Finding the Best 2021 Youth Mission Trip

This post is your one-stop-shop for finding the best 2021 youth mission trip for your group.

Finding the best 2021 youth mission trip options for your group can be hard work in any normal year. But on the heels of a pandemic, it’s the kind of work you shouldn’t be doing alone. We’re here to help with all your mission trip planning, logistics, and safety measures that take the stress off your shoulders and free you up to connect with your students.

Mission Trip Planning

How do I plan my first youth mission trip? Start here…

Before we dig into specific location options for the best 2021 youth mission trip, it’s helpful to narrow down your search by exploring the types of mission trips that best fit your group.

Not all mission trips are designed the same because each of our community partners have unique sets of needs that your group can help meet and different types of learning experiences for your students. So, we’re able to create unique mission trips for middle school, high school, college, and mixed ages based on the guidance of our community partners.

Here are some important things to consider when planning youth mission trips for different age groups of students.

  • Middle school mission trips are an opportunity to introduce students to what healthy mission trips look like. We call it “respectful service”. These mission trips are designed to help middle school students discover respectful service and how it creates lasting impact.
  • High school mission trips are designed to take students deeper. These mission trips are created to immerse high school students in the stories of communities through impactful service that reveals the effects of systemic barriers.
  • Mixed age group mission trips are a combination of experiences for students across middle school and high school. Some of the experiences will be focused on creating that foundation of “respectful service” for younger students, with some experiences that provided added layers of depth for older students.
  • College age mission trips and summer staff positions intentionally add key elements of leadership development. These experiences are built for young adults to expand their passion for service, develop leadership skills, and gain practical ministry experience as they live and work within a new community for the summer.

Each mission trip is incredibly meaningful, and if you plan it right, you’ll be able to build on the momentum as your students serve year after year.

Mission Trip Budget

How do you build a mission trip budget?

Finding the best 2021 youth mission trip for your group also means finding a trip that works for your budget.

Your youth mission trip includes a lot of factors that can impact your group’s budget. As you’re considering key things about “WHO” your group is (middle school students, high school students, mixed age group, college age, etc.), you’ll start to get an idea of “WHERE” you’re willing to travel and “WHAT” all you’re hoping to include as part of your mission trip. Those things all have a large influence on your mission trip budget.

Here is a quick list of questions that will help you understand more about “WHERE” you want to go and “WHAT” you’re hoping to experience on you mission trip:

  • How far do you want to travel? Most people want a mission trip experience that is a one-day drive, usually eight hours tops. Know, if you choose a trip further from home, you will need to plan more logistics and for a larger budget.
  • What type of service do you want to do? Do you want your mission trip to include more relational ministry, working with kids, elderly or homeless populations? Do you want your mission trip to include more work projects? Or a mix of both?
  • Are you looking for a specific type of learning experience? What type of cultural or community experience would be most educational or meaningful for your group? Do you want to serve a population that is similar or different than your own community back home? Is your group mature enough to unpack systemic issues related to poverty, food insecurity, or racial injustice?
  • How much are you willing to “rough it”? Some mission trip locations have fewer amenities than others. It is so powerful to push students out of their comfort zone, but not everyone is ready to go all out on their mission trip and that is OK. Is your group wiling to sleep on air mattresses? Are you willing to sleep somewhere without air conditioning? Would you be OK taking a cold shower? Be sure to know your deal breakers ahead of time, and we’ll help you find the right fit.

Your mission trip budget planning starts to come into view after you’ve worked through those questions.

If you need more help creating your mission trip budget, be sure to download the free Mission Trip Planning Guidebook >>.

Now that you know what kind of trip you’re looking for and what works with your budget, let’s find the best youth mission trip for your group.

Mission Trip Options

What is the best 2021 youth mission trip?

With 18+ locations across the U.S., your group mission trip is closer than you might think.

For 26 years, YouthWorks has been building relationships with community leaders in each location and investing in long-term partnerships so that your group can be a part of that lasting impact.

We partner with Large Urban Cities, Small Urban Cities, Small Towns, and Native American Communities.

