Important info and FAQs

Team Flanders, Gent Travel Tips and Expectations

Team Leaders

You are still the team leader while on the field. We will help you in any way possible. However, we will not supersede, contradict or challenge your authority with the team. Please feel free to ask for any help that we may provide. We will give guidance and suggestions but not step in to take leadership or responsibility for the team. We have confidence in your leadership ability and respect that fully.

We will always be available for you and the team. Some projects require our constant presence with the team; others do not. For instance, we have found that our presence with team members during prayer walking sessions may encourage conversation with us and impede the praying. We will seek to provide the necessary level of presence and leadership to help you lead the team to a successful and enjoyable completion of the project.

You will be provided with a local phone with a prepaid plan while you are here. It is how we will communicate with you as needed. It will be loaded with the appropriate amount of minutes when you receive it. We ask you to provide 10 Euros per phone so that we can recharge it for the next team. Please ask us before making international calls on this phone.

You will be given the contact information for us and other helpful resources while you are here. Maps and other information will be provided as needed.

If you have an international plan on your personal phone, you may use it to call. Calling you on your personal phone will be an international call for us. Belgium has some of the highest rates for telephone calls in Western Europe.

Upon request, we will provide you with internet, email and Skype access through our personal internet account.

We will be available and glad to help you with team logistics while you are here. However, you are the team leader and we will allow you to make decisions for and give guidance to the team. Please use us as a resource as you give leadership in all areas of the project.

We have found it extremely beneficial to have a daily time with the team to debrief and plan for the following day. We will work with you to accomplish this. We also highly encourage you to have a daily time for a team debriefing, reflection and prayer apart from our presence so that team members may be able to speak openly and frankly. Let us know how we can help to facilitate this time.

We have found it beneficial to address personal and team concerns and challenges promptly. Doing so usually leads to a more successful and enjoyable experience. We will address any concerns we have with you and allow you to give leadership to the team. Please feel free to address any concerns you have with us as well.

We are glad to serve you and facilitate your project here. We do incur added expense in areas such as travel, meals with the team and communication in the process of serving you. Many churches and/or teams choose to reimburse us for these specific expenses. Please let us know in advance your policy and/or practice in this regard so that we can make appropriate plans and practice appropriate accounting procedures.

All Team Members

We are absolutely delighted that you are with us. Having been here many times as volunteers makes us keenly aware of how much you sacrifice in time, energy, finances and absence from family to be here. You are valuable to us and we want to help maximize your investment in this project.

Your team leader will still be the team leader while you are on the field. He or she will be the person to ask if you have questions or need direction in any aspect of the project. We will be glad to help him or her by providing the necessary leadership and information.

Please remember that what you do and say affects the team. Having a willing spirit and “can do” attitude benefits everyone on the team. Being on time and faithfully completing your part of the project benefits everyone. Thanks for keeping that in mind and being a team player while you are a part of this project.

If you have an international plan on your personal phone, you may use it to call. Calling you on your personal phone will be an international call for us. Belgium has some of the highest rates for telephone calls in Western Europe.

We will provide your team with at least one local phone for important calls. Please limit the calls to team related calls and do not make international calls without prior approval. These phones are on a prepaid plan and we ask that you consider reimbursement so the next team will have the same benefits as do you.

Upon request, we will provide you with internet, email and Skype access through our personal internet account.

A Few Reminders for Everyone

Make sure you bring your Visa/MasterCard with PIN (only numbers) if you want to withdraw money. Debit or ATM cards work as well but present a challenge if there needs to be a reversal of charges for any reason. Please check with your bank before you leave to make sure your card will work in Belgium. (Some places do accept American Express but the number of places that do is growing) ATMs here usually do not charge a service fee, but your stateside bank might. This is the best way to get local currency and the method Belgians use. ATM’s are readily available and usually offer good exchange rates. We highly recommend this as your source of local currency.

Notify your credit card company and/or bank that you will be traveling to Europe. Otherwise, they might place a security block on your account once you start making purchases here.

Don’t bring travelers’ checks. Very few banks here will accept them. Few if any merchants will accept them. In addition, there is a service fee to exchange them.

