traveling to India. This article is based on the experience and suggestions that come from field representatives who live and work in the country and know the culture. Please take them seriously! Do your own research as well. Find out about the average temperature and rainfall for the area. Carefully consider your project assignment—if you are going to be backpacking in the Himalayas, you’re going to need more than a good attitude! 

Basic guidelines for smart, appropriate dress:

  • Modest rather than revealing clothing (based on that culture, NOT “modest” where you live!) 
  • Comfortable, but not sloppy 
  • Low-maintenance clothes in basic colors 
  • Washable, quick dry fabrics – no dry clean only 
  • Layer clothes in cold weather rather than taking bulky sweaters 
  • No messages that could be controversial (avoid American flags, political statements, and Christian references unless your team leader tells you it is ok)

Key Thoughts: Know your ministry location - Ask questions - Make a list - Less is more. 

Pack Light 

Take this literally: Pack only what you can carry. You may be dashing to catch connecting flights, chasing trains pulling away from stations, and hauling your luggage up stairs in your lodging. You should be able to run without being burdened by your luggage. Pack only what you need. Leave behind everything you can do without. 

Remember your baggage limit: Check with your team leader about how many checked pieces of luggage you can take. The number of checked pieces allowed can vary by airlines – but even if you are allowed two, we ask that you limit yourself to ONE. This will allow us to have space to bring things for Sent Ones or bring ministry supplies. Know the baggage weight limit and stick to it. You will be charged if your luggage exceeds the weight limit and weight limits for domestic flights in other countries are usually lower than international limits. The airlines are also increasingly strict about weight and size limits for carry-on luggage. Consult your team leader or the airline you will be traveling on about limits for carry-on pieces. 

The prospect of having to wear the same thing twice in a week may be painful to you, but we promise that no one will be scandalized if you do. Pack sensibly. Take a few tops and a few bottoms (pants or skirts depending on cultural appropriateness) that mix and match. Get several looks out of a few pieces. 

The Essentials—What NOT to Forget 

This is meant to be a helpful guide. Each trip will require you to pack in a more specific way. Leaders - Ask the Sent Ones for any specific packing instructions.

Carry-on bag:

  • Airplane tickets/itinerary
  • Proof of vaccination or negative covid-19 test (depending on location)
  • Mask-if necessary
  • Passport/visa—DO NOT pack your passport in your checked luggage 
  • Cash & credit/debit cards – pack in a safe place 
  • Note: Make sure to call the customer service number on each card and ask them to note on your account the dates and countries for your international travel
  • A good book or magazine
  • Bible, journal and a pen
  • Extra glasses, especially if you wear contacts
  • All prescription medications in the original containers. It is also a good idea to have a copy of the Rx.
  • Travel size toiletry items-shampoo, soap, toothbrush/toothpaste/floss, hairbrush, hand sanitizer, tissue, small pack of hand wipes, deodorant, (NO pocket knives)
  • One extra set of clothes - Your luggage may not arrive when you do. You will want an extra set of clean clothes to wear while you are waiting for your luggage to catch up to you. 
  • Emergency contact information 
  • Photocopy of your passport 
  • Phone and charger (if bringing)

Note: There are security regulations about the amount of liquids that you can have in your carry-on baggage. Remember the rule: 3-1-1. All liquids or gels cannot exceed 3 ounces (by listed volume), packed in a 1-quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag, with a limit of 1 bag per passenger in carry-ons. Greater quantities of liquids or gels must be placed in checked luggage or left behind. For more info: 

Checked luggage: 

  • Clothing - Remember: climate, culture, and your project assignment
    • GUYS: Ask if you need button-up shirts/polos, khakis, ties. If you are teaching or in business you will need to dress appropriately
    • GIRLS: Ask about sleeve length, shirt length, and skirt length. Are skirts or pants most appropriate? Are shorts allowed? Do you need a scarf/head-covering? 
  • Underwear
  • Shoes
  • Make sure they are comfortable.
  • sports/hiking shoes  
  • sandals
  • Hat
  • For protection from the sun
  • Camera and extra batteries
  • If your camera is valuable, pack it in your carry-on 
  • Toiletries
  • See list above. Always pack liquids in Ziplocs!
  • First-aid items
  • Band-aids, hand sanitizer, antibiotic cream, Pepto-bismol, Imodium, ibuprofen, pain-killers (tylenol, ibuprofen), 
  • Toilet tissue
  • It’s never a bad idea to have some on hand.
  • Insect repellent and malaria pills (depending on your location)
  • Feminine products 
    • These are not available in many countries.
  • Towels/washcloths 
    • Check with your team leader to see if these are provided or if you need to pack them. Think small and light.
  • Ministry-related materials
    • Ask your team leader
  • Zip-lock bags and plastic grocery bags
    • These have multiple uses!
  • Gifts for your supervisor/hosts
    • Ask them if there are things they would like from the US.
  • Pictures of your family and friends (Make sure people in your pictures are dressed appropriately)
  • Razors-with extra blades if not disposable
  • Rain jacket/umbrella/poncho -depending on assignment 
  • Cheap Sunglasses-depending on where you go
  •  Travel size laundry soap- in case you need to wash some items in a bathtub
  • Plug adapters for the country or region you are traveling too.
  • Small backpack/fanny pack to carry with you that includes space for credit cards, passport, vaccine cards, masks and other necessary items. 

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Sojourn Midtown is a part of the Sojourn family of churches. Our mission is to reach people with the gospel, build them up as the church, and send them into the world.

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Sojourn Midtown  1207 S Shelby St Louisville, KY 40203 · · 502 882 7780