Travel Tips: What to pack for a Medical Mission Trip to Rwanda

April 11, 2018

What to pack for a Medical Mission Trip to Rwanda

Lake Kivu - Rwanda

Medical Mission Trips are a bit different than planning and packing for a vacation.  The goal of the medical mission trip is to impact the community in a big way, in a short period of time that enables long term benefits.

Typically, you’ll work long days that require hard work, but are incredibly rewarding.

Prior to leaving, keep in mind what you will be doing during your mission trip, as your activities will greatly affect what you need to pack.

Climate In Rwanda:

The climate in Rwanda will help you with narrowing down a packing list that will ensure you’re comfortable (More information here).

  • On average, the temperatures are always high.

  • Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen in February, March, April, October, November and December.

  • Kigali has dry periods in June and July.

  • On average, the warmest month is August.

  • On average, the coolest month is July.

  • April is the wettest month. This month should be avoided if you don’t like too much rain.

  • July is the driest month

Chart depicting the average temperatures by month of Rwanda:


Chart depicting the average precipitation over the year in Rwanda:


Things to Pack for Your Medical Mission Trip:

For the HHFR medical mission trip, we recommend for volunteers to take one carry on backpack and a check in suitcase.  For the way to Rwanda, another great tip is to pack a collapsible bag that you can combine into your large suitcase for the way back.


Your backpack will serve you during travel and the day-to-day of the mission. You can keep your personal belongings like your camera, snacks, notebook and little gifts for the community (like coloring books, pens, toothbrushes, etc.) Here are a couple waterproof backpack options, example one and two.


The checked in luggage is key to bringing extra supplies, gifts and clothing for the community of Rwanda.  If you’re able to bring extra scrubs, shoes, or other clothing to leave with the facility upon departure, that goes a long way!  Also save room for little toys, pens, coloring books, toothbrushes, etc. that you can leave for the children of Rwanda.  While none of these things are mandatory, you’ll find that your items will make a big difference in their lives which feels good!  Make sure your luggage meets your airline’s weight requirements!  Here are few luggage options, example one, two, three.


Here’s what I brought during a 10 day trip to the Rwanda:

•    5 scrubs (full set)

•    5 t-shirts

•    2 polos

•    2 dress shirts

•    1 pair of shorts

•    1 pair of athletic shorts

•    1 pair of jeans

•    1 pair of khakis

•    2 pair of convertible pants

•    underwear

•    socks

•    sleepwear

•    swimwear

•    1 rain jacket (men’s version / women’s version)

Because you’ll be working at the clinic most of the days, bring 5-7 scrubs for the days you’ll be working.  Outside of the clinics, you’ll have time to enjoy the community at various restaurants or visit homes where you’ll want something casual.  If needed, there will be an opportunity to wash clothes.


•    Sandals

•    Sneakers

•    Dress shoes

When on a medical mission trip, you’ll want to take a comfortable pair of sneakers for working in.

Toiletries and Other:

While it is possible to buy toiletries at your destination, you’ll find that the cost for products you may be accustom to might be hard to come by and expensive. To be safe, you may want to bring all the toiletries you will need.

Here are some toiletries and other things you might want to bring:

•    Personal toiletries (Shampoo, Conditioner, toothbrush & toothpaste, etc.)

•    Body wash or soap

•    Lotion

•    Wash cloth

•    Deodorant

•    Hand Sanitizer

•    Water Bottle – here’s an example.  Also bring with you during flights to stay hydrated.

•    Sunglasses, sunscreen

•    Insect repellant

•    Moistened wipes

•    Flashlight or Lantern – here’s an example.

•    Small umbrella

•    Toiletry bag – here’s an example.

Entertainment and Electronics:

Electronics and things for entertainment are optional since the purpose of the trip is to serve and not necessarily for having fun, however you may want to bring some of these things:

•    Camera

•    Phone and phone charger

•    Headphones

•    Books, magazines or ebooks

•    External battery – here’s an example or solar charger.

•    Voltage converter – here’s an example.

Note: When going on a medical mission trip, you are advised not to bring valuables and expensive electronics. Also, you might not even have enough time to use them.

Important Items and Documents:

•    Travel Journal

•    Passport – make sure it hasn’t expired

•    Journal

•    Pen

•    Spending money for personal gifts and souvenirs – Example of a money belt.

Optional Items:

•    Deck of cards or other travel games

•    Language phrasebook

•    Earplugs

•    Watch

•    Travel pillow

•    Bible

•    Snacks – Trailmix, granola bars, cliff bars are all great items to bring

•    Toys, pens, coloring books, hygiene items to gift to community

What Not To Bring on a Mission Trip:

•    Too many electronics – you could potentially lose these and you might not have time to use them

•    Expensive jewelry

•    Overly fancy clothes

•    Too many books – books are heavy and take up lots of space, you might not even get to read them anyways

•    Pocket knives – as useful as they are, you can’t fly with knives

Anything which doesn’t meet TSA requirements.

What is your favorite way to integrate philanthropy into travel?

Travel More with Lilacs & Chai, contact or follow on Instagram @lilacsandchai.  

For donations to help the community of Rwanda, visit