Making Your Mission Trip Budget

When making your mission trip budget for a group mission trip, it is helpful to distinguish the shared cost of the trip from personal expenses. As a trip leader, you’ll need to clearly communicate both the personal and group costs to participants. Let them know what their trip payment will cover and what they will need to cover out-of-pocket by themselves. If your church is paying part of the cost of the trip, let participants know the full cost as well as the portion they are responsible for paying.

Group mission trip costs

Group costs are expenses that everyone on a mission trip chips in to cover. These shared costs are generally the majority of your mission trip budget. Some mission trip sites roll many of these shared costs into one “per person” cost that you can pay directly to the organization. If that is the case for your trip, check to see what is included in that fee.

If the organization you’re serving with does not calculate these costs for you, here are the categories to account for in your budget:

  • Transportation (consider flights, travel to and from airports, and on-location transportation)
    • Gas
    • Vehicle rental (vans, buses, etc)
    • Airfare
    • Travel agency fees
    • Luggage fees (determine in advance if you will bring checked baggage and incorporate this fee into the trip cost)
  • Lodging (through your host and/or for extra nights at a hotel)
  • Food (check with your host to see if food is included in your trip package)
    • Ingredients for making your own meals (plan on $3 per meal per person)
    • Meals at restaurants, if desired
    • Meals while traveling and at airports (decide in advance if this is a group or personal expense)
  • Special excursions or activities (for example, a tour of a historic site)
  • Insurance
  • Materials needed for your work site (VBS materials, work supplies, etc)
  • Team t‑shirts
  • Tools, such as work gloves, paint brushes, etc. (encourage team members to bring their own if possible) 
  • Donation to the ministry you are serving alongside
  • Miscellaneous funds (approximately $250 for tips and other expenses)

Personal mission trip costs

Personal costs are expenses that only benefit an individual participant or that carry forward for that individual (such as a passport). The following costs generally fall into this category:

  • Vaccinations
  • Visas and passports
  • Snacks 
  • Spending money
Want more trip planning support? Our short-term mission team would love to help.