Preparing for a trip to another country can be overwhelming! We hope you find the following information beneficial as you prepare for your Custom Visit. We want to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Conversation starters and activities

A young man sits in at a table and reads a book with a young boy.

A visit is a very exciting event and a day you will never forget. It is completely normal to feel a little nervous.

When we confirm your visit, you will be provided with an itinerary that include a fun activity you can share with your sponsored child. Your Compassion host will be there to help you both feel comfortable and to translate if needed. You’ll likely have the opportunity to share a meal and give gifts to your child. Don’t be surprised if your child’s family has a gift for you too—you are a special part of their life! Take a lot of pictures, as this will be a day to remember!

Please keep in mind that your child may be a little overwhelmed or shy at the beginning of your visit. Feel free to take a brief look below at conversation starters and activity ideas for you to consider using during your visit.

Questions for your sponsored child
  • Introduce yourself and your family and ask about your child’s family.
  • What do you like about school?
  • What classes do you have at school, and do you have a favourite?
  • Who are your best friends?
  • What sports do you like?
  • What is your favourite song?
  • Do you have a favourite Bible verse?
  • What is your favourite food?
  • How do you feel about your sponsor coming to visit you?/li>
  • Do you like receiving letters and postcards from me, your sponsor?
A few activities to share
  • Bring pictures of your family, friends and pets, and share these with your sponsored child.
  • Bring copies of any pictures of your sponsored child, or copies of the letters you have received from him or her.
  • Play together—soccer ball, Frisbee and jump ropes are fun!
  • Sing songs.
  • Draw pictures or do a craft together.
  • Teach your child a Bible story.
  • Bring some fingernail polish!

Recommended packing list

With a Custom Visit you should plan your packing list depending on the activities you have planned during travel. As you do so, please bear in mind that each country has different cultural norms and traditions. For example, in some cultures shorts or sleeveless tops are not considered appropriate attire in public, though you can generally dress more casually while at your hotel or resort. So please be sure to look into appropriate attire and customs for your destination country.

You may also want to leave a little room in your luggage to bring some gifts to your child and their family. On your return you can fill that extra space with some souvenirs of your travel.

It’s a good idea to double check with your airline about their carry-on and checked luggage allowances, and be careful to avoid putting anything in your carry-on luggage (such as sharp objects or larger containers of liquid) that could slow you down as you pass through security.

Although everyone’s travel needs vary, here is a suggested packing list to help get you started.

Packing suggestions
  • Travel documents
  • Shirts/blouses/tops
  • Skirts/dresses*
  • Bathing suit†
  • Pants
  • Shorts†
  • Undergarments
  • Sleepwear
  • Light jacket or sweater
  • Rain cover
  • Good walking shoes
  • Sun hat
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Soap
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Razor
  • Detergent for hand-washing clothes
  • Comb or brush
  • Insect repellant with DEET
  • Good sunscreen
  • Aloe-vera gel
  • Pepto Bismol® / Imodium® tablets
  • Personal first-aid
  • Washcloth
  • Alarm clock
  • Sunglasses
  • Notepad/pens
  • Address book
  • Personal snacks
  • Bible
  • Flashlight
  • Spare batteries
  • Camera
  • Power converter for electronic items
  • International plug adapters
  • Gifts for children/families

We recommend you pack the following in your carry-on baggage:

  • Change of clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Medications (keep in original bottle)
  • Special gifts for Compassion children
  • Snacks for flight
  • Bible/reading material

Get to know the country

A young woman from Bangladesh wears traditional garb and smiles at the camera.

Compassion arranges visits to every country where we work. Each country is different, so your Visit Specialist here in the Canada will work with you, and will coordinate all the details of your visit with our National Office in the country where you will be visiting.

General travel information

Travellers must obtain their own travel documents for a custom visit. We encourage you to read the following information regarding passports, visas and other useful international travel information and recommendations.

Travel and transportation

With a Custom Visit you are required to book your own flights and lodging for your time in country. Although no visit date can be guaranteed in advance, Compassion will make every effort to arrange your visit accordingly. If you decide to make travel arrangements (such as purchasing flight tickets) in advance, and your visit is subsequently declined by our field office, Compassion is not responsible for your costs.

We will assist with transportation in-country on your visit day. If you need lodging suggestions, please contact your Visit Specialist. They may have hotels that the field staff have suggested for our travellers.

Safety guidelines

In order to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience, we have established visit guidelines. Thank you for taking the time to review them. If you have any questions about the visit guidelines, please contact us.

Gift ideas

A Thai boy stands in front of a soccer net. He smiles and holds a soccer ball.

The best gift you can give children and staff is your time and care. If you would like to bring gifts, however, you are more than welcome to do so! We recommend filling a backpack for your sponsored child. This is a good measure of items to take and is convenient. Keep in mind that Compassion children are from areas where basic needs are pressing.

Compassion centres are a safe place where children are known, loved, and protected. In addition to your personal items and any gifts for your sponsored child, feel free to bring arts and crafts or sports equipment for visits to child development centres. See below for some ideas on practical and fun gifts you can bring for sponsored children and child development centres.

A parent/guardian will accompany your sponsored child on Visit Day, so don’t forget to bring a gift or two for your child’s family members!

*It can be easy to go overboard when choosing gifts for your child and their family. We suggest bringing a backpack and using that to fill with gifts, which keeps the child from being overwhelmed, and also assists in giving the child an easy way to carry the gifts home without putting them at risk.

Family gift ideas
  • Flat bed sheets
  • Simple kitchen items (spoons/towels)
  • Flashlights (kind that wind or are solar powered are best)
  • Clothes and hats
  • Simple tools
  • Bible (in native language, if possible)

We do not recommend high-end gifts such as phones or electronics, since your child may not have power to charge the device, and such gifts could also make them a target for crime.

Child/sibling gift ideas

A great gift to give your sponsored child is a small photo album. After your trip, you can mail them the photos to fill it!

  • A small photo album that your child can fill with photos you send to them.
  • Toiletries (soap/shampoo/toothbrush/toothpaste)
  • Clothes (including socks/underwear)*
  • Sports equipment (jump rope/soccer balls w/pump)
  • School supplies
  • Bubbles with wands
  • Stickers
  • Hair barrettes and ponytail holders
  • Coloring books and crayons
  • Small toys (cars/stuffed animals)
  • Hats or baseball caps

*Our field office staff usually do not have capacity to gather specific clothing sizes for children and their families. Therefore, we suggest using your best judgment on sizes of clothing, knowing that if they are a little too large your child will grow into them, or another family member may be able to use them.

Child development centre gift ideas
  • Construction paper
  • Crayons and markers
  • Safety scissors
  • Rulers
  • Glue sticks
  • Other craft/school supplies
  • Soccer balls (deflated, include pump)
  • Frisbees
  • Jump ropes
  • Volleyballs
  • Other sports equipment
  • Bubbles
  • Stickers
  • Hard candies
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer