Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s answers to the most-asked questions we get about participating in a mission trip.
Where will we sleep?
Sleeping accommodations are dependent upon the location. But in most cases, teams sleep either in a church connected to the local ministry or in a guest house provided by the host. In some cases, teams stay at an off-site hotel/hostel that has a relationship with the host ministry. Guys and girls always stay in separate quarters. Your GO MANUAL and trip specific packing list will notify you of what type of bedding, if any, you need to provide.
What will we eat and drink?
The host location will always provide safe, clean drinking water for the teams. Meals will often be prepared by the host ministry or at local restaurants. Teams are never given “street food” or eat at a location that has not been approved by the missionary host. Some teams will also prepare their own meals and are given a suggested meal plan by TTW. For those teams providing their own meals they will have to go food shopping for the week (this is for trips that are mainly stateside).
What if I have food allergies or dietary preferences?
Food allergies must be noted in advance on the Health History Form. TTW will notify the host location to be sure the participant is not exposed to anything that will cause an allergic reaction or to keep trigger ingredients separate and well marked. Those with specific diets due to allergies (i.e. gluten-free, etc.) should bring some of their own non-perishable food products to supplement what is being provided when needed.
Dietary preferences, on the other hand, are just that…preferences. While you are engaging in a missions experience, you will be encouraged to try new things and to be a gracious guest by accepting food that is offered to you, regardless of whether or not it is what you prefer to eat.
What will we do on our trip?
TTW’s ministry host partners strive to give students a well-rounded experience where they are exposed to culture, poverty and service. Children’s ministry, refugee care, work projects, prayer, and social outreaches are all possible opportunities to serve. Each specific location has their unique ministry and TTW believes in partnering alongside the ministry host in their ongoing outreaches and efforts on the ground.
Some activities will always be included in the daily schedule such as personal morning devotions and group debrief times. TTW provides each team member with a devotional journal to use while on the trip.
What should we wear?
Bring seasonally appropriate (check the local weather, temperature), modest clothing. Think conservative and comfortable rather than fashionable. With that being said, it is equally important to be respectful and not dress in extremely old, tattered, stained clothing. We want to be sensitive to the local culture and customs, which is greatly communicated through how we present ourselves in what we wear.
Laundry: In most locations, laundry facilities will not be available or will be limited. Pack enough to get you through the entire trip or include some powder detergent to hand wash necessary items.
Shoes: Always bring a pair of comfortable, sturdy shoes or boots for working and walking. Flip flops are also recommended for showers.
Church Clothes: If your team will be on location for a Sunday or participate in a church service, as guests we should always dress our best. No jeans are permitted unless specifically stated in your Trip Packing List. Guys should wear khakis and a collared shirt. Girls should bring a long dress or skirt, and nothing sleeveless.
DON’T wear: Tank tops, low cut/v-necks, midriffs, leggings, tight fitted clothing, short-shorts (shorts should fall just above the knee cap or “bermuda” style).
Tattoos/piercings: In most of the local cultures a team will be working in, tattoos should be covered as much as possible and body piercings removed. Girls may wear earrings but keep jewelry simple and to a minimum.
What should we bring?
See your GO MANUAL which will include a trip specific packing list.
Can I bring electronics?
Team members should NOT bring a computer or any handheld electronic devices. E-readers (Kindle, etc.) are allowed but will only be allowed use by the discretion of the Team Leader. Music devices will also only be allowed at certain times deemed appropriate by the Team Leader.
Keep in mind that it may not be easy to find access for charging such electronic devices and bringing such items will be at your own risk of loss or damage. Also please note participants will not have access to Wi-Fi. With this in mind, we suggest leaving all or most electronics at home and use the time to build relationships.
What about cell phones?
Participants are not permitted to use cell phones during the trip. We want team members to experience the trip to its fullest and not be distracted by things going on at home or keeping up with their social media. Team members are asked to preferably keep their cell phones at home with their parents (for those under 18 or any student on a school trip). Those that do bring their phones will have to turn them into a Team Leader, which is a large and expensive burden for the leader to carry and keep safe with them the entire trip. Phones may not be used for taking photos or listening to music (if participants want music, they must bring their own separate device). Team Leaders will be taking photos throughout the week to share with the entire group upon their return.
Participants can be reached in case of emergency through the Team Leaders or TTW Staff.
Can I call home?
Whenever possible, team members will be instructed to call home upon arrival to the final destination. This will be a quick phone call to allow time for everyone on the team to make contact with home and to minimize cost. Parents should expect this to be the only time they will hear personally from their child. Team Leaders will be making frequent updates with the TTW office, and TTW and/or group leaders will share those updates with parents via email and on social media (@socialttw).
In the case of emergencies, TTW operates a 24-hour emergency line outside of normal office hours. TTW can reach Team Members and missionary hosts in the case of an emergency. Otherwise, communication from home is discouraged as to allow the team members to fully engage their experience serving.
What forms/documents are needed?
Each trip may have specific forms that need to be completed. Please refer to the TTW Resources page for a full list of forms to be completed.
For all international destinations, a valid passport that will NOT expire within 6 months of re-entry to the US is required. Check your passport for the expiration date and if needed, begin the renewal process immediately. For F-1 visa participants or other participants without US citizenship, a valid permanent residence card or visa that will not expire before re-entry date upon return of trip will also be necessary.
What if I need to cancel my trip?
I understand that if for some reason my trip should have to be cancelled, whether deemed unsafe by TTW or the affiliate, any funds raised or paid prior to the cancellation date cannot be refunded. Those funds can be transferable for up to one year with travel among the same affiliate group only. Should I personally not be able to participate on this future trip, I understand that I forfeit the funds raised for me and they will apply only to the participants of the trip from my group.
I understand that if, for any reason, I choose or am asked not to participate in the trip following the headcount confirmation date, all funds raised by The Participant will remain in the team account. The withdrawing individual’s original application fee is non-refundable and non-transferable. I understand that TTW will require a headcount confirmation 90 days prior to the scheduled trip departure date. At this point, the entire team will be responsible for costs based upon this headcount. Therefore, should I cancel or withdraw from the trip after the 90 days headcount confirmation, if there are any cancellation fees with the airline or host, it will have a direct financial implication for my group.
For church teams only: Such payments will first be taken out of the group security deposit, then from my funds raised unless other arrangements have been made and deemed by the Group Coordinator. I understand that if for some reason the expenses associated with The Participant cancellation should exceed the amount of funds raised to date, any additional expenses would be due for payment by The Participant to the Group.
For school teams only: I will be fully responsible for such payments, first taken out of any funds raised. I understand that if for some reason the expenses associated with The Participant cancellation should exceed the amount of funds raised to date, any additional expenses would be due for payment by The Participant.
When will our trip payment be due?
First payment of 50% of the trip cost is due approximately 90 days prior to departure. This first payment covers initial trip expenses such as airfare, team member insurance, ground transportation, host deposits, etc. The second payment of the remaining 50% balance is due 3 weeks prior to departure date. For exact dates, please contact your group leader.
All teams will be responsible for meeting a 50% team funding deadline and 100% team funding deadline. Touch the World offers an online fundraising platform at no additional cost that will enable you to individually raise funds towards the total team goal. Please note: participants are raising funds toward the total TEAM cost. These funds do not belong to the individual, but are recognized according to IRS 501c3 guidelines as a donation towards the ministry. Donations are not refundable, under any circumstance, according to the law.
All donations given, in order to be tax-deductible, cannot be linked to an individual team member but to the team as a whole. Any monies raised over and above their personal goal are to be directed towards the needs of the team. All funds received are also to be viewed as donations and cannot be refunded or returned.
Are immunizations/medications required?
Check your GO MANUAL for information specific to your trip destination. In most cases, there are not required immunizations for entry into a country, however there may be recommended vaccines received for travel. TTW recommends consulting the Center for Disease Control for a thorough overview of the risks in country. Keep in mind that the CDC accounts for “worse-case” scenarios and assumption of staying in accommodations with high risk. All TTW teams will be staying in sanitary conditions with access to safe food and drinking water. Some locations will require or highly recommend travel medication for malaria prevention. Please closely follow the guidelines provided by TTW.
If your trip location requires travel immunizations or medications, you will need to complete the Travel Medication Form to be signed by the prescribing doctor or the one administering the vaccination.
First Aid: All teams are sent with a first-aid backpack that also includes most over-the-counter medications for treatment of minor cuts, abrasions, diarrhea, allergies, etc.
Personal Medications: Any participant that takes daily or regularly prescribed medication should list all prescriptions on their Health History Form. Those medications must be brought with the student in their original container listing the name of prescribing physician and dosage information. Any student under the age of 18 will turn over all prescription medications to a designated “Team Nurse” and will be administered by an adult Team Leader throughout the trip.
Will I be safe?
First, and foremost, we trust in God and pray continually for our teams to be safe while serving. But TTW does not overlook doing our due diligence in ensuring that our teams will be as safe as possible on location. TTW has practices with all teams to investigate levels of concerns before sending a team to a given destination. We are in constant contact and communication with our missionary hosts and trust their word about the realities happening on the ground in their communities. We make sure teams are hosted in facilities that have proper levels of security and also ensure that the missionary hosts are always traveling with the team to provide additional guidance, especially in an unfamiliar culture. All international traveling team members are registered with the US Embassy in the host country and travelers insurance is also required and provided by TTW for all participants.
TTW also spends ample time preparing participants for serving in an unfamiliar context during Missions Training. During that weekend, every student is assigned a count-off number for Team Leaders to easily keep track of everyone on the team. The team is walked through safety and travel procedures as well as instructed to never be alone while on location. The environments where teams will serve will be conducive to making sure that all participants do not have opportunities to wander off or not be within eyesight of a Team Leader throughout the duration of the trip.
What if I get sick on the trip?
