Editor’s Note: As the pandemic evolves, travel rules can shift at a moment's notice. Be sure to read the health and safety protocols and requirements for visitors to any destination, as well as those of airlines, car rentals and hotels before you book, and again before you travel.
Travel is an enriching experience all on its own. But with a grant or scholarship, educators not only get to explore an interesting place or topic; they get to bring that valuable experience back to their own classrooms. If you’ve ever wanted to travel to historic sites, interview experts, research alongside field professionals or even learn an artisanal craft, travel grants and fellowships can make your goals a reality.
Design your own enrichment trip
Fund for Teachers. Perhaps the largest provider of educator-enrichment funding, Fund for Teachers (FFT) offers grants for self-designed summer fellowships. This empowers teachers to take control of their own learning in a way they know will have the most impact on their students. FFT has awarded $33.5 million in grants to nearly 9,000 of America’s top educators, and FFT Fellows have traveled to 152 different countries on all seven continents.
Program details: Grants of up to $5,000 per individual or $10,000 for teams of two or more.
Who’s eligible: Full-time, pre-K–12 teachers with at least three years’ teaching experience who spend 50% or more of their time in classroom instruction with students and intend to return to a classroom or teaching environment.
Application deadline: The application cycle begins in October and ends in January. For a better chance of success, be sure to review the Scoring Criteria, which details how applications are evaluated.
Gain an international perspective
Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program. The Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program (Fulbright TGC) knows that for students to have a global perspective, their instructors need to gain one through their own international travel. Each year, about 80 educators are selected for the program (funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the nonprofit IREX) and challenged to transform their classrooms to enhance students’ global points of view.
The yearlong fellowship includes a free online training course plus a trip to Washington, D.C., for a collaborative Global Education Symposium. It culminates with a two- to three-week international trip to a TGC-selected location. Past countries have included Brazil, Morocco, India, the Philippines and Kazakhstan. Once at their destination, educators connect with local teachers and host schools to exchange ideas and even lead classes.
Program details: The fellowship covers airfare, hotel and travel incidentals for the Washington, D.C., and international trips. Fellows earn professional development Continuing Education Units.
Who’s eligible: Full-time, K-12 teachers who are U.S. citizens and residents with three years’ experience who spend 50% or more of their time in a student-facing role.
Application deadline: The application cycle begins in December or January and closes in March. Apply at irex.org or join its mailing list to receive details about the next trips.
Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program. The U.S. Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program offers approximately three summer seminars annually, each hosting 16 U.S. educators in the social sciences and humanities for four to six weeks. The seminar locations in 2021 were Iceland, Morocco and Mexico. The program aims to improve participants’ understanding and knowledge of the people and cultures of other countries.
Program details: The grant includes airfare, room and board and program costs within the host country, but participants are responsible for some shared costs. In 2021, that cost was $650.
Who’s eligible: Educators responsible for curriculum or instruction in the social sciences or humanities and languages, including elementary and secondary teachers, administrators or curriculum specialists, faculty or administrators from institutions of higher education, librarians, museum educators and media or resource specialists. Applicants must also be citizens or permanent residents of the United States holding a bachelor’s degree or higher with at least three years’ experience and current full-time employment in one of the professions listed above in a U.S. school system, institution of higher learning, local or state education agency, library or museum.
Application deadline: The application cycle is typically announced in the fall or winter for the following year (e.g., fall or winter 2021 announcement for 2022 programs) with a deadline at the end of December. Contact the Department of Education for future application schedules, and check the Hints for Preparing a Competitive Application.
Cruise in the name of science or geography
Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program. This is no ordinary boat ride. The 35 or so teachers chosen for the Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program (GTF), which is sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Lindblad Expeditions, join a Lindblad expedition voyage aboard the National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Endeavour II, National Geographic Sea Lion and or National Geographic Quest. Educators learn about the land and sea from on-board naturalists and have opportunities for activities such as kayaking, Zodiac trips and cultural tours of local towns.
Previous expeditions included trips to the Galápagos Islands, where educators kayaked and snorkeled among stingrays and sea lions, and Iceland, where they cruised alongside humpback and orca whales and observed blue-morph arctic fox pups. Part of the fellowship includes developing classroom activities to teach their students the geographic and ocean issues they learned about on their trip.
Program details: Fellowships include expenses for a 10- to 17-day expedition during the summer or December holiday, plus a required pre-expedition workshop in Washington, D.C. Fellows are expected to be active and engaged members of the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship over the course of the expedition year and the year following.
Who’s eligible: Pre-K–12 teachers and informal educators from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and Department of Defense Activity Schools who have demonstrated a dedication to geography education. Applicants must plan to return to a classroom or teaching environment the year following the expedition.
Application deadline: The call for applications begins each fall. Sign up for updates here. See a sample application.
