Are you indecisive on how to prepare your church or ministry for an effective missions program? How about those issues that arise? Well you’re not alone. As an expert in the missionary planning sector I have crossed paths with many complex itineraries, issues and concerns. I have learned relatively quickly that most mission trip leaders are brand new and have never planned a trip before or maybe they have but find themselves “stuck” in the travel planning process. In this blog I will discuss three common mistakes to avoid when arranging a missions trip and is equally supportive for all Christian travel planning.
The first mistake made is disorganization. This is in the form of procrastination, lack of detail and late planning, which are a recipe for disaster. I can say from experience a prepared, orderly leader makes all the difference and will save their team money and resources. Successful missionaries plan their trips at least 9 months in advance. Think about it? Your “resources” your team brings to those countries will be better served successfully when you can “save” money. Money saved = more resources! Also important is paying attention to important dates, airfare due dates, visa and passport requirements and misspellings of names. It’s all part of being organized. A good missionary travel agency will help you stay on top of those demands, so you or your team, can focus on the heart of your ministry.
Second mistake made is being inflexible. This means travel dates, airports, flight times, and the list could continue. These obstacles can cause your team thousands of dollars and many headaches. Instead, focus on planning ahead. Talk in depth with your agent about how they can most flexibly accommodate your team’s arrival and departure. Maybe set a primary date but be flexible and let your team know it could differ by a day or two. Encourage them to get that date range off from work well in advance until the flight itinerary is secured. Consider saving money by driving your team to an international airport that will have more choices for ideal flights and airlines.
Continuing into my third mistake which can conclude my second is that most missionary leaders overpay in airfare. Whether individuals or groups, there are many reasons to book with an agency to who specializes in mission travel. Some agencies will have negotiated contracts with airlines that are below published airfare. Other agencies may be contracted with specific missionary fare contracts that are even more discounted. A majority of the time when the general public call an airline for prices they are told much higher than a travel agency with preferred status and negotiating powers. The savings and benefits can be substantial and it helps to go to an expert. I promise it does not hurt to just call. No question is a stupid question.
In conclusion, no mission organizer wants to spend countless hours and energy on logistics. You and your team should be focusing on the mission. These three mistakes can be avoided by choosing a trustworthy agent who specializes in missionary travel. We all have a purpose. Let us work the logistics and friends, continue serving! May the Lord bless you all!