GTM travel tips from our experts
Updated: Sep 5, 2019
Double check the names
It is very important that all the names are spelled correctly and that the all the birth dates are submitted correctly to us (as we send them to the travel agency/airline).
If there are errors, even a simple one (like middle and last name being in the wrong order), the airline can and will keep you from traveling.
And even if some will let you fly one way, the same airline may not let you return, or you may get in trouble as you go through passport control. So, please double check that everything is correct (exactly as in passport) as you submit it to us on the Information Form, as well as when you receive the ticket(s); in good time before the trip begins to avoid anyone being denied travel.
Everyone needs a passport to travel internationally, even newborns.
Make sure everyone has their required visas.
For certain countries you will need a visa to travel. For most of the countries we send music mission teams to, you will not need a visa. But, for those countries in which you need them, make sure you and your team has that taken care of in good time before the trip.
GTM requires that all travelers secures travel insurance when traveling on a music mission trip. This is managed by GTM and included in the MMT (music mission trip) costs. This will be a great relief in the rare case of a small or big emergency. Volunteer Card is our Travel Insurance provider (and they also offer great discounts in many stores/businesses): https://www.volunteercard.com/purchase/?partnerId=d25808df We are providing you with the Basic Plan. However, if you would like to purchase the Plus or Premium plan, let us know as early as possible. If you already have a travel insurance you prefer to use instead, please let us know so we can take that out of the MMT costs, and please also send us a copy of your insurance.
You will be able to use your Visa/Mastercard in most countries. There might be a small fee for using your card, but that varies from bank to bank. You can check that with your bank before you travel.
When using an ATM overseas, there might be a fee to withdraw money from an ATM, which might vary from bank to bank (you can check with your local bank before you leave), so it is always better to withdraw more money at once, instead of taking out money many times.
You can also exchange currencies at the airports; but keep in mind that it is always a little more expensive there than through an ATM.
We also suggest you bring some local money with you that you can get from your bank (if your bank has the possibility of giving you that specific currency), just in case something happens to your card, or there is a delay and you are stuck in the airport for a longer period of time, etc.
You need to travel with some amount of cash (even if you don’t have local money; US dollars are fine, and you can exchange at the airport if necessary). Make sure you don’t put it all in one place.
Also keep in mind that your luggage MIGHT get delayed at the airport by a day or two, so it is wise to bring your money (credit card and some cash) in your carry on, and not in the checked luggage.
Some of you might have a maximum weekly limit/restriction on your bank card, and if you plan on spending more than that limit while traveling, make sure you talk to your bank before you leave, so they can change (or lift) the restriction for the time you are traveling.
Passports need to be valid for at least another 6 months after you return from your trip. Make sure to check this in good time before your trip, because if you need to get a new passport, this might take some time. You can rush the order of the passport as well, but check how long that will take with your local passport office.
We also encourage you to bring two copies of your passport in case you loose your passport. You may not be able to travel with a copy, but it will still help with your i.d. Do not put the copy of your passport in the same place as your passport.
We suggest that you put one copy in your carry on, and one in your checked luggage. When in the country of your destination; we suggest that you leave your actual passport in your locked luggage in your room, and that you bring one copy with you in your purse/bag.
Remember: Everyone needs a valid passport to travel internationally, even newborns.
Make sure to follow the airlines guidelines for check in at the airport. Usually they recommend you get to the airport to check in at least 2 hours prior to an international flight (and 1 hour for a domestic flight). However, some airports are very large and/or busy, and require you to be there to check in even earlier.
For example; Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) recommend travelers to arrive at the airport as early as 3 hours prior to their international flight. Also, make sure you arrive ready to board by the time printed on your boarding pass or as shown on the airport screens. Some airplanes start boarding as early as about an hour prior to take-off.
Also, remember that the gate will close in a specific time prior to the flight (NOT as the flight is ready to take off). We suggest you check in, go through security and locate your gate (which could be both a long walk or even a train/bus ride away) before you eat/shop/rest etc.
The same goes for layovers. Some times you have to show your passport ++ and even further security as you go to your next gate. Be early/quick and be prepared. GTM is not responsible for any missed flights.
Sometimes your luggage gets delayed. The shorter the layovers, the greater chance of some of you being without your checked bags for a day (average delay) or a few days (special situations) before you get your bags back (on VERY few occasions the luggage might even be lost, but we have yet to date to experience that, and it is especially very unusual for Europe/USA trips).
To avoid any stress in case of a delayed checked bag; make sure you pack at least one shift of clothes in your carry-on, as well as anything else you cannot do without for a day or two.
(Ladies, toiletry can go in your carry-on bag as well, but there is a limit to how much liquid you can bring, so make sure it doesn’t exceed that limit. A suggestion is to bring samples and/or travel sizes of the toiletry you need in the carry-on).
Valuables, laptops, etc, can also be smart to bring in your carry on bag in the rare case of a lost/stolen checked bag.
Bring all your Travel documents in your carry-on bag
Make sure you bring your flight information, passport, visa (if applicable), travel insurance and money in your carry-on luggage.
Also make sure you have the address to the first hotel/house available as you travel.
Bring an adapter for your electronics (specifically phones & computers). Sometimes you can also buy adapters at airports. If you should forget to bring one, and you are staying at a hotel; check with the hotel, they may be able to lend you both adapters and phone chargers that previous guests have left behind.
Make sure you are healthy enough to travel. If you have any health concerns, please check with you doctor before you plan to travel. The plane ride(s)/traveling, time zones, new foods, sometimes a busy schedule, etc can take a toll on the body. So, make sure you take your precautions.
