Listen to the full podcast episode here.
We are going to be talking about finances and I know for many of us that brings up some super interesting emotions, but God calls us to be good stewards and so we're going to dive into what that can look like as a Christian traveler and explore some of those avenues.
1. Take It To God
The first tip is pretty simple and that is take it to God. It seems kind of cliché, but it's true. When we think about our finances, we have a very earthy mindset and that is this closed hand mind mentality. But God has called us to be stewards. So on one hand, yes, we are supposed to take care of what he blesses us with and not just spend it frugally. But on the other hand, He also has given it to us to help others. So we're in this weird conundrum of a world and the world is going to be telling us different things. Oh, you should be giving all away all your finances. Oh, you should be using it to explore all these cool destinations. The world is going to tell us all these different things and the best place to go is Scripture. So let's see what scripture says about being a good steward. The first Bible verse I found was from one Peter four, verse ten, and it's as each have received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace. Now gifts and this could very easily be your talents, your time, your abilities, could also be your finances. However you're given you're to be good stewards and use it as a tool to serve others so it isn't just meant for ourselves. Another Bible verse two, Corinthians nine, six through seven says each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. So again God is calling us to give and to do so with a cheerful heart and not under someone else's mandate or requirement. Scripture uses the word tie the 10%, that's often kind of the standard for giving but sometimes God calls us to more and sometimes God calls us to less, but you have to give with a willing heart. Lastly, and maybe the one that I think of most frequently is actually a Bible story and that is from Matthew 20 514 through 30. And that's the story of the servants that the master entrusted with different amount of coins and then the master goes away, the servants are left to decide what to do. So one servant, he gave five talents, one servant he gave two and another one and the servant with the five and the two, they put it in the bank, they do something that basically doubles their money. But the person with the one coin, he goes and buries it in the ground. And when the master comes back he gets really mad. And basically it ends up saying that if you take care of what God has given you and use it in a way that is abundant, there's blessings with that and if you don't then things end up being taken away from you. And this is not the prosperity gospel, this is not saying, oh, if I only do X, Y and Z I'm going to end up with a bunch of stuff, a bunch of money, a bunch of wealth, a bunch of whatever. No, it's simply saying that if God entrusts you with, he entrusts you with a bunch of children at your school and you take care of them and you love them and you show them Christ, then he's going to continue to bless you in that classroom. But if you treat them easily and poorly then it's kind of what comes around goes around and eventually you'll end up either leading people away from God or you won't be showing them Christ and maybe it'll be a time to check your own heart to see what's going on there. So how do these Bible verses relate to travel? Well, travel for one is a big time commitment so we need to be good stewards over time. It's a big financial commitment in many ways, so being good stewards of our money and it's often a time when we're in places, in scenarios and we see things needs around us so we need to be good stewards in that regard as well. So setting the stage, we turn to God. We look at Scripture for what he says about being in steward, and we use that as a basis for our travels and how we're going to approach those areas. And we also take it to God in prayer. Before you begin a trip, before you even begin planning, take your stewardship and your time and your finances and your trips. Take it all to God and say, lord, I have this desire, but I've been entrusted with children, I've been entrusted with family, I've been trusted with work, I've been entrusted with this, and I need you to show me what it means to be a good steward right now.
2. Check Your Motives
The second thing that you need to do is check your motives. And what I mean by this is when it comes to travel, we often have some selfish motives. We often want to travel solely for the purpose of great pictures, for likes, for others attention. We have a lot of selfish motives. We also have some good ones. Like, we want to see places of our history. We want to learn about the world that God created. Like, there's all these amazing things that can be a part of travel, but there can also be selfish motives. And sometimes our selfish motives spread us on to quick, unplanned decisions. It's this need versus once mentality where the want gets to win. Oh, I want to go on this trip. I don't need to check my finances, I don't need to check with my boss. I don't need this. I just need to go. And the need is really a want, and it hasn't been thought out, it hasn't been handed to the Lord. And is there times when God's going to call you in the spur of the moment to go? Absolutely. But if your motive is selfish and sinful, it's a good time to check. Why am I in such a rush? Why am I not checking to be a good steward?
3. Plan and Prepare
The third thing is to plan and prepare. And this kind of goes with that motive thing. So once you recognize that it is a good motive, that you have a good desire, and the need isn't for you to leave at this exact moment, how can you pull in and prepare? Are you being intentional with your current budget? Are you setting aside money for travel in the future? Are you researching where you're going and what financial expenses you might have and what that could potentially look like? Are you setting up a budget? Are you working on all the aspects that go into this trip? And in so researching, set realistic goals, okay, this trip cost this much. I can save up for it in four months. I can save up for it in two years. What is the realistic expectation? And hearing that, I know it makes me cringe because I just want to go. But God calls us to be good stewards. And sometimes that means being faithful with little things. Sometimes that means reducing our big dream trips to smaller things. And if it's a really big dream trip, maybe it means saving up for longer periods of time. There's so many things that can go into that. But be a good steward by planning and preparing.
