Squeeze, Squish, and Scrunch: Packing for DTS

by Sidra Z.,

Sidra is a University of the Nations degree student, which means she has done a lot of packing and traveling around the world over the last couple of years! She completed her DTS in Australia and wrote this article for other DTS students while she was a student in the School of Writing. If you’ve applied to a YWAM Madison school or outreach, you’ll receive an official packing list. You can also look at our Pinterest board on how to pack for YWAM outreach. And you can always email us to ask questions at dts@ywammadison.org

Waiting in the airport

A student waits in the airport for her plane to Kenya.

Listening to the painful scrape of my luggage against the tile of the terminal, I knew that I had over packed. As I lugged my fifty-two pound (twenty-four kilo) bag through the airport, I frowned. I wished someone had warned me of the dangers of over-packing for Discipleship Training School (DTS). Even with a packing list, I just wasn’t sure what to bring!

So, in order to help other girls avoid my unfortunate fate, I set off to nail down exactly what one would need to bring for DTS.

Geneva R. did her DTS in Panama in 2007. Explaining the cultural norms of the place, she advises students to first study up on the location of their YWAM center. Before you put a single item in your bag, check to make sure it is socially acceptable in the society in which you will be living. A loose tank top and capris are socially acceptable in Panama, but that may not be the case in Thailand.

“Focus on where you’ll be going,” Geneva says. “In Panama, I was focused on where I would explore.”

Do research on the climate of your location, but also take into account the distance to the nearest city and terrain. You will also want sturdy clothing; articles which will hold up for long amounts of time with constant use. However, sturdy does not mean unfashionable. Be respectful in your dress, as sloppy clothing implies you don’t care. Avoid bringing too many favorite clothing items, especially on outreach. Throwing away clothing brought on outreach due to repeated wear is common.

As a seasoned YWAMer, Jessica R. knows the importance of packing well. She suggests the best luggage to use for DTS, or indeed any travel expedition, is the backpacker’s pack. Luggage with wheels works well for airports, but you will want a bag you can also take on outreach. When you are on a dirt road in the middle of mainland China, you will regret bringing a wheeled bag. “Be able to carry your stuff for twenty minutes without assistance. If you can’t, you’ve over packed,” Jessica says. Be aware that many YWAM centers require you to take everything you bring to DTS on outreach with you.

Make sure to leave room in your bag for gifts or souvenirs for family and friends. Jessica recalls how often DTS students will purchase large amounts of trinkets on outreach and are not able to bring them home due to lack of space. As far as personal items from home are concerned, leave them behind. Nostalgia takes up room.

Finally, realize your possessions are temporal. The purpose of this article is to ease the experience by preparing you for what you will encounter so you may focus on the spiritual aspect of DTS. If you develop a stewardship attachment with your earthly things, it will ready you for DTS better than most of the suggestions above ever could.

Have fun packing for your adventure!

What tips would you share about packing? Leave them for others to read in the comments below.

Traveling Basics:

  • Easily matchable clothing
  • Travel-sized hairdryer
  • Toiletries
  • Basic make-up
  • Thin towel
  • Appropriate shoes
  • Passport/tickets/paperwork

Miniature Entertainment

Stuff small things like cards, hobby projects, or iPods in side-pockets for entertainment during down times. Aside from your Bible, avoid books. They weigh down your luggage. If you are an avid reader, download the Kindle application from Amazon.com to your mobile phone or computer and begin a computer-based library.

Personal Computers

Whether it be keeping in contact with family and supporters, doing homework, or entertaining yourself during down times, a laptop is useful to have during DTS. Be sure you have the necessary padding to keep it safe during travel. If you bring it on outreach, be sure you know how to protect it from dust and power surges. ALWAYS back up your information more than you think you need to.

Useful Links

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Editor’s Note: You will receive a packing list with a lot of detailed information! We also run a Pinterest board that shows you the kinds of things you might find useful here with us at YWAM Madison and on outreaches around the world. And Sidra’s right — you don’t want to over pack! You’ll be surprised how little you actually need to survive. But if something small reminds you of home–like pictures of your friends and family–bring that with you. Chances are, that photo could lead to some great conversations!

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