5 Affordable Christmas Mission Trips to Take This Winter

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus…with a bag full of mission trips over Christmas break! Not quite the carol you’re well accustomed to, but why not? Waiting until spring break for your next getaway is so ‘90s. Winter mission trips are an excellent time to get out of dodge while exercising your altruistic side.

person blowing snow off their mittens

There’s nothing wrong with choosing someplace a bit warmer for your Christmas mission trip!

While you most likely have more vacation time to spare, this is a great reason to take a break from the harsh realities of winter. Looking to avoid those holiday obligations? Or maybe the opposite — you might want to take a break with your loved ones. Winter mission trips are like Christmas carols, gift giving, and that Christmas dinner spread, all wrapped in one.

Wondering how to weather that next winter storm? Why not a white sand beach? A Christmas mission trip with your friends and family might be the best idea you’ve ever had. A little bit of Christmas cheer far, far from here! Take your holiday plans to the next level. Make the acme of this holiday season your trip abroad for a real good cause. Whether you call it a mission trip or volunteering, there are affordable options to turn idle curiosity into a reality.

What is a Christmas mission trip?

The purpose of such trips are to give your time and maybe some of your know-how to a community or population in need. While receiving has become such a staple to this season, forget not the giving end of things too!

A Christmas or winter mission trip is, well, a mission trip over your holiday break around the end of the year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, don’t believe in any sort of holiday, or you live near the beach, it doesn’t matter. The idea is to spend roughly two to four weeks volunteering for a cause.

While there isn’t some magic formula for what makes a stellar mission trip over Christmas break, there are some organizations that might be able to make your winter dreams abroad come true. Ideally, you’d begin in December — you know, that time after exams, a week or two before the reindeer stop by, and perhaps ring in the new year in (volunteering) style.

5 cool (and cheap) Christmas mission trips

1. Wildlife and Animal Conservation with GoEco

Spend your Christmas mission trip at wildlife rescue centers, wildlife sanctuaries, wildlife reserves, or animal shelters with GoEco. This top-rated and award-winning program provider offers over 60 different placements worldwide in the realm of wildlife and animal conservation.

Whether you want to get up close and personal with sloths in Costa Rica, take part in a monkey rehabilitation project in Malawi, or collect data while diving with the sharks in Mozambique, you’re sure to find something to make your holiday unforgettable.

GoEco adheres to strict ethical standards when it comes to their participants and the animals. No worries here — this isn’t a bunch of monkey business. This is an excellent opportunity to work with both domestic and wild species. Two-week programs start at $910.

2. Education and Development with Iko Poran

Take your holidays abroad with cheap volunteer programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America with Iko Poran. As one of the world’s most affordable and top-rated program providers, you might not find options that are a better value.

So these programs are affordable. Does that mean something’s missing? What’s the kicker? The reality is that there isn’t one. The affordability of programs is due in part to the direct partner relationships that Iko Poran has established; they work with the folks that you’ll be working with in-country.

Included in these minimal fees is airport pickup, orientation, accommodation, meals (in most destinations), support from the office staff, program supervision, in-country 24/7 support throughout your program, in-country administration costs and donation to support your local projects. Wowza! Two-week programs start at $350 (plus a $149 application processing fee).

3. Tenerife Whale & Dolphin Conservation with Frontier

Spend your winter mission trip on the southwest coast of Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands. This volcanic island is one of the world’s top destinations for whale and dolphin watching, but this experience will be much more active than that!

Volunteer along the locals taking part in a longitudinal data-collection project promoting marine conservation in the wider region. This hands-on experience will allow you to make a valuable contribution to the community.

In tandem with volunteering, you should also enjoy the incredible, breathtaking beaches along with the unforgettable night life! This locale is one of Spain’s top destinations. This unconventional holiday would certainly be an unforgettable one. Programs start at $250 per week.

4. Medical and Healthcare Opportunities with Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad offers a handful of hands-on medical and healthcare opportunities in and around Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu. We did say cool Christmas mission trips, didn’t we? At the foothills of Mt. Everest, find yourself taking part in social and health development projects focusing on the provision of medicine and healthcare to underprivileged Nepalese.

Participants can choose from a variety of project placements which include hospitals and rehabilitation centers for disabled children in the Kathmandu Valley. Are you a medical student or on track to become another sort of healthcare professional? You could be placed at the country’s main teaching hospital, which is the largest building in Nepal, where the whole gamut of healthcare services are provided. It’s located in Chitwan which is also known as the country’s medical city.

This is an excellent opportunity to learn from the National Health System while gaining legitimate healthcare experience in a diverse, foreign environment. Beyond your daily commitment, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the lively and bustling capital city where the charms of Nepal are around nearly every corner.

Looking for funding? Asking companies is a relevant option to funding your campaign. Have a gander at this list of companies which might be able to give you a hand. Their one-week programs start at ~$1,500.

