Planning Your International Missions Trip

Taking a short-term missions trip abroad? Whether your group visits a neighboring country or a destination on the far side of the globe, planning is vital.

Assembling your team

  • Determine the purpose of your trip, and put it in writing.
  • Recruit leaders and team members who have missions experience and special skills (e.g., familiarity with your destination, medical experience, construction skills).
  • Study the destination and culture of the host country.
  • Screen prospective team members using criteria such as strong health; verification of personal insurance (e.g., health, life, and property); and parental approval for minors.
  • Explain all known risks to participants, as well as to parents of minors. Have team members sign an Activity Participation Agreement.

Preparing for your trip

  • Ensure that your insurance policy covers your project.
  • Ask participants to schedule physical and dental checkups before departure.
  • Locate the best hospitals near your mission destination. Establish an injury transportation plan, in case of emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. embassy before leaving, and ask what services it offers.
  • Ask the Centers for Disease Control to determine what inoculations and precautions for your missions team.
  • Designate a contact person at home to relay team updates to families, your church community, and, potentially, the news media.
  • Take medication for team members in the original containers and carry extra medication in case of a delay along the way.
  • Provide final materials to your team members:
    • Packing lists
    • Luggage restrictions
    • Trip schedule
    • Contact numbers
  • Leave copies of important documents (e.g., passports, airline tickets) at home, so if one is lost, a friend or relative can fax a backup copy.

Team leader’s folder

  • Create a “master folder” that contains vital paperwork and information, including:
    • Photocopies of your team’s passports and visas
    • Passport-sized photos of each traveler
    • Emergency contact information for each traveler
    • Notes regarding special medical needs
    • Medical release forms
    • Written proof of insurance coverage
    • Insurance company contact numbers
    • Back-up money, in case of theft
    • Airline itinerary listing travelers’ names, in case airline tickets are lost or stolen