Packing List for Medical Missions

Clothing (work and leisure)

Consider health care uniform regulations, climate & weather, weight & packability, access to clothes cleaning facilities, cultural norms, and comfort. Consider durable, quick drying fabrics. Consider when you want to stand out as a health care worker or as a foreigner and when do you want to blend in. 

Mission uniform (identifiable shirt to stand out as a group)


Healthcare uniform:

  • Scrubs
  • Shirts (No sleeveless shirts while working with patients in many countries)
  • Pants or long skirts (No shorts while working with patients in many countries)

Base/Mid/Top layers - (for temperature control):

  • Insulating underwear
  • Sweaters
  • Jacket
  • Coat


  • Gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Sun hat
  • Bandanna/buff/scarf
  • Sun glasses


  • Comfortable work sneakers (closed toe, broken in and able to get dirty)
  • Trekking shoes or boots 
  • Flip flops or sandals
  • Shower shoes


Weather wear:

  • Waterproof jacket, pants, shoes/boots
  • Wind and sand barrier layers
  • Shorts
  • Swim suit
  • Exercise clothes
  • Sleepwear
  • Underwear
  • Socks


  • Easily portable luggage (large clunky luggage makes travel difficult)
  • Towel (quick dry)
  • Umbrella (travel size)
  • Headlamp & flashlight
  • Electronic devices:
    • Cell phone
    • Music player with headphones
    • Camera & memory cards
    • Batteries & battery charger
    • Electrical outlet adapter
    • Laptop or tablet
    • GPS
    • Portable solar panel/hand crank generator
  • Reading material & journal
  • Phrasebook/bilingual dictionary/guidebook
  • Daypack
  • Dirty clothes bag
  • Pocket knife/multi-tool (placed in checked luggage)
  • TSA approved luggage locks or zip ties
  • Earplugs
  • Sleep sheets or sleeping bag
  • Travel pillow
  • Travel alarm
  • Mosquito net
  • Refillable water container (if it’s safe to drink the water) or water purification system or tablets
  • Snacks (non-perishable items) 
  • Waterproof bag
  • Luggage tags with home & destination addresses and contact information
  • Gifts


  • Shampoo/conditioner/soap/lotion (travel size)
  • Sunscreen 
  • Lip balm
  • Mosquito/insect repellent 
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Comb/brush
  • Shaver/razor
  • Glasses/contacts/contact solution
  • Tampons/pads/menstrual cup
  • Tissues/toilet paper
  • Wet wipes/anti-bacterial hand sanitizers 
  • Biodegradable laundry soap
  • Personal first-aid kit
  • Personal medications (Rx’s, pain reliever, allergy, motion sickness, anti-diarrhea, antibiotics, etc.) 

Medical supplies: 

  • Diagnostic kits (BP cuff, stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, etc.)
  • Gloves for your personal use 
  • Medical reference books & drug guides
  • Specific medications and supplies pertaining to mission goals 


Consider taking photos of important documents (passport, visa, ID, etc.). Keep the photos on your phone or camera memory, email a copy to yourself, and make paper copies to leave with a family member or friend, with the mission leader, and in a secure space with your luggage. 

  • Passport 
  • Entry visa (or required paperwork) 
  • Other photo ID 
  • Currency (crisp USD or currency valid at destination)/credit care/debit card/travelers checks
  • Trip itinerary 
  • Flight confirmation
  • Hotel confirmation
  • Local maps 
  • International health insurance card 
  • Medical documents and immunizations 
  • List of important phone numbers, addresses 


Other Advice

Consider which items need to be in checked luggage versus carry-on. Consider the possibility of your luggage getting lost and make sure you have items in your carry-on to survive for a few days.

Avoid taking unnecessary personal items and valuables; consider if an item is stolen or lost, would you miss it? If your answer is yes, DO NOT bring the item on the mission. 

In order to keep travel weight to a minimum, communicate with other attendees to minimize carrying duplicate gear. Consider bringing clothing that is easy to launder and dries quickly. 

Consider which items could be purchased from a local store at the site of the mission. More medical supplies could be transported to the location if some clothes, gear, or toiletries are readily available to purchase on site.

Consider the benefits of bringing a smart phone for music, reading material, journaling, maps & GPS, communication, medical apps, language apps, alarm clock, currency calculator, etc. Determine the availability of electricity to charge the phone and of local prepaid SIM card for purchase.

Authors: Paula Anderson-Worts, Kelli Glaser, & Denton Shanks