9) E.T. Wishes It Would Have Been This Easy To Phone Home

If you’re from the USA and you run on a network that isn’t global (like — Sprint maybe?), you’ll likely need to pick up a different phone for travel. Why buy when you can rent one for just the handful of days you’ll be gone? What’s your favorite vendor? Here’s one such vendor that Brigada participant, Tim, likes…

They pretty much take care of everything, including shipping your phone to you the day before you leave. These are true global phones: they’ll work pretty much everywhere, with roaming rates up to 80% less than your home-based plan would have cost you. They also rent satphones which will work basically anywhere in the world as long as you’re outside.

Another Brigada user, with a great first name (“Doug”), likes
They have a worldphone that you buy for $99 on a pay-as-you-go plan. No contracts, no hassles. Just prepay.

If you already own a GSM phone, just ask for a free SIM chip from Mobal. They’ll manage your relationships with virtually every country in the world (170, to be exact), allowing you to talk and recharge with one vendor. They make a strong case for their product at:

However, their rates seem higher than the vendor I’ve been using. See their USA landing page at:

Got a favorite vendor for communications devices like these? Please recommend them by clicking “Comment” after this item on the web at…

4) Fly Round-Trip In Africa For A Song

OK, maybe more than a song, but not much. Thanks to Brigada user Greg for tipping us on the fact that you can fly round trip anywhere within Africa that Kenya Airways goes (and they go all over the continent) for only 25,000 frequent flier miles (and about $70-80 reg fee) from any of the following airlines: Aeroflot, Aeroméxico, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, Continental Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air and Northwest Airlines, Air Europa, Copa Airlines and Kenya Airways. According to Greg, “Seats are easy to get and supporters can book flights for you.” (Thanks again Greg!)

2) ‘Safe Travel Solutions’ For Missions Teams

Overseas missions travel is becoming increasingly more dangerous. Just yesterday, a personal friend of mine watched as thieves duct-taped the mouth of his wife in his own home. A handful of thieves took whatever they wanted, then drove off in the missionary’s car. Traveler kidnappings, illegal detentions, carjackings, and home invasions increased 300 percent just in 2005-06, says personal security specialist David Dose, founder of Fort Sherman Academy, where faith-based audiences have been receiving hostage survival and anti-terrorism training since 2003. Now the highly effective Fort Sherman training is available in a two-DVD curriculum called “Safe Travel Solutions.” Topics include Protective Measures, Surveillance, Surviving Hostage Situations, Minimizing Sexual Assault, and Dealing with Demands for Information. For more information, visit

Fort Sherman was kind enough to send an evaluation copy. We recently sent representatives from our organization out to Fort Sherman for personal training and my conclusion is – if you can’t get to Fort Sherman personally, get this DVD before you travel.

6) Herding Kids While Traveling

[Note I said “herding” not “hurting” :-) ] Truly, this is a heartbeat item, as is evidenced by the email I recently received from a faithful Brigada participant from Taiwan, who wrote, ” In my experience… when a small child has jet lag… EVERYONE has jet lag… no matter how much I *believe* that my kids aren’t awake at 3AM and want to go to the park and play… it doesn’t seem to make them sleepy at all.” LOL Well said, Scott. So how can we help kids make the most of their time in the air and/or on the road with us? Well books could be written, for sure, but we’ll just list 5 principles to get the juices stirring…

*** a) Keep ’em busy — As anyone who travels can tell you, you have to plan ahead so you’ll have appropriate activities, interesting games, familiar (but replaceable) toys and, best of all, cool snacks. Use your imagination. Think like a kid. Ask for their input before you ever leave to go there.

*** b) [For infants and toddlers], Take along a stroller — Even though it will seem like a hassle, a stroller will help you in several key ways. First, it’s “home base” for all your stuff. Second, it’s a home base for the *munchkin*. Third, it’s a protected “security zone”. And finally, it’s a roving sleeper-car. You probably get the point on all those.

*** c) [For infants], Get them an airline bed — Again, this takes advanced planning. Some airlines still let you use the portable beds that fasten to the wall of the bulkhead. Several others have apparently ceased that practice. But in its place, they’ve come up with other strategies. Call around. Find a kid-friendly airline that flies where you fly. If worse comes to worse, pay the 10% extra ticket price to book a *seat* for your infant, and just drag along a cheap car seat that you pick up at a yard sale. See “b” above.

*** d) Recruit a partner to help you care for the kids — On a recent trip to the Balkans, while accompanying a young couple headed to one of Team Expansion’s mission fields, I took a turn caring for their 8-month-old baby so they could get at least *some* sleep through the night. I walked laps around the plane. I rocked her, bounced her, and otherwise entertained her for at least a *while* so the family could snooze. Find someone who will go along and do the same for you — and more.
*** e) Finally, remember the power of some potent cough medicine. [grin] If your child has a cold or congestion, it’s especially important… and that cough medicine just might be the ticket to put them to sleep for hours. I’m not saying drug ’em and forget about ’em. But at the same time, if the medicine is appropriate, and if it happens to make them drowsy, *use* it. [grin]

7) Your Own Mosquito Tent

Maybe this seems like overkill, but, for malaria-infested areas, there’s something deeply secure about knowing that wherever you land to sleep, you’re covered. I recommend taking along something like the Epco Tropicscreen II. (Google it and the version will probably come up in the top 5 for about $70. Worth every penny of it. Completely enclosed.)