Teacher at Sea Program. Love the open ocean? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has sent more than 800 educators from all 50 states to the Teacher at Sea program. Past Teacher at Sea ships operated in a variety of areas from the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska to the northeast Atlantic and the Florida coast.
Cruises focus on either fisheries, oceanography or hydrography. Educators might help conduct research toward better understanding of marine habitats, sustainable fishing and climate or even assist in scanning the sea floor for underwater hazards in order to improve nautical charts.
Program details: Fellowships include all travel costs for two-week to one-month cruises, including transportation to and from the ship, lodging and per diem allowance.
Who’s eligible: Currently employed, full-time, pre-K-12 teachers or administrators; community college, college or university teachers; museum or aquarium educators; and adult education teachers. Applicants must be permanent residents or citizens of the U.S. who will return to the same or similar employment the next year. Please note: Due to COVID-19, the ships did not sail in 2020 or 2021, so the 2022 voyage will be for those who qualified in 2020. The next round of new applicants can apply for the 2023 season.
Application deadline: Applications will open for the 2023 season in October 2022.
Teach Earth Program. If donning waist-high neoprene waders and trekking through the Arctic wetlands of Manitoba collecting water samples sounds like your idea of a cool summer vacation, try for a Teach Earth USA Fellowship from the Earthwatch Institute. Each year, the institute sends about 50 teachers to join one- to two-week expeditions with world-renowned scientists working in the field to help collect samples and analyze them in the lab.
These frontline opportunities allow teachers to apply the scientific method to current environmental issues. Past expeditions have focused on studying the effects of climate change in the Arctic, California, Costa Rica, Little Cayman, Acadia National Park, Arizona and Ecuador.
Program details: Grants cover the full cost of the research expedition or partially funded fellowships at a subsidized rate.
Who’s eligible: U.S.-based K–12 teachers of any subject.
Application deadline: Applications opened for the 2022 session on November 2, 2021, and have a deadline of January 10, 2022.
Fund a professional development project
The NEA Foundation. The NEA Foundation’s Learning & Leadership Grants underwrite teachers for a variety of professional enrichment experiences, from research projects to attending conferences and seminars. Past recipients’ projects have included a range of trips, from attending a grant-writing conference in Miami to 11 weeks in Mexico for intensive music and folk dance study. Right now, there is a focus on pandemic-related relief and racial equality work, but all applications are still being considered.
Program details: Grantees receive $2,000 per individual and $5,000 per group for professional development.
Who’s eligible: Educators, counselors and support professionals (such as para-educators, food service, clerical and maintenance and custodial staff) at public schools or public institutions of higher education. Applicants must be current NEA members.
Application deadlines: The NEA Foundation reviews applications three times a year. Check the website for application periods and deadlines.
Find long-term grants and short-term adventure
The Institute of International Education (IIE) administers several programs that finance travel for secondary-school teachers. These are sponsored by various foundations, corporations and government entities and can vary from year to year. Among them is the highly competitive Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching, a grant that allows U.S. and international teachers to go abroad for three to six months to learn about another country’s educational system.
Sign up for the IIE’s free Global Opportunities for Teachers newsletter for more information about its programs and resources.
Program details: Grants vary by program. Visit IIE’s program finder page for the latest offerings.
Who’s eligible: Full-time teachers with at least more than five years’ experience are preferred, with some additional criteria depending on the program.
Application deadlines: Vary by program.
Study in Scotland, England, Japan and more
Specialty groups offer a host of teacher travel opportunities for specific types of study. Here are a few examples:
- The National Association of Japan-America Societies offers Keizai Koho Center Teacher Fellowships for grades 6–12 economics, social studies, geography and history teachers to tour Tokyo and its surroundings. In 2019 the program featured visits to Japanese schools, companies and cultural events as well as opportunities to talk with students, teachers, executives, scholars and experts on Japanese society and its education system.
- The English-Speaking Union of the United States offers TLab-UK, formerly the British Universities Summer School (BUSS) program, on the humanities in Scotland and England. Past trips to Edinburgh and Oxford universities explored literature, creative writing, history and politics, and participants in the Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance program in London got a chance to perform on the stage of the Globe Theatre. U.S. teachers should contact the closest of the organization’s participating branches to apply for full funding.
- The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) selects Alfred Lerner Fellows for intensive Holocaust education in their Summer Institute for Teachers at Columbia University in New York City. Alfred Lerner fellows who complete the institute and remain active with their local Holocaust centers become eligible for an advanced seminar in New Jersey and the European Study Program in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, where 15 fellows visit concentration camps including Auschwitz, ghetto sites, survivors, rescuers and historians. Programs do have a cost, but are heavily subsidized by the JFR.
Program details, eligibility and application deadlines vary by program.
Note: This post was originally published in December 2014 and updated October 2016, June 2018, September 2019 and October 2021.