3 Types of Mission Trip Expenses

by Jeff and Josiah Holland

Ever wonder who pays what on the mission trip?

Read more to see 3 expense types to clarify before your trip.

It’s 6:30 AM and Jessica just spent the last hour at the airport waiting in a line to find out that her suitcase full of meds for the mission trip is 2 lbs overweight.


She only gets one carry-on, and unless she’s willing to ditch a pair of clothes for meds, there is no way around the $50 fee.


After an eternity on the plane, Jessica is glad to finally be stretching her legs. But now she’s having trouble getting her suitcase through immigration.


Did Michael, the team leader, forget to take care of some of the paperwork?


She finally sorts it out, but only after paying another fee.


Now the missionaries are calling to explain that the bus has broken down and it looks like they’re going to have to spend the night in a nearby hotel.


Jessica’s realizing that the $200 cash she packed is almost gone.  So much for souvenirs.


And crud. She forgot to call her bank to activate her credit card for overseas purchases.


The whole team is feeling it. Financially, emotionally, physically.  The last 24 hrs have been exhausting, and they still have a full week ahead of them.

Stories like Jessica’s are far too common on short-term trips.

When preparing for a short-term trip, no one wants to be surprised by unexpected costs and misunderstanding about who gets stuck with the bill.

It is important for trip leaders and trip participants to work together before the trip to clarify costs. So, what kinds of costs need to be determined and discussed?

The 3 Types of Travel Costs

1. Basic costs. This type usually accounts for the main expenses teammates find once they get to their place of service.

Leaders and teammates should be clear about what’s covered, such as lodging, food and drink, and transportation.

From there it is important to determine the approximate costs for things not covered in the basics.

2. Variable costs. Some participants must independently assume responsibility for these expenses while others have this managed by the team or organization.

Variable expenses can include transportation to the location, passport and visa processing, travel insurance, vaccinations and other needed medications for disease prevention, and any possible training expenses.

Leaders and teammates should be clear about which of these are included in trip pricing and how participants can estimate the costs for the portions they are responsible for.

3. Extra costs. These can include things such as extra luggage, tourist items, non-essential food and drink, tourist excursions and anything else that may come up.

These are typically not covered by groups; however, participants will likely want to estimate these costs into the planning of their trip finances. It’s always good to have a little cash on hand for things you don’t anticipate.

Experience, planning, and flexibility are all required for trip finances to work out well. Add to that good communication with open dialogue so that money will have less of a chance to cause problems on your trip!


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