10) Rent a Satphone

If you’re unsure about relying on cell coverage for any reason, for dangerous or “out back” areas, see Telestial. (See link above.) They might not be the cheapest, but they know their stuff. Again, the cost is prohibitive … unless you’re about to be kidnapped and you need to get a call out. Then the cost will be minimal. :-)

11) Rent a SAT Modem

If you’re not sure there will be good connectivity in your area and you simply *must* remain connected, consider a Thrane Sat Modem or its equivalent. Something like the Thrane Explorer 500 (via the BGAN network) shouldn’t set you back more than $115/week. Granted, that’s too much for the typical instant messaging with your kids, perhaps. But if your office needs you to be in touch for a few emails each day, then it’s really not a terrible deal. You can connect at up to 128K via USB. It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. For an example, visit:
although that’s just one of many vendors you could research.

12) Pack by Checklist

Make a checklist. Take it with you on trip so you can add things as you “miss” them. Prioritize them according to a scale where 1 is “imperative” and 5 is “luxury”. When you pack, try to always stay within one checked bag, one carry-on. Go light!

13) Use Roller Bags

This new generation of rolling carry-ons and rolling suitcases is the berries. What a back-saver. Find the lightest, most durable stuff you can find. I like the ThinkPad Vertical Roller Case (model #40Y7384) but that’s probably just because I’m a Thinkpad guy. Still, they’ve thought of everything on this briefcase: gel padding, vertical “upright” design, telescoping single handle, has a retractable document holder built into the top (perfect for tickets, passport, directions), removable water bottle holder, removable cell phone holder, ultra-nice ID tag holder, business card storage, fits in all overhead luggage bins (including the thin Canadair “jump jet” bins), … I mean… they even give you a retractable *blue* LED flashlight inside! Yes it’s $132. I know. Too much. But mine has lasted for 20 years I think. Ok… maybe not quite that long. :-) Keep the rolling suitcase to a manageable size (not one of those rolling *trunks*!) and you can easily glide them both behind you, one in each hand.

14) Bring a Filtered Water Bottle

I’ve been carrying the Bota “Outback” for some time now…

But pick your favorite. I like this one because it has the built-in lexan guard over the top, so you don’t have to suck on a dirty “straw”. Because you can “squeeze” water out, you can also use the Outback to filter a glass of water to drink the “real way.” It filters 99.9% of the Giardia Lamblia and Cryptosporidium cysts — without the iodine that’s not so good for you. It’s also easier to squeeze so you get a slightly faster flow rate than most bottles. Either way, bring along *something*. I’m here in Spain as I write this. Sure the water is clean in most of Spain. But today I’ve spent most of our day in a 700-year-old community. There’s no way I can be sure that all these pipes are new. Having the filter, I can pretty much be assured of pure water, any time I want it. Besides, it’s great to have a water bottle anyway, and if you’ve got to carry one, why not carry a filtered one! :-)

15) Carry a Thin Notebook

Write everything down. Get in the habit of making good notes. The notebook has to be thin enough to stick in your shirt pocket or hip pocket, so you always have it with you. Do a section for finances. Write down every expense, make note of every currency exchange, including the commission and the exchange rate. Do another section for language learning. Jot down words you want to learn to say, words you can’t quite understand, whole text phrases you want to memorize, etc. Depending on the stage of your work, you might want other sections for interviews & cultural lessons, another for prayer requests & praises & devotional thoughts, another section for contacts & addresses & people with whom you’d like to follow up.

17) Try a Photographer’s Vest

I realize this might or might not be your style. But at least consider it. Get breathable cotton, with 15 or more pockets. It becomes a walking, incognito extra carry-on. On one occasion recently, a cultural “insider” had said he could only take 2 people with him into a Muslim area. I volunteered to stay back and let two others go, but he insisted that I could too, in addition to the other 2 visitors, because he said, as he threw a glance at my vest, “He’ll look like a professional journalist anyway.” My camera fits in one pocket, while in others, I can insert a lightweight mini-tripod, a small flashlight, hand sanitizer, passport (in a protected, waterproof pocket), some artificial tears, and everything else you like to carry along. You should be able to find these online for $50, and in a large camera specialty store for $70. Obviously, the advantage of the latter is that you can try them on. Stick to khaki. The black vests seem a bit too paramilitary for my tastes.

18) Stay Healthy but Don’t Become O.C.

I always tell my kids, “If you want Ferrari performance, you better power up your engine with high octane fuel.” How do you power up your own personal engine? You decide, but I’ll tell you what works for me. No matter where I am in the world, I make sure I have breakfast food with me. I never miss. Maybe it’s a granola bar from home and a banana from the local market. Or maybe it’s a bowl of some kind of bran cereal with “a box of milk.” Either way, I think it’s the most important meal of the day. If I miss breakfast, however, I roll with the flow and just pick up when I can. No worries. In general, when traveling, I like to avoid any food that hasn’t been peeled, washed in a safe way, and/or cooked. That means most leafy salads are off-limits for me. They just trap too many impurities in the crevices of all those leaves. In fact, I stay away from any foods with crevices. I also avoid sauces and dressings that might have picked up impurities from setting out too long. I carry a very small bottle of hand sanitizer with me to “wash up” before handling any foods with my hands or before I touch my eyes. I make sure I know how much sleep I need — then I get it as best I can. Know yourself and your limitations, then stick to them. You’ll do no good for anyone else in the world if you get amoebic dysentery. At the same time, I try not to become obsessive-compulsive (O.C.) about the whole thing. After all, we are in God’s service, we are in the work of making disciples of all nations, so he’s promised he’ll be *with* us. What safer place on earth can one imagine? :-)

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