If you are using some sort of prescribed medication, make sure you bring enough for your whole trip, plus 2-3 extra days in case you have a travel delay. Make sure you always bring it with you in your CARRY-ON luggage, and in the original container.
Make sure you always keep your valuables/passport/credit card etc somewhere safe, and somewhere you can easily find it.
Check your rooms before checking out
If you are staying in a hotel and leave something behind when you check out, it gets disposed of very quickly; and the chances of getting anything back are slim.
So, make sure you check the closet, bathroom, under bed, etc before you leave.
The same goes if you leave something behind at the house you are staying, as it is expensive mailing packages internationally.
Most phones today will also work overseas.
Check with your phone provider to see if yours will, and ask them about the specific costs for calling, texting and using the internet. You can also normally add that to your service for a smaller cost while you travel.
Make sure you have a way to communicate with the local hosts in case of emergencies/cancellations/delays.
It is great to be able to call each other if we are trying to meet up (for example at the airport), or someone is not there yet, etc. or in the rare case of an emergency.
Another general rule is to turn off your data/roaming, etc, while abroad, and to only connect to WiFi where they have that available for free.
Save the numbers to someone else in your team, as well as the local hosts/representatives for GTM.
Make sure you have your phone fully charged at the beginning of every day in the unlikely situation you may be getting lost.
A general rule is to make sure you don’t call a lot while there to avoid your phone bill getting too high, or that you make your calls through WiFi.
Have the necessary info with you at all times
Everyone in the group should have the name, addresses and phone numbers to the hotels/house, and they should keep it on them the entire trip. A suggestion can be to have a note to put in the wallet, and maybe they can take a picture of it and keep in their phones (keep in mind that on a lot of group trips we will be out all day, and phones that take a lot of pictures and video etc, will use a lot of battery, so do not keep all important info on ONLY your phone).
In the rare case of someone getting lost; they can at least take a taxi back to the hotel/house.
Do not bring vegetables, fruit and meat in to a new country/continent
If you have any sandwiches or salads etc with you on the plane, just be sure to eat it or throw it out before you go through customs.
With most airlines while traveling internationally, you are able to bring one piece of checked luggage of maximum 50 pounds (23 kg) for free. However, double check that with your airline, as they may have specific rules based on type ticket, airline policy, destination and more.
For example; the limit might be very different between countries on the same continent, from what you are allowed from USA - Europe. So, if your trip may go to more than one European country (not counting layovers), make sure you check what their limit is between those countries with your airline.
You can also bring articles in your carry-on. You are usually allowed to bring a small personal item (purse, backpack etc) that you can put under the seat in front of you, plus a larger carry on (check sizes and potential weight limits with your airline) to put in the overhead bin.
If you struggle with keeping the weight below limit in your checked luggage, you should put some of the heavier stuff in your carry on. There is often no weight limit on your carry-on.
HOWEVER, make sure you check this with your airline before you pack. Most of this information can be found online.
Pictures and video
Take lots of it. You will not regret having memories like that. We would love it if you use the hashtag #gtmministries for the pictures and videos you post on your trip with us.
Get enough sleep
We know this is not always possible on a mission trip. However, if you have a chance to, this will help your body recover faster from the flight/jetlag, and adapt better to the new timezone, climate, new food etc.
Make sure you drink lots of water on the trip. Be focused on it! Water is important to help combat jetlag, it will help keep your system working properly while flying, it will help with a different climate, to help better digest new and different food, and will help you stay hydrated during long days of work, fun and fellowship.
To avoid the “travel stomach”
Prunes, yogurt, oatmeal, vegetables and fruit + lots of water are all great tips to help avoid/prevent common travel digestive issues.
Walk around on the plane
If you are going for a longer plane ride, make sure you get up and walk around as often as possible. We also recommend not crossing your legs, to wear compression socks, and to store your carry on luggage in the over head compartments to get as much leg room as possible.
Pack according to the weather
Prepare for the local weather at the time you will be traveling.
In certain places there will be a dress code that might be culturally different from what it is in your home country. You can go online and find most of these answers, or you can check in with us.
Be on time
Make sure you are always on time for everything we do.
Traveling is a wonderful adventure; and part of what makes it an adventure is that you are out of your comfort zone (physically, but also mentally). Regardless of how well we and you plan, we can never predict everything that is going to happen.
We encourage you to keep an open, positive and flexible mindset, and make the most out of the spontaneous occurrences/changes that might happen; and you never know, it might actually become your most precious memory.
Be prepared for cultural differences
You can know for certain that there will be some cultural differences between the country you are from and the country you are going to, even if it is a neighboring country. This can be a challenge sometimes; but it's a great time to learn something new. We suggest you do some research about their culture before you go, and when you get there, to have an attitude of humility and respect; listening, asking questions and adjusting accordingly. This may be helpful in creating better relationships there (avoiding conflicts and misunderstandings, etc), as well as in your conversations about faith and the Gospel. We will also prepare the hosts for receiving a team from your country. Hopefully this can be a time to reflect about our own customs/culture as well as theirs; and take home with you what you like, and leave behind what you don't like;)
Try new things
When in Rome…It is fun and exciting to try new things. New foods, new activities, etc. Try things that are typical for the country and area you are in. You will most likely not regret it. And if you don’t like it; it usually makes for a good story;)
This is a very unique time to enjoy time with great new friends; while you are exploring unfamiliar and wonderful places, tasting delicious foods, as you are serving Him. Make sure you live it up, and we can almost guarantee that you will keep a smile on your face throughout the trip! :)