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24 Teacher Travel Opportunities for Free or Super Cheap: A Great List!

Kim in Xian, China having fun!
Kim in Xian, China having fun!

Teaching Traveling: Are you a teacher who wants to travel for free or very little money? Massachusetts teacher, Kim Young, has a GIANT list of amazing resources for you! Kim, tell us more about your background.

Kim: Traveling has often felt more natural to me than staying at home, and my first international experience was studying abroad in France in 5th grade.

Teaching World History in Weston, Massachusetts for last twelve years has allowed me to infuse my passion for traveling into my curriculum through designing lesson plans to expand my students’ global competence.

While I have organized student travel and exchange programs in the past, I travel primarily through grant-funded opportunities designed for teachers. Most recently I spent three months in the Palestinian Territories as part of the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program.

Interacting with school children in the Lake Volta region of Ghana.
Interacting with school children in the Lake Volta region of Ghana.

TT: Amazing! Tell us more about which programs helped you see the world, affordably.

K: Here is a list of different programs I’ve participated in for interested teachers (with most descriptions taken from the program websites):

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program – Read more about my experience in the Palestinian Territories at this website. This three-six month program bases participants at university-level schools of education. Participants take courses, lead master classes and seminars, visit local schools, collaborate with each other online and in person, and complete an inquiry project of their own design. This program is open to both U.S. and international teachers.

Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminars – Early in my career, a Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminar to Mexico and Peru changed my teaching about the European conquest of the Americas. The program provides short-term summer study and travel seminars abroad for K-12 U.S. educators in the social sciences and humanities for the purpose of improving their understanding and knowledge of the peoples and cultures of other countries. Locations vary year to year.

In a Kayak with National Geographic!
In a Kayak with National Geographic!

Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad (GPA) – One of these group projects allowed me to spend four weeks in Jordan learning about culture, volunteering, and learning Arabic. This program provides short-term summer grants to support overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for teachers, students, and faculty engaged in a common endeavor. Projects may include short-term seminars, curriculum development, group research or study, or advanced intensive language programs. GPAs are normally sponsored by universities or resource centers and have varying goals and eligibility requirements. GPAs can be hard to locate, but are often announced in the IFLE newsletter.

Teacher for Global Classrooms (TGC) – This program gave me an amazing teaching immersion experience in Chennai, India. Formerly the ILEP program, this is a yearlong professional development opportunity for elementary, middle and high school teachers to become leaders in global education. It includes an 8-week online course, capstone project, symposium, and 2-3 week international field experience. International teachers should apply to the IREX Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) program.

Earth Expeditions – Through this program I got to study Buddhism and Conservation in Thailand with educators from different disciplines. The program consists of seven-credit online-based learning courses (April-December), which include a two-week international field experience. Sponsored by University of Miami of Ohio, this program supports interdisciplinary global learning opportunities in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. Can be done as individual courses or part of a Master’s degree program.

Kim at Machu Picchu in Peru.
Kim at Machu Picchu in Peru.

Global Competence Certificate – In addition to amazing coursework, this program immersed me in the history and culture of the Afro-Ecuadorian community through a study abroad experience. This is a 15-month online graduate level certificate program administered by Teachers College Columbia University, World Savvy, and Asia Society. The program focuses on various aspects of teaching and learning as related to global competence and includes a two-week summer international field experience.

Turkish Cultural Foundation Study Tour – This program helped me to improve my teaching of the Ottoman Empire through the use of primary sources and hands-on artifacts. It is a program for middle and high school teachers combining in-person teacher professional workshops and a two-week field experience in Turkey. It is administered by the Turkish Cultural Foundation and the World Affairs Councils of America. Seek our your local WACA for application information.

Korea Society Fellowships – This program greatly improved the presence of Korea in my World History curriculum. Spring, summer, and fall programs are offered of varying lengths and eligibility. The Korea Society aims to further develop the teaching of Korea in K-12 schools across the U.S, thereby enhancing the overall curricula. The Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for participants to develop a critical and engaging eye into modern day Korea while maintaining proper perspective on the nation’s rich history.

