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How to Pack for a Mission Trip

Marilyn is a writer, and beginner-musician, that in her free time enjoys reading, writing, and drinking coffee or tea.

Packing Can Be Easy! Or Not...

It can be hard to decide how to pack everything you need to bring, and once you've decided, it can be hard getting it all into your suitcase. How many pairs of shirts or shorts should you bring? Should you roll or fold them? Questions like these and others will be answered below.

This guide should give you some advice on how to pack for your upcoming trip, and can cure a couple of headaches from not knowing how to pack!


How Much Should I Pack?

It's easy to stress that you'll overpack or underpack when you're traveling! Especially if you're going on a mission trip and may not have access to a store where you can buy things that you might forget.

Luckily, there are TONS of great packing lists online! Just look up, "What to bring on a mission trip" or "Packing lists" and you'll find lots of different ideas and guides! You could even copy and combine 1 or 2 so that you have a complete list.


  • Sometimes it's easier to start with a very detailed packing list found online, then you can cross items off the list you probably won't need, and add items you will need.
  • Add your own ideas! There may be a book or a special something from home that you may forget to pack last minute. Write it down! Add it to the list so you don't forget it later!
  • Sometimes, but not all the time, it's better to overpack than to underpack. If you overpack, you just have excess, which can be good if you need to share with a friend, or someone else. BUT there is a drawback; if you overpack, your luggage will be a lot heavier than it needs to be, and if you're going to be carrying your luggage across dirt, sand, or up stairs, then this could be extremely tiring and stressful. Ultimately, it's your call as to how much you pack, but trying to find the right balance is essential.

Pack According to the Weather Forecast

If you're going to be going somewhere warm and hot for the trip, pack shorts, and tee shirts! Long pants are also a good idea depending on the environment you'll be in. If you're going to be working somewhere you could get scraped or scratched while working easily, long pants can help prevent you needing band-aids later on!

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If you're going somewhere that will be cold, bring long-sleeve button-up shirts, long-sleeve shirts/hoodie sweatshirts, and long pants.

It's a good idea to know what the weather will be like wherever you're going, and when you're going. This will let you know if you should bring a rain jacket, work boots, sandals, shorts, tee shirts, etc.

I'd recommend taking a jacket or sweatshirt no matter where you're headed! Preferably, this should be a comfy jacket, even if it's going to be 100 degrees during the day. Don't forget, it might be chilly in a car or on a plane, and it might get cold at night wherever you're staying. Some places keep the buildings pretty cold! It's also great to snuggle with the jacket if you have a long car ride because it can get cold in a van/car because the a/c is running non-stop. It can also be cold in restaurants if you ever go out to eat.

Basic Packing List

7 T-shirts *more or less* (bring enough shirts for every day you'll be working, +2 extras)

1 Jacket

swimwear (*Optional* only you know if you'll be swimming or not)

Sleepwear (can be plain tee shirts and sweatpants or shorts if you don't own "pajamas"- flannel button up shirts are comfy to sleep in too)

2 dress shirts (if you're going somewhere special, church, a meeting/conference, etc. on the trip, you may want something a little dressier, so a dress shirt or two is a good idea)

Undergarments 1 for every day you'll be on the trip +2 (you most likely won't have access to a washer/dryer, so you'll want to have a fresh set of undergarments for each day. Especially if you'll be working someplace where you'll get hot and sweaty and want to shower each day.)

Socks (1 for every day you'll be on the trip)

Shorts/Pants (1 for every other day you'll be working. It's okay to wear shorts twice in a row as they're less likely to smell)

A pair of shoes for working and a pair for walking

Flashlight (hey, you should never walk in the dark, it's a hazard!)

A hat (if where you're working will be sunny, bring a wide brimmed straw hat) (If where you're working will be cold, bring a beanie!)


Basic toiletries

Hair items such as: hairbands, hairties, headbands, bandanas, etc.

Bathtowels+washcloth (if where you're going won't have any)




How to Pack

Once you've decided what to pack, there remains the question of how to pack it. The following tips will help you decide where in your suitcase certain items should go and how to pack them to avoid wrinkles.

Should I roll it or fold it?

  • If it's something you don't want to get wrinkled, then roll it! Rolling clothes also helps save space in your suitcase!
  • Jeans can be hard to roll sometimes, so it's acceptable otherwise to fold it and place it in the bottom of your luggage so it doesn't take up a lot of space.
  • If it's a dress or dress shirt, roll it! It'll help prevent it from getting wrinkles.

What order should I pack things in my suitcase?

  1. Put undergarments/socks/etc. together in a zip compartment in your luggage, this way it won't get mixed with your other clothes.
  2. Pack what you'll wear first closer to the top of your luggage. If there's an outfit you're going to wear the last day of your trip, pack that on the bottom, and pack what you'll be wearing each day on top of it. This way, you don't have to dig through your suitcase to find things you need.
  3. If you have something breakable, wrap it in your jeans, or some other article of clothing/etc, and put it in the middle of your suitcase, this will give it padding, and if your luggage gets bumped around a bit, it is less likely to break.
  4. Pack glasses/contacts in a separate toiletries bag, along with your toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, and other toiletries. You don't want anything to leak onto your clothes. Additionally, you may carry your glasses in your backpack or carry on tote bag/purse so that if you need them you have them.
  5. It's better to be prepared than unprepared. Bring a few extra items of clothing, this way if you accidentally spill something on a shirt, or you somehow get wet, or some other accident happens, you'll have a shirt to wear, and you won't have to wear the same thing twice.

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