Published April 18, 2016
The travel program that you organize could be one of the most powerful interactions that people ever have with your church. But many church travel planners miss opportunities to maximize the impact of their efforts on their travelers.
Here are five of the most common missed opportunities in the world of faith-based travel.
1. Domestic Trips
Many church leaders equate faith-based travel with pilgrimages to Israel. But if your travel program consists only of annual trips to international destinations, you’re missing out on some great travel experiences.
Church groups can have great success with shorter trips to domestic destinations or even daytrips to cities or attractions close to home. These trips often attract more travelers than expensive international tours, and they allow you to enjoy some of America’s many treasures with your fellow church members.
2. International Trips
Though some churches focus only on international travel, others make the opposite mistake by limiting their travel portfolios only to domestic trips. It is more affordable to travel within the United States, and the idea of arranging a trip to a foreign destination can be daunting to volunteer travel planners. But the benefits of occasional international adventures outweigh the drawbacks.
If you haven’t offered a trip to lands of the Bible, such as Israel, Jordan, Turkey or Egypt, you might not be aware of how much interest there is among your congregation. And enlisting the services of professional tour operators can help make the planning a breeze for you.
3. Mission and Service Trips
You might think of mission trips as the domain of your church’s youth group. But travelers of all ages find deep meaning in mission trips, both foreign and domestic.
If you’re unsure that your group would respond well to a full-blown mission trip, consider testing the waters with a short, optional service project or “voluntourism” activity on an upcoming trip. You’ll likely find the feedback much more positive than you expected.
4. Adventure Activities
Too many group tour planners limit their itineraries to slow, sedentary activities. That’s too bad because adventurous outings such as zip-line tours or sea-kayaking adventures can make for some of the best travel memories.
It’s true that many church group travelers are near or past retirement age. But baby boomers are healthier and more active than seniors of previous eras, and many are excited to try adventure activities when they travel. You don’t have to force anyone to do anything that makes them uncomfortable, but you should offer optional adventure activities for those travelers who might enjoy them.
5. Ministry Moments
Like anything else that a church does, the ultimate purpose of your church travel program should be to minister to people and help build their faith. So why does spirituality often get relegated to the back seat of the motorcoach?
You don’t have to make every minute of your tours about faith, but you can create some special moments during your trips by integrating opportunities for your travelers to pray or worship together. And since travel builds relationships and lowers inhibitions, you might find opportunities to have deeper conversations with your travelers and help meet some of their spiritual needs.