Large Urban Mission Trips invite groups into fast-paced communities with complex, intertwined stories. While tourists are drawn to these cities for a variety of experiences, they miss out on the true heartbeat of the community. Large cities are filled with pockets of tight-knit communities where the best of the city comes to life. View all LARGE URBAN MISSION TRIPS >>

Here’s a list of Large Urban Mission Trips with some extra space still available for your group:

Small Urban Mission Trips combine the best of a big city mixed with the personality of a small town. These communities often face the challenge of being both too small and too large as they seek to serve their residents well. They love introducing groups to the city and people that they love. View all SMALL URBAN MISSION TRIPS >>

Here’s a list of Small urban Mission Trips that still have space for extra registrations:

Small Town Mission Trips give your students an opportunity to step into a community that is rife with resilience and hope. These small town communities are built on close-knit relationships and a shared history. Being small they often have gaps in the services available to their community members. They enjoy welcoming newcomers to help support the ways they are meeting needs in their communities. View all SMALL TOWN MISSION TRIPS >>

Here’s a list of Small Town Mission Trips that still have space for your students this summer:

Native American Mission Trips are intentionally built to welcome groups into conversations about the rich and difficult history of our indigenous partners. Native American partners continue to show us beautiful hospitality as we enter into their stories and build lasting relationships. While staying close to home, your group will encounter and learn from new cultures that challenge their perspective. View all NATIVE AMERICAN MISSION TRIPS >>

Mission Trip Resources

What are helpful youth mission trip planning resources?

Don’t do your mission trip planning alone. With the impact of COVID-19 on so many communities and church partners, we’ve doubled our efforts to help churches prepare and plan to mobilize their students to serve. Take advantage of the RESOURCE LIBRARY to download guidebooks to help you with all aspects of your mission trip prep. View the entire MISSION TRIP RESOURCE LIBRARY >>

Here’s a quick glimpse at a few of the key resources from the library PLUS some additional mission trip support that we offer.

  • The Ultimate Mission Trip Planning Guide is a comprehensive resource that helps you think through all the critical details related to picking the best youth mission trip for your group. Download the Mission Trip Planning Guide HERE >>
  • How to Get More Students to Register For Your Mission Trip is a guide to help you increase youth registration for your mission trip and draw in more adult leaders. Get the guide HERE >>
  • COVID-19 Safety Policies and Procedures is a collection of the most frequently requested information regarding how we’re working to provide safe and healthy youth mission trip experiences in 2021. See all the safety policies and procedures HERE >>
  • COVID-Proofing Town Hall is a recorded training that we offered to church partners who had lots of questions about our COVID-19 safety measures. You’ll find additional resources mentioned in the conversation as we get to questions and responses from attendees. Watch the COVID-Proofing Town Hall HERE >>
  • FREE Mission Trip Coaching is a way that we can help guide you through the process of finding the best youth mission trip for your group. We’re currently offering 1 hour of FREE Mission Trip Coaching, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of it. Here’s where you can schedule a Mission Trip Coaching session >> 
Respectful Service Mission Trips

The best youth mission trips begin with respectful service.

We’ve shared a lot about the practical aspects of finding the best youth mission trip for your group, and we wanted to leave you with a resource to help you think about the philosophical approach to creating healthy mission trips.

For more than 25 years, YouthWorks has facilitated youth mission trips for middle school and high school students, and we’ve done it through the lens of respectful service.

We believe that God is already at work in individuals, churches and communities, and we use Jesus’ example of servant-leadership to join that work. Throughout our partnership with a community, we listen closely, speak carefully and serve humbly. Respectful service may feel less efficient, but we believe it is more effective and life-giving.

Through our experience facilitating youth mission trips we have learned a lot of lessons about respectful service—sometimes through mistakes but also through success. Without respectful service as our lens, mission trips can easily create damaging relationships or encourage unjust systems to thrive.

We’ve committed our work to creating youth mission trips through this lens of respectful service. But we also ask every church partner who joins us to do the same. To help with that work, we’ve created this guidebook that leads you through an intentional process to examine why you’re wanting to serve and how you can do it respectfully.


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