by Jill Robinson with Greenheart Travel
Daydreaming about the bustling scene of a European cafe, or teaching English in a remote town in Thailand rarely includes the part where you frantically start searching the bottom of your backpack for loose change. Finding the funds for your trip requires commitment and planning, but you can make your next overseas adventure a reality with the help of these fives steps in funding your next trip abroad.
1.) Determine Your Budget
How much will you need to save or raise to make this trip affordable? Make sure you calculate all of your current costs, including rent, food, entertainment, books and supplies, etc., and determine your annual budget. Use this as a baseline for comparison of costs abroad. Do not assume that you will find work in your chosen country.
- Airfare and ground transfers
- Passport and visa costs
- Personal spending money
- Housing, meals and/or transportation
- What money will you need to have saved upon your return home (i.e. for rent, bills, transportation)
Be realistic about how much you will spend once you arrive overseas. Be aware of the cost of living and the exchange rates (http://www.xe.com/ucc/) as well. Being realistic about your expenses will ease the stress of managing your finances once you arrive and allow you to make those extra excursions and side trips during your stay. Once you determine your estimated budget on paper, it is time to set your priorities on how to go about reaching your goal.
2.) Planning Your Strategy
Now is the time to determine how to go about raising the funds to take this exciting trip. Are you willing to put in extra hours at your job or pick up a second one? What unnecessary purchases do you make that can be cut out? Sometimes just eliminating your morning coffee can add up to substantial weekly savings. Other factors to keep in mind are how much time do you have to devote to fundraising, what will your savings cover and what are your priorities for this trip? If shopping and sightseeing are high on the list, you will need to budget more for spending. Another way to raise money quickly is by fundraising and through scholarships.
Research scholarships, grants and other fund sources: You might be surprised to find what funds are available for you if you take the time to look. Here are some websites offering study abroad scholarship opportunities to get you started:
3.) Initiate a Letter-Writing Campaign:
One of the most effective ways to spread the word about your fundraising efforts and share your excitement with family and friends is writing a letter. In an age of emails and texts, a letter in the mail gives a personal touch when you are asking for donations, and also gives you a chance to explain the details of your trip and show your passion and excitement for this upcoming adventure. The letter doesn’t have to be long; one page is plenty, and don’t limit your focus on your immediate family and closest friends, approach businesses and community groups. You should never sell yourself short or assume that people won’t be willing to help. You will be surprised by the positive responses you will receive.
Keep in mind key points to include in your letter:
- Explain the program you are participating in and when you plan to go.
- State your fundraising goal and how their donation will help. Is the money going to help pay for the airfare, program fee or your passport?
- Request a specific amount. By asking for a donation of $25, you are allowing your family and friends to adjust from there. Put this request in terms of material goods that they can cut out for one week and instead donate to you. Mention the cost of going to a movie, how those morning coffee purchases add up or instead of buying soda and sweets during the week they can help you realize your dream.
- Make sure to put a personal note to each member of your family and friends to give the request a special touch. This can be as simple as a hand-written sentence or two at the bottom of the letter saying hello or asking how their kids or parents are doing.
4.) Use Your Contacts to Raise $500 in One Week:
Day 1: Start by sponsoring yourself $50.
Day 2: Ask two family members to each donate $50.
Day 3: Ask five family members to contribute $25.
Day 4: Ask five co-workers/friends to donate $10.
Day 5: Ask five neighbors to contribute $10
Day 6: Ask your boss for a company contribution of $50, and check if they have a matching gift program.
Day7: Ask three businesses you frequent for $25.
5.) Creative and Unconventional Ideas to Raise Funds:
There are hundreds of sites devoted to fundraising ideas and tips. Make it a party, talk about what you are passionate about and get people excited about your travels.
For more creative ideas: www.fundraiserinsight.org/ideas/