What Should I Pack For My YWAM DTS?
Thinking back to packing for my Discipleship Training School, I remember feeling anxious and uncertain. This post is what I wish I had been told as I prepared for DTS. It is not an exhaustive packing list, rather it’s some informed suggestions for packing and travel, backed up by my own personal experience. I hope these tips encourage you and excite you about your upcoming adventure!
Discipleship Training School is a great time to study God’s word. On DTS, students learn about God, and begin growing closer to Him. This isn’t just for lectures, it’s also for your own personal times with God. He often speaks to His children through the Bible, sometimes by words seeming to jump off the page, or He may speak to you through a verse popping into your head. As you’re learning new things about God, it can be very powerful to look at Scripture and see for yourself. It’s also a good idea to bring a few pens and highlighters for studying the Bible. Pack a journal or notebook for taking notes during lectures, but keep in mind that you may need to buy another, if you take lots of notes. You can learn a lot of really good ways to spend time with God while you’re on DTS, and hopefully set up habits for the rest of your life!
As you would imagine, it is very important to have your passport when you travel. Make sure to apply for your passport well before you need it, as it can take several months to receive it in the mail. The passport process differs from country to country, so I recommend looking into your nation’s requirements and timing. Also, if you currently hold a valid passport, make sure it is valid for 6 months after your DTS ends. Planning ahead can save you from last-minute stress! It’s also smart to print off a copy of your visa, boarding passes and even your return flight. You can keep your documents and money handy and safe in a money belt or pouch, small purse or accessible backpack pocket. Digging through your bag to reach your passport is no fun, and trust me, you don’t want the panic of not being able to find your boarding pass! Make things easier on yourself and stay organised, especially if you’re traveling alone.
Having a camera is not a necessity for DTS, but it is something worth considering. You will be traveling to a new location, maybe even a different part of the world, and I guarantee you will make memories. Whether you document your travels, illustrate different ministries, showcase beautiful landscapes or capture special moments with new friends, I think you will enjoy having a camera at your disposal. If you aren’t a photographer, I totally understand. I’m not either! If you don’t have a camera, I encourage you to still take photos. Use your phone, buy a disposable camera, or even ask someone else to take your picture or send you their photos. Be aware of moments that you feel closer to God or have special moments with your DTS mates. Capture them if you can, but even if your phone is dead or you forgot your camera, ask God to help you hold onto that memory.
It’s hard to think of everything you may need for the next 6 months, and for me, it was quite overwhelming to decide what clothes I needed for DTS! I want to encourage you from my own experience, and hopefully save you some time and stress. Don’t over pack! Follow the packing list you are given, and try not to worry. Dress for the weather, bringing outfits that you can mix and match, as well as layer. Here in Australia, it gets very hot in the summer, however, in the winter, it can be quite chilly, especially in the mornings and evenings. Even in the summer, it’s good to bring some warm options for cool weather or air-conditioning! Unless you have heaps of extra room in your bag, I suggest buying clothes for outreach on lecture phase. Depending on your outreach location, you’ll have different clothing needs, for example, you might need work clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty or maybe long, modest skirts. In YWAM, you can often borrow outreach clothes from other students or staff, and if not, it’s easy to find an op shop (thrift store) where you can get decent, second-hand clothes cheap. As you pack, if you have questions or worries, be sure to ask your DTS staff. They know what it’s like to prepare for DTS and they want to help you through the process!
There are a few really key items that you can buy to make your travels a lot easier. DTS is a time of stepping out of your comfort zone, learning flexibility and trusting God. Even if you aren’t doing an adventure or trailblazers DTS, you can get a lot of use out of hiking and camping gear. Many YWAM centers recommend bringing a hiking backpack rather than a suitcase or a duffel bag, and it’s a great choice. Hiking backpacks are convenient to carry, and many brands make a variety of options for different heights and frames. I also personally recommend buying a cover for your hiking backpack. I bought one at the advice of a salesperson, and I am so glad I did. Checked bags can undergo really rough treatment, but my cover protected the zippers and pockets of my bag, and it also gave me extra storage space. On outreach, I was able to squeeze my friends’ sleeping mats into my backpack cover, which really blessed them! Whether you’re climbing to a remote mountain village or taking a train cross-country, it is especially convenient to have a hiking bag. It’s also a good idea to purchase a fast-drying towel and a compact sleeping bag, to save on space. Make sure to pack sturdy shoes that can be used for hiking, outdoor work and anything else that may come up. If you aren’t sure what gear is right for you, pop into your local hiking store and tell them about your upcoming adventure! They’ll help you get the right gear, and can even walk you through the proper ways to adjust your pack for the best fit.
As you get ready to step out into the unknown, remember that DTS doesn’t just start once you arrive at a YWAM center. You have already been trusting God, and so many amazing things are before you! Whether you’ve never traveled by yourself, or you’ve never left home or you’ve never put your full trust in God, this is a building block. You’re going out into the nations to know God and make Him known, so don’t be afraid to get on a plane, or to make conversation with a stranger. Think of this journey as the first step of DTS. You’ll have a multitude of opportunities to grow your faith in God as you step out of your comfort zone.
In spite of the best laid plans, things can go wrong, and they often do. As you get ready for DTS, you may encounter some challenges. I have a friend who went through some crazy, stressful weeks before DTS. She needed to get a health exam for her visa, and had to drive 5 hours to a nearby big city, then she got into a car accident, and finally, her mother booked the wrong flights for her, and she had to spend thousands of dollars on new flights. What a horrible way to gear up for a big, life changing adventure! But instead of letting her circumstances dictate her life, my friend persevered and chose to trust God. She knew that DTS was God’s plan for her, and she took that leap of faith, even with so many things going wrong. Choosing a good attitude while packing for and traveling to DTS will set you up really well for both lecture phase and outreach phase. In life, there are always times when we can choose to look for the positive or focus on the negative. Be grateful for the chance to get to know God better, even if you encounter delays, crying babies or long lines. Practicing joyfulness and maintaining a good attitude now will bless those around you and set you up for a great experience in the future!
by Fiona Winslade
YWAM Gold Coast Staff