Important Travel Tips

Before You Go

It’s almost time!!  You have studied hard, worked hard, and are about to embark on the best but most challenging year of your life. 

Here are a few things to consider before you take off:

1.     We strongly recommend that you consider giving someone (parents or someone else you trust) power of attorney for you so that they can take care of any business issues that might arise for you while you are gone.  

2.    Pack wisely—put money in a money belt and keep your passport and other valuables safe. The pouches that go around your neck are not as safe as a money belt worn under your clothing.  Keep some small change (about $20-$40) in something outside the money belt to access easily if you need it. When traveling, sleep with your money belt on, under your clothing. Thieves and pickpockets are very clever. DO NOT PACK YOUR PASSPORT, TICKETS, MONEY, OR MEDICINES. Take them in your carry-on baggage. 

3.    Take along extra passport-sized photos for visas, especially if you plan to do any extra traveling.

4.    Don’t pack too many clothes. Consider taking clothing that you can leave behind when you come home so you can have extra space in your luggage for “treasures.” Your left-behind clothing may benefit others.

5.    If you are going to an area with little or no electricity, a solar or "wind-up" flashlight may be very helpful. Batteries can get expensive and may be hard to find in remote areas.

6.    You may consider getting an International Student ID card ( that may give you discounts on travel, etc. They also have travel offices all over the world and emergency numbers if you have problems. There is an ISIC office on McCallie Avenue in Chattanooga  (423.425.4735), or you can look online to find an office close to your home.

7.    You may benefit by getting an International Drivers’ License—just in case you need it in your assigned mission. You can go to most AAA offices. Take along two 2x2” passport pictures and your USA license (they will also do passport pictures there for a small fee). It just takes a few minutes and is not expensive.

8.    Before you go, make two copies of the following documents. Leave one copy with someone in the USA. Put the other copy in your carry-on baggage but separate from your money belt.

a.    Everything that is in your wallet

b.    Passport

c.     Medication prescriptions

d.    Airline tickets

e.    Traveler’s check numbers

9.    Put your name and contact information inside and outside of your luggage.  Mark your luggage with something distinctive (i.e., fluorescent tape or ribbon) to make it easier to spot.

10. Travel in comfortable clothing that does not scream, “I am a rich kid from America!!!” 

11. Wherever you go, treat the people and their culture with respect. Despite what we often think, there IS more than one way to do things and the American way is NOT always the best. Be open to other ideas.

12. Be aware of your surroundings. Watch people to learn what is culturally acceptable. Ask questions. 

13. One of your first duties when you arrive at your destination is to contact the SM Office and provide all of your contact information, including the following. Remember to keep in contact with the SM office throughout your year and send pictures.

a.    Mailing address

b.    Physical address and phone number

c.     Supervisor address and phone number(s)

d.    Any other important information including a cell phone, e-mail address, etc. 

14. You may want to include some toilet paper in your carry-on luggage. It may come in handy. 

15. Make sure that there is a way for people at home to send you money (i.e., deposit in a bank back home so you can use your ATM card if there are ATMs where you are going, money wiring information, etc).

16. Wherever you go, you get only one chance to give a first impression, and that impression can have a long-lasting impact on the people you are serving. Plan to dress modestly, appropriately, and in comfortable clothing that is in good repair and tasteful. Gentlemen, you need to have a “clean-cut” look when it comes to your hair and face. Ladies, know before you go what clothing is acceptable in your mission location. If in doubt – don’t!!   This year is not about YOU, though you will be gaining as much benefit as the people you serve (if not more). 

17. Always remember that we are praying for you and that we are here for you.

18. Bon voyage!! Go with God! 


Some First Aid Ideas From Previous SMs

  1. Antibiotic cream   Very useful for cuts and scrapes. Clean the area very well first with soap and water, than apply antibiotic ointment.
  1. Bug spray  Buy bug spray that is 99 percent DEET and spray only a small amount on your clothing. You’ll reek of bug repellent, but the bugs will stay away. Also, use a mosquito net at night!
  1. Water purification tablets  You can get them at Walmart in the camping section; buy the iodine tablets that also come with Vitamin C neutralizing tablets. These are only for short-term use but good to have in a pinch.
  1. Pepto-Bismol®  Some people use Pepto-Bismol® to treat mild gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, cramping, and bloating due to bacterial infection or food poisoning. Carefully read the instructions on the package before swallowing.
  1. Charcoal capsules    Activated charcoal has many uses in the mission field. It can be ingested to alleviate stomach problems, especially diarrhea. The powder can be made into a paste and applied to wounds for an anti-infective result. The paste can also be applied to insect bites and stings to reduce swelling and decrease pain and itching.
  1. Band-aids®   Don’t worry about taking a year’s supply; your mom can always include a box in the mail.
  1. Ace bandages   You can always improvise with socks or strips of cloth. However, if you are prone to twisting your ankle, having an ace bandage around doesn’t hurt.
  1. Tweezers   Clean the dirt out of your wounds, pull out splinters. Make sure these are boiled for 10 minutes in water or scrubbed with clean water and soap before using.
  1. Sterile needles    Useful to have a few in the chance of a really bad splinter.
  1. Tylenol® and Motrin®    Use for treatment of headaches, fever, joint pain, etc. For a person with high fevers or pain due to injury, 400 mg Motrin® (ibuprofen) can be given every six hours. For fevers or headache, 650 to 1000 mg Tylenol® can be given every four to six hours. Be sure Motrin® is taken with a small amount of food. Drink plenty of water when you take these medications.
  1. Hydrocortisone cream   This cream reduces swelling in inflamed areas and also reduces itching and pain. Not necessary, but can be nice to have.
  1. Washcloths    You can buy a fat little pack of cheap washcloths at Target or Walmart. These are great to have around for placing cool and wet across the forehead of someone who has a fever or is nauseated. You will find many other uses for them, as well.
  1. Claritin®/Loratidine   If you take allergy meds at home, take some with you to the mission field. It doesn’t hurt to take a box even if you don’t usually have trouble with allergies. You may react to new plants or animals that you’re exposed to in a foreign county. We recommend a box of Loratadine—it’s generic Claritin® that can be purchased over the counter at Walmart and it isn’t very expensive. 
  1. Airborne® tablets  Some people find them very effective to ward off disease.
  1. Other suggestions: cough drops, anti-itch cream, small scissors, thermometer, medical tape, gauze, vitamin C tablets, multivitamin tablets, sunscreen, aloe, herbal tea bags, Vic’s vapo-rub, etc. Take supplies that you would usually use at home.

Remember the First Aid Recipes:

Nutritional treatment for a person with diarrhea/vomiting:

BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Tea/Toast

It doesn’t have to be these exact foods, but stick to a diet of simple carbs and no fatty foods. Avoid fruits, vegetables, and grains that have a lots of fiber when someone has diarrhea.

Charcoal treatment: Mix two to three capsules activated charcoal with a dribble of water and a few drips of oil, then apply to bee sting or insect bite within five minutes of sting for pain and swelling reliefs. 

Sore throat treatment: Place one pure peppermint tea bag in a cup and add a squirt of honey and the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon. Pour boiling water over mixture. Stir. Drink when cool enough to tolerate.

Oral rehydration fluid: Mix 1 liter (1 full Nalgene bottle) of clean potable water with one big spoonful of sugar and one small spoonful of salt. Mix well, and give a spoonful of the liquid every five minutes by mouth to persons who are dehydrated due to diarrhea, heat stroke, excessive sweating, and/or vomiting.