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Pay Your Way – How to Earn Your Trip Fee

Signing up for an expedition overseas might seem like enough of a challenge. But how about upping the ante from the get-go? Earning your trip fee – or at least a proportion of it – before you even strap on your backpack can not only be hugely satisfying, but it can also teach you valuable life lessons, from budgeting and finances to marketing and pure hard graft.

Every year, we see students earn every single penny for their trip, using their own entrepreneurial ideas to do it. How about racking up the pounds in a car boot sale? Or cashing in on a quiz night that you’ve organised yourself? Perhaps you could get a part-time job in your local cafe or run errands for neighbours in return for donations. Ideas like these have the added bonus of looking great on your CV – so it’s a win-win.

One student who is keen to earn her way is Immy Norie. The 16-year-old has signed up for a World Challenge Expedition to Tanzania in 2024. Immy kick-started her savings for the trip by offering services such as dog sitting and babysitting. Charging around £10 per hour, she has already earned over £200 for this alone.

However, the main – and even more creative – source of generating funds for her trip is making and selling candles, soap and bath bombs. With some help from her mum, Immy organised a stall at a summer festival in Princes Risborough, charging £2 per candle, £2 per bath bomb and £1 per lip balm. “I went on Pinterest for recipe ideas for the lip balms,” she said. “The candles are recycled – I melt them down and then make new candles from the recycled wax.”

Immy earned £200 at the festival; she now takes her creations to sell at a Girlguiding unit where she helps out, earning another £170. She’ll also begin working as a waitress in the coming months and plans to organise a “back to school” quiz. With tickets costing £10 each, she hopes to earn another £200 from the ticket sales, a raffle and her craft stall.

Paying her way is hugely important for Immy. “Earning the money myself gives me the satisfaction that I have worked hard for the trip and felt like I earnt it,” she said. “It also gives me skills I can use in the future, like earning and managing money myself.”

And she’s not alone. Some of Immy’s friends have also thought up innovative ideas to earn their trip fees. “I have a friend who plays the violin and is organising a music concert,” she said. “Another girl is doing people’s nails to raise money and also works as a waitress for a local event company.” 

Raising the money to pay her way was also important for Jaimee Relph, who raised £4,000 for an expedition to North India when she was 16. Now aged 23, she considers pushing yourself to earn your trip to be key, allowing students to develop invaluable skills before they have even left the country. “You appreciate the value of how much it costs to go more, and so you get much more out of the trip by jumping on all of the opportunities offered in-country because you worked so hard to get there,” she said.

Students stuck for ideas could start by thinking seasonally. For instance, running an Easter Egg hunt in April, a World Book Day fancy dress contest in March and pumpkin carving for Halloween. Around Christmas, you could make and sell festive cards and wreaths, while January is a good time to take advantage of people’s New Year resolutions with Zoom fitness sessions.

Decide how to manage your time. You could run regular, bitesize events – or focus on larger ones and do fewer of them. Some students have funded their trip by selling unwanted items on eBay, while others have found a regular income through cleaning. James, a former Challenger, raised a total of £2,900 through ideas including car boot sales, quiz nights and cheese and wine tasting. He said: “Getting up at 5am to do a car boot sale is not the most fun, but focusing on the Himalayas made the early starts more bearable and 100% worth it!”

For Immy, motivation comes from the desire to experience daily life in Africa and the huge contrast that offers to life back home. “I am very excited to go to Tanzania to push myself and prove to myself that I can do it,” she said. “I think this trip will change my life for the better and give me the boost of self-confidence that I need.”

If you need any more inspiration, check out our Earning It Guide here.

Written by Ellie Ross