5. Child and Youth Development with Volunteer for the Visayans  

Spend your holiday in the lively, resilient city of Tacloban in the Philippines. Here you can live with a friendly host family while working with children who have been rescued from a local dumpsite. This real-world opportunity will allow you to be in the center of Filipino culture while having a direct impact on the local community.

Tacloban is a bustling city which is (proudly) recovering from the 2013 Typhoon which devastated  the area increasing the existing complex situations. Volunteer for the Visayans is a tried and true organization which has been successfully welcoming volunteers from all over the world for years.

An organization run by locals, you will be sure to get the real deal out of this opportunity. In addition to working with the local’s youth, there are many other projects which you can get involved in increasing your exposure to more rural communities on the outskirts of the city. An hour flight from the capital of Manila, you will certainly have fun in the Philippines. One-week programs start at ~$300.

Use FundMyTravel to give your mission a boost!

Short on cash but have all the right intentions? Perhaps direct your search towards countries where your money is worth the most. While you’re at it, add funding for your winter mission trip to your Xmas list. It may or may not work!

If the chances are slim, use FundMyTravel to help make it rain, snow, or simply get funds in your eager-to-help hands. 

While you’re thinking about funding, here are some festive holiday-themed donation incentive ideas to help get your gears spinning. Because who doesn’t love a little holiday cheer?

You’re in for some holly jolly winter mission trips

hiking boots covered in snow

The journey you take on your Christmas mission trip will be unforgettable.

Make this holiday season an unforgettable, bright, and merry one. Forget the gifts and that poor tree. Treat yourself to a mission trip in lieu of your traditional holiday festivities. With some helpful program and funding suggestions, you’re sure to find a situation that will suit your fancy. Whether you’re off to the North Pole or South America, here’s to a happy holiday season! Why not deck the halls with Christmas mission trips ideas!?

Create a Campaign for Your Mission Trip and Start Fundraising

7 Best Places to Retire in the World on a Budget

Question: What could possibly make the idea of retiring more tantalizing? Retiring abroad… on a budget! It’s truly a dream come true; you get to choose the culture and climate that really moves you and explore it until you drop. No commitments, no worries, no pricey resorts. Just you and the sound of waves gently lapping up on pristine beaches. If you’re looking for the best places to retire in the world on a budget, you’ve come to the right place! 

best places to retire in the world on a budget

Your cheap place to retire abroad will proooobably look a little like this.

It can seem a little far fetched, right? Retiring in paradise? That’s reserved for billionaires. News flash: The best place to retire in the world on a budget is just a plane ride away, and totally accessible to people from all walks of life. You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck, live like royalty, and embrace freedom abroad! Enjoy a reduced cost of living and reduced stress level. 

Looking for a beautiful, magical, and affordable country to retire in shouldn’t give you any anxiety. Let us help you ease into your next adventure by presenting the 7 cheapest places to retire abroad.

What should I consider when retiring abroad on a budget?

This may seem obvious, but think about your personal budget when retiring abroad. How does the math work out for the country you want to retire in? This list is an idea of the best places to retire in the world on a budget, but not everyone’s budget looks the same.

In terms of rent, are you interested in renting for retirement, or buying a house? What is the healthcare system like? Sometimes “affordable” isn’t enough.

Sure, it’s an exciting life shift, but you still need to take a minute to think about how realistic it is for your lifestyle. Do you want to be close to family and friends? If you’re living in Illinois and decide to move to Indonesia, a quick trip home for Thanksgiving isn’t as realistic.

What kind of community are you looking for? Some of the best countries to retire on social security alone are also major retirement hubs with booming expat communities. It can be nice to connect with people from similar backgrounds when you’re moving to a foreign country.

Ahh more details. Do some visa research before settling on a location. Some countries have specific retirement visa requirements, others have long-term residence permits, and a myriad of other rules and requirements along the way.

A lot of the best places to retire in the world on social security funds have visa programs in place, but they typically require you to be a certain age limit (often 55), show that you have some income/funds to actually survive, and do a health check.

7 cheapest places to retire abroad

*Cost of Living Index from Numbeo is a relative indicator of consumer goods prices, including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities, where NYC is 100(%). A COL index of 120 means it costs about 20% more than it does in NYC, while a COL of 50 means it’s half the price!

1. Philippines

best places to retire in the world on a budget

Apart from being one of the cheapest places to retire abroad, the Philippines is downright enchanting.

The Philippines is one of the best countries to retire on social security alone because the cost of living is low. You can comfortably live on $800 to $1,000 a month with eating out and in-country travel. That means any extra funds you raise with FundMyTravel is a bonus that should be immediately applied to an adventure or luxurious pampering in the island nation. 

The Philippines has a well-established expat community in Dumaguete, and most people can carry a conversation in English. This, as well as the warm-hearted locals, make it the best place to retire in the world on a budget.

[6 Essential Money-Saving Tips to Travel on a Budget]

The Philippines really is one of the best places to retire in the world on social security! There are pristine beaches, thousands of islands to explore at your leisure, and amazing food that’s ridiculously cheap. Affordable living + beautiful beaches + welcoming locals = win-win-win situation.