4. Research The Best Deals
The fourth thing is researching the best deals. Now there is such a thing as luxurious travel, and in no way am I opposed to that. But that's often reserved for certain seasons, certain events, and oftentimes saving. If you are someone who is super financially well off and can afford that, great, all the power to you. I encourage you, on the other hand, to be looking at what generosity looks like in relation to that on your stewardship. And that's not an accusation. I'm just saying on both sides of stewardship, we looked at the scripture and we thought we need to be generous, but we need to take care of our own needs. So make sure to be weighing both equally, but weighing them as you look at your decisions. So in your researching of these best deals, maybe you do want something super luxurious, but maybe there's a discount you can find. Maybe it's spending a little bit more on the hotel, but less on certain meals. Maybe it's going to this fine dining restaurant but not taking a certain tour. Maybe it's spending more on a group tour and less on the flight. And even though it's going to be a lawn flight, you're going to be okay. There are ways to get good deals. There are ways to find the best way to spend your finances and just taking the time to research, not just booking. The first thing you find having a travel agent come in and also give you some insight and tips. Now travel agents, I'll be honest, even though I am a travel agent, we can't get better deals than you per se. At least typically we can't. We might have some things that we have access to that you can't. What we typically can help you do though, is be a good steward of your time and of your finances in the long run. We can help you get travel insurance. We can help you book that flight and then proceed to help you if something would go wrong, a flight got canceled, something got delayed, you have to move things around. We're there to help you so that your finances and your stress levels don't go crazy. That's what a travel agent can do for you. And sometimes that is the way to be a good steward of your finances is to have that security. But that's part of the researching the best deals process, is finding out if the travel agent is the best way to go. It's finding out what the best deals on flights are. It's finding out how you can have the trip and see the things that God has created while also being conscientious of your budget.
5. Give Generously
The fifth thing is to give generously. And this seems like a weird thing when you're talking about travel because you're like, okay, what organization, what group? What are you talking about here? Well, I am just straight up assuming that you're going to church during your trip because that's just a huge part of our Christian walk and holding ourselves accountable to that faith, not just being part of our at home routine. And so there's going to be an opportunity to give in church. There's going to be probably some kids in need on the street that might run up to you. There might be other situations that you run into and you're just like, OK, I have the finances I could give to them. And this is where I'm going to say give generously, but give wisely. For instance, I went on a mission trip to Ghana, and while I was there, we were told to not give a huge ton of money to the congregation there. And it wasn't to spite them, it wasn't to be rude to them. It was actually to help them. Because every year, just like anywhere else, any business, they set up their budget for the next year and they base it upon the income that they got in the current year. And most people in Ghana can't really afford to give all that much. But if a bunch of American people come in and they give what seems like a small donation to us, but really is a huge thing to them, they're like, oh my gosh, we have so much money and we can afford to do all this next year. And then it ends up hurting their budget long term, like puts them in a poor stewardship and financial situation. So we were encouraged to give in small amounts and then remember to give back home, still give our donations that we would have given back home. Also, we ran into some people on the streets jingling their wanting coins. And we were cautioned that giving a few coins as one kid means that rumor will spread and then you'll have a bunch of kids following you down the street expecting money. And so we were instructed by our missionaries and the guides with us where we could give to actually help the kids, organizations that we could support, things like that. So just asking locals, asking trusted people in the area, asking people at your hotel, just asking around, doing your research ahead of time on ways that you can address needs that you do see without hurting people. And again, I know it sounds backwards to give and to hurt, but it does happen. So just be aware that sometimes giving can harm, but also giving can help. So be conscientious of that.
Sometimes if you see a need that you know is not best met financially, other things that you can give might be your time, it might be a conversation, it might be your labor. Like maybe it is just sitting down with someone and talking to them about their life story. Maybe it is sharing Christ with them. Maybe it is helping them fix something that's broken and not even talking about Christ but just like showing his love and how you're going about things. And if Christ comes up, if the question comes up, why are you doing this? Great, you have an in to talk about the love of the Lord, but sometimes it's just showing it through giving generously.
6. Keep Track Of Your Budget
There are so many apps out there. Honestly, my husband and I invented our own Excel sheet with buttons that does it for us. But there is ways to keep track of your budget in your daily life and in your travels and keeping record of all of that is a huge part of being able to stay on track with your budget. Make sure that you're still being good steward because great ahead of time. You did all this research, you did all this planning, you have all this set up and you're like, okay, I'm going to be a good steward and this is what I'm going to spend. But then you get there and suddenly you find all these cool attractions and all those things. Absolutely make sure you have spending money for those kinds of things but make sure that you're still being conscientious of your line, that you're not putting yourself into financial risk, that you're not harming what God has given you and just being a good steward in that regard.
So these are my six tips as a Christian traveler for being a financially wise traveler and I hope that they inspire you to reflect on your next trip and make sure that you are honoring God in how you choose to travel.
Listen to the full podcast episode here.