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Why You Should Book Your Mission Trip Early

By Doug Franklin July 15, 2020

I have seen thousands of student mission trips over the last 26 years, and the best trips are always led by youth workers who book their trips 9–12 months in advance.

You may be thinking, “Of course he would say that, he sells mission trips.” True, but when I first started, we would not take a booking until November for the coming summer, and then we pushed it back to October, and now we start taking bookings in May of the year before a trip. This isn’t because I want to, but because so many youth workers are asking to book.

Youth workers have been pushing us to take bookings earlier and earlier. I am guessing here, but I think they know something that the rest of us should look into.

So I asked around, and there are some good reasons to book early, and they mostly have to do with time.

(1) Time for the second and third sale

Once a trip is purchased, the selling starts. There is a sale to students, then parents and some church leadership. There needs to be time to get students on board with the location and the ministry.

(2) Time to prepare parents

Parents must be on board with the location and service projects. Parents want students to have this experience, but they want students to be safe. If parents are brought on board, they will help with fundraising, travel, and recruitment of other parents and students.

(3) Time to select student leaders for the trip

The most powerful trips are led by students. Student leadership on a mission trip looks different for each group, but if you want to have students in leadership, you need to take the time to train them and allow them to build chemistry together before you introduce them to the whole group.

(4) Time for student leaders to plan the trip

You put students into leadership, and now they need to plan. What are their goals, who is going to do what, and how do they want to build team unity? This stage takes 2–3 months depending on students’ schedules. If you don’t train them and give them time to plan, then they will just be doing what you want them to do, and it won’t be leadership.

(5) Time for fundraising and logistics

You have to raise that money and get all the forms signed. You may also want to look into trip insurance, renting vehicles, and arranging places to stay during travel. Also, you want to look into a special event on the way home to allow you more time to debrief the trip.

(6) Time to prepare adult volunteer mentors

This is the one step I see most youth workers skip, which leads to adults being your biggest problem on the trip. You invite parents and adults who don’t usually work with students on these trips, and they will end up fighting against students in leadership, having students take risks, and allowing students time to connect with God. Trust me, the most important thing you can do to prepare for a mission trip is to train your adult volunteers on what is the purpose of the trip and how the trip will operate.

(7) Time to answer all the questions

You want to let everyone ask questions, and you need time to get all the answers because you won’t have all the answers. There are so many questions because there are so many perspectives. Church leaders will have questions, and so will parents, volunteers, the church business office, students, and the host partner.

You need time to make a great mission trip happen. Give yourself the gift of time by booking your student mission trip early.


Interested in learning more about LeaderTreks Trips? Download our 2021 Trips Information Pack. In Summer 2021, we’re running low contact trips with just your group on site.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More