  • Exchange rate: 1 USD = 50.47 Philippine Pesos 
  • Price of a meal: $3 
  • Average monthly rent: $340 
  • Cost of Living index: 36.97

2. Chile

Picture yourself in a beautiful country with the highest standard of living in Latin America. The water is safe, the WiFi is reliable, and the cost of living is somehow extremely affordable. To top it off, the scenery is breathtaking and diverse.

Chile is one of the best places to retire in the world on a budget for people who want variety and class in their life. Sip fine wine in Santiago one day, and explore the Andes the next. But of course, there are caveats to the affordability.

Santiago might not be the best place to retire in the world on a budget if you have a super tight budget. Capital cities tend to be a bit more expensive. That being said, starting a FMT campaign to retire in Chile could make a cosmopolitan crash-pad a reality!

  • Exchange rate: 1 USD = 742.20 Chilean Pesos
  • Price of a meal: $7.20
  • Average monthly rent: $353 
  • Cost of Living index: 49.15

3. Malaysia

boats on the ocean in malaysia

As a cheap place to retire abroad, Malaysia checks all the boxes.

Not only is Malaysia one of the cheapest places to retire abroad, it’s one of the safest places to live in Southeast Asia! Bonus points on the great health care program and the fact that English is widely spoken.

Oh, we almost forgot to mention the BEACHES. Cerulean waves and snow white beaches might trick you into thinking you literally live in a postcard. Talk about magical!

Retiring abroad on a budget doesn’t mean you need to neglect the finer things in life. Penang is a popular retiree destination for its relaxed island vibes with big city access. Because it’s so sought out, it might be a bit more expensive than a more secluded rural town.

However, you can still get an imported beer for under three bucks! Southeast Asian countries are a great trick for those looking for the best places to retire in the world on social security, because the day-to-day expenses are next to none.

  • Exchange rate: 1 USD = 4.12 Malaysian Ringgits
  • Price of a meal: $2.41
  • Average monthly rent: $398
  • Cost of Living index: 39.56

[8 Cheapest (and Safest) Places to Live in the World]

4. Belize 

Did you know that English is the official national language in Belize, and it’s the only country in Central America where this is the case? If you’re ready to retire, you’re probably ready to relax. Sometimes a language barrier is just not worth the headache.

Belize is the best place to retire in the world on a budget because it’s close to home (if you’re from the US). You can get a ticket for under $600, and it’s only a four-hour flight from Chicago.

It’s one of the cheapest places to retire abroad, so you can indulge in scuba or snorkel adventures, live in a fancy beach house, and eat out almost every day! Due to the ridiculously reasonable cost of living, it’s one of the best countries to retire on social security alone. 

  • Exchange rate: 1 USD = 2.02 Belize Dollars
  • Price of a meal: $5
  • Average monthly rent: $399
  • Cost of Living index: 49.06

5. Spain 

person standing on coast in mallorca

Do you want Europe to be a part of your cheap retirement abroad? Check out Spain!

Spain — or España as you, soon to be local, should call it — is such a treat. Love the sun? Say hello to bright, sunny days in the Mediterranean region with over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year.

Europe can be a little pricier than other places, but it doesn’t need to drain your bank account. Spain may not be one of the best countries to retire on social security alone, but there are ways to live comfortably nonetheless.

It’s still a cheap place to retire abroad when you compare it to the rest of the continent; it actually has one of the lowest costs of living in Western Europe. Besides, we can’t have a list of the best places to retire in the world on a budget without the Euro tour! Tap into that tapas lifestyle and book your ticket to Spain today. 

  • Exchange rate: 1 USD = .91 Euros
  • Price of a meal: $11
  • Average monthly rent: $716
  • Cost of Living index: 54.74

6. Czech Republic 

This may be a surprising addition to the “best place to retire in the world on a budget” list, but bear with us. What CR lacks in tropical beach vibes, it makes up for in culture, healthcare, and diversity.

If you love beer, you need to at least visit this country. Known for hearty, meat-forward cuisine and copious beer consumption, living in the Czech Republic is a great option for those looking for a cheap place to retire abroad. CR may be the dark horse on this list, but we can’t argue with the half a million foreigners living there. 

  • Exchange rate: 1 USD = 23.11 Czech Koruna
  • Price of a meal: $5.84
  • Average monthly rent: $700
  • Cost of Living index: 45.7

7. Indonesia 

rice terraces in indonesia

Indonesia is one of the best places to retire in the world on a budget — and it’ll seem too good to be true.

We’ve all thought about retiring in Bali, right? Indonesia is the best place to retire in the world on a budget because your savings will carry you out onto the gentle ocean and give you a chance to float happily without worries.

Indonesia’s many islands attract people looking for literal paradise, so prepare for everything to seem too good to be true. Learn to surf, wander through vibrant green hills, and explore crashing waterfalls in jungle parks without giving up all the Western amenities you’re used to.

The country itself is one of the best places to retire in the world on social security, but the people provide a type of security as well. There’s a booming expat community, and the locals are known for their welcoming disposition and fascinating culture. 

