Trips FAQ - Compassion International

Trips FAQ
What countries may I choose to visit on a Sponsor Trip?

Compassion International is currently planning Sponsor Trips to developing countries where we have child development centers. Depending on the demand, we travel to each country at least once every two years.

Do you have to sponsor a child to attend a Sponsor Trip?

No, Sponsor Trips are open to the public, and anyone can attend. We have to warn you that you will probably want to sponsor a child with us before your trip is over!

What is the age range of participants on Sponsor Trips?

Our trip members include families, couples, friends and solo travelers from all over the United States. Sponsors range in age from 10 to 90. It’s always a diverse group.

What are the age restrictions for minors?

If the child is traveling with a parent/guardian, they must be 10 years or older. Teenagers 14 and older may travel unaccompanied with notarized permission from both parents and are accepted on a case-by-case basis. Standard pricing will apply for any minor traveling with us.

How long will I be able to visit with my sponsored child?

We set aside one full day to spend with your sponsored child. Typically we will meet the children in a park that is centrally located in the country. We will transport your child, a guardian and a program staff member from their Compassion child development center to that location. Each sponsor will have a translator for the day so you and your sponsored child can enjoy communicating together.

Can I bring gifts to my sponsored child?

Absolutely! You are welcome to bring gifts for your sponsored child and their family. Please view our list of gift suggestions to help you choose the perfect gifts for this occasion.

On the trip, can I visit children I do not personally sponsor?

No, due to the costs of bringing children to participate in Fun Day, Compassion limits the children to those who are directly sponsored by travelers on the trip. If you have family, friends, etc., who sponsor children in the country you are visiting, feel free to bring a gift on their behalf. Our country staff is more than happy to deliver those gifts.

How many of my sponsored children can I visit?

The trip price includes up to three of your own sponsored children. If you wish to visit additional children, they can be included for an additional cost.

Who are the trip leaders for Sponsor Trips?

We’ve selected highly skilled staff to lead all of our Sponsor Trips. All leaders are employed by Compassion International and are CPR/First Aid Certified, having gone through extensive training in the field alongside our country staff. Each trip will have at least two trained trip leaders and, depending on the size, may include additional staff.

What should I pack?

Traveling internationally can be daunting when packing for yourself, let alone bringing gifts for your sponsored child, their family and student centers! Please see our trip preparations page to help guide you when packing your own personal items, as well as items for your child and the children you will be seeing at the student centers.

I have a disability/health condition. Can I still attend?

Upon registration, you will be asked to disclose general health information so we are prepared to travel with you. If you mark a health condition on our medical checklist, a Physician Release Form will be required. If you have a disability, it may be best to contact us to discuss your disability and limitations prior to registration. Many of our travelers have disabilities and are able to travel, but it is important that we fully know and understand your limitations so we can advise and plan accordingly.

What is the deposit and payment schedule?

Deposit amounts vary per region and are as follows: $180 for trips to the Caribbean and Central America; $280 for trips to South America; $380 for trips to Africa and Asia. Deposits are nonrefundable and are due at the time of registration via credit or debit card. Upon completing registration, you will receive an email that includes payment deadlines, which can also be found on the trip page. Final payment for your trip will be due approximately three and a half months prior to departure.

What is the food like?

On your trip, we will dine on the local fare. Since buffets are typical, you will often have the ability to choose a more familiar meal. As much as possible, we will accommodate any special diet requests you have (e.g., vegetarian and vegan), but we ask that you please discuss your requests with us when registering for a Sponsor Trip and also with your trip leader when you meet in your destination country.

Is it possible to book my own airfare and travel Land Only?

Yes. Travelers have the option to use frequent flyer miles or points to reduce the overall trip cost. If you want to travel Land Only, you will have the option to choose this in your registration. If you do choose Land Only, you will be responsible for arranging and paying for your transportation to/from the hotel/airport if your flight doesn’t align with the group’s itinerary.

What are the hotels like?

