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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

6 Ways To Get Your Kids Traveling When Money Isn't Falling Off Of Your Backyard Tree

October 23, 2013

I believe in the power of the passport. It is a rite of passage for many kids from underserved communities for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the shift that comes with any rite of passage (hopefully), and that is a shift in mindset

The world actually becomes your child's oyster once she is in possession of the little blue travel booklet and she now has something tangible in her hands that will help to foster her travel dreams. She is now in possession of the ultimate ticket. I guess that's why National Geographic Traveler recently referred to me as The Ticket Master for my work with The Passport Party Project: A passport is a proverbial ticket to the world. 

But wait. How do you fund your child's oyster? How do you get your child traveling (whether domestic or international) without getting a second third job? Travel doesn't have to be luxurious, but it certainly costs something, right? 

For those of you who want to give your children the gift of travel (and not just on a family vacay), here are 6 ways to get your kids traveling when money isn't falling off of your backyard tree (oh, how I wish it were):

1. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding very simply means to finance or fund a project via a crowd of people on the Internet. Just like 14 year old Shannon who got her first passport via The Passport Party Project, won a trip to Belize, and is now committed to raising money online to go to Paris. She's even offering prayers for people who make $25 donations (how sweet). 

Shannon is crowdfunding using, however, there are a number of other sites dedicated to crowdfunding as well. Try, FundRazr, Indiegogo, etc. Of course, I believe that no one owes you anything and that there are ethics concerned with asking strangers to pay for travel. I will not personally contribute to any crowdfunding campaigns that aren't cause-related or a part of a non-profit, but if it's about helping give kids a world view on an independent travel or study abroad journey, I'm all in. 

See also > 5 Tips for Running a Successful Crowdsourcing Campaign. Tweak it and make it work for you.

2. Traditional fundraising

There are a number of traditional fundraising methods - like lemonade stands and weekend car-washes - that can contribute to travel as well.  Shannon is supplementing her crowdfunding efforts (it ain't that easy) with selling baked goods. So far, she has raised over $200 and she's gearing up for Halloween by selling decorated cookies and cupcakes.  

My advice is to stick to something you love doing and don't spend more money on supplies than you will actually bring home in donations. How about gift wrapping for the neighborhood this holiday season? Think of something creative!

See also > A Beginner's Guide to Fundraising. Again, everything won't be a fit; just make it work.

3. Earn Airline Miles Via Rewards Programs

Did you hear about the engineer that earning 1.25 million airline miles from buying pudding or the clever guy that earned 4,000,000 airlines miles buying dollar coins? Seems to me that airplane ticket might just be a little closer than you think for your teen once parents start using an airline credit card to earn airline rewards through every day purchases.  

And while there are more opportunities available if you have a credit card than if you don't, the truth is, a debit card will do just fine. Here's how: 

Step 1: Choose an airline you want to be loyal to and open a frequent flyer account. 
Tip 1: In order to get the most bang for your buck, open just one frequent flyer account so that all of the points don't get spread out among more than one airline program. Otherwise it'll take FOREVER to earn that free ticket! 
Step 2: See what kind of offers/programs your chosen airline program is linked to. For example, one airline carrier was offering 1,500 miles for each purchase of flowers through their vendor! This can work for hotel stays, rental cars and other retail purchases (like pudding or dollar coins) as well.
Tip 2: Stay on top of the offers and use them when it makes sense for your family. Might as well earn miles if you need to send someone flowers, right? 

See also >  6 Ways To Earn Extra Frequent-Flier Miles.

 4. Compete For Travel & Study Abroad Scholarships & Grants 

Travel writing contests are a great way for teens to win money to use towards travel. In fact, there are a number of travel and study abroad grants and scholarships ripe for the picking! Naturally, your tw/eens must be able to articulate themselves well on paper (and often via video) in order to win, so exceptional grammar skills are key. 

The Passport Party Project offers girls who get their first passports through the program free writing and grammar assistance with any essays that will be used for any contest submissions that include travel, including opportunities like Disney Dreamer's Academy, where the winning kids (ages 13-19) are flown to Walt Disney World for a long weekend of empowerment and encouraged to dream big. 

Don't know where to go to find a travel writing or study abroad scholarship or grant? Start with the Society of American Travel Writers annual Teen Travel Writing Scholarship or The Passport Party Project's Travel Writing Scholarship (opens February 1, 2014). 

For study abroad info, visit Diversity Abroad and Google "study abroad scholarship" and have at it!

5. Enter Trip Contests

I don't know about you, but when I see a trip contest advertised on Facebook, in magazines, on television, or anywhere else, I enter to win! Even if the odds are a million to one, someone has to win and it could be you (and your teen) or me! LOL  

But please, try not to obsess after every entry. Just enter and walk away. But remember: Ya gotta be in it to win it.

6. Save your money. 

I know, I know. A pretty novel concept, right?

Look. Whether you put your money in a savings account (where you will earn interest), or whether you plop your coins and dollar bills in a good ole piggy bank, the old-fashioned way of earning and stashing still works. If you have a specific trip in mind, set your savings goal, establish a time frame and figure out how much money you need to save per week/month to meet your goal.

Don't have a passport yet? Don't have a specific travel goal in mind? Have your teen start by saving $10-$20 a month anyway. Encourage them to have a stake in their travel dreams. Even if it takes 12 months to save enough to get that first passport, she will have accomplished something at the end of 12 months as opposed to just talking about it. 

If she already has a passport, then whatever savings is accrued can be on the ready. Stash those pennies and coins, people. They add up!

Ready? Let's travel!