Monday, June 16, 2014

Missions Trip Packing List

By Lisa Karon Richardson

I just got back from a two-week missions trip to Madagascar. (It was awesome!) My sister and brother-in-law joined us and this was their first time overseas. She was pretty worried about what to pack so I put together a list of things to bring. I tried to be thorough, but practical at the same time. There are very few places in the world these days where you can’t find the bare necessities, so no need for overkill. Be prepared, but not paranoid!

Madagascar Packing List

Comfortable closed-toe walking shoes
Church shoes
Socks, 4 pairs
4 church outfits
4 casual outfits-I recommend mix and match pieces, that will make your limited selection feel bigger. Also, maxi dresses are fantastic for traveling. Comfortable enough to sleep in on the plane, but they can be dressed up if necessary.
Swimming suit
Large scarf-useful as a shawl if you get cold, or it can be rolled up and used as a pillow

Your usual regimen of toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, soap (in a container would be good), brush/comb etc.
Wisps-these are little disposable toothbrushes with the toothpaste that you don’t need water for. Not quite the same as the real thing, but great for use on a plane or if you don’t have bottled water to use to brush your teeth.
Microfiber towel-not all hotels overseas provide towels, and the microfiber variety are absorbent, lightweight, and dry quickly.
Baby wipes
Toilet paper, just trust me on this if you’re going to Africa you’ll want a dependable supply

Chargers (phone, camera, tablet, etc.)
Adapters and converter-overseas outlets have different shapes so to use any of your gadgetry, you’ll need the appropriate adapter. By the same token the power in the outlets is generally 220 volt, rather than 110 which we have in the states, so if you don’t want to risk blowing your stuff, then you’ll want to have the converter as well.
Extra SD cards
Headphones-if you can afford them the noise cancelling kind are fantastic for air travel

First Aid:
Blister prevention stick
Alcohol wipes
Bug repellant
Hand sanitizer
Antihistamine cream or spray (anti-itch)
Prescription meds-If you’re going to either a developing or third-world nation, or anywhere that could be considered exotic, you’ll want to check with your doctor on meds as well. For instance, we had to take malaria meds. Our doctor also gave us each a prescription for cipro (an antibiotic) which we filled and took with us in case we came down with a stomach bug. If you have other prescription meds that you take regularly then you may want to just have a refill scrip with you as well. This could come in handy in a couple of circumstances. First if you lose or have stolen your meds, second, if it is a substance that is controlled in the country to which you are going, and you need proof that it s prescribed for you by a physician.

Food: You don’t need a lot, after all this is an opportunity to try new things. But it can be nice to know you have a failsafe waiting for you at the hotel. If you’re going to take snacks it can really be anything that is durable, but I suggest high protein. And seriously, don’t bother bringing any “leftovers” back with you when you leave. Use the space for souvenirs and give the food to someone who needs it.
Individual peanut butter cups
Dried fruit
Beef jerky
Protein bars
Peanut butter crackers
Some hard candy

Immunization Documents
Ticket information
Make sure you keep handy the name, address, and phone number of at least the first hotel you’ll be staying at. This is often required on customs forms when you’re entering a country.

Safety pins
Travel pillow
Small flashlight
Sewing kit
Pocket knife
Travel journal-I know it seems impossible that you’ll forget any tiny detail of your amazing experiences, but you will if you don’t write them down
Eye mask-can help you sleep on a long flight
Individual Kleenex packs (yes for blowing your nose, but it can also be more discreet than hauling around a roll of TP when you’re out and about.)

This stuff saw me through our trip with just one checked bag and one carry on, with plenty of room for bringing back souvenirs. Don’t forget too that there is generally a 50 lb weight limit on your luggage so be mindful of the things you’re taking in that regard. I.e. don’t worry about taking bottled water with you. You’ll be able to buy it there.

I know we have other world travelers here, what tips and tricks do you have for packing? What about for traveling in general.

Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, Lisa Karon Richardson’s early stories were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now, even though she’s (mostly) grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city while trying to raise a family. Curtain Call, the third in the Charm and Deceit, series co-authored with Jennifer AlLee, released in March, 2014. 


  1. Excellent list, Lisa! I remember freaking out before my first overseas trip, not knowing what to bring/what not to bring.
    They have cool little converter/adapter kits that include all the different plug adapters for pretty much anywhere in the world. Who knew there were that many ways to design an electrical outlet! :)

    1. Those kits are great, Niki! Brookstone usually carries them, though someone may be able to find them cheaper elsewhere.

  2. Great list...I learned the hard way the value of a large scarf/shawl (at RWA, not overseas, but I won't leave home without one again). So handy.

    And now I know about TP. I've heard certain European cities lack TP too. Quite a cultural difference.

    1. As far as I'm concerned, TP is a necessity of life. I'd much rather take it and pitch it at the end of the trip if I didn't need it, than not have it, and want it.

  3. Lisa! I'm so glad you had a wonderful time! Thank you so much for validating how many shoes and other things I can or should bring on my next trip! People are always giving me a bad time about how much I *need* to take! ;)

    1. Don't let 'em get you down! Everyone will likely need to 'customize' the list based on what activities and adventures they're undertaking on a particular trip.

  4. Great list! Too funny that the need for toilet paper came right before the techie list.

    So what's a Blister prevention stick? If they're in the stores hereabouts I haven't been aware of them.

  5. A blister prevention stick is made by Band-aid. When you open it, it looks sort of like a glue stick or a chapstick. You just rub it on the back of your heels, or wherever you are susceptible to blisters and it provides a sort of barrier to prevent friction to the foot. They are wonderful!

  6. Blister prevention stick?Oh my , this must be a life-saver!

    I like travel so much that I even like travel LISTS! so glad you had a safe, blessed and happy trip!


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