Every mission trip is unique but many of the steps to prepare for a successful journey are similar. At SignUpGenius, we’d like to help your team accomplish its purposes with this list of helpful mission trip planning tips and ideas.
1. Ask people to join the team. Begin talking to potential members at least a month before the first mission trip meeting to ask them to pray about joining you.
2. Schedule a trip info meeting. Better yet, schedule multiple times for people to attend and follow up with reminders via phone, email, text or social media posts. Use SignUpGenius to allow people to sign up for the info meeting date that works best for them.
3. Set a deadline for applications. This is your opportunity to collect info on each participant like contact information, past missions experience, spiritual gifts, testimony, and personality traits.
4. Create a group site for the team. This should be a place online where team members can post photos, ask questions, communicate with each other, and save documents with trip info.
5. Hold team prep meetings. Remember that people are busy and make sure to keep the meetings focused and purposeful to ensure that participants attend each one.
6. Prepare a list of important contact info. Team members can leave it with family members before they head out.
7. Set up a blog. This can be a place online where team members can post updates and photos for sponsors and family members before, during, and after the trip.
8. Apply for passports. Encourage team members to apply for passports as soon as they decide to join the team. Often passports can be processed in 4-6 weeks and faster when expedited, but it’s possible to hit unexpected delays.
9. Reserve tickets. Work with a travel agent to secure tickets several months ahead of time to ensure the best prices and travel dates.
10. Make a list of travel tips. Include helpful info about appropriate dress, keeping valuables safe, and unique cultural norms that the team should know about.
11. Distribute packing lists. Create one packing list for individuals and one for the group. If your group will be taking donations of clothing, toiletries, school supplies, or building materials, make a sign up to send out to friends who can sign up to help supply the team with what’s needed.
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12. Arrange accommodations.
Consider costs, how far you’ll be from work sites, security, and any extras like towels, sheets, and bed nets that team members might need to bring.
13. Apply for visas.
Again, allow plenty of extra time to deal with any delays that might arise.
14. Research baggage restrictions.
Airlines vary in how many and what size bags they will allow each ticketed passenger without adding extra fees.
15. Tag all team bags.
Give team members a sheet to include in each bag
with contact info if the bag is lost as well as an easily identifiable tag to add to the outside of the bag, so the team can find all of the bags upon arrival.
16. Get to know teammates.
Arrange for team building activities before the group travels together.
17. Provide multiple ways to communicate.
Supply phone numbers, a group site, and emails and encourage team members to reach out to each other via their social media channels.
18. Administer a personality assessment.
Compile the results and share with the team, so people understand what to expect from each other when serving together.
19. Design the trip around the team’s strengths.
If you have a team full of teachers, hold teacher training sessions for locals. If you have a group of entrepreneurs, make sure to arrange for business training and/or evaluation.
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20. Group people into focus areas.
Assign people to projects that match their strengths and have focus groups prep tasks together before leaving. Why not create a sign up with the various focus areas and have team members sign up for which teams they want to be part of?
21. Pray for unity.
The success of any mission trip rests on prayer. If Jesus prayed for unity for His disciples, then mission teams should too.
22. Learn about the culture.
Provide the names of videos, books and blogs that will help team members learn about the place where they will serve.
23. Ask the pro’s.
Have previous short-term mission team members share with the group about their experience. Email previous trip members a sign up with the dates of your meetings and ask them to sign up to share at one of them.
24. Establish a mission statement.
Get creative and use a verse, a song, a photo or t-shirt logo to communicate it.
25. Plan a cultural meal.
Have team members sign up via SignUpGenius to bring a dish unique to your host country’s culture to a working dinner meeting for the team.
26. Provide evaluations.
If you’ve traveled to the location with previous teams, supply the new team with evaluations from the last groups.
27. Purchase travel insurance.
Make sure it includes medical evacuation if your team will be traveling to an area with poor medical facilities.
28. Get immunizations.
Research a good travel clinic in your area that can educate and provide your team with the immunizations and prophylaxes that are best for the region where you’re traveling.
29. Register with the State Department.
This information will be used by the embassy where you are traveling if an emergency arises.
30. Make a list of team rules.
It’s best to review these with every team member, so they can agree to follow them before leaving. To save time, post a list of important documents to read in the details section of a sign up and have people “sign up” when they’ve read all of them.
31. Review cultural differences.
These differences may affect everything from how team members greet strangers to where they are allowed to travel alone or in groups.
32. Make a schedule for the trip. Knowing what to expect from each day will help team members relax a bit, and it will give you the confidence that important tasks will get done.
33. Plan a day to explore. It will give team members the opportunity to learn more about the culture of the place they’re serving and refresh a bit.
34. Build in daily flex time. Remember that everyone is different and some will need time alone, extra time to sleep, or time with others to process their experiences.
35. Multi-task. Assign leaders and teams for each project to provide the flexibility for the team to work on multiple projects at the same time.
Finances: Counting the Cost
36. Provide all costs to team members. As early as possible, outline all costs including travel, lodging, immunizations, insurance, souvenirs, passport and visa.
37. Fundraise individually and as a team. Provide a list of ideas and tips for raising funds early on.
Invite, collect payments, send reminders and follow up with the help of SignUpGenius!
38. Send funds ahead.
Wire funds to the host organization for the team’s stay.
39. Give donors multiple ways to help.
Put up a donation list of items needed on SignUpGenius, hold fundraisers, and write letters to family and friends with details about the trip and the costs.
40. Send donors thank you’s.
Team members could even pick up small souvenirs to send with an update letter to supporters once they return.
Here at SignUpGenius, we’d love to know how our free service helps you prepare for your next mission trip. Drop us a line on Facebook or include a comment below if our sign ups have been useful to you or you have another idea for planning a great mission trip.