What to wear on your mission trip
While in Uganda, I noticed some cultural idiosyncrasies that I took note of and thought it would be useful to pass them on to others.
I’ve thought about and put together some recommendations on what to wear and what not to wear for your next mission trip. One thing to keep in mind is that wearing scented perfumes, including scented shampoos and lotions, can attract mosquitoes and other bugs that can cause malaria. You don’t want to use heavily scented items just to be safe.
There are many cultural differences in foreign countries that we are not always aware of here in the United States. I was going on a “Boda Boda” (more commonly known as a motorcycle) in Uganda, Africa, where I was told to make sure I use a small bag because if my bag is too big, someone might think I’m too rich and try to steal my handbag!
I was also told that women should wear long skirts and not pants. This was partly based on our solo quest base, however this was a more accepted way of dressing for women. Someone mentioned to me that it is not considered “girly” for a woman to ride a bike! This seemed a bit strange to me due to our cultural differences here in the United States. From what I understand, this is a bit demeaning for women in Ugandan culture to ride a bike.
You’ll also want to make sure you pack the lightest clothing possible, depending on the weather in your chosen destination. This will help you avoid baggage fees for your luggage being too heavy to check in at the airport. Universally, a fifty-pound baggage limit is standard, so packing too much can cost you extra money.
As a woman, I am finding that dressing modestly is very important. Many people have differences of opinion regarding this issue. However, to keep it simple, modest clothing will cause less of a problem than dressing more revealingly.
I was surprised that the people of Uganda were dressed very well. The word I learned was a very British sounding word used to imply that a person looks very elegant. If a Ugandan says, “You are very smart today!” (Smart pronounced “Smaat”)
This means that you look very elegant and well groomed! I loved hearing this from them!
It still makes me smile to think about it.
If you’re visiting an African country for your mission trip, you can expect people to not dress poorly, no matter how much money they have. For church, you’ll want to dress in well-pressed clothes, look neat and clean. This will help you feel comfortable and feel like you fit in with the way others dress, especially in Uganda.
So what do you do with all your gold and silver necklaces? What about your wedding ring for that matter? Well, you leave all the valuable jewelry at home! Flashy jewelry and flashy hairstyles will need to be de-embedded. You will want to reduce the size of some of the “Bling”, so to speak. Special care must be taken to avoid any unnecessary or problematic attention being drawn to you.
In fact, the attention should be focused on the Lord and not on us, so, if possible, we will want to divert some of the attention from ourselves. I suggest buying wooden jewelry to replace your gold and silver or precious jewelry. Many jewelry and beads can be purchased while you are in the foreign country you are visiting. This can also be an economic stimulus for the economy of the country you are visiting! This is just another reason to leave expensive jewelry at home.
Ok, now for the shoes!!! You’ll want to make sure your shoes are appropriate for the nature of your trip. If you’re going to a very hot place, you might want to pack some sandals or buy them back in that country. In addition, tennis shoes are very valuable in airports for their comfort when walking long distances.
I hope this information has been helpful to you in planning your next mission trip! Feel free to visit our website where you can learn about the benefits of mission airfare for your next mission trip.
Tabitha Lovell, International Travel Specialist