Preparing for a trip to another country can be overwhelming! Compassion has taken supporters on trips for more than 25 years, so we are equipped to help. We strive to provide as much information as possible as you embark on your journey. Once you register for a trip, you will get detailed information on that country and what adventures your trip will hold!
Registering for a trip
We’re here to help walk you through the registration process. Below you will find a detailed timeline explaining when you should register and what happens after you do!
Once you choose the Exposure Trip you would like to attend, the first step is to register! In order to register, you will need to have your passport information, emergency contact information and your health information for yourself and any guests. The deposit for each trip is required to complete your registration and reserve a spot on the trip.
When your registration is complete, you will receive a welcome email. This email is important, and we ask that you read it thoroughly and keep it handy as you will need it for reference in the future. Within your welcome email, we will provide you with the necessary links to secure your background check and Travel Release forms, which each traveller is required to complete.
Each trip has a payment schedule, which will also be outlined in your welcome email. The final payment deadline is typically three months prior to departure. You will receive payment reminder emails before each due date to ensure all your finances are in order before departure.
Between six to eight weeks prior to departure, you will receive your very own Exposure Trip Kit in the mail. Included in this kit will be a country-specific Trip Handbook (designed for you to use before, during and after your trip), a nametag and lanyard for you to wear during the trip, ribbons to help you identify your luggage during travel and much more! You will also receive several emails leading up to the trip with important information, including your e-ticket and travel insurance, so please read and review all communication carefully.
Leading up to the trip, there will also be two video calls for you to join to learn more about the trip and to ask any questions you might have. It is important for you to have access to a camera on your device in order to join the call by video.
During the first video call, you will have an opportunity to meet the group and your Trip Leaders! Your Trip Leaders will provide general information to prepare you for what to expect, and let you know what steps you should be taking over the next couple of months to get ready for your trip. Due to the importance of the content we will be covering on this call, it is a requirement for every traveller to participate in this video call.
On our second video call, your Trip Leaders will be going over more specific details that you need to know about the trip, including important travel information, the itinerary for the week, reminders for any missing trip requirements and plenty more! This video call will be packed with information to get you ready to board the plane.
Approximately four weeks prior to departure, we will be emailing you any important last details, including a final checklist for you to read through and confirm. We will also send you an itinerary, which will include emergency contact information for your accommodations and Trip Leaders, making it ideal to both take with you and leave copies with your loved ones as you travel.
After registration, the most important thing that you will need to do is complete your background check and release form. All of this information, along with the links to complete these items will be included in your registration confirmation email.
We require all age of majority travellers to complete a criminal background check to ensure the protection of the children in our programs. There will be a link in your confirmation email that will lead you to complete this through our vendor, MyBackCheck.
In order to travel with Compassion, each traveler must sign our Travel Release form (both adults and minors).
If you mark a box in the medical checklist during registration, we will also require that you have your doctor fill out a physician’s release.
Passports: All travel outside of Canada requires a valid passport, so it is important that you don’t delay in securing this document. You can obtain a passport application and instructions on how to apply online here.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months after you return from your trip. It is possible that a traveller may not be allowed to board the plane if a passport expires too close to the return date.
Ensure that your passport is in good shape. Tattered, torn or ripped passports may prohibit you from travelling.
Please note that all travel documents are each traveler’s responsibility. If your document limits your travels, Compassion is not liable for any of these charges and will not be able to refund your trip cost.
Visas: The following countries require a visa to gain entrance:
- Africa – all countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Togo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda)
- South America – Bolivia and Brazil
- Asia – Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
Getting a visa can be daunting! We will help you through each step of the way. These instructions will come via email, so be sure to watch your inbox.
We will include your international trip itinerary in your registration confirmation email, so you can purchase your domestic flights accordingly. We recommend waiting to purchase your domestic tickets until six to eight weeks before departure, since airlines frequently have flight changes that can interfere with your international connection from your domestic flight. It is important to leave at least four hours between your domestic and international flights. If there are any significant changes to our international flight itinerary, we make every attempt to notify you as quickly as possible.
When you receive your e-tickets (via email approximately three weeks prior to departure) please be sure to check your name on the ticket. It is critical that the name matches (or will match) your passport. If they do not match, you may not be able to board the plane. Any errors incurring costs will be your responsibility.
As baggage policies are constantly changing, we ask that each traveler checks with each airline for current information on baggage allowances and policies. Any baggage charges are your responsibility.
We wish we could help you make personal medical decisions, but we can’t. Legally, we are not allowed to offer any kind of medical advice. Be aware that some countries require certain immunizations to gain entrance into the country. We will be sure to tell you if a vaccine is required for entrance. You can find current information on required immunizations for travel at your local health department, travel clinic or online at travel.gc.ca. We recommend you consult your physician before the trip. Also, make sure you carry your immunization record with you during the trip.
Compassion offers Exposure Trips to most of the countries where we work. Each country is different, so before your trip you will receive information about your destination in your Trip Handbook.
Health and safety
Depending on your destination, our Exposure Trips range from moderate to demanding in difficulty. Our trips can include long international flights, time zone changes, high altitudes, lengthy transportation on bumpy roads, walking on uneven terrain, long days and possible physical activities. Because we understand each traveler is different, we collect medical and health information for each registrant ahead of time so we can be aware of any limitations and needs you may have. Past medical conditions may require a signed physician release form. While we understand this can be a burden, your safety and health is our main concern while travelling with us.
Compassion has a dynamic approach when it comes to the safety of our traveller. While there is always a risk with international travel, Compassion has the following practices regarding safety in our partnering countries:
- Each trip attendee has premium coverage insurance, which includes medical and evacuation coverage
- Each trip attendee is entered into the Registration of Canadians Abroad prior to departure
- Compassion utilizes our in-country staff to help make decisions on the safest places to travel; they are always ready to help if an emergency should arise.
Concern for the well-being of children is the cornerstone of our ministry. We do everything within our power to ensure that no harm comes to any child registered in our program and to protect our children from any form of child abuse or exploitation. We believe the vast majority of our supporters share our values of respecting and caring for children. But it is possible that some people may seek to use our Child Sponsorship Program to gain access to children for inappropriate reasons, which is why we require a background check for everyone 18 and older who interacts with any beneficiary of our program.
Please consider reading our full Trips and Visits Child Protection Policy if you are considering travelling with us, as it guides interactions between sponsors and children occurring on our group trips or individual custom visits. It is meant to protect the children in our child development centres from abuse as well as to protect visitors from any wrongful allegations.
Please bring what you need to be comfortable. But remember, the lighter you pack, the easier the trip will be for you. Although everyone’s needs vary, here is a list to help get you started. Please also note that every country has different cultures and norms, so we will provide a detailed dress code based on the specific area of travel after you register.
- travel documents
- bathing suit
- light jacket or sweater
- rain cover
- good walking shoes
- sun hat
- toothbrush, toothpaste
- detergent for hand-washing clothes
- comb or brush
- insect repellant with DEET
- good sunscreen
- aloe-vera gel
- Pepto Bismol® / Imodium® tablets
- personal first-aid
- alarm clock
- address book
- personal snacks
- spare batteries
- 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
- medications (keep in original bottle)
- special gifts for Compassion children
- snacks for flight
- Bible/reading material
Meeting your child
A trip to meet your sponsored child is a very exciting event, and it is normal to feel a little nervous.
When you go on an Exposure Trip, you will be provided with an itinerary that includes some fun activities you can share with the child you sponsor. You’ll likely be able to share a meal together and have the chance to share gifts.
A translator will join you to make it possible for you to interact with the child you sponsor and learn more about them.
Don’t be surprised if your child’s family has a gift for you too! You are a special part of their life. Take lots of pictures, as this will be a day to remember!
Please keep in mind that your child may feel overwhelmed or shy at the beginning of your visit. But a few conversation starters and activities can help!
Questions for your sponsored child:
- Introduce yourself and your family and ask about your child’s family.
- What do you like most 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 favorite song?
- Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
- What is your favorite food?
- How do you feel about your sponsor coming to visit you?
- Do you like receiving letters and postcards?
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, frisbee and jump ropes are fun!
- Sing songs.
- Draw pictures or do a craft together.
- Bring fingernail polish!
What to bring for your child
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 the quantity 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 supplies for visits to child development centres. See below for some ideas on practical and fun gifts you can bring for sponsored children and development centres.
A parent/guardian will accompany your sponsored child on Fun Day, so don’t forget to bring a gift or two for your child’s family members!
Family gift ideas
- flat bed sheets
- simple kitchen items (spoons/towels)
- flashlights (wind or solar powered)
- clothes and hats
- simple tools
- Bible (in local language, if possible) Child/sibling gift ideas
- toiletries (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste)
- clothes (including socks and underwear)
- sports equipment (jump rope,soccer balls w/pump)
- school supplies
- bubbles with wands
- hair barrettes and ponytail holders
- colouring books and crayons
- small toys (cars, stuffed animals)
- hats or baseball caps
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!
*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 gives them an easy way to carry the gifts home.
What to bring for visiting Child Development Centres
Each trip visits a variety of Compassion’s programs, so it is important to come equipped with activities and resources to make these visits fun and memorable as well as a blessing to the recipients!
Depending on the number of people on each tour, the community you are visiting and the trip itinerary, your trip leader will send out a list of recommended items that they would like each participant to bring to ensure the group has an adequate supply for each centre, as well as each program. Below is a sample of some of the items your trip leader may request that you bring with you. Of course, if you have something special you would like to contribute, please let them know ahead of time!
Gift ideas for Child Development Centres:
- construction paper
- crayons and markers
- colored pencils
- safety scissors
- glue sticks
- other craft/school supplies
- soccer balls (deflated, include pump)
- jump ropes
- other sports equipment
- bubble bottles
- hard candies
- toothbrushes and toothpaste
- hand sanitizer
Gift ideas for babies and toddlers
- toys with various textures
- toys babies can bang, throw and roll
- problem solving and motor-skill toys
- toys that play music or make interesting noise
- coloring books and crayons
- sturdy books with illustrations
- dolls and doll clothes
- toy cars
- soft balls or large inflatables
- stuffed animals
- plastic mat
- safe mirror
- flash cards with illustrations
- interactive books
- finger paints and paper
*All toys for children under 3 years of age should have a diameter of at least 3 cm to prevent a choking hazard.
Gift ideas for mothers and Survival programs
- cloth diapers
- maternity clothes
- children’s clothing
- soap and lotion
- baby oil
- supplements (such as folic acid)
- feeding bowls and spoons
- blankets and towels
- diaper changing mat
- sturdy books with illustrations