Mission papers sent off? Great! Now what? There are plenty of things you can do to prepare spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially while waiting for that all-important call packet. Check in with us for tips, tricks, and useful resources for preparing missionaries and their families.
Next to a missionary’s suit and shoes, the most expensive investment of mission shopping is most often luggage. With so many options, how’s a traveler to choose?
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
As with most mission equipment, what is needed often depends heavily on the policies of the mission. When shopping for luggage, consider what types of transportation are most common in the mission. Check the mission-specific list first, and then go online for blog posts by missionary parents or recently returned missionaries from the same field—many of whom are happy to give advice.
“If your mission doesn’t have cars, you’re gonna be dragging that thing on buses or subways,” says Morgan Hall, who served in the Idaho Pocatello mission. “If you go somewhere crazy where transfers involve plane trips, I’d say get something a little more reliable, but if your transfers are like mine were, a car ride, then it doesn’t have to be as nice.” Knowing what the luggage will endure helps determine priorities when shopping around.
Durability should be the biggest concern when looking for luggage. For missions where the bags will see a lot of handling, look for double-stitched seams and either inner lining or thick outer covering. Check the corners, especially those on the bottom, for reinforcement. This is the most common place for wear and damage.
Luggage has to travel well, as redundant as that may sound. Not only does mission luggage need to hold up to the wear of frequent use, it should pack and move easily. Nested bag sets often include straps, clasps, or handles engineered to help this single-person method. Becky Hale, a manager with Travel Outfitters where many missionaries have found their perfect luggage set, says, “Missionaries also need to be able to piggyback multiple cases together, so two wheels work much better than the spinners.” If possible, test out how this stacked method works with different sets. Leverage, handle strength, and carrying options are key.
WHAT TO AVOID:
Beware of anything too unusual when picking mission luggage. Specialized pockets for everything, like the nicely tailored business card pockets in a fancy shoulder bag, or sewn-in toiletry pockets in a carry-on, are tempting but far from utilitarian. More seams leave more opportunity for wear and tear. For smaller items, especially toiletries, look for a separate bag that can effectively multi-task. Some of the best double as a useful shower caddy, a real blessing for the MTC and exchanges in the field.
Visual design may seem like a fun way to make sure the luggage isn’t lost in the airport. Who could miss a striped bag on the carousel, or a lady bug spotted duffel, or a bag with a company’s iconic logo all over it? But depending on the mission, an eye-catching case may simply serve as a neon sign for thieves. Even in countries where theft is less of a threat, the moment a missionary is set apart they are an official representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Conservative dress isn’t just about looking the part; it’s about representing the Church. The only things about a missionary that should attract attention are the light in their faces and joy in their demeanor—not their handsome (or beat up) luggage.
Thrifty families looking to reuse gently used bags should pay special attention and inspect all seams, handles, wheels (if there are any), and zippers. In harsh climates, like that of Arizona in the summer, simply holding luggage in storage will not guarantee its quality. Plastics can weaken from intense heat or cold, sometimes becoming so brittle they crack during transport.
- Large bag with single massive compartment
- Medium bag (sturdy duffel or smaller box bag)
- Versatile separate toiletry bag
- Shoulder bag
Missions mean mobility. Luggage must hold everything a missionary owns. They must be easy to pack, easy to move, and ready to serve double duty as a dresser. When shipping your missionary off to the field, practicality and reliability matter far more than where his or her luggage was purchased or how pretty it looks.
10-12 white shirts,
2 dark colored, conservative suits,
5-6 pair of dress slacks,
5-6 conservative ties,
8-10 pairs dark, solid color socks,
2 pairs thick-soled comfortable, conservative shoes
4-5 outfits of modest design,
12 pairs nylons or knee-highs,
2-3 pairs conservative comfortable shoes,
1 pair dress shoes,
Underclothing, modest and durable
Dark rain coat, light weight,
Sweaters in solid dark color,
Work and gym clothes,
Note: While it’s tempting to select items that are highly personalized, these are the items that will be worn when actively representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Instructions emphasize conservative choices for good reason.
8-10 pairs temple garments;
Pajamas, robe, and slippers;
1 pair flip-flops/shower shoes;
Twin-size bedsheets with pillowcase (comforters are not listed, but your missionary may need to purchase one upon arriving in the field)
Note: Personal clothes are not part of public image. This is a safer zone for self-expression, though conservative choices are encouraged.
Hygiene & Home Gear
Deodorant and other toiletries,
Small first-aid kit,
Small sewing kit,
Alarm clock (wind-up or battery),
2 towels and 2 wash cloths,
Sunscreen & lip balm as needed
Contact Lenses/Medications: Consult with your doctor for recommendations on meeting this need, and with the mission office for specific questions of availability.
Note: Gear for a mission is intended to be used and worn out, so it will be most useful to include thread of the colors in the wardrobe, large size towels, and durable wash cloths. It’s unwise to buy high-end brands of sun screen or other specialty hygiene products since your missionary will have to make do with what they can purchase in-field or that can be effectively shipped from home.
Waterproof winter boots,
Dark winter coat,
Note: For the most practical advice on unfamiliar climate needs, look for instructions from the mission office, or from recent returned missionaries from your mission. Some areas are wetter, colder, or warmer than others, but stick to the general instruction list for minimum preparation. Items can be either purchased locally or shipped as needed.