Traveling can be a truly enriching experience. And for educators, it becomes even more valuable when accompanied by a grant or scholarship. These opportunities not only allow teachers to explore interesting places or subjects but also enable them to bring back their valuable experiences to their own classrooms. Whether you’ve always wanted to visit historic sites, interview experts, conduct research alongside field professionals, or learn an artisanal craft, travel grants and fellowships can turn your goals into reality.
Design your own enrichment trip
Fund for Teachers
As one of the largest providers of educator-enrichment funding, Fund for Teachers (FFT) offers grants specifically for self-designed summer fellowships. This empowers teachers to take control of their own learning in a way that they know will have the most impact on their students. Over the years, FFT has awarded a staggering $33.5 million in grants to nearly 9,000 of America’s top educators. Thanks to these grants, FFT Fellows have traveled to an impressive 152 different countries across 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 of teaching experience, spending 50% or more of their time in classroom instruction with students, and who 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 provides detailed insight into how applications are evaluated.
Gain an international perspective
Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program
The Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program (Fulbright TGC) recognizes that for students to have a global perspective, their instructors need to gain one through their own international travel. Each year, approximately 80 educators are chosen for this program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the nonprofit IREX. These selected teachers are challenged to transform their classrooms and enhance their students’ global points of view.
The yearlong fellowship includes a free online training course and 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 destination. Past countries have included Brazil, Morocco, India, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan. While there, educators have the opportunity to connect with local teachers and host schools, exchange ideas, and even lead classes.
Program details: The fellowship covers airfare, hotel, and travel incidentals for both the Washington, D.C., and international trips. Fellows also earn professional development Continuing Education Units.
Who’s eligible: Full-time, K-12 teachers who are U.S. citizens and residents with at least three years of experience, spending 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 seminar hosts 16 U.S. educators in the social sciences and humanities for four to six weeks. In 2021, these seminars took place in Iceland, Morocco, and Mexico. The program aims to improve participants’ understanding and knowledge of the people and cultures of those countries.
Program details: The grant includes airfare, room and board, and program costs within the host country. However, participants are responsible for some shared costs. In 2021, this cost amounted to $650.
Who’s eligible: Educators responsible for curriculum or instruction in the social sciences or humanities and languages. This includes elementary and secondary teachers, administrators or curriculum specialists, faculty or administrators from higher education institutions, librarians, museum educators, and media or resource specialists. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States, holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, with at least three years of experience and current full-time employment in one of the mentioned professions 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. For example, the fall or winter 2021 announcement was for the 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
The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program (GTF), sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Lindblad Expeditions, offers a unique way for teachers to travel. As part of the program, around 35 teachers are selected to join a Lindblad expedition voyage aboard one of the National Geographic vessels, such as the National Geographic Explorer, National Geographic Endeavour II, National Geographic Sea Lion, or National Geographic Quest. Educators have the opportunity to learn about the land and sea from on-board naturalists and engage in activities like kayaking, Zodiac trips, and cultural tours of local towns.
Previous expeditions have taken educators to the Galápagos Islands, where they enjoyed kayaking and snorkeling among stingrays and sea lions. They have also visited Iceland, cruising alongside humpback and orca whales while observing blue-morph arctic fox pups. As part of the fellowship, teachers develop classroom activities to teach their students about geographic and ocean issues they learned about during their trip.
Program details: Fellowships include expenses for a 10- to 17-day summer or December holiday expedition, as well as 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 following year.
Who’s eligible: Pre-K-12 teachers and informal educators from the U.S., Canada, 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 on the DHPL Travels website. You can also see a sample application there.
Teacher at Sea Program
If you love the open ocean, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers the Teacher at Sea Program. This program has already sent over 800 educators from all 50 states on unforgettable journeys. Teacher at Sea ships have operated in various areas, from the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska to the northeast Atlantic and the Florida coast.
These cruises focus on fisheries, oceanography, or hydrography. Educators might help conduct research to better understand marine habitats, sustainable fishing, climate, or even contribute to scanning the sea floor for underwater hazards 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 a 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 following year. Please note: Due to COVID-19, the ships did not sail in 2020 or 2021. Therefore, the 2022 voyage will be for those who qualified in 2020. The next round of applications will open for the 2023 season.
Application deadline: Applications will open for the 2023 season in October 2022.
Teach Earth Program
If wearing waist-high neoprene waders and exploring the Arctic wetlands of Manitoba to collect water samples sounds like a cool summer vacation to you, consider applying for a Teach Earth USA Fellowship from the Earthwatch Institute. Each year, the institute selects around 50 teachers to join one- to two-