There are a lot of different things that missionaries end up doing as they follow God’s calling to the ends of the earth. From volunteering in orphanage in Uganda, evangelizing on the streets of Thailand, or distributing free Bibles in Mexico, there’s one thing that’s weaved into all of it: traveling.
Traveling might seem like such a basic “skill” that you could jump into it without a lot of preparation. What’s so hard about packing, booking a flight, and showing up at the airport anyway?
Whether you’re a travel expert or not, we think this list can help you remember some of the more common aspects of travel that are easily forgotten. (Like renewing your passport!)
It's important to pack only the essentials—you never know when you might have to carry everything on your back. Research your destination, since weather, culture, and access to laundry services are all contributing factors when deciding what to bring.
Oh, and don't forget to check the baggage allowance with your airline: You don't want any surprises at the airport!
Be prepared to walk over mountains, on dirt roads, through the jungle, and down bustling city streets. No matter what country you travel to, make sure you choose appropriate footwear.
You need to take good care of your feet and your body, so choose something protective and durable you can walk in comfortably for long periods of time.
Maybe this one seems obvious, but it’s definitely a skill you need to have as a missionary. Knowing how to find the cheapest prices and itineraries will help you learn to traverse the globe with ease.
One important thing to mention: in most cases, you’re going to need a credit card to book a flight, so keep that in mind when you’re searching for the best tickets!
If you’re looking for some more help in this area, take a look at this blog we wrote up with 8 tips for finding cheap flights!
Your passport is what gives you access to the world and allows you to cross international borders. You won’t be able to leave your home country without one! Make sure to apply as soon as you can to avoid the stress of getting one last-minute.
And if you’ve already got a passport, don’t forget to renew it before it expires. Hopefully you’ll be able to do it during a trip to your home nation, but if not, your nearest embassy should be able to help you out.
Speaking of travel documents, you’ll need to know what visas are required to gain access to the nations you’ll be traveling to. You don’t want to arrive at the airport only to be denied boarding because you don’t have the proper travel visa.
Every country has its own laws regarding which nationalities need a visa or not, what visa statuses are available, and for how long you can be in their country. Websites like Passport Index are really helpful for finding out what you’ll need to do for your specific situation.
No matter where you are in the world, it’s recommended that you know where your closest embassy or consulate is located. These offices are going to be able to help you if you lose a passport, need notary services for paperwork in your home country, as well as help to provide certain protections for you while you’re abroad.
Some governments have a program to register that you’ll be traveling so they can inform you of any important safety information you need to know while you’re gone.
You’ll be spending lots of time in airports as a missionary, so knowing how to make that experience easier will quickly turn you into a professional traveler.
Instead of having to empty your pockets into a security bin, pack as much into your carry-on as possible before reaching the security line. This means your coins, keys, wallet, cell phone, belt, all of it. Trust us—you’ll get through security in no time.
Granola bars, apples, carrots, trail mix, Gatorade—you’ll thank yourself on those long, unexpected bus or boat rides. Plus you’ll be able to bless someone else on your team who didn’t come prepared but needs a snack to hold them over until your next meal!
Regardless of your country of origin, learning how to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission (stick-shift) will come in handy more often than you think!
Since us missionaries are always on the go, we often need someone who can jump in the driver’s seat and get us to our next destination. So when you hear someone say, “Does anyone know how to drive stick?”, that’s your cue to use your driving skills for the glory of God!
Picture this: you're driving down a bumpy dirt road somewhere in the middle of Central America, when all of a sudden your tire blows off the wheel. No one knows what to do. But wait—you've done this before! Or at least, you've watched a YouTube tutorial and you can give it your best shot.
Small practical skills like changing a tire can come in handy on the mission field. Maybe your basic mechanic skills won't be needed this time, but if the day ever does come, you'll be able to rise up.
Missionaries know that you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get to the place God has called you to share the gospel.
From airplanes, buses, and trains, to camels, donkeys, and boats, you never know how you might be getting around! If you can learn to sleep in or on any of these different modes of travel, that's an extra bonus!
You might think that American dollars (USD) are going to get you where you need to go, no matter where you are in the world. Well, think again!
While it’s true that some foreign countries do accept USD, that’s not the case for all. Learning how (and where) to exchange money is important, especially because the majority of the world still operates with cash.
Make sure to research the currencies of the countries you’ll be traveling to so you can get cash ahead of time, if possible. Exchanging cash at an airport is usually the most convenient, although the rates can be higher. When in doubt, ask one of your local friends where’s the best place to change money so you don’t pay too much!
So there you have it: 12 things that every traveling missionary should know how to do!
Now you should be able to grab your passport, book your airfare, and pack your bags for the adventure of a lifetime. You might start on a plane in Chicago only to end up on a camel in Egypt!
Oh, and one more thing. No matter where your missionary travels take you, don’t forget to pack your Bible!
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