We stay at hotels that are situated in safe locations and are geared to larger groups. When in larger cities, these hotels will often have restaurants on the premises and often include such amenities as pools, Internet and laundry service.

Do I need to get any immunizations?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “You should become familiar with what steps to take and who to contact in case of a medical emergency while you are traveling.” We are unable to give medical advice, so it is important to consult with your physician, local health department or the CDC website for information on required and recommended immunizations for the country where you will be traveling.

I don’t want to go on an arranged trip. Is there another option to meet my sponsored child?

Yes. We offer Custom Visits as an alternative to an arranged trip. For a Custom Visit, the traveler is responsible for all of their own travel arrangements and a Compassion Visits Specialist will help arrange for a day when you can meet your child, accompanied by a Compassion Host.

Will I need a passport and/or visa? And if so, how do I obtain these?

A passport is required for all travel outside of the United States. If your trip requires a visa, you will receive instructions as to how (and when) to obtain this document. Each traveler is responsible for the cost and schedule of obtaining the correct travel documents. If you prefer to have your passport and/or visa application processed for you, we recommend Travisa Passport & Travel Visa Service.

What is the cancellation policy?

In the event that you need to cancel your trip, please refer to our cancellation policy below:

  • All deposits are nonrefundable
  • 50 percent of the trip cost will be required for cancellations 59-31 days prior to the Sponsor Trip
  • 100 percent of the trip cost will be required for cancellations 30-0 days prior to the Sponsor Trip
What kind of information will I receive to prepare for my trip?

Since registration takes place significantly in advance to your departure date, you will receive many electronic communications and a welcome box (which contains your trip guide, luggage tag and name tag) to help you prepare for your trip. Final trip details, such as itinerary, are sent approximately three weeks before departure.

What are my rooming options if I’m traveling alone?

Accommodations are based on double occupancy. If you prefer single accommodations, you may pay a single supplement fee, which is listed on the trip information page. If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will assign a roommate of the same gender. If there is someone you would like to room with, please let us know when registering.

Should I buy travel insurance?

Compassion International purchases a limited travel insurance policy for each of our travelers. The coverage includes:

  • $50,000 Medical Benefit (no deductible) for urgent and emergency care
  • $500,000 Medical Evacuation & Repatriation
  • $100,000 Security Evacuation
  • $50,000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment

Some benefits such as trip cancellation or interruption benefits are not included. If you are interested in protecting your travel investment and would like to add those benefits, we recommend contacting Insurance Consultants International.

What does it mean to be “put on a waitlist”?

Compassion Sponsor Trips fill quickly. Often, sponsors want to register for a trip after it has filled to capacity. If this is the case, you will be put on a waitlist. If a space later becomes available, we will call in the order of the dates people registered.

Why are background checks required?

It is the policy of Compassion International to protect children in our programs from abuse by instituting reasonable guidelines and procedures to direct the interactions of Compassion International staff, partners, sponsors and other visitors with registered children. We believe that the vast majority of our sponsors share our organization’s values of respecting and caring for children. In order to ensure our children’s protection and determine eligibility to travel with Compassion, a simple background check is required prior to participating in a Sponsor Trip. The fee is included in the tript cost, and all personal information is encrypted and secure. If you would like general information about our background-check vendor, please visit For information regarding our commitment to child protection, please see our Child Protection Policy.

How do you arrive at the price for a Sponsor Trip, and what is included?

We work diligently to provide a world-class experience at the most reasonable price possible. We acknowledge that such a trip is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and for many the cost may seem an impossible hurdle. The reality is safe international travel can be pricey. We’d like to explain why these trips are created, what accounts for the cost of Sponsor Trips, and what is included in a trip to validate these expenses. The costs for the trip include all operational costs for the trips and visits team for ongoing trip efforts that are never supplemented by sponsorship funds but, instead, through trip costs and pricing exclusively. To ensure that Compassion can consistently provide world-class, cross-cultural experiences for group travelers without using sponsorship funds, we also charge an administration fee to offset the cost of our full-time staff.

