How to Pack for a Missions Trip


As I mentioned in my last post, I’m leaving for West Virginia soon (tomorrow!). Today I was packing and reminiscing on mission trips past and all the mistakes I’ve made in packing over the years. I have had no help. None. The first year, I packed all the nicest t-shirts and khaki shorts that I owned and wore ensembles like this:


Sadly, I am not the amazing girl in the front sporting a nice, normal t-shirt. (Love you, Jenny.) No. I am the one in the back, wearing the lovely artsy Aeropostale t-shirt. And the BRACELETS. That shirt got so gross after that week that I could never wear it again. But, now I know better and YOU WILL TOO. Thanks to me, you don’t have to go through two years of trouble and forgetfulness to know what to take on your mission trip. Yee-haw!

Let’s start with what to wear.


1. Running shorts. This is what you will be wearing all week. This is also what everyone else will be wearing all week. They might not be your cup of tea, but think comfort. And also think audience. Nobody’s there to see you and judge your choice in clothing. I usually wear a pair of denim shorts on the trip there, but in general I don’t get around to wearing them while at the camp. Don’t worry about it. Just NO KHAKI SHORTS.

2. T-shirts. There are eight t-shirts in that pile specifically and I assure you that I will be wearing every last one of them. You are going to sweat. A LOT. Changing shirts halfway through the day is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. The sweat-wicking, sporty kind is nice but not necessary. (Also, to my musical theatre folk – be cautious in which show shirts you bring. This is not the trip to be proudly sporting your How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying logo.)

3. Pajamas. Pack an extra shirt just for sleeping in so you don’t have to wear a sweaty shirt to bed. Logic, logic.

Packing tip: Roll each outfit you have (a shirt and a pair of shorts) into its own little roll. Makes unpacking much less of a mess.


Also, they look like cute little sushi rolls.

Here’s some other clothing you need to bring:


1. Sweatshirt. It’s August, you say. It won’t be cold, you say. You are wrong. You will use it.

2. Sweatpants. Again, you will use them. Think mornings.

3. Swimsuit/Shorts to wear with swimsuit. You want to invest in a sturdy, modest swimsuit. Read: Not Target. Pitch in a few extra dollars to get a modest one that won’t wilt after a year of usage. I got mine at Land’s End. (Don’t have time to get a modest swimsuit before you leave? Pack an old tank top to wear over a bikini top.)

4. A nice-ish dress. I’m packing this because the mission trippers are going to see a musical/dancing/bluegrassy smorgasbord the last night we’re there, and the official list called for a nice outfit. Don’t bring one if you aren’t doing something like that. But if you are, go modest, classy, and casual.


These shoes are the only shoes you need. Avoid all others like the plague. If you have more than 4 pairs, you are doing something wrong.

1. The most comfortable pair of shoes that you own. You’ll be wearing these most of the time, so make sure they are comfortable and you don’t mind getting them dirty.

2. These sexy shoes are called Keens and are used as water shoes for stuff like trips to the local river, tubing, white water rafting, et cetera. They keep your feet from getting injured so they rock. Also, they float. Bonus.

3. A HUGE mistake I made two years ago on my first trip was not bringing flip flops. WHAT WAS I THINKING?! You don’t want to wear your tennis shoes while on campsite, on the way to the showers, during VBS, etc. Even if you’re going backpacking or something, TAKE THEM. They will not take up any room in your pack and you will be so very happy you have them.

4. This is my nice pair of shoes for the nice-outfit event. Note that they are not THAT nice. Also, swing dancing might happen at said event and I’m just not interested in wearing heels for that.

As far as bringing stuff goes, I always bring a backpack instead of a cutesy little tote bag just because it holds more and has multiple pockets. (Functionality! Hooray!)


1. Chargers for stuff (duh)

2. iPod, phone, wallet. The iPod comes in handy when you’re trying to sleep at 1 AM and everyone else in the room is in Slumber Party Mode.

3. Sketchbook. Even if you don’t draw, I recommend bringing at least a notebook of some kind to write down funny stuff or Bible verses or others.

4. Pencil case. You want a case. Trust me. Easier than a week of hunting down the one pencil you brought with you.

5. Books – I brought a journal, the book everyone read before going, my Bible, and a daily devotional.

6. Water bottle. YOU NEED TO BRING A WATER BOTTLE. Even if you have to bring a garbage bag tied at the top with a rubber band, something to drink out of will save you during the day.

7. Glasses, sunglasses.

And here are some little things that you should be taking with you everywhere you go:


From top left: iPod (you never know when the VBS CD will suddenly stop working and you need Christian music)



Deodorant (trust me)


Pain medication


Bible (This one’s important. You might run into someone while at the river and get into a spiritual conversation with them. And God’s Words are so much more eloquent than yours.)

And, to wrap this mother of a blog post home, I give you toiletries.


Bring a little collegey tote thingy to carry your stuff. I got mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

1. Face stuff – don’t skimp out on this just because you aren’t home.

2. Makeup – again, for the nice-outfit night (NON?). Read: MINIMAL. Don’t be that girl who’s overly attached to her makeup. You look fine.

3. Bb cream. If you don’t own this already, GO BUY. It has sunscreen and tinted moisturizer in it and it’s just really great.

4. Perfume so I don’t smell like a hooligan on the NON.

5. Toothbrush, etc. Duh, but also not an okay thing to forget. People aren’t going to share.

6. HEADBAND. I have forgotten this every year and it is the bane of my existence. Keep your bangs dry and bring one.

7. Hair stuff. I don’t bring a blow dryer. Again, ladies, don’t be attached to tat kind of thing. Doesn’t matter.

8. Shower stuff.


Hope you found this helpful! Now I gotta get my stuff actually packed. So excited…see you again next week. (:



5 thoughts on “How to Pack for a Missions Trip

  1. I’ll be going to Mexico in a little over a month and the leader hasn’t discussed this kind of stuff yet! Thank you so much! This was a hugeeee help!

  2. I am heading to Guatemala in 13 days on my first mission trip, and have no idea what to pack! This post was such a lifesaver! Thank you!

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