  • Exchange rate: 1 USD = 14,009.50 Indonesian Rupiah
  • Price of a meal: $1.78
  • Average monthly rent: $342  
  • Cost of Living index: 36.86

Use FundMyTravel to make retiring abroad on a budget even cheaper!

Retiring abroad on a budget is an attainable goal if you have money set aside. But as soon as those savings start to dwindle it can be a little unsettling. Ease into your retirement abroad with comfort by using FundMyTravel.

Raise money to finance those big ticket items you wouldn’t have to worry about if you retired at home, like a flight and visa costs. That way you won’t have to worry about the actual getting abroad when you’re budgeting out your retirement fund. 

Did you find your cheap place to retire abroad?

hotel room in bali

Retirement abroad is your next great adventure!

You don’t have to reduce your standard of living to have a fulfilling retirement. Your current retirement fund plus whatever you raise with FMT will exceed retirement expectations abroad if you play your cards right.

It all comes down to choosing the right place. Moving somewhere tropical, inviting, and affordable abroad is just as affordable as moving to Florida. Heck, in some cases cheaper!

There’s a myth that living abroad isn’t realistic because of the price. But it’s cheaper to retire in Belize than it is to live in some major US cities! Now that you’re armed with a list of the best places in the world to retire on social security, how close are you to packing your suitcase?

Looking for more tips on retirement abroad? Sign up for the FundMyTravel Newsletter to receive fundraising advice that’ll help you crush your goals!

What to Do on a Gap Year With No Money

You might be hustling and shuffling to make ends meet dreaming of that next great getaway. Or maybe you’re doing overtime in the library to finish that degree. Both? We feel your struggle and can testify that it is indeed real. The bustle of a busy life rarely seems to give you a break. So why not hit the road and take a cheap gap year? Because, yes — it is possible!

person on a cheap gap year

If you put in the research and planning, you CAN take a cheap gap year.

But now you’re wondering what to do on a gap year with no money, right? There’s often this connotation that you must have a lot of money to travel. If you’re only looking to fly tip-top class and stay in the most exclusive bungalows, then yes, yes it is. If this is the case, you probably won’t be reading this article anyway. But for the rest of us in the majority (aka the 99%), it’s false. 

Traveling can be real cheap and still comfortably correct. A gap year with minimal money is possible, and we’re here to help you with some of the know-how!

What to do on a gap year with no money

1. Volunteer 

Not sure what to do on a gap year with no money? Volunteering for part of or during your entire time abroad is an altruistic option. This might not be exactly free, though. If you go through an organization for a volunteer placement you’re going to pay a little.

The good news is that these fees usually cover your housing, meals, and administrative support to get you off the ground and in your host country. Not sure where to go? Maybe one of best places to volunteer in Europe! Who knows — maybe you’ll find yourself there next year.

2. WWOOF it!

person sitting on a peak in norway

Consider WWOOFing, and this is what you could be doing during your down time.

This has nothing to do with a barking dog that we know of. If you haven’t heard this term before, well, now you have. It stands for WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms (more like, WOOoF, if you’re looking to get technical). Anway, we shall not digress. This is how to take a gap year with no money!

This international organization has partnerships all over the world with enticing destinations for you to ponder. For example, check out this WWOOFing opportunity in Norway. What’s the kicker? In return for free housing and meals, volunteers donate their time to an organic farm. Each cultivator has their own terms and conditions, but ask anyone who’s done it and they will tell you it’s a really good deal.

3. Work

Wondering what to do in a gap year with no money? Let’s be real clear and state the obvious here: search for work. Find yourself a J-O-B and make the dough while you’re on the fly. Many folks that take a gap year do so with the intent to work. And those that party too hard their first month in Thailand usually realize that to sustain themselves, they need to work. Join the club! 

Working abroad is a superb way to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, improve your language skills, and perhaps gain some useful professional experience. Whether you’re a barista or studying for the bar exam, just about any job you could find at home exists abroad. And then some. Considering South America? Check out some of these paid opportunities in Argentina

Depending on how you look at it, a year can be a decent chunk of time. Maybe you’re not looking for a full-time gig, so a part-time position might be a perfect fit for yourself. Take a gander at some of these jobs and work abroad opportunities to start brainstorming.

4. Study a language

Consider studying a foreign language during your cheap gap year! You can register with a program that will organize your housing, help out with any administrative legwork, and provide around-the-clock assistance, but maybe you don’t know all the bells and whistles. Check into alternative ways to study the language of your dreams!

What could that look like? Maybe you can organize a language exchange with someone who wants to learn English (and trust us, someone absolutely will!) and in return they can help teach you their native language.

Don’t expect everyone else to do the work for you though. You will certainly need to start grammar exercises and pick up vocabulary on your own. If you’re thinking about Japan for your gap year, consider checking out tips to help you find cheap language schools in Japan. And then, devise your own strategy.

