You don’t always need to take your faith-based travel group on a pilgrimage to Israel or a mission trip to Brazil for a meaningful religious experience. Instead, start by looking out your back door for travel ideas that your church group might enjoy.
Day trips can appeal to more potential travelers because they are shorter and less expensive than multi-day tours. People who can’t afford a plane ticket overseas might be able to afford a bus ride to an attraction or mission project nearby.
Shorter trips also benefit you as the travel planner, since day trips can increase a sense of belonging to the church travel program. The friends they meet on these trips will make them feel more comfortable traveling with the church group in the future.
Day tripping 101
A day trip’s destination is usually no farther than three hours away. To travel any farther requires a rest stop, which adds even more time to the trip. Groups riding in a motorcoach longer than three hours can also feel like they are spending more of their time riding than enjoying the destination.
To make three hours go faster, many group leaders will play movies on the motorcoach or pass out games. Snacks and drinks are another way to ensure your group has a comfortable ride. For example, if your faith-based group is leaving early in the morning, provide a breakfast of muffins, miniature ham biscuits and juice. This will help pass the time, as well as keep the passengers from starting the trip feeling hungry or thirsty.
Where to go
Finding a compelling attraction or ministry within a three-hour radius is easier than you might think. First, it’s important to know your faith-based group members and what kinds of activities they might like.
Consider the age group. Is your church travel group mostly youth-based, senior-based or mixed ages? From there you can decide how much walking your activities should have, such as boat rides or dinner theaters for seniors and family friendly museums or outdoors adventures for youth. Just asking your travel members while on other tours where they would want to go can give you a lot of insight into what trips would be the most popular.
Going on your state’s tourism website can provide many initial ideas on some fun day trips. Newspapers and brochures also often feature nearby destinations you might not have originally thought of.
A quick way to learn several nearby day trip destinations is by contacting someone at a local convention and visitors bureau or a state tourism office. These contacts can be great assets when planning day trips, since they can help you find some of the hidden gems nearby. These travel experts can also suggest additions to your trip that you might be interested in, such as a step-on guide, group-friendly restaurants and local places that offer ministry opportunities.
But remember to keep the day trip manageable so you aren’t rushing group members from place to place. You never want your group to feel stressed or hurried through the day.
When planning the day, also be sure and allow your church travel group to invite other guests to come along. That way even more people can enjoy the fellowship and fun of the day trip.