Visiting a Buddhist Temple in Bangkok, Thailand.
Visiting a Buddhist Temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

Primary Source – I traveled to Ghana and along China’s Silk Road with this amazing organization. Primary Source study tours are designed to deepen educators’ knowledge of the world so that they are better able to enhance cultural understanding in their classrooms and communities. Participants travel with other educators who share a passion for world history and cultural exchange.

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institutes and Seminars – Through this program, I spent four weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico. Each year, NEH offers tuition-free opportunities for school, college, and university educators to study a variety of humanities topics. Stipends of $1,200-$3,900 help cover expenses for these one- to five-week programs. Both domestic and international opportunities have been offered in the past, but international funding for future programs is questionable.

Teaching a professional development workshop to Social Studies teachers in Chennai, India on 21st Century Learning.
Teaching a professional development workshop to Social Studies teachers in Chennai, India on 21st Century Learning.

While I haven’t participated in the following programs, they are ones I’ve heard of (again, most descriptions taken from program websites):

Fund for Teachers – Fund for Teachers enriches the personal and professional growth of teachers by recognizing and supporting them as they identify and pursue opportunities around the globe that will have the greatest impact on their practice, the academic lives of their students and on their school communities.

Japan-US Teacher Exchange Program for ESD – A fully-funded opportunity to travel to Japan to learn about ESD efforts and strengthen ESD curricula in both countries. ESD is “a vision of education that seeks to balance human and economic well-being with cultural traditions and respect for the earth’s natural resources,” according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Educators’ Study Tour to Japan – Sponsored by the Japan Society, the Educators’ Study Tour to Japan offers educators nationwide the opportunity to travel to Japan for three weeks to experience Japan first hand and bring their experiences back to the class?room. The program is open to middle and high school classroom teachers, librarians and school administrators (principals, assistant principals and department chairs only).

Free travel is possible if you're a teacher! Check out this huge list of opportunities to see the world through grants, scholarships, and programs. Pictured: Fun with seals on a beach.
Fun with seals on a beach.

National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellows – This opportunity is designed to give current K-12 classroom teachers and informal educators from the 50 U.S. states, Canada, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico the opportunity to extend Grosvenor’s legacy of excellence in geographic education. Through the program, exemplary educators are recognized for their commitment to geographic education and are given the opportunity to be actively engaged in finding new ways to bring geographic awareness to their classrooms or informal learning environments through a field-based experience.

Keizai Koho Center Teacher Fellowship – The Keizai Koho Center (Japan Institute for Social and Economic Affairs) in cooperation with the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS) sponsors a ten-day Fellowship to Japan in the summer for educators in the U.S. and Canada. The Fellowship allows teachers to learn first hand about contemporary Japanese society and enhance their classroom teaching of global perspectives.

Trying on Mayan wedding clothing.
Trying on Mayan wedding clothing.

Goethe-Institut Transatlantic Outreach Program – Since 2002, TOP has sought to find the best and most qualified social studies educators and give them the opportunity to experience Modern Germany in the most dramatic way possible: in person.

National Consortium for Teaching about Asia –After completing a NCTA seminar, alumni are eligible to participate in study tours. This is the newest summer field study in East Asia.

Earthwatch Education Fellowship – Fellowships are available for teachers who are passionate about teaching and interested in conservation, environmental sustainability, and lifelong learning.

Free travel is possible if you're a teacher! Check out this huge list of opportunities to see the world through grants, scholarships, and programs. Pictured: At Petra, the ancient city in Jordan.
At Petra, the ancient city in Jordan.

The Laurasian Institution – Various programs in China and Japan for students and teachers.

Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) – Founded in 2007, Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that has sent over 1300 teachers abroad on adventurous travel programs. GEEO’s trips are 7 to 21 days in length and are designed and discounted to be interesting and affordable for teachers. In addition to amazing tour leaders, many of the programs are accompanied by university faculty that are experts on the destination. GEEO also provides teachers educational materials and the structure to help them bring their experiences into the classroom. The trips are open to all nationalities of K-12 and university educators, administrators, retired educators, as well as educators’ guests.