5.  Become an intern

Still wondering what to do in a gap year with no money? Why not a paid internship? Interning is an excellent window of opportunity into a new culture while collecting reputable professional experience along the way.

Imagine taking a year off to intern abroad to improve your skills and give yourself brighter prospects for your professional future. A gap year doesn’t always imply a year of wandering around the globe. Put your skills to good use to hone and obtain new ones.

6.  Teach abroad

person sitting on top of a car looking at stars

Go teach abroad during your cheap gap year, and you’ll learn a thing or two yourself.

This is another way to while away some time during your gap year with minimal money on hand. And a rewarding one at that. Why not volunteer to teach abroad? From adults to children, there are gobs of volunteer positions abroad to teach English.

Still wondering what to do on a gap year with no money? Well, opt out being a volunteer teacher and instead, find a job teaching. Teaching abroad can help you earn a decent living to support your cheap gap year. Sure, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so this is a way to pay for your own.

Don’t forget that many positions require a TEFL certification. The good thing? Certified teachers generally earn a bit more. Invest a little to increase your earning potential, folks!

7. Conduct research

Why not take a break from traditional studies and gain field experience conducting research? On the ground, out in the wild, or equally probably, in a controlled laboratory environment. One way to do so is to find an academic or professional expert who studies whatever you’re interested in and drop them a line.

Reach out to a professor in the respective department of your uni to see if they have any leads or contacts for you. They might need a research assistant with your street (or school) cred. If you already have a project in mind, you might consider applying for a grant to fund your research abroad, like the Fulbright Scholar Program. Yet another option on how to take a gap year with no money!

8. Stay home and take care of business

This is always an option, too. A gap year doesn’t have to be far, far away. Maybe you need some time to take care of personal matters or just want to give yourself a break. Well, take it! Like in policy, the “do nothing” option is indeed always an option.

Sometimes it’s just what we need to make a professional or academic move. You can still study a language, volunteer, or intern at home. The possibilities are really endless, and going abroad is an option that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Get your gap year money with FMT

Why not phone some friends and family, or even strangers on the web for a hand? It doesn’t cost you anything to ask for a little help. Create a FundMyTravel campaign to help off-set the cost of your gap year. Need money for a passport and that one-way ticket? Tell us about it! Tell them all about it! Crowdsourcing is better than sliced bread. You don’t have to pay for a thing nor do you have to hit your local grocer. It’s simple: create your account, explain what you need funds for, and share it. Don’t wait any longer — start fundraising now!

You CAN take a cheap gap year

person wading through river

Gap year money? Heard of it. But you don’t need it!

Heck, you might even be paid during your gap year. No money? No problems. There are plenty of stimulating ways to have a cheap gap year abroad. Money doesn’t need to be your determining factor. It also doesn’t have to be a dull, boring gap year if you’re short on cash. Make it an exhilarating one with some of these fresh ideas!

Create a Campaign for Your Gap Year with FundMyTravel

Your Comprehensive 12 Month Fundraising Plan for 2020

A year sounds like a long time until… it’s not. That’s why you need to create a comprehensive fundraising plan to keep you on track. If you don’t create tangible goals and set yourself up for success those months will fly by before you know it.

flip calendar on a desk top

Need help raising money for your meaningful travel? Get yourself a 12 month fundraising plan!

It can be overwhelming to think about all the fundraising stories and letters you need to write, Instagram posts you need to polish, and bake sales you need to organize to meet your fundraising goals. That’s why we’ve laid out a fundraising plan example for you to peruse at your leisure!

It gives you enough time to lay everything out in a strategic, realistic way. A 12 month fundraising plan gives you a chance to adjust goals, assess your stress and strength points, and roll out a successful fundraising campaign that gets you to that meaningful travel experience.

What are you raising money for?

Meaningful travel means something different to everyone, but at the end of the day, you’ll need some moolah to actually do it. Whether you’re gungho on a semester abroad in the Philippines, or you’ve dreamed about volunteering with sea turtles your entire life, the nitty gritty reality is that these things cost money. 

Find out how FundMyTravel Works → 

You can raise money to volunteer abroad — for a few weeks, for a few months, even a year. Life changing, no doubt, but you’re not making money when you volunteer. Sometimes you get a living stipend or food help, etc., but you’ll be primarily living off of savings. 

PeaceCorps is another great organization to get involved with, but living without a paycheck for two years can be a little financially draining. 

If you’re an intern abroad, getting experience for work could be an amazing opportunity for skill-building you won’t wanna pass up, but again…”unpaid” is unfortunately the name of the game when it comes to international internships. Even if you do get paid a small wage or have a living stipend, you’re not gonna be flush with cash.

The money you raise will go towards your basic needs and their costs first: airfare, visa, passport, materials for community service or study, accommodation, and any program fees associated with your journey. 

How much can you raise?

april ludgate time is money money is pizza gif

Pizza, or meaningful travel.

People use FundMTravel to raise all kinds of cash money, so really anything is possible. Some of the most successful campaigns set goals between $300 and $10,000, and even exceeded their goal amounts. Key point: they exceeded their goals. 