For typical viral infections or otherwise, the team member will be quarantined from the team to prevent spread of illness and will be attended to by a Team Leader or missionary host. For any medical situation requiring further attention, the team member will visit the recommended clinic or hospital with accompaniment of the missionary host and a Team Leader.
Most U.S. health care insurance plans do NOT cover medical care or emergencies outside the United States. Therefore, TTW provides short-term missions trip travelers insurance for all participants.
If you become ill or have an accident during your trip while traveling outside of the U.S. and are forced to seek medical attention that requires payment at time of service, the following must take place.
- Pay the bill from personal spending monies (and/or monies from a Team Leader to be reimbursed)
- Receive a receipt for the payment.
- Contact the insurance company (information provided by TTW) upon return home and obtain a claim form.
- Complete the claim form and submit receipts to the insurance company.
- Wait up to several months to receive reimbursement.
TTW is not responsible for loss suffered due to illness, accident, theft or injury occurred at any time in relation to your mission trip.
What policies should I know about?
The following policies are put in place in order to present ourselves in a way that would honor Christ and be a positive witness in the cultural context we will be serving. Team members serve as a representative of their school, church, and Touch the World and therefore should conduct themselves in a manner exemplifying Christ.
Some of the policies TTW has put in place to assist in personal witness and appropriate conduct include:
- Receive what is served with gratitude and eat what you take. No wasting food or water.
- Couples on a team who have been dating or are engaged should conduct themselves in a manner that will not draw attention to their relationship.
- No new romantic relationships expressed between team members and/or with locals.
- Showers are limited to 5 minutes per person to conserve and appreciate supplied water which may be scarce at the location.
- No one, not even adults, should ever go off alone.
- For your safety, do not give address, phone number, email or social media info to any locals unless instructed otherwise by host missionaries.
- Do not give money or other gifts directly to a local. Any gifts wished to be given should go directly through the missionary host.
Who will lead my trip?
If you have a group with your own leaders, TTW takes great pride in our leader training program to adequately prepare and equip the adults that will be leading your team. Leader Training typically takes place as a one day seminar or is worked into the Missions Training schedule and is included in the cost of your missions trip.
Will we be working with other groups?
Touch the World does their best to ensure that our teams will be the only ones partnering with the missionary host at any given time on location. There have been situations in the past when other teams have overlapped their stay with ours, but we only allow this when we know with certainty that the host has enough personnel on the ground to adequately support our team.
Is transportation included?
Ground transportation to and from TTW Missions Training, to and from the airport or your trip location, and onsite during your trip (domestic only) is not included.
All international ministry host partners provide onsite ground transportation.
Can I book my own airfare?
If your group has chosen to utilize TTW to make airfare arrangements, then an individual participant cannot book their own flight. TTW works together with a travel agent to find the best prices on the best possible flights that ensure the safety of our teams (i.e. flight time arrivals, layover locations, etc.). Flights are also reserved well in advance at group rates, which allows TTW to reserve seats in a block together without immediate payment needed.
Are there any additional expenses for my team?
All basic necessities such as food, housing, transportation, and ministry projects are included in your trip fee. Some locations ask for specific items to be donated to help bless their ministry. TTW will let you know in your information packet what these items would be. Additional expenses you should prepare for:
- $100 pp application fee due with application (non-refundable, but applicable to trip cost)
- Day off activity/meal (unless otherwise specified)
- Travel food
- Emergency fund (Touch the World recommends having some extra cash or a credit card on hand to cover any unexpected costs
- Visa fees if applicable
- Ground transportation 1) to and from The Mission Center for training, 2) to and from the airport or your trip location, and 3) onsite during your trip (domestic only)
- Checked baggage fees. Participants are encouraged to limit their bags to carry-on size to avoid fees. Costs typically range from $35-$50 per checked bag each way.
- Passport application fee and photos, if needed
- Travel medications and immunizations, recommended for some international locations (Yellow Fever on average costs $130 and Typhoid $90 plus consultation fees)
- Notary fees (please note that TTW offers notary services at no charge)
- Supplies for support raising such as envelopes, printing costs, and stamps
- Special clothing or other items needed for training or trip (i.e. work boots, sleeping bag, water bottle, sunscreen, bug spray, etc.)
- Any medical expenses incurred while on the trip
- Additional transportation costs incurred if a participant is sent home early for any reason
How much spending money is needed?
For most teams, $50-$75 is more than enough. Team members should also consider carrying money for buying food in the airport while traveling. TTW suggests $15-20 per person for food while traveling. All other food expenses are included in the trip cost.
How will I exchange money into the local currency?
In most locations, even internationally, US Dollars can be used for purchase of souvenirs. If exchanging money will be necessary, the missionary host will assist in that process to bring the team to the ForEx (Foreign Exchange) with the best rates. Monies should not be exchanged in the airport. Additionally, any money to be exchanged must be new (newer than 2006), crisp bills without any tears or markings. ForEx will not accept older bills or ones that are not in excellent condition. $50s and $100s bills will get the best exchange rate and bills below $20 will get a very poor exchange rate, so keep that in mind.