What to bring, and what to leave!
Packing for DTS can be overwhelming! Not only are you going to live for 3 months in a new country, but you are going to live for 2 additional months in another different country! How do you plan for that?
I have been living out of a hiking backpack for the last 14 months in 4 different countries; I have made some good packing decisions and also some pretty bad ones. With the hope that you can avoid packing regrets, I want to share what I’ve learned with you!
1) Pack a variety of clothing
Consider what you will be doing during the DTS. You will want to have something appropriate for church as well as something you can get paint on, etc. DTS in San Jose has 3 different sections in which you will have different needs.
a) Lecture Phase – you will mostly be in a classroom and hanging out around the base. Other kitchen/cleaning duty, you don’t have many occasions where you will get dirty.
b) Outreach – what you need for your outreach will depend on the country your team goes to. For example, you would need different clothes for a Muslim culture than a Caribbean culture. Be prepared for cold and hot climates by packing clothes that can be layered. Bring versatile low maintenance clothing.
Consider each of the things you want to bring. Test it with these 5 questions (each piece should satisfy at least 3 of these):
-Comfortable for walking around but can be dressed up for an event
-Is appropriate for warm or cool weather
-Can be folded up small/doesn’t wrinkle easily
-Coordinates well with everything else you’re bringing
-Can be washed in a regular washing machine
2) What season is it in the country you are traveling to?
Temperatures in San Jose, Costa Rica are usually between 18-28C or 65-82F. Here in Costa Rica there are 2 seasons: rainy and dry. The rainy season is generally from May to November. During those months in San Jose, it will likely be sunny and warm in the morning and then cool off and rain in the afternoon. The dry season is generally between December to April. The weather will be nice and sunny most days!
3) How much should you bring?
Keep it to what you can carry! You can bring everything you need in one checked bag and one carry-on. Seriously. I usually travel with a hiking backpack (that I check), a day pack that I carry on, and a purse. If the thought of living off of so little for 5 months gives you anxiety, pray and ask God to show you what He wants to teach you during this time! In the past 2 years, He has showed me a lot about living more simply. I experienced some serious liberation when I downsized my belongings.
4) Tips for saving space:
Our campus in San Jose is right in the city. It is easy to go and buy more supplies. Keep in mind things might be a little more expensive in Costa Rica than at home. When packing, I recommend you save the things you could buy here until last. If they fit, great! If they don’t, you can purchase those things here. An example of something you can buy here if you run out of space is personal hygiene products (shampoo & conditioner, laundry soap, feminine products, etc.). A sleeping bag is also something that can take up very little space OR half of your backpack depending on the type you have. If you have trouble fitting everything into your bag, looking for a compact sleeping bag might be a good option. Neatness totally counts when packing! If you fold or roll your clothes nicely, you can fit twice as much as if you just throw everything into your bag. Also, I love items that can perform a double-duty. For example, I have a sarong that I use for all kinds of things: towel, swimsuit cover-up, pillow, sheet, privacy curtain for a bunk-bed, picnic blanket, scarf, etc… Packing items like this helps me save space!
5) What’s appropriate?
Consider the culture you are coming into as well as the cultures you could be visiting during outreach. There will likely be times where all you can where are long-sleeves and/or long pants and long skirts. For certain times of ministry or visiting local churches in conservative cultures, you’ll want to have these types of articles of clothing on hand. Otherwise, just pack the type of casual, every day clothes you’d wear at home!
I hope this helps! I wish you the best with your preparation to come for your DTS! We are very excited to meet you and to see God move in your life! If you have any more questions about packing, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org!