Packing. There are so many different ways to do it. You have your minimalists who take as little and as light as possible. Then there are the people who take anything and everything they think they might use or need. Some people have their bags packed 3 weeks before the mission trip starts. Others get 3 hours of sleep the night before because they were scrambling to get everything together. Some people check and re-check to make sure they packed everything. Others go off of a general impression that they have what they need.
So, how should you go about the process of packing? Well, here are some thoughts on why we pack what we pack and how much and what we should bring along:
1. Packing to Travel
Pack to travel. Meaning, pack according to how much you are moving around. If you are only going to one location without a lot of lugging your bag around to get there, then you could probably pack a little more and not worry too much about how portable it is. But if you are traveling multiple places, with a lot of train, bus, and plane rides – well it might be better to pack lighter and to consider taking a travel backpack as your main piece of luggage. You want to ask yourself, ‘Can I carry or pull this fairly easily around airports, bus and train stations, up and down stairs and for a mile or two if need be and not be too tired?’
2. Packing for the Culture and Climate
Remember that you’re going to to be in a place with a different culture and a different way of life. What’s considered appropriate dress where you are from may not be the same as where you are headed. Keep that in mind with the clothes and things you take with you as you pack. Also remember to pack for the climate! Is it going to be hot everyday? Or really cold? Or both? Does it rain a lot? Is it really humid? These are all factors to consider when thinking of what you’re bringing.
3. Packing Efficiently
Why pack a crazy mess when can you pack with a purpose? Packing efficiently is about saving space and putting things in the right place. One great way to save space is to roll your clothes instead of folding them, a tip we shared in 8 Mission Trip Hacks. Another way is to cut down on items that you take multiple of. For example, if you’re taking 7 pairs of shoes and can take 4 instead, or taking 5 sets of clothes instead of 10. Of course take what you need, but you may need less than you think.
A part of packing efficiently is packing what you need readily accessible. You’re probably not going to need you’re nice dress shoes that often, so pack them at the bottom of your bag. Putting things you may need right away such as toiletries or a change of clothes you can grab after you get to your destination will be a help to you.
4. Packing the Essentials
One way to relieve some of the stress of packing is having a checklist of the essential things you need and making sure that you have those things. Passport, money, ID, medication, toiletries, Bible, rain jacket, and sunscreen would all make our essential list. If you know you have your essentials packed, then it will help you breathe a little easier.
5. Packing What You Want
Now for some fun! What can you pack that will make your trip more enjoyable? A deck of cards to play games while you wait at a train station? A Rubik’s Cube to mess around with? A coloring book and some crayons to color with the kids you minister to? What about some pictures of friends and family to show friends you make on your trip? Or maybe some snacks like Clif Bars or a bag of candy you can eat when you are craving something from home? Find a couple things you can fit into your luggage that will make your trip more fun!
We hope this gives you a better idea of how to go about the process of packing! Let us know your thoughts and what you’ve learned about packing in the comments below.