I have struggled over the years with spending money to pay for travel costs getting to and from Kenya. Spending $800-$2000 on airfare, plus another $40-$70 per day on car rental, adds up to thousands of dollars that could have kept children in school, paid for another crop of maize, inseminated dairy cow, bought more chickens and so on. I want every dollar possible going to these self-sustaining projects. That’s why we highly encourage people to offset travel costs if they’re so inclined.
Unlike many other developing countries, if you’re a tourist, you’ll pay more for hotels. When in Kenya, we’ become a master at minimizing our travel dollars. If I have an overnight in London, I use Hilton Honors points wherever possible. If I’m coming in on a late evening flight, we stay at a Nairobi Christian Student Center, where a room and breakfast costs about $60 (instead of $170). If I’m traveling alone from the US, this is often the only hotel expense we have. We do our best to keep our speaking engagements down to day trips (sometimes 16 hour days, but still…). This way I can stay with Pastor George and his family, and use the money that would have been spent on hotels to move projects forward.
As for vehicles, we usually take advantage of the network of ride share rentals in Kenya. Since a car or truck is usually a family’s biggest asset, people often rent out their vehicles to offset school fees. George is so well known around Nakuru and the Bungoma area that his friends often rent us their vehicles, since the farm truck can’t make the trek across the country, or provide secure luggage storage. Renting other people’s used vehicles means you never quite know how reliable things will be for the entire trip. Which is why we welcome the opportunity to rent from Hertz and Avis.
Come to think of it, the only luxury we allow ourselves is our pilgrimage to the Midland Hotel each direction – the most affordable, juicy fire-roasted chicken and fries meals make the 5-8 hour trek well worthwhile.
Here are the biggest “wins” when it comes to travel rewards or help offsetting travel costs:
- Purchase airline tickets for us or donate miles. Best flights to Kenya are on American/British Airways, Delta/Kenya Airways and United/Lufthansa. It’s often cheapest to purchase tickets for us and get the full tax deduction, since many carriers charge a fee to transfer reward points over to charities.
- Donate hotel reward points. In London and New York, our stayover stops near Heathrow and JFK are a Hampton Inn (Hilton family). When a Kenyan Pastor is in the U.S., if we don’t have a host home or Airbnb option in different cities, then Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Radisson, and Wyndham reward points come in handy.
- Donate car rental reward points. For car rentals, Avis and Hertz are the best options in Kenya, plus Alamo and Budget in the U.S.
We welcome all donations to offset travel expenses – even appreciated assets that are donated specifically for our travel fund! Excess funds go to offset travel costs for volunteers on our service trips – or pays for a volunteer to come join us who has special skills!