Tours and Trips
Helping internationals to ‘see the sights’ by sponsoring tours and trips can serve a number of functions:
- Many internationals would love to see places of interest but they don’t have the resources to make it happen. Your service to them demonstrates Christian love and care.
- You will get to spend significant time together with internationals in the context of traveling, sightseeing, eating meals, etc. Often, the end result is stronger friendships and perhaps opportunities to discuss spiritual matters.
- Trips and tours can be an effective way for new internationals to be introduced to your group. Even if they have no initial interest in your Christian activities, many will gladly join you on the trips you sponsor.
- Similarly, trips and tours can serve to help recruit American volunteers or staff. In the context of practical service (driving, guiding, etc.), your American friends will begin to enjoy the privilege of befriending internationals.
Suggestions for where to go:
Historic sites Amusement parks Major cities
Museums Local state parks Hiking trails (day hike or overnight)
Shopping Outlets Beach or Lake State Capitol
Pray as you think about who you will invite. Perhaps you will want to invite your international friends along with their friends, internationals you’ve never met, or a combination of both groups.
Before you invite the first person
Be sure to plan well in advance. Issues which you must consider and have answered before you invite anyone on a trip include:
- Dates: When you will depart and when you will return — including location and time of day.
- Destination – Where are you going?
- Who will you invite, and how many can you accommodate?
- Transportation – how will you travel, what will it cost, how many can you take, etc.?
- How much will you charge each person? This will be based on travel fees (gas, tolls, bus fares, parking, vehicle rental, insurance, etc.), admission fees, etc. (You and your volunteers may wish to subsidize some of the expenses, but it is probably not wise to make the trip completely free for the internationals.)
- Will children be permitted to join the trip? If so, what ages?
- Are non-students (grandparents, etc.) welcome on your trip?
- Will it be necessary for each person going on the trip to speak English?
- Accommodations: If you are going to stay overnight, will you stay with host families or spend the night in other accommodations (hotel, motels, etc.)?
- If you hope to stay with a host church or host families, you should begin at least three months in advance to ask the church to provide host families.
You will need to have clear communication with your host families concerning the following things:
- Your arrival and departure times.
- Your schedule while you are staying with host families.
- Whether or not household pets will be a problem for your internationals.
- Which meals you are asking the host families to provide.
- Any restrictions on food to be served to your internationals (allergies, vegetarian concerns, no pork products for Muslim students, etc.)?
- What other expectations do you have? (i.e. to pick up and drop off students at a central location)
- Try to arrive at least 2 hours before bedtime so that the host family and the international have time to get acquainted.
- Make sure each host knows how to reach your group while you are touring each day.
- A registration form. (Sample-Registration and Flyer)
How to advertise:
Try to advertise at least 1 month in advance. No need to advertise earlier than that because students often can’t be too sure of their schedules.
- Make a flier and pass it out to your international friends.
- Post ads often on social media.
- If you have a website, post this information, and also send it out to your email list.
- Post fliers in places frequented by internationals.
- It is not unusual for unmarried couples to want to travel with you. To maintain a consistent Christian testimony you will need to communicate ahead of time that you do not arrange for co-habiting of unmarried couples during your travel. Most folks will understand, but you should explain this ahead of time to any couples who register together for overnight trips.
- Be sure that every person who travels with you has medical insurance – accidents do happen!
- Check with your local advisory board about whether or not you will need your internationals to sign a Liability Release Form.
- Consider putting people on a waiting list after all of your places are filled for your trip. It’s not unusual for some of those who initially registered to cancel for a variety of reasons.
Above all, pray! Ask God to send along the right people to go on your trip. Pray that in the course of your travels and activities, you will have the opportunity to share the love of Christ through words and actions. Even if there are no spiritual conversations during your trip, you can always feel free to have a ‘reunion’ afterwards or you can simply get together with folks who went on the trip for lunch or some other social activity.