Crowdfunded Vacation: Travel on Someone Else’s Dime

Crowdfunded Vacation: Travel on Someone Else’s Dime

Everyone loves vacations.  Of course they do.  It’s a time when you can do the things you love to do, kick back and relax.  There is really only one drawback to vacations, which of course is, having to pay for them.

So wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to take a trip on someone else’s dime?

Today, thanks to the power of the internet, that may be entirely possible, but don’t go packing your bags just yet, let me give some more details first.

Different crowdfunding websites have been springing up across the web for the last few years and have really become something that is at the forefront of social media platforms.  Websites like GoFundMe.com, KickStarter.com, Crowdrise.com and even Honeyfund.com have been creating quite a buzz.  In 2014 alone, GoFundMe and KickStarter raised a combined $914 million.  Pretty crazy stuff.

With the question of how to fund your next vacation out of the way, we can move on to answering the question: “does anyone really use this service for funding vacations?”

The answer is yes.  Rather successfully too.

A quick search of the Travel category on the GoFundMe website and you can see all the recent posts and campaigns that are available.  Most of these people are looking to fund a vacation for some reason other than personal gain however.  Field Trips for less fortunate classrooms, vacations for the terminally or otherwise ill and of course, honeymoons.  Also sprinkled through the listings are people who want to travel to make a difference in other countries through charity, education and more.

One man, Gerik Bensing, created a page for him to “Travel on Kindness”, meaning that he will leave his home taking nothing but a backpack and himself.

“I’ve done some traveling in the past, but with this being my last summer before I graduate college, I want to travel in a nontraditional way,” Bensing said.  “This trip is all about getting out of my comfort zone, putting my trust in others and experiencing something completely new.”

To date, Bensing was able to raise $665 towards his travels, a pretty decent sum of money for just setting up a free page and telling your story.  Looking at airfares from Southwest Airlines, currently the cost of a week-long plane ticket from New York to Los Angeles comes in at $588.  At these rates, Bensing would have had his plane ride paid for and $77 left over for spending money.

Another page, created by Rachelle Walker for her sister Carol Bowden, hopes to raise enough money for a well-deserved trip.

“We are trying to raise money to buy my sister a week long respite vacation,” Walker said.  “In July of 2008, our mother suffered a debilitating stroke which left her paralyzed and unable to care for herself.  Our older sister, Carol, came forward and made many sacrifices to take care of our mother and keep her in her own home.  Carol is 60-years young and she has dreamed of just having a few days to herself to be able to enjoy what life has to offer. She stepped up to the challenge and never complained. Currently, she works three to four days a week and on her off days, she is confined to the house caring for our mother.  We can’t think of a better way to try and reward her for her undying love then by providing a week-long vacation.”

The campaign started by her sister has raised $985 over the last 21 days for Bowden’s vacation fund, a little over 10 percent of their goal ($10,300).

Using the same example from above, the plane ticket from New York to Los Angeles, Bowden could fly and still have roughly $400 for spending money, hotels, etc.

The real power behind the campaigns on these sites is the ability to use the internet and, more specifically, social media.  Users can easily share their cause via Facebook, Twitter and more, allowing them to reach more people than ever before.  If something hits the right heart strings and ends up going viral, donations could end up pouring in, allowing you to collect more money than anticipated.

Next time you are planning a trip centered on a life event, such as a marriage, family reunion or something of the like, crowdfunding may be worth a look.  For a very minimal amount of time to setup, it can be a very easy way to raise funds for your next trip.

Scott and Jenn Murphy used this plan for their anniversary.  The couple added their page and tagged it with the headline, “Send Scott and Jenn to New Zealand”.  53 people pitched in on their page and helped to raise $3,295.  The couple plans to take the trip in late 2015.

The sites mentioned above are all a little different and each one has their own set of fees and regulations you may have to follow.

KickStarter, which is mainly for people looking to create businesses, may not be the way to go for you if you are planning a vacation, but it does give you a real insight as to how powerful crowdfunding can be.  This site requires the user to reach a “goal” amount before they are able to actually take control of the funds.  The company will also charge you a 5% fee on the entire sum of the money before you get a hold of it as well as a 3-5% processing fee.

GoFundMe on the other hand, which was started in 2010, is accessible to anyone and designed for you to use it for anything.  This site also has no deadlines or limits that users need to reach before getting access to their money, whatever is donated to you is yours to keep, after the 5% fee that GoFundMe takes out for operating costs and a 2.9% processing fee.

Along the lines of the fee, one other thing that you may need to watch out for with crowdfunding sites is the fact that some sites say they are free for you to use.  Some say there are no “fees” when you take out your money, however most of these sites actually charge the donor the fee.  Just another something to keep in mind when using these services.

No matter what way you look at it, technology is changing the way we live our lives.  It has become a mainstay in everything we do, including travel.  Next time you are trying to make a vacation happen and your funds just don’t match up, consider sharing your story and let the internet take over.

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Crowdfunded Vacation: Travel on Someone Else’s Dime