Different airlines will vary when it comes to luggage restrictions for both checked luggage and carry-on items. Please verify with your airline their specific requirements keeping in mind European airlines may have different guidelines. There may also be a large fine for overweight luggage. Remember, you will be responsible for carrying and guarding all your luggage. We cannot stress enough the fact that you can never pack too lightly!
For international flights, airlines require that you check in at least two hours prior to departure. To be safe, we ask that you check in three hours prior to departure.
Pay due respect to the following areas as you prepare for the outreach. The information shared below is based on generalizations to be considered for all travel outside the US.
Pack lightly. You will be happier if you pack light. The team you will be serving with may provide a packing list. Please carefully follow their recommendations. (Many cultures wear the same clothes for multiple days. If you wear a different set of clothes every day, you might inadvertently re-enforce the “rich American” stereotype.)
Plan for jet lag. Once you arrive, try to sleep according to the time zone you are in, even if it means staying up for a long time on the first day. Your body will adjust to the new time zone quicker this way.
Cultural considerations. Operation World by Patrick Johnstone is a good resource to learn about your specific country. Look for this book at your local library or contact OM to obtain a copy. Consider purchasing other tourist and informational books as well as searching the internet for more information. Some examples of cultural considerations are: not wearing clothing with overlty American slogans, symbols, or writings; ladies wearing head scarves during church services or not wearing sleeveless tops and pants/trousers (more about clothing is listed later in this section.)
Climate and weather. Visit www.weather.com for information on the weather you might experience. Dress in light layers and be prepared all types of weather, hot and cold, wet and dry. You may want to bring a hooded raincoat or folding umbrella for rainy weather, a sweater or light jacket for the evenings and a hat or scarf for protection from the sun. (Some cultures frown on sunglasses because this prevents people from seeing your eyes.)
Electrical appliances. Electrical current in other countries is different than in the US. A converter and adaptive plugs may be needed and can be purchased at most US department/drug stores. Electrical items such as shavers, hairdryers, etc. will not work without a transformer unless they are dual voltage. All plugs, adapters, and transformers should be purchased before you leave. To aid in your packing light, consider whether you truly need such appliances.
Personal items to bring. Bible, notebook, and pen. A notebook can be used to record times of reflection on what God is saying to you as well as to record the names and addresses of the many friends you will make.
Personal Spending: Most major airports and cities have currency exchange offices. You can either use cash or plastic for these transactions. You will also be able to use your debit/credit card at ATMs in large cities. For security reasons, be sure to inform your bank/credit card company about your travel plans and determine what fees you will be charged for foreign transactions. Most foreign businesses appreciate clean, crisp $20 and $50 dollar bills. Familiarize yourself with currency exchange rates before you leave the US so that you will know how much you are actually spending in US dollars. Some cash will be necessary during your day off/free time. You will be responsible for purchasing any food and drinks and personal transportation that you require in that time. There may be opportunity for personal shopping during the outreach. Be sensitive to the other members of your team who may not have extra money to spend. Please avoid large or extravagant expenditures. Remember, as well, that your purchases will need to find a place in your luggage on your return flights.
Suggested packing list:
Do not bring:
In a multi-cultural environment, standards of dress will differ greatly. Follow the recommendations and requests of OM staff in the country where you are serving. Dressing nicely and with cultural sensitivity earns respect. It may be necessary to defer your personal preferences, however modest and attractive they may be, in favor of what is appropriate to where you are serving. The goal is to present yourself so that nothing distracts from glorifying God in all that you do. Bring clothes that are easy to wash and that dry quickly. You may want to pack an outfit, extra underwear, toiletries, etc. in your carry on in case of lost luggage.