Two years ago, my family was presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to the mountains of Honduras with a ministry that our church supports. I’d never been to Honduras, but knowing what to pack wasn’t difficult as I gleaned tips from those who had gone before. Our task was to pack only the essentials, and keep our packs as light as possible. Simple right? Ummm….not for this chronic overpacker.
But if anything ever made me want to attempt to pack light, it was the thought of hauling myself, plus my overloaded bag, uphill at an altitude that this Ohio girl was not used to. The thought of myself red-faced and gasping for breath, trying to haul my carry-on plus an oversized suitcase up a mountain is not what I’d call pretty.
So, what does one need when packing for a mission trip in the mountains of Honduras?
Five to six t-shirts, two pairs of jeans, a hoodie, underwear, sports bras, socks, a pair of sweat pants to sleep in, a hoodie for cool nights, a calf length skirt for church, a rain poncho and flip flops to wear into the shower (though it’s been suggested that we not shower and pack baby wipes to clean off with instead). I also packed a lightweight, comfortable outfit to travel home in.
Toiletries & Medications
In addition to basic toiletries, a towel, washcloth and dry shampoo, I also packed Tylenol, Dramamine, Benadryl, a small first aid kit and medicine prescribed by my doctor to combat diarrhea and vomiting.
While my family had a building to sleep in, bedding was not provided. We each needed to pack an air mattress, pillow and sleeping bag or blankets. The problem is, air mattresses can be heavy and a foam pad doesn’t provide much of a cushion against concrete or dirt. We packed adult size pool floats as an alternative to the mattresses. Since we also be shared the room with a group of people, and I’m a very light sleeper, I packed a pair of ear plugs.
Travel Documentation and a Few Extras
I also packed my Bible, a journal, a couple pens, my point-and-shoot camera, a deck of cards (I always have these on hand in case of flight delays or downtime), an empty water bottle that clipped to our clothes and a headlamp or flash light.
For the People of Honduras
Several weeks before our flight, Old Navy had a sale on flip-flops for $1 a pair. Our church wanted to gather 100 pairs and my family picked up all that we were allotted. We packed them in our luggage with thread and buttons that we also gave as gifts.
And while I left my wedding and mother’s rings behind, I did wear one brown rubber bracelet, a gift from our church to each person on the ministry team. If we had a bad day, things weren’t going as well as we planned, or if the roads were wiped out by the rain and we found ourselves hiking up a mountain to La Esperanza, I only needed to glance at my bracelet to put everything back in perspective. The bracelet says it all, “It’s not about me. “
Have you served on a mission trip? What did you pack?