US-China Education Council (USCEC) – Traveling, teaching, and study opportunities in China.

Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies – Since 1984, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations has provided American professionals in academia, government, and business unparalleled educational experiences in the Arab world. The Fellowship projects its participants into the dynamics of Arab-U.S. relations and provides first-hand exposure to the region’s considerable cultural, economic, political, and social diversity pursuant to increased knowledge and understanding.

Jumping for joy as a National Geographic educator.
Jumping for joy as a National Geographic educator.

Global Learning Fellows – Global Learning Fellows are comprised of Awards for Teaching Excellence recipients, who are nominated by their NEA State Affiliate. In order for an educator to be considered for the program, the State Affiliate should complete a nomination.

Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminars for Teachers – One-week academically rigorous seminars in American History. While most opportunities are domestic, seminars are occasionally offered in international locations.

Visiting a peer taught AIDS education class in Togo.
Visiting a peer taught AIDS education class in Togo.

TT: This is so useful. Tell us more about how you find travel opportunities.

K: I mostly find travel opportunities through subscriptions to various listservs. I recommend teachers sign up for the following listservs and newsletters – Program for Teaching East Asia (TEA), Global Studies Outreach at Harvard, International and Foreign Language Education, Global Opportunities for Teachers, Middle East Outreach Council, Five College Center for East Asian Studies, Boston University African Studies Outreach Center.

TT: Love this! Do you have any last tips about funding travel?

K: One more possible source of funding is the National Council for Social Studies James M. Becker Award for Global Understanding. Supported by the Longview Foundation, this award comes with a $2,000 cash award.

There are SO many great options, so look around, apply, and go see the world!

TT: Thanks so much, Kim! What a treasure-trove of resources. Readers, what questions or comments do you have for this expert Teacher Traveler?

Free travel is possible if you're a teacher! Check out this huge list of opportunities to see the world through grants, scholarships, and programs.
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Tania Gausel

Sunday 5th of February 2023

I'm in Australia working with students with Learning Difficulties and would like to study and know more about successful programs overseas.

Lillie Marshall

Sunday 5th of February 2023

Great question! Hopefully some resourceful readers will chime in with some ideas. Sending best of luck!

Cheryl Monaghan

Friday 20th of December 2019

How can I travel with a grant for free or very cheap?

Lynn F Liukko

Thursday 18th of June 2020

I've always wanted to "see the land". My students' families are from all over the world and I'd like to visit some of them.

Lillie Marshall

Saturday 21st of December 2019

Hi Cheryl, Each of these programs has its own application process. Click on the link for the ones that interest you to learn more. Good luck!

Ikponmwen Monday

Tuesday 30th of October 2018

I am Ikponmwen Monday teaching biology in a remote area in Nigeria for the past 25 years. I want to teach abroad in this programme so as to acquire experience. please how do I start.

Dilip Rijal

Saturday 4th of August 2018

Hello This is me Dilip Rijal, a Physics Teacher for 3 years in a community school in remote area of Nepal. I am keen enthusiastic to learn the different technique to teach the students from foreign places. But when i saw the web site which provides the learning opportunities in most advanced places of Europe or Africa as well as America I would like to drop this letter to let you know that if it is possible to provide me the short term course about how to achieve the learning system anywhere in this world, i would be glad and gratitude with you. Thank you

Yip Cheng Hou

Sunday 27th of October 2019

I am a Physics teacher in Singapore and i have the same desire as you to upgrade my teaching methods. Do you think it is possible for us to exchange classrooms for half a year?

Samara Epkens

Wednesday 18th of July 2018

Thank you for sharing your amazing experiences! I’m not a teacher but I am an education assistant and I work with many students facing an array of challenges. I often share my own experiences with the students ( high school) of my own past personal worldly travels. I am often uplifting and encouraging kids fighting challenges and difficulties in life. I want them to learn and to gain further interest in learning about the world around them, as a way to empower themselves and reach further in their potentials. Would you know if education assistants can also partake in these beneficial travel grants?


Sunday 22nd of July 2018

Great question, and maybe Kim can elaborate. My guess would be it varies by program.

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