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 budget for and communicate both the personal and group costs with participants, but personal costs are often covered out-of-pocket by participants themselves. 

Be sure you communicate clearly about your budget. Let mission trip participants know what their payment will cover, and if they will need to cover any other costs on their own. If your church is covering part of the cost, let participants know the full cost of the trip, 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 travel to/from airport, flights, and on location)
    • 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)
    • If you are making your own meals, plan on $3 per meal per person (see appendix for recipe ideas)
    • Will you go out to eat at any point? Check prices and plan accordingly.
    • Budget extra money for meals at the airport or while traveling (and decide if this is a group or a personal cost)
  • Extra costs for special excursions or activities (example: a trip to a historic site or a tour)
  • Insurance
  • Materials needed for your work site (VBS materials, work supplies, etc)
  • Team t‑shirts
  • Tools (work gloves, paint brushes, etc.). Encourage team members to bring their own, if possible. 
  • Donation to the ministry you are serving alongside. 
  • Miscellaneous fund (approximately $250 for things such as tips)

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).

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