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When it comes to charitable giving, mission trips are an effective means to contribute to the greater good. Dedicating your time and energy to helping those affected by famine, natural disaster or extreme poverty can help you grow as a person, broaden your perspective and provide you with a new appreciation for the struggles faced by the less fortunate. Whether you’ve taken mission trips in the past or will soon be embarking on your first one, there are a number of steps you’ll need to take to ensure a successful journey. Charitable travelers interested in having the best possible journey are sure to appreciate the following pointers.

Research Your Destination

Before committing to take part in a mission trip, take care to research the destination. This will provide you with a solid understanding of the area’s culture, climate and people, which will give you a good idea of what you can expect from the trip. Additionally, have a conversation with the trip organizer and/or team leader about what will be expected of you. If there are specific duties you feel you are unable to perform, this is a good time to make the people in charge aware of this. Jumping into a mission trip unprepared can have a host of undesirable consequences for both you and the people you’re tasked with helping, so don’t skimp on the pre-trip research.

Weigh the Benefits of Agency Trips versus Independent Trips

While it’s certainly possible to organize independent mission trips, there are numerous advantages to taking part in agency-backed trips. Many charitable and church-affiliated agencies provide travelers with practical training and educate them on what to expect after reaching their destinations. Going the agency route is a particularly attractive option for people who are embarking on mission trips for the first time. Even if you hope to one day organize your own trips, taking part in agency trips can provide you with invaluable experience that will prove useful in your future travels.

Consider Whether You Want a Trip that’s Religious in Nature

Although mission trips are commonly associated with churches and religious organizations, there are many exceptions to the rule. Unsurprisingly, trips organized by the aforementioned entities tend to focus on destinations where their beliefs are welcomed. So if spreading religion or honoring scripture are among your foremost goals in embarking on a mission trip, a church-backed journey should be right up your alley. Conversely, travelers with no religious affiliation may be more comfortable on mission trips organized by humanitarian organizations that are independent of the church.

Decide What You Want Out of a Mission Trip

When selecting a suitable trip, it’s important to determine what you hope to gain from the experience. As previously stated, travelers looking for a faith-oriented journey are likely to enjoy the trips offered by religious organizations. Alternatively, travelers who want to learn more about specific destinations and cultures should seek out mission trips focused on parts of the world that interest them. In determining which mission trip is right for you, you should also consider the type of aid you wish to provide. For example, if a certain trip entails a degree of physical exertion that you’re uncomfortable with, it may be in your best interest to explore other options.

Pack Smart

Smart packing can have a profound impact on the overall quality of your trip. For example, if you’ll be spending a fair amount of time outdoors, make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen – and apply it accordingly. It’s also recommended that you have insect repellent on hand, as a large number of foreign illnesses are transmitted through bug bites. Anyone embarking on mission trip to Haiti will want to have both of these items at their disposal. Furthermore, since you can expect to get dirty on a consistent basis, try not to pack clothing you’re particularly attached to.

Build Your Stamina

With few exceptions, mission trips require a fair amount of physical activity from participants. In addition to consistently being on your feet, you may be called upon to assist in heavy lifting, resource gathering and other tasks that require above-average stamina. So in the weeks or months leading up to your trip, make a point of engaging in regular exercise. Furthermore, focus on exercises that increase stamina, like walking, running and stair climbing. Getting into a fitness groove is likely to require some adjustment, but once you’re sweating it out on your trip, you’ll be glad you made the effort.

Stock Up On Wet Wipes

If your destination doesn’t have much in the way of running water or toilet paper, make a point of packing plenty of wet wipes. In addition to enabling people to take makeshift baths, these handy wipes can be used to clean up after using the bathroom, thereby preventing irritation and infection. Furthermore, provided you’re not picky about brands, wet wipes can be purchased in bulk for prices that are affordable on even the most stringent budget. In the absence of soap and/or running water, wet wipes can be your best friend, so make stocking up on them a priority.

Bring a Portable Fan

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Many mission trips are taken to areas that experience extreme heat year-round. If your desired destination has this type of climate, it’s in your best interest to pack a portable fan and plenty of batteries – especially if you’ll be spending a substantial amount of time outdoors. Even if you’re accustomed to extreme temperatures, having a working fan on hand can provide tremendous peace of mind. Like wet wipes, battery-powered fans are easily affordable, so safety-conscious travelers have no excuse for being caught without them.

Have Plenty of Reading Material On Hand

Not every moment of your trip is going to be spent working. Rather than spend your leisure time succumbing to boredom, why not lose yourself in a good book? Many parts of the world don’t have readily available electricity, and in the absence of modern-day devices, traditional print books are a reliably solid entertainment option. If it’s been a while since you’ve buried your nose in a good book, this may prove the perfect opportunity to rediscover your passion for reading.

By helping others, you’re not only enriching the lives of the people you assist – but also your own. People living in parts of the world that frequently contend with draught, famine and other unmitigated disasters need all the help they can get, and embarking on mission trips is the perfect way to provide them with it. Participating in mission trips can change the way you view the world and put the minor annoyances you deal with back home into perspective. If you’ll soon be heading out on a mission trip of your own, utilizing the tips discussed above can do you a world of good.

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I love to travel and I love reading and writing about traveling, that is why I started 2traveling. I want everyone to see the wonderful places around the world and experience everything that is awesome about it.