Mission trips are one of the most enlightening and effective ways to turn the goodwill of your community into real benefit for other communities in need. Whether you’re going to dig wells, build houses, or provide basic healthcare, actually getting everyone to the right place at the right time with all the right gear is a lot harder than most people realize. Planning a mission trip with a mission travel specialist can help in a variety of ways. Not only do you need to choose a safe and beneficial location/objective combination, you also need to ensure that you have enough plane tickets, transportation, and accommodations ready for every single one of your missionaries. Getting a dozen people all to pack correctly and make it in an orderly fashion through busy airports is bad enough and the last thing you want to deal with is the hassle of splitting the group into two separate planes.
While many mission trip leaders try to shoulder this entire responsibility…there is an easier and often more cost effective way! What you may struggle with specifics for the trip, mission travel specialists do this each and every day for individuals, groups, and sometimes even whole conferences full of people. Their experience means that you can delegate at least a few of the mission trip planning responsibilities to experts who not only understand how to book everyone in the same flights and hotels, but can also assist with other needs of your group.
Still on the fence? Here are the top six reasons to work with a mission travel specialist when planning your next mission trip.
1) Insight on Safe Travel Locations
Believe it or not, a mission travel specialist can lend a hand even in the earliest stages of mission trip planning because they are constantly hooked into current events as it relates to travel. When deciding your next location and objective for a mission trip, consider consulting on a few key factors with a mission travel specialist to figure out what will allow you to make the most positive impact while keeping your missionary team safe at the same time. Travel management can let you know about exchange rates, allowing you to make your budget go further, local current events that might make a location more or less safe, and advise on the ease of arranging for transportation, food, and lodgings for your group based on your target location.
2) Getting Everyone on the Same Flight
If you have ever tried to coordinate a large group of people through international airports over two or more separate flights, you know this can be an absolute nightmare. Group separation at any time is a recipe for panicked cell phone calls and logistical fiascos but combined with planes and airports, you’re in for a real disaster. A plane will be delayed, people will get lost, and someone will be certain their baggage is missing because they were watching the wrong carousel. An experienced travel manager, on the other hand, has access to more complex and industry insider ways to book and will be able to more easily ensure that every single one of your missionaries is not only on the same flight, but also sitting together so you can chat and share time-passers like books and card games.
3) Expediting Security Procedures
Customs and security are often a major slow-down and can inconveniently separate groups traveling together. The good news is that travel specialists can do several things to help you speed your way through airport security and get everyone regrouped together quickly with plenty of time to make your flight or get to your destination. In many cases, you can get pre-TSA-approved, allowing your group to skip some aspects of security entirely. Even if the pre-approval option isn’t available, they can still give you tips for packing and document prep for the fastest possible security experience.
4) Finding the Perfect Venue
One of the most difficult parts of planning a mission trip is the fact that you and your group are not standard tourists. In general, you’re not looking for a hotel near the downtown bars and room service isn’t exactly a high priority. Even more importantly, you need to book venues that will have no problem if you pray before meals and sing hymns together in the evenings. This means that you benefit more from inexpensive, quiet, and often rural hotels, restaurants, and transportation services, preferably ones that are either neutral or supportive of guests and their faith—no matter what that is. The best way to find these types of venues, which may not even have website, is to work with a travel management service that understands the needs of your mission group.
5) Booking Everything Perfectly Ahead of Time
If you’ve ever dealt with a travel disaster because something was booked improperly, you understand the importance of filling out every online form correctly and triple-checking the details of each final booking. Among the best ways that a travel management professional can help you plan your mission trip is to take care of all the i-dotting and t-crossing that, if forgotten, could lead to serious setbacks in the future. Travel management specialists will know when to book early for the best deals and how to make sure everything is arranged perfectly for your group months before you ever arrive.
6) Flexibility for Last-Minute Changes
Finally, there are often last-minute changes. Someone gets sick and can’t go, a booking falls through because of the vendor, or something vital is forgotten that must be sourced on site. Any one of these types of situations can pull you away from a perfectly planned mission trip itinerary. While booking months ahead is a great starting point, one of the best things a travel management specialist can do is provide flexibility. They will know how to quickly cancel or re-book arrangements to help you quickly recover from any last-minute changes or setbacks.
Many mission trip leaders prefer to plan entire trips on their own. However, if you want to plan optimally and with ease, consider planning your mission trip with a travel management specialist. They can best understand the needs of your group, your group’s mission, and how to plan accordingly.