Planning a Mission Trip: Timeline

One important part of planning a mission trip is a good timeline. You need to give yourself an enough amount of time to effectively plan, prepare, and execute. Here are some tips when it comes to the timeline of planning a mission trip, as well as, some reminders of things to think about for each mission trip whether it is a domestic or foreign mission trip.

Where are we going?  Domestic or Foreign?

  • This will help give you the direction for training, funding.
  • Learn the area for customs, population demographics, crime rate, history of the church and past mission work.
  • You will leave in a few days and the local congregation has to build upon your work.
  • You will need to fee, house, transport and provide materials for everyone.
  • Do not assume the local congregation will provide any of these things.

Domestic Facts:

  • Easier to plan and complete.
  • Resources are more readily available.
  • More financial support from local congregation.
  • Studies and invitations more difficult to achieve.
  • Medical Release for all participants.
  • Understanding of the mission you are on. It is serious and hard work.
  • Proper clothing and attitude.
  • Proper Training.

Domestic Timeline:

  • Give yourself one year: Pick the dates of your mission trip and begin to figure out the costs, work that will be done, fun day, lodging, etc. Being to coordinate with the person who will help you locally.
  • Nine Months Out:  Have an informational meeting with potential mission team members, give out the price of the trip, contract/expectations for team members, and important payment dates.
  • Six Months Out: First down payment due and begin training. Receive commitments and contracts from team members. Repetition is key. Begin nailing down details of the work that will be done. Make hotel reservations.
  • Three Months Out: Another down payment due. Hand out forms that will need to be filled out (medical release forms, insurance, etc.) Make transportation arrangements.
  • One Month Out: Buy supplies, check forms,  and final payment due. Discuss mission trip week.
  • One Week Out: Meet with team to answer any questions. Review final details and make last minute preparations. Prep days are necessary to pack supplies for each day, review other items for the trip ahead.
  • Day to leave: Set meeting time one hour before you need to leave. Check forms and make copies. Give parents/relatives a number where you can be reached. Pack your supplies and luggage in your mode of transportation, say your final goodbyes, and pray for the trip ahead.

Foreign Facts:

  • Require more preparation and research.
  • More expensive.
  • More risk and need to be flexible in your plan.
  • Check for vaccinations
  • Passport for all participants.
    • 15 and under $105.00
    • 16 and up $135.00
    • Takes 4-6 weeks, or for $60 in 2-3 weeks
    • Certified birth certificates
    • Two passport photos
    • Photo ID
    • A minor must have parents or guardians present or one present and a certified letter giving permission for other parent.
  • Medical forms with copies of all insurance information.
    • Will they cover foreign doctors on insurance?
  • Emergency plan in case of weather, political issues, etc.
  • Proper Training.
  • Minors under 16 must have a Minor Consent to Travel Form


  • One Year Out: Have an informational meeting with potential team members with dates of trip, cost, price inclusions, important payment dates, and details of the trip (or as much as you can give). Pass along contract/expectations to be a team member.
  • Nine Months Out: Start Training (repetition is the key!). Have regular meetings to discuss new details of the trip and begin to nail down details of different assignments. Go over requirements for trip (passport, vaccinations, etc.)
  • Six Months Out: 50% down payment, work on getting passports. If you are required to have vaccinations, this is a good time to begin getting those done. Talk about the culture, customs, etc. of the area where you are traveling.
  • Three Months Out: Start looking for plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc. Check passports, get all other forms, another 25% down payment.
    • You can usually find the best deals for plane tickets on a Tuesday around two months out.
  • One Month Out: Arrange transportation Discuss what supplies you'll need and how they will get to where you are going, check passports and all other forms, final payment. Make a photo copy of everyone’s passport.
  • One Week Out: Review customs and cultural training, meet with team to answer any questions. Divide supplies up between team members. Meet to do any necessary prep work.
  • Day to leave: Set meeting time one hour before you need to leave. Check passports and make copies. Check all other forms. Give parents/relatives a number where you can be reached.

You are now ready to begin planning a mission trip! I hope you found these series of articles to be helpful to you and your future planning. 

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me:

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Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister at Rose Hill Church of Christ. He is married to the beautiful, Joy Thompson (who is way out of his league!). They enjoy sharing life together, ministering to teens and families, football in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!), and musical theatre. Andrew is a proud supporter of sarcasm and dry sense of humors. Thank you for reading!

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