An average gap year costs about $5,000, while study abroad programs can range from $15,000 to $36,000 depending on where you go and how long you stay. Volunteering abroad also requires a chunk of change, but it varies greatly depending on the program, flights, visas, etc. But you’ll probably want to raise a few thousand just in case. 

It’s important to remember that you don’t need to rely on FundMyTravel for all of your funds. Study abroad scholarships and other financial aid options can support those higher ticket travel experiences. 

The reality of travel, studying, or volunteering abroad is bookended with dolla dolla bills, so you have to be able to set those rose-colored glasses down for a hot sec and do some grunt work in money land. But don’t worry — we’re here to walk you through it.

A comprehensive fundraising plan for 2020

January – April 

person’s feet silhouetted by fireworks

Your New Year’s Resolution: create a comprehensive fundraising plan.

1. January is the perfect time to start something, anything, that will create positive change in your life. You’ll be making some resolutions that actually pay off by creating a fundraising plan for your life-changing travel endeavours/dreams/goals! Start grinding out the details and layout your very own 12 month fundraising plan.

First, RESEARCH! Find the answers to some basic questions to get you going on the right track for a kick ass fundraising plan. Example: 

  • What is the cost of your program?
  • How much is airfare?
  • How much is a visa?
  • How much is housing?
  • How much do you need for additional experiences/fun activities?

Organize this data in a spreadsheet and calculate your total cost. Now, you can choose to make this your fundraising goal, or you can use some of your own savings to supplement the total cost, or maybe plan on some scholarships. But you should end the month with a fundraising goal. 

2. By February you can start digging deep.To have a successful campaign, you need a good story. Why are you passionate about this travel experience? What are you hoping to gain, give, or create while abroad? Define your “ask”, and start brainstorming the best way to tell people about your goals.

After that, start a list of potential ways to extend your story throughout your campaign. Will you create videos, design a logo, make a Facebook page, or host any events? Do you want to provide incentives along the trail? If so, what kinds of trinkets, mentions, etc. are in your wheelhouse? This part should be a little messy. Dump all of your ideas onto a piece of paper (physical or digital, live your own life), and then start narrowing your scope.

Use FundMyTravel’s fundraising resources to reach your goal faster → 

3. March is when you start creating a strategic fundraising plan.Now that you have a monetary goal and story set in stone, get into major organization mode. Pull up your spreadsheets and get cracking! 

Determine your start and end date and figure out how you’ll gain traction (based on February’s brainstorming sesh). We created this fundraising plan example around a three-month-long campaign, but you can always adjust depending on your goals/needs. Planning your campaign launch around an event is a great way to hype people up and spread the word about your travel quickly!

Create a calendar for sharing updates on social, hosting events, etc. This can be tedious, but you’ll thank your future self once the campaign is up and running. Take the time to lay out a plan for EVERY. DAMN. DAY of the campaign.

Create a spreadsheet to stay organized and hold yourself accountable. What day will you send out your letters? When will you post updates? What platforms will you use? When will your videos go live?

[Related: 17 Tips for Sharing Your FundMyTravel Campaign]

4. April is your creative month.Take all that brainstorming and monotonous scheduling and turn it into something fun! Write your fundraising letter and any other letters you’re planning on sending out during the campaign.

Focus on preparing the materials you need for the social calendar you just created. Write copy for posts, organize pictures you’ll upload, choose gifs, make a video, etc. Put the actual words (hashtags, gratitude, etc.) in the spreadsheet so that when it comes time to execute it’ll just be a simple copy + paste. 

Four months may seem like a long time to prep, but you’d be surprised by the time it takes to do all this planning, especially if you’re working or in school. By the end of April, you should be ready to launch your campaign. 

May – July 

person standing in front of the ocean during summer

Don’t let summer shift your attention away from your strategic fundraising plan. Eye on the prize!

Mayday Mayday — we have a FMT campaign about to blow up! By May, the only emergency landing you need to worry about is your FundMyTravel landing page. Since you took the time to plan everything out, we’re sure the campaign will be SO HOT.

zoolander so hot right now gif

This campaign is SO HOT right now.

You did all the leg work at the beginning of the year, so the actual launch and maintenance should be smooth sailing. If you follow this 12 month fundraising plan, your actual campaign will only last about three months. Having a semi-short campaign helps create a sense of urgency with donors, and it gives you the option of running a second campaign or extending your end date right away if needed.

5. Create your FMT account and launch your campaign at the beginning of May. Don’t worry if you don’t get it up and running May 1st on the dot. You’ve already done the heavy lifting by prepping materials, crafting stories, and creating social media calendars in the beginning of the year. Having a comprehensive fundraising plan really pays off at this point, because you get to take a little bit of a breather and watch all your hard work fall into place.

Lean into that social calendar you made to stay on top of sharing updates and responding to people on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Update your posts daily without being spammy, and encourage others to share to spread the word! If you planned on hosting any additional fundraising events, make sure they actually happen. 