Don’t bring American money in denominations larger than $20s. It is very costly to exchange money and you end up as the loser.

We can provide adapters for electrical appliances. They convert the plugs to European plugs but THEY DO NOT CONVERT THE VOLTAGE from 220 volts to 110 volts. PLEASE be sure to return them to us. They are not easy to find and cost several Euros each.

Bring good walking shoes. You will do a lot of walking. WE CANNOT STRESS THIS TOO MUCH.

Streets and sidewalks here are uneven and often not level. Always pay attention to your path.

Dress in layers for the cooler days. Expect rainy days.

If you need washcloths, you might want to bring them. European hotels do not provide them.

Check with your doctor about using some good sleep aid.  It can help tremendously with jet lag (coming and going.) Melatonin helps some to sleep.

We strongly urge you to get plenty of rest before you come. International travel is tiring and beginning the trip tired is never a good idea.

Be prepared to pay 30-50 euro cents for using public toilets. There are free ones in Gent but few free ones in the rest of Belgium.

Some important cultural reminders:

The European sense of modesty differs from America. Clothes here will be tighter fitting and often more revealing. Homosexual marriage is legal in Belgium and full frontal nudity is allowed on TV and advertising.

Some people here make a living by begging. How aggressive they can be varies by city and how aggressive they will be varies by culture. You are never required to help anyone who is begging for money.

Many people here have dogs and take their dogs with them everywhere. It is required for owners to clean up after their pets but many neglect to do so. We suggest you always look where you walk.

Belgians are usually much quieter in public places that are Americans.

Belgians are very private people. They have very few close friends with whom they share personal information. Asking what they believe, what they earn or what they pay for something is seen as very invasive.

Belgian homes are very private. Being invited into someone’s home is a great honor. Please make sure you act accordingly. Even when told to “make yourself at home” please continue to act as a guest.

Many Flemish speak and understand English. If you ask if they speak English they may say “no” because they do not speak it at the level they feel comfortable. However be patient and they will be certainly do their best to communicate. It should be no problem.

Here the police are your friend and will usually be helpful if asked.


TRAVEL LIGHTLY — WHAT YOU PACK, YOU MUST CARRY! We cannot over emphasize this! Many team members struggle with carrying luggage. We will be there to help but it is very difficult to help everyone make transfers in the time available. One suggestion is that if you cannot personally place your suitcase in and out of the trunk of a car it may be too large and/or heavy. You will be personally responsible for getting it into and out of trains, trams and buses with your luggage. Pack accordingly. Wheeled luggage is a must as you move from place to place.

Having many small suitcases is as cumbersome as having one large one.  We suggest that you practice carrying/rolling everything you will bring by going up and down stairs and across uneven surfaces before making your final choice of what to bring. This is one instance where less is usually the best.

Almost every Belgian will wear the same clothes more than once before washing them. They often wear an item several times. We certainly live this way. Planning to wear items more than once will not be culturally inappropriate or offensive and will help you pack lightly for the trip.

Limit the amount of valuables you bring with you. Ask the question, “Can I live without this?” Sentimental or favorite items should be left at home.

Clean out your wallet of non-essentials. Only take necessary identification or credit cards with you. Keep a record of credit card numbers with the telephone number of the credit card company separate from the actual credit cards. The companies will need to be notified immediately if the cards or checks are stolen.

Make a copy of the picture page of your passport to carry with you at all times. It is also good to put a copy in any luggage you bring. It will help with identification if misplaced.

You will be asked to provide a copy of your passport to your local missionary.

Travel with a prepaid telephone card from a major company if you will call in this manner. Quite often prepaid cards will cost less per minute than your regular long distance card even if they are from the same provider.

Men should carry their wallet in a front pocket to hinder pickpockets. Women should carry their bags in front of them. A zippered closure improves security. Do not carry cameras and other valuables where they are easily seen or grabbed by someone passing by.

Money belts or necklaces are a safe and convenient way to carry identification and valuables.

Many bags look alike, so each piece of your luggage should have a highly visible tag or sticker on it that separates it from similar bags at a glance.

