How to Prepare for an International Medical Mission Trip

Preparing for an international medical mission can be a costly and time consuming process. Since there are many factors that need to be considered before going on a medical mission, you should give yourself plenty of time to prepare for your trip. Being well prepared will help your medical mission to go smoothly and will hopefully eliminate any concerns you may have.


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    Begin fundraising. After making the decision to volunteer on an international medical mission, the first thing that you will need to do is begin fundraising. Since there are many costs associated with a medical mission, including the cost of medications and travel fees, fundraising for a medical mission trip can take time. It is ideal to begin raising money about one year before you plan on traveling to make sure that you have plenty of time to raise the sufficient funds. Fundraising efforts can include anything from asking family members or companies for donations to selling homemade goods. Feel free to get creative!
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    Ensure that your passport is current. After you have begun to fundraise for your mission, the next step is to ensure that you have a valid passport. Most countries require that your passport be valid for at least 6 months past your return date. If you already have a passport, you will need to check the expiration date to be sure that it fits this requirement and renew it if necessary. If you do not have a passport, you will need to apply for one and have your passport photo taken. You should begin this process at least two months before you travel because it may take a few weeks to process your application and there could be complications that arise.
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    Perform research. Before leaving for your trip, it is a good idea to do some research about the country you will be traveling to. In your research, you should be sure to learn about the currency that is used, the climate, the primary language that is spoken, the culture, and the political status of the country. You should also stay up-to-date on current events in the country that you will be traveling to. Equipping yourself with this knowledge will help you to gain a better understanding of how you may be expected to act or dress while in the country and will allow you to be culturally aware.
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    Create a list of things to bring. Now that you departure date is drawing nearer, you should begin to compile a list of things that you will need to bring. If you are traveling with an organization, they will most likely provide you with a short list of necessary items. As you continue to prepare for your trip, however, you should be sure to write down any additional items that you may want to bring with you.
    • Some items that you may not have thought to bring include over-the-counter medications, snacks, a camera, a journal to record some of your experiences, and extra spending money. If the country that you are traveling to uses a different unit of currency, you can convert your money at the airport when you reach your destination. The over-the-counter medications that you should be sure to bring include motion sickness medication, bug spray, pain medication, and allergy medication. Keep in mind, however, that there are extra restrictions on the items you can bring on an airplane when traveling internationally.
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    Update your immunizations. When you sign up to volunteer on a medical mission, the organization that you are traveling with should also inform you of any potential diseases or viruses that you might be exposed to on your trip. If you are not provided with this information, you can find out more about suggested immunizations online or from a doctor.
    • Once you have acquired this information, you will need to see your primary care physician to receive any of the necessary vaccines or medications that you will need to take in order to prevent yourself from contracting these diseases. This should be done at least one month before traveling to give you enough time to receive the required vaccinations and to fill any prescriptions that you will need to take throughout your trip.
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    Print out important information. When traveling on a medical mission, it is advised that you bring some important information with you as a precaution. This information includes: 1-2 color copies of your passport, a copy of your current immunization record, any consent forms required by the organization that you are traveling with, the location of where you will be staying, and important contact information. Items such as your passport information and your intended location of stay are very important because they will most likely be included on the paperwork required to pass through customs.
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    Purchase any new clothing or supplies required. In the weeks leading up to your departure, you will need to look over your list of items to bring and ensure that you own everything you need. If you do not have any of the items on your list such as sturdy shoes or scrubs, now is the time to begin purchasing these items. If you are looking to save money, try finding some of these items at a local thrift store!
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    Pack your suitcase. Since you have now been preparing for your medical mission trip for almost a year and have already made a list of things to bring, packing your suitcase should be easy. Remember to keep international travel restrictions in mind when you pack your bag. Also, make sure that you include the printed copies of the important information to have before your departure!

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