6. June is your mid-year mark, so it’s a good time to reflect on the work you’ve done so far. What is going well? What is more difficult than you expected? Are you going to meet your fundraising goal by July?

The benefits of creating a 12 month fundraising plan is it gives you time to lay everything out in a very intentional way, so take advantage of the time you give yourself to assess how things are working (or not).

Remember, you can always adjust the monetary goals and deadlines as your campaign goes, so don’t freak out if the stars aren’t totally aligned by June. And if they are aligned? You can continue to receive funds as long as your campaign is open, even after the goal is met! 

7. By July, your campaign should be wrapping up. Cue celebration mode! Hopefully all your hard work paid off, and you’re getting PAID.

August – September

person throwing leaves into the air

Crispy leaves will mean you’re nearing the end of your campaign — get ready to harvest your rewards.

Every comprehensive fundraising plan needs to allocate time to do the things you’re raising money for!

8. Come August, you should have all the money raised for your trip. So what are you waiting for? Sign-up or register for the experience, and share with the people who got you there. Buy your ticket, nail down housing, and get totally pumped for your trip.

If you create a killer strategic fundraising plan, this part should be super straightforward. You’ve already done all the research — you know exactly what you need to pay for and how much. This is merely the execution.

9. You can use September to tend to any last-minute items or tasks that got away from you during the fundraising bonanza. It’s also a cushion to make that final push to reach your fundraising goal. Sneak in an extra bake sale, send a final Facebook call to action, or start a 24-hour pledge drive. Tie up your loose ends with a nice little bow and off you go!

October – December

10. October is a great time to start to follow up with your homies who donated.Did your comprehensive fundraising plan include gifts, songs, art? Figure out who you need to send things to and start creating your donor gifts. 

11. Don’t forget about the fundraising process in November and December. Even though the campaign is over, your story lives on. People invested in your journey, so find ways to keep them updated.

Successful strategic fundraising plans extend the narrative beyond the actual fundraising campaign, so think about how you can continue to share your story. At this point, send out the thanks and the gifts to the wonderful people who got you to the finish line.

Oh you should also take a hot minute to CHILL OUT. You’ve worked hard, and you deserve to bask in the glow of your expertly executed 12 month fundraising campaign. 

Start off 2020 right with your 12 month fundraising plan

person standing in road in hawaii

This reminds us of you, after your fundraising campaign pays off!

FundMyTravel is the perfect tool for your strategic fundraising plan. Finding ways to make a difference in the world through travel is one of the most magical things a person can do for themselves and the world, so we want to provide you with as many resources as we can to help you fund that meaningful travel experience. 

We hope this fundraising plan example gave you some great ideas, and challenge you take it and run. What’s YOUR 12 month fundraising plan?

Get the latest tips and tricks to create a killer strategic fundraising plan. Sign up for the FMT newsletter!

Is Studying Abroad in Berlin Cheap?

In the early 2000s, Berlin’s mayor at the time declared, “Berlin ist arm, aber sexy”. Berlin is poor, but sexy to be sure. However, you won’t be going poor any time soon studying abroad in this trendy European capital.

aerial view of Berlin

Once you arrive, you’ll probably stop caring if studying abroad in Berlin is cheap or not!

Poppin’ nightlife empire after dark and buzzing tech startup hub by day, Berlin enjoys a reputation as an up-and-coming cultural center. If you’re looking to study abroad here, you’ll find more than just a deeply rich history and hip vegan restaurants. That’s because the Berlin student living cost is dramatically cheaper than most European capitals. 

Yup, that means more bang for your buck. In other words, more budget for the fun stuff.

With a reputation for affordable rents and amazing cheap eats (we’re looking at you, currywurst), you probably won’t need much convincing that Berlin is a solid affordable study abroad option. Here’s a deeper dive into the question, “Is studying abroad in Berlin cheap?”

How to calculate the cost of living in Berlin for international students

1. Tuition

view of buildings down a berlin street

In Germany, tuition isn’t a huge concern for students.

If you’ve dug around a bit into the idea of studying abroad in Germany, you may have found a delightful fact. There is no tuition for public universities in Germany, although some parts of the country reintroduced tuition as of 2017.

Yet even those with reintroduced tuition are nowhere near the exorbitant costs most American students expect from their own universities at home. Well-known public universities in the capital, such as Humboldt University of Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin, have no tuition for domestic and international students pursuing a bachelor’s. Definitely a welcome change!

However, if you’re studying abroad through your university, you may still have to pay your own tuition and fees to receive credit. Third-party study abroad organizers also require a program fee that typically includes room and board. In addition, those directly enrolling in a German university to take advantage of no tuition will likely expect to dish out a few hundred Euro a semester to cover admin and student fees. 

All in all, zero tuition makes the Berlin student living cost a steal. 

  • How much does it cost? ~300€ (~$330 USD)/semester at a public university

2. Public transportation

Remember that small student semester fee we mentioned above? Yup, that’s also your transportation ticket. 

