Congratulations on your choice to serve! I’ve put together a few thoughts that I think would help someone about to go on their mission. A lot of this information came by way of internet research, and some of it is personal preference.
Paperwork for Foreign Travel
On any and everything you do, push the “expedite” button if it’s available. If you’re going foreign, pay the extra money to expedite your passport. Apply for it NOW. Don’t wait a single day. By the time you get the rest of the paperwork done, it will just be coming back in.
If your paperwork requires an apostille: if at all possible, drive to the Secretary of State’s office in the state you live in, and get it done that day. It eliminates the time to have it mailed back and forth. Also, if something isn’t done perfectly, you can fix it while you’re there, thereby eliminating another week’s worth of mailings.
Background check: the FBI is a government organization, and inherently takes their time doing whatever we ask them to do. Email your travel coordinator and ask about the possibility of an FBI channeler, which takes only a few days.
Shirts: I bought mine from missionary mall. The best shirts for the job are 60% cotton 40% polyester. They breathe well enough, and will withstand yellowing a bit better.
Pants: For my mission, heat is an issue. I went with Nike Golf pants because they’re lightweight, moisture wicking, hold a crease, and will retain their color better. They’re expensive, so pants of similar material will work just as well.
Socks: Here again, you want moisture wicking material. Also, socks that have support will be good for long walking.
Shoes: My favorite brands of dress shoes are Johnston & Murphy, and Ecco. They’re said to have the best soles that last the longest. The J&M shoes I bought are waterproof, which is also a necessity in my mission. Use shoe trees. They draw out the moisture in the shoes from sweat. They also help keep the shoes from getting smashed in luggage, which helps keep form, and makes them last longer.
Ties: Polyester ties stand up best to rain and stains. They’re washable, which helps too.
Manage your time wisely. Close to the time you leave for the MTC, you’ll start wanting to see lots of people in a short amount of time. Space it out. Prioritize. Make sure you spend time with your family. Don’t waste any time!