Planning Your Mission Trip 101

Is God prompting your heart to take a mission trip?

Before you start designing your t-shirts and packing your carry-on, there are some essential things to do.

Consider this timeline

12 Months Out

Determine a location. It’s a big world out there–the possibilities are nearly endless when choosing where to serve. Be prayerful in this decision, and keep your existing passions in mind when looking at different ministries. (And we encourage you to consider traveling with Lifesong! Take a look at our global orphan care ministries with short-term mission trip availability.)

Reserve your week. As soon as you know where you want to serve, contact the ministry and find out which weeks are available.

Spread the word. Assemble your team! And be sure to establish a minimum and maximum number of team members.

Are you raising support? If yes–start doing that. If no–write a check.

9-7 Months Out

Do you need vaccinations? If yes–now’s the time. If no–you (and your fear of needles) can let out a sigh of relief.

 Apply for your passports or visas if needed. Depending on where you’re traveling, you’ll need either a passport, visa, or both. Do your research, and ask your host ministry plenty of questions. A good rule of thumb to stick to: if your passport is expiring within a year of your travel date, save yourself the headache and get it renewed.

Buy plane tickets. Many airlines have group travel discounts. And your team can sit together on the plane! Minimize spending, maximize bonding. Win-win.

Submit paperwork & documents required by your host. How and when you submit paperwork and payments depends completely upon your host ministry. Stay in touch with them throughout the whole planning process.

Start your pre-trip meetings. With a little effort and coordination, pre-trip meetings can make a huge impact by setting the tone of your trip. Use this opportunity to study the culture of your host country and cultivate a proper mindset toward serving. If you’re interested in doing a group study, Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions is a fantastic resource.

3-2 Months Out

If you’re still waiting around, buy your plane tickets. You’ve watched the prices rise and fall. Time to commit. Buy those tickets!

Determine your airline’s luggage requirements and plan accordingly. Are you bringing extra supplies for your trip? It’s a good idea to triple check those luggage requirements.

Make a packing list. Most ministries will let you know what to bring in advance. But if not, there are plenty of lists online. Consider this one, for instance.

Arrange airport ground transportation. Your host ministry will likely be on top of this. Best to confirm a few months in advance, though.

Confirm travel plans with your host. The more communication, the better.

Odds are your planning will end up looking way different from this timeline. But the golden rule with mission trips? Be flexible. Things rarely go according to plan. And if you spend the whole trip trying to follow your strict schedule, you might miss out on the joy of simply being present. Has God called you to do this? Is it His glory you’re seeking? If you answer yes, then you have nothing to worry about. Be faithful. Prayerful. Flexible.

For extra tips on your short-term misison trip, take a look at these resources:

Interested in ditching half the planning?