Going on a mission trip? Stay safe with these 6 tips!
May 10, 2016
By Matt Morrison
It’s that time of year! As the school comes to a close for students, many of us are getting ready for summer mission trips. If this is your first time traveling overseas, you may be worried about staying healthy and safe on your trip. In many cases, the area you’re visiting may be safer than your own neighborhood streets at home. That said, there are some simple tips you can follow to protect yourself from unnecessary inconveniences while away from home.
1. Be careful with the water.
In many countries, the sanitation standards of the tap water are different than here in the United States. While our bodies are accustomed to the bacteria living in our tap at home, the water in other regions may contain organisms our bodies don’t know how to handle. This can lead to some… unpleasant results. As a rule of thumb, stick to bottled water – even when brushing your teeth. Avoid ice and fruit juice as well, since they are often made with tap water.
2. Use the buddy system.
It turns out this old rule from kindergarten also applies to international travel! Stick with your team and don’t wander too far from your translators. They can help you avoid dangerous or awkward situations. They also know which areas are safe and which are not. In the end, trust their intuition, and yours as well. Just like at home – if something feels wrong, take immediate actions to correct it.
3. Keep your belongings close.
Pickpocketing is the most common crime you’ll encounter. Keep your important papers close and valuables in front pants pockets. Keep other valuables out of easy-to-access pockets in your backpack. In crowded spaces, show extra precaution. It also helps to keep your hotel’s business card on you. If you get separated, you can use the hotel phone number and address to find your way back to the team.
4. Use caution on social media.
In certain regions, you may need to use extra care when posting on social media. Your trip leaders will know what is safe and what isn’t. Follow their guidance carefully. You don’t want to put anyone in danger by sharing too much information online about your whereabouts and who you’re serving with.
5. Watch what you eat.
Steer clear of street foods or produce washed in tap water. Pre-packaged foods like chips or cookies are often safe. Coffee and tea from boiled water are also fine. If you have questions, ask your trip leaders for help. You can graciously decline food by explaining how your weak American stomach reacts differently. In many cases, the locals will understand this.
Many health and safety guidelines are just common sense and you likely follow them here at home already. Your trip leaders will guide you through any concerns specific to your area but don’t worry about everything going on around you. Stay alert, but confident – and enjoy yourself! If you’re on an e3 expedition, you’re traveling with leaders and locals who know the people and the terrain very well. At the home office, we’re always monitoring local situations on the ground and sending the latest updates to your team. You’re also covered with traveler’s insurance in the event of an emergency.
Most importantly – God has called you to this and he is sovereign over your life. He will protect you and give you peace. Don’t forget that you’re still in his hands!