There are tons of great perks and discounts for students across Germany, and Berlin is no exception. Your student ID also counts as your ticket on local public transportation in the Berlin metro area. More specifically, you can hop on regional trains, the subway, streetcars, and buses to catch your lectures or meet up with friends somewhere else in town.

The cost of Berlin study abroad may be a bit higher, however, if you want to expand your transportation options to include taxis or ride-sharing services. For a more sustainable option, you can also join the huge cycling community in Berlin and commute on the popular bike-lanes. And of course, it’s worth mentioning that Berlin is a bustling city, so many day-to-day things will be conveniently walking distance (aka, free!). 

  • How much does it cost? Nothing!

3. Groceries

If you’re suspicious that all the good news is over, you’ll be pleasantly mistaken. That’s because grocery costs in Germany are notoriously low compared to other wealthy nations. If you stick to widely popular discount grocers like Aldi, you’ll have absolutely no problem getting by on a few bills a week.

people shopping at a market in berlin

Shop wisely and food costs will hardly make a dent in your Berlin student living cost.

As a student abroad, you’ll be tempted to sniff out new culinary delights out on the town, and that’s totally okay! Just remember to budget for the occasional journey out. Costs of dining out are comparable to those in the United States. For example, a casual meal from a street vendor will cost around 5€ or less and a sit-down meal comes in at 10-15€ plus tip.

  • How much does it cost? ~30€ (~$33)/week

4. Accommodations

Apartments in Germany are oftentimes fully furnished near college campuses, making it ideal for international students, and more affordable, too. This includes university dorms, as well as shared flats.

You can easily find student accommodations on websites like Erasmusu or studierendenWERK BERLIN, which list everything you need to know, from rent to potential roommates.

If you’re looking to lessen your Berlin student living cost as much as possible, then dorms will most likely be the most affordable way to go!

  • How much does it cost? ~300€-800€ (~$330-880)/month

5. European travel

Sure, there’s so much to explore in Berlin alone that the rest of the continent may be a tight squeeze. However, studying abroad anywhere in Europe almost guarantees that you’ll venture out at some point to see new horizons.

Luckily, discount airlines across Europe make international travel cheap and accessible, often costing only 30 euros round-trip from Berlin to Milan, for example.

train platform in berlin

Don’t kid yourself — you’re gonna want to see Europe!

Youth hostels abound a’ plenty and you’re bound to find student discounts wherever you go as well. So, if you’re stressed about galavanting around, from the Swiss Alps to the Portuguese coast, there’s no reason your wallet should be!

  • How much does it cost? $200/month

6. Phone bill

While many domestic phone plans now offer international service as part of plans, they are often limited to data, have spotty service, or may cost an additional fee. A great option to ensure reliable connection and lower costs is to purchase a prepaid phone card at any major Berlin supermarket or a number of other cell phone providers.

Make sure you get your smartphone unlocked at home, though — otherwise a prepaid SIM card won’t work! You can also brush up on all the ways to avoid international data charges to keep that phone bill waaaay down. Your parents will thank you.

  • How much does it cost? ~5€-20€ (~$5.50-$22)/ month

7. Personal expenses

Is studying abroad in Berlin also cheap when it comes to personal expenses? Well, this depends on what you’re used to spending back home and the wiggle room in your budget. 

Personal expenses while living abroad include everything from grabbing some brews with friends, to clothes, to entertainment options like festivals or movie theaters. All these costs are pretty comparable to the United States, so the amount you spend should be fairly easy to predict.

Plus, don’t forget that you can actually work while studying abroad in Germany! That might sound like a buzzkill, but it’s an excellent way to cut costs and save up even more money for all the fun stuff you want to do before you’re done studying abroad.

  • How much does it cost? Up to you!

FundMyTravel can help with your Berlin student living cost

Whether you’re hoping to study abroad in Berlin for a full year or pass through for a summer, having the right funds saved up will give you peace of mind to focus on the experience. Through FundMyTravel, you can share your unique story and motivations for studying abroad by starting a campaign.

Once you’ve polished off your narrative to be authentically you, you’re ready to start spreading the word to your networks and beyond! And just like that, you can start crowdfunding your away across the Pond and into Berlin to start one of the most impactful experiences of your life.

The cost of Berlin study abroad will be worth it!

i love berlin post cards

You can fall in love with Berlin without worrying about your living costs!

Without a doubt, global adventures can get pricier than the day-to-day at home. However, the cost of living in Berlin for international students is hard to beat, especially compared to other European cities.

If you play your cards right and start early, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to build a travel fund before you go. From study abroad scholarships, to hustling at a side gig, to fundraising online, there are tons of ways to get started.

Even when you’re in the middle of a scholarship essay and losing steam, all you have to do is think of the living history lining every Berlin street, the vibrant cultural neighbors contributing to a mouth-watering foodie culture, and the friends you have yet to meet. And of course, who could ever forget the “study” part of study abroad…everyone’s favorite part, right?!

Not sure how to start saving for Berlin? Create a FundMyTravel campaign today!

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