What to wear on your mission trip
While I was in Uganda, I noticed some cultural quirks that I took note of and thought it would be useful to pass them on to others.
I’ve brainstormed and put together some dos and don’ts, what to wear, and what not to wear for your next mission trip. One thing to be careful of is that wearing scented perfumes, including scented shampoos and lotions, can attract mosquitoes and other insects that can cause malaria. You won’t want to wear heavily scented items just to be safe.
There are many cultural differences in foreign countries that we are not always aware of here in America. I rode a “Boda Boda” (which is better known as a motorcycle) in Uganda, Africa, where I was told that I should carry a small bag because if my bag was too big, someone might think I was very rich and I would try to steal my purse!
I was also told that women should wear long skirts, not pants. This was partly based on our individual missions, but it was a more widely accepted way of dressing for women. Someone mentioned to me that it’s not considered “feminine” for a woman to ride a bike! This struck me as a bit odd because of our cultural differences here in the United States. From what I understand, it’s a bit humiliating 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 because your luggage is too heavy to check in at the airport. Generally, a fifty pound baggage limit is standard, so packing too much can cost you extra money.
As a woman, I find that dressing modestly is very important. Many people have different opinions on this topic. However, to put it simply, a modest dress will cause less trouble than dressing in a more revealing manner.
I was surprised that people in Uganda were dressed very well. The word I learned was a very British sounding word that is used to suggest that a person looks very elegant. If a Ugandan says, “You are very smart today!” (Smart pronounced “Smaat”)
It means you look very elegant and well put together! I loved hearing that from them!
It still makes me smile thinking about it.
If you are visiting an African country for your mission trip, you can expect that the people will not be wearing old fashioned clothes, no matter how much or how little money they have for that matter. For church, you’ll want to dress in well-pressed clothes, looking neat and clean. This will help you feel comfortable and feel like you match the way others are dressed, especially in Uganda.
So what do you do with all your gold and silver necklaces? How about your wedding ring? Well, you leave all the valuable jewelry at home! Flashy jewelry and flashy hairstyles will need to be de-escalated. You’ll want to tone down some of the “Bling” so to speak. Special care should be taken to avoid drawing unnecessary or problematic attention to oneself.
In fact, the focus should be on the Lord, not on us, so we will want to shift some of the focus away from ourselves if possible. I suggest buying wooden jewelry to replace your gold and silver or precious jewelry. Many jewelry and beads can be purchased while in the foreign country you are visiting. It can also be an economic boost for the economy of the country you are visiting! This is another reason to leave expensive jewelry at home.
Ok, now the shoes!!! You’ll want to make sure your shoes are appropriate for the nature of your trip. If you are going somewhere very hot, you may want to pack sandals or buy them there in that country. Also, tennis shoes are very valuable in airports for comfort when walking long distances.
I hope this information has been helpful in planning your next mission trip! Please feel free to visit our website where you can find out about the benefits of missionary airfare for your next mission trip.
Tabitha Lovell, International Travel Specialist
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