Packing Tips for International Travel

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As you begin to plan your trip, a number of decision will need to be made and it is hoped the information on this site will help in that process. It is now a must that you visit the Travel Security Administration (TSA) a month or so before your departure so you are familiar with their requirements. You should then consult the site again a day or two before depature for any last minute updates.

You will need to decide what items to take with you and what type bags to pack them in. I encourage our team members to use their carry-on and up to half the space (weight) in one of the checked bags for their own needs. That leaves about seventy-five pounds of ministry tools (Bibles, books, etc) and benevolent items (gifts, clothes, medications, etc.)

Each passenger is allowed two checked bags (weighing up to 50 pounds each) plus one carry-on. A coat, purse, and aids to the disabled are also allowed. A key issue is that the airlines have become very particular about checked and carry-on baggage. Team members have encountered difficulty in attempting to exceed the limits. The usual result is having to pay additional fees. Since September 11, 2001, this issue has only gotten more complicated. One true story is a team member who had one bag he was checking that weighed 51 pounds. He either had to pay $200 excess weight fee, or take a pound out. Seems extreme, but it happens every day.

The key word associated with packing for international travel is "minimize." Take the smallest size and quantity possible of whatever you take. For example, one of the ladies who traveled with us experimented with her hair spray and found a 2 ounce "trial size" was adequate for the time we were scheduled in Uganda and it took up much less weight and space than her normal 10 ounce bottle. When this is repeated with as many items as possible, significant weight and space is saved. Even if you have to take two of the trial sizes it still works out best.

K-Mart sells a line of carry-on bags under the label of "Concourse™" and the "Standard 21 inch Pilot Case" meets all the size requirements and can be purchased on sale from time to time for less than $25.00. I do no recommend taking expensive luggage to Uganda. If it survives the airline handling, it will take a real beating as teams travel overland. As a rule, you want to avoid baggage that can be easily torn, dented, or scratched, or that has handles or straps that can easily torn off in baggage belt loaders. You also need to bear in mind that even carry-on bags that meet the size requirement, must meet a weight requirement as well. Please also note that airlines are not responsible for "normal wear and tare, even simple damage, during the baggage handling process.

Our teams have used military style duffle bags and I have personally starting using plastic footlocker style trunks with wheels. They are easy to pack, provide better protection from items being crushed and keeps things dry when baggage is left in the rain on the airport tarmac.

As to what to pack, that depends on your own preferences, but helpful hints can be found at Packing Tips Check List and the equipment and supplies lists linked to it.

Some travel experts suggest rolling clothes for packing. Take items that mix and match. The award goes not to the best dressed, but the smartest packer. Remote villagers do not really care if your colors and patterns do not match.

Finally, please remember this, you should never take anything with you to Uganda that you would be heart broken to have lost, broken, or stolen. Also bear in mind, it is common for team member to give away many of the things they brought with them as they are preparing to leave.

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