Sponsor Trip costs include travel and in-country costs, such as:

  • all airfare, fuel and surcharges for international flights booked under a group contract by Compassion (unless a trip is noted as Land Only)
  • all in-country hotel costs
  • all in-country transportation costs from buses to in-country flights to varying destinations within the country you are visiting
  • all in-country meals
  • all tips, fees and entrance/exit costs as well as fun day venue costs and visits to any tourist attractions
  • travel Insurance (cancellation insurance is not included)

Most importantly, the trip cost includes all expenses associated with the child/sponsor visit. This includes transportation (bus, air, taxi, train, boat), translation services, meals, lodging, activity entrance fees, etc., for the child(ren), their student center representative and parent (when desired by the parent/child).

Sponsor Trip coverage does not include:

  • domestic ticket costs for you or your family to meet the group flying from our gateway city to our international location
  • additional snacks, shopping, gifts for your child or souvenirs purchased in-country
  • travel documents such as passports and visas
  • immunizations
  • excess baggage charges (especially if your bags exceed weight limits or number of pieces allowed)
  • Internet, phone calls or laundry services while traveling
  • transportation from the airport if you choose to fly Land Only apart from the group airline contract
  • fuel surcharges

*Please see the specific trip page for full details, as inclusions can vary slightly per trip.

What are fuel surcharges?

A fuel surcharge is an additional cost that is added from the airline after we have secured our initial pricing. Although we strive to negotiate competitive group airfare, additional airline fuel surcharges may be applicable to each ticket and determined by the airline carrier at time of issuance. It is becoming difficult to estimate increasing fuel surcharges in advance. Our commitment to financial stewardship and the children we serve prevents us from absorbing these additional costs. In the event these surcharges are higher than budget estimates, we may require additional funds strictly to cover these increased surcharges. We appreciate your understanding in this matter and will communicate any changes immediately.

Why does Compassion offer Sponsor Trips?

Compassion International has been offering Sponsor Trips for more than 25 years, starting in 1986. It was born in the heart of our past president, Wess Stafford, because he understood the transformational power of the sponsor-child relationship for both the child and the sponsor. As he pondered how to more deeply engage both the child and the sponsor in this relationship, he concluded that a face-to-face experience would be best. The main obstacle to providing such an encounter was sponsors not feeling comfortable planning their own international travel to a developing country and protecting the international staff in our Compassion-assisted countries from being bombarded with individual requests to meet a child. The conclusion to the matter is what we now know as a Sponsor Trip — a fully planned, carefully designed, cross-cultural experience that is led by a trained international trip leader.

We receive requests weekly from sponsors wanting to visit their child. Some of these trips are personal trips, where the sponsor is planning their trip to the country on their own, and we help organize the visit with their child. This takes a lot of planning for those who want to go visit their children and their country! And this is why we have created organized Sponsor Trips.

The costs for the trip include all operational costs for the trips and visits team for ongoing trip efforts. These costs are never supplemented by sponsorship funds but, instead, through trip costs and pricing exclusively.

To ensure that Compassion can consistently provide world-class, cross-cultural experiences for group travelers without using sponsorship funds, we also charge an administration fee to offset the cost of our full-time staff.

What is the value in meeting my sponsored child?

The benefit for the child is very significant. For a child in poverty, it is a deep-seated belief that he or she is insignificant, powerless and hopeless. That belief perpetuates a poverty of spirit. This poverty of spirit, when met with the intense day-to-day realities children face, can be changed only by transformation. Nothing says, “You are special, valued, significant or powerful” quite like a visit from a child’s sponsor. The surprise is that the sponsor often feels the same message coming back to them from their sponsored child — this interaction is nothing short of a truly sacred encounter.

Are Sponsor Trip payments tax deductible?

Compassion trip payments are not tax deductible contributions according to IRS guidelines. Traveler payments are directly paying for your trip costs, which is not considered a charitable activity.