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Mission Trip Safety Tips

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Danger Sign

Going on a mission trip is exciting for everyone whether traveling together or alone. Often times you will have a mix of veteran missions trip travelers who know more of the ins and outs of staying safe, along with some new people who are going out for their first time. Whether you are going on a long-term or short-term missions trip, there are some safety tips that you should keep in mind.

Follow the Leader

Never underestimate the safety procedures that are given to you by your leaders or agency. If going alone, it is imperative to contact those already on the field for tips and advice. If that isn’t possible, try to find someone from that country who can give you the ins and outs. Once there, always pay attention to trusted nationals. They know their country the best and will know what is or isn’t safe and what is or isn’t culturally appropriate. 

Sudan Soldier

Emergency Plans

Make sure that you and your companions have an emergency plan for different situations, such as needing to evacuate an area in case of unexpected weather conditions, political turmoil, and other emergencies that could arise. It is very important that you know where your local embassy is located and if there are any local areas that should be off limits due to their level of unrest or crime. 

Politics

NEVER attend a political rally or public demonstration. These often end in violence. Besides, it is never a good idea to discuss politics in another country whatsoever if safety is your concern.  Also, never take pictures of military bases, soldiers or policemen, as this is usually illegal and can often result in the confiscation of your camera at the least. You will also want to read up on the laws that govern your mission field so you know ahead of time what should be avoided.

crowded bus in india

Personal Safety

Avoid bringing any jewelry with you on your trip. They are best left at home. Many organizations suggest that you buy an under-the-clothes passport holder to keep your money and documentation on you and out of sight at all times, while also keeping a copy of the documentation in your luggage and where you are staying in case it does get stolen.  They also suggest using a passport cover, so your home country won’t be visible to all, in case being from that country make you a target for thieves or others. Stay in groups or with your hosts while working in the field, and do not accept transportation from strangers.

Food

When it comes to food, follow the advice of your leaders as to what is ok for your to eat. Some foods that are very common to the locals can seem quite strange to you, but might be totally safe.  On the other hand, food that seems normal to you, such as water, milk, or even raw vegatables could be very harmful. Trust your leaders.

Take off Shoes

Do’s and Don’ts 

Be mindful of religious practices and cultural do’s and don’ts for the area that you are visiting or making your new home. For example, in Thailand it is extrememly rude to point your feet at anyone, and you must remove your shoes before entering anyone’s home.  In many parts of Africa it is very offensive to take someone’s photo without asking.  In some countries, a woman is never allowed to touch a man in public, even if they are married. You can find that kind of specific information for many countries here on MissionsLaunch.

Knowledge is power, especially when you are heading out on a missions trip. Being well informed about the area you are visiting is essential to your personal and group safety. But most importantly, listen closely to your leaders and hosts, and follow their decisions in all situations. They are usually very familiar with the area you are going and know all of the possibilities and conditions that could and will arise. 

Photos by Jef Poskanzer, hdptcar, Shayan (USA), alex-s

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