What is the value in meeting my Compassion 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 Compassion child — this interaction is nothing short of a truly sacred encounter.

Why does Compassion offer Exposure Trips?

Compassion Canada has been offering Exposure Trips for more than 25 years, starting in 1986. It was born in the heart of our president, Barry Slauenwhite, 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 of the matter is what we now know as an Exposure 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! In addition, this is why we have created organized Exposure Trips.

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 the 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.

How do you arrive at the price for an Exposure Trip, 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 Exposure 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.

Exposure 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

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 centre representative and parent (when desired by the parent/child).

Exposure 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

Why are background checks required and what is the cost?

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 Compassion beneficiaries. In accordance with our Commitment to Child Protection, Compassion requires a Background Check for all adult visitors (legal age in your province) who are meeting any beneficiary of a ministry program. Compassion's background checks are valid for 2 years. If you travel on another Custom Visit or Exposure Trip during this time frame, you will not need to complete another one. This includes arrangements to meet any Compassion child, or Compassion-assisted child development centre or Survival Program.

Each adult visitor will be responsible for paying the fee as well as submitting the information to our third-party vendor, My Back Check. Instructions for the background check will be provided upon registration for a visit, and completion is required before arranging a custom visit.

What are my rooming options if I am travelling 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 registration page. If you are travelling 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.

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 ribbon and nametag) to help you prepare for your trip. Final trip details, such as itinerary, are sent a few weeks before departure.

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 non-refundable
  • 50 percent of the trip cost will be required for cancellations 59-31 days prior to the Exposure Trip
  • 100 percent of the trip cost will be required for cancellations 30-0 days prior to the Exposure Trip

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 Canada. If your trip requires a visa for Canadian citizens, you will receive instructions as to how (and when) to obtain this document. Note, that if you are not a Canadian citizen, it will be your responsibility to obtain the correct travel documents. Each traveler is responsible for the cost and schedule of obtaining the correct travel documents.

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

Do I need to get any immunizations?

We are unable to give medical advice, so it is important to consult with your physician, local health department or Travel Clinic for information on required and recommended immunizations for the country where you will be travelling.

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.

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, please contact us for Compassion’s Land Only Agreement. 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 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 an Exposure Trip and also with your trip leader when you meet in your destination country.

What is the deposit and payment schedule?

A $250 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of registration via credit card or cheque. 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.

I have a physical limitation/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 travellers 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. We may require you to bring along someone who can assist you.

What should I pack?

Travelling internationally can be daunting when packing for yourself, let alone bringing gifts for your Compassion child, their family and student centres! 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 centres.

Who are the trip leaders for Exposure trips?

We’ve selected highly skilled staff to lead all of our Exposure Trips. All leaders are employed by Compassion Canada 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.

How many of my Compassion children can I visit?

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

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

Yes! The trip price includes one child visit. If you wish to visit additional children, they can be included for an additional cost.

Can I bring gifts to my Compassion child?

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

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

We set aside 6-7 hours to spend with your Compassion 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 centre to that location. Each sponsor will have a translator for the day so you and your Compassion child can enjoy communicating together.

What is the age restriction for minors?

If the child is travelling with a parent/guardian, they must be 10 years or older. Standard pricing will apply to any minor travelling with us.

What is the age range of participants on Exposure Trips?

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

Compassion Canada is currently planning Exposure Trips to developing countries where we have child development centres. Do I have to be a sponsor to go on a trip?

No, Exposure 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 countries may I choose to visit on an Exposure Trip?

Compassion Canada is currently planning Exposure Trips to developing countries where we have child development centres.