Traveling to the Mission Site

Visas

Have a current passport and visa, if needed. The US Department of State - Visas offers valuable advice concerning foreign travel. The website also provides information on every country in the world (Country Specific Information), including information on the location of the US Embassy and any consular offices, whether a visa is needed, crime and security information, health and medical conditions, drug penalties and localized hot spots. The US Department of State also offers a voluntary program through which travelers can register their travel plans. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is intended to increase the likelihood of US citizens receiving assistance from the US government should it be needed while traveling internationally. The registration is available online at: Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

Length of Stay

Most dental missions are short. The duration is often tied to the availability of resources, including the time commitment made by the volunteers away from their dental practices.

Transportation

Transportation requirements become easier to establish once a site has been selected and the number of people traveling is known. However, other criteria can have an impact. To a great extent, the mode of transportation and type of location determines the materials and equipment that can be brought along. This includes both air and ground transportation. Airlines restrict the amount of baggage that one person can bring without additional expense. The availability of equipment supplies can impact what tasks can be accomplished. Modes of transportation also affect the types of items that can be brought. For one’s first mission or for the first mission to a specific location or region - think small. The easier a site is to reach, the more one can usually bring. With experience, more challenging journeys can be contemplated.

Packing

Personal items should match the demands of the location and the length of the mission. Problems can occur when bringing dental instruments and equipment. Sharp items must be packed with checked luggage and cannot be placed in carry-on luggage.