Traveling on a Youth Minister’s Budget

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I hope your summer was great, but now you need a break!  You need a vacation, but on a youth minister’s salary?  Good luck! However, I have found some great ways to take the vacation you want without breaking the bank.  Here’s how I do it:

1. Travel on the off-season.

This, of course, depends on where you are going.  My destination of choice is often Montevideo, Uruguay.  I am able to take time off around Christmas, however, it is estimated that there are 6 million Uruguayans in the world.  There are only 3.3 million Uruguayans in Uruguay.  This seems like an irrelevant fact until you look at plane ticket prices in December.  With 3 million Uruguayans trying to get back in the span of a month, you pay a pretty penny for that time. It is better, to go in August, when it is wet and cold and everyone is trying to leave Uruguay. I give Uruguay by way of example.  If California is more your thing, you might want to go at Christmas.  Observe when everyone is going to your destination of choice, and go 2-6 months later.

2. Change your destination.

This is obvious, but whenever possible, minimize transportation costs.  Is a similar kind of place to your dream destination available closer? Go there instead.  It is simply so much cheaper.

3. Cultivate a love for camping.

Campsites cost less than hotel rooms. Some are free, in fact. Plus you may be able to borrow a tent from your church. A veteran youth minister, who shall remain nameless, recently shared that cemeteries and church properties are the best place to pitch a tent.  The only person who will bother you at a cemetery is the caretaker, and at a church, everyone assumes someone else knows what is going on with that tent in the yard.

4. Use your youth minister skills

You know all those times you made calls to random churches asking if you could bring a group to sleep on their floor?  You can make the same phone call for vacation, minus the group.  Call a church, connect with someone on Airbnb, Couchsurf, work at a WWOOF farm, go through Workaway, stay with a friend of a friend, etc.  And all of those PB&J sandwiches you eat on youth trips? Eat them on your vacation to save a buck. Any of these options will save you money while using your specific skillset.

5. Fly standby

Admittedly, this is more of a specialized case.  Stand-by requires a lot of time as well as a voucher from someone who works at an airline.  BUT, if you have both time and a voucher, flying standby is an excellent low-cost adventure.

6. Do free things.

Vacations are the best time for soul-care.  Resist the temptation to pack your schedule full of entertainment.  Rest.  Sleep in, people-watch, take a long walk, read a book, write some things, have a full-length conversation, go fishing or swimming.  It is ok to travel somewhere simply to read a book in a different place if that brings your soul to life.  It is good to rest.  You have permission.

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Rebekah got her start in youth ministry at Christ Church in Montevideo, Uruguay and is now the Minister of Youth Discipleship at First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, OK. She earned her B.S. in Organizational Management and Ethics from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Rebekah is married to her soulmate, Philippe. Together they like to drink mate, play soccer with their dogs, and dream of traveling the world. Rebekah has read Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy six times.

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