Do not leave bags unattended. Hold all bags tightly in a crowd. Unfortunately, there are people who make a living, seeking to steal other people’s personal belongings.

If you have a layover in an airport and want to sleep, put your bags under your head or place your arm or leg through the handles. This makes it more difficult for it to be stolen.

Remember your manners while you are traveling. Be considerate of and courteous to those around you. Americans have a bad international reputation of being loud and obnoxious. When traveling with a group, this is an easy reputation to perpetuate because excitement levels are usually high. Try not to live up to this reputation.

Give important travel information to family members and your hosting missionaries.

Bring any and all medications you must have. Use the original bottles. If there is a sizable amount of medications needed, it might be advisable to have a doctor’s letter with you, explaining that you have legitimate medical needs.

Take several $1 bills for small incidentals as you travel.

It is a good idea to pack a change of clothes and basic toiletry items in your carry-on bag in case your luggage is delayed or lost.


Take only the clothing and items you need. Wearing the same clothes during your trip is a small price to pay for the freedom you gain by packing lightly. Europeans wear the same clothing more than once per week and are not offended if you do too. Remember that as you enter another culture, you are in the spotlight. Now is not the time to make an international fashion statement.

You will want to pack any liquid items in sealed bags. Luggage shifts and is under pressure. Bottles, even sealed tightly, can still leak. We advise this from many negative experiences.

Try to borrow rather than buy clothing if possible. Do not go into debt for the trip. If you are asked to wear items you do not own, check with a few friends.

If you buy new shoes, break them in before the trip. You will be a much happier team player if you do. Most volunteers are amazed at how much they walk here.

A small basic medical first aid kit is helpful for stomach upsets, small cuts and headaches.

Sometimes you may be asked to take items to personnel on the field or asked by field personnel if you would be willing to bring something not available locally. This is totally up to your discretion. On a lighter side, it does make room for chocolate and souvenirs on the return trip. Your missionaries can give you guidance on what and how to do this easily.

What Do Things Cost?

We suggest you check the exchange rate for the Dollar before traveling so that you will have a better idea of what the Euro cost of a purchase is in Dollars.

If you are staying in a hotel, it will probably be a two-star hotel. Expect to pay between 80 and 100 Euros per night. Rooms are the same for single or double occupancy so you can cut that cost in half by sharing a room. You will have the option of paying for your room with a credit card at the beginning or end of your stay.

If you eat breakfast at the hotel you can charge it to the room, but breakfast is very expensive. On the weekends, this may be the best option.

Costs for meals vary with personal taste and eating habits. Belgians usually eat one warm meal per day. We usually follow that habit. Tips are usually included in the bills. Groups will usually only get one bill per table or group and you work out the personal costs. You can use a credit card at most restaurants but some small ones take only Euros. For large groups it is a good idea to give the server a little extra if they have been attentive or flexible. Here are some suggestions for costs based upon typical choices (all prices are in Euro):

Breakfast at the hotel is a very nice buffet for 14 Euro.

Breakfast at a sandwich shop (drink, pastry, fruit, quiche, are all available) could run 3 – 6 Euro. McDonalds and most restaurants are not open for breakfast and there are limited choices on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Lunch at a sandwich shop can be 5 – 7 Euros.

Lunch at a restaurant can be 10 – 17 Euros.

Dinner at a cost conscious restaurant will be 20 – 30 Euros.

You can grab fruit,and drinks at the grocery stores.

Gifts – some stores take credit cards. Small shops will not. You can get chocolate at the grocery stores. It is good and travels well.

Trains and Metro will take a credit card for tickets and day passes. Individual rides are usually cash only. Typical costs you will encounter:

Five-day tram and bus pass for Gent is 15 Euros.

Train ticket from Brussels Airport to Gent is 11.20 Euros one-way but we may be able to help larger groups with a lower cost.

Train ticket from Gent to Brussels Central Station the day before departure is 9.20 Euro but once again, we may be able to get a discount.

Train ticket from Brussels Central Station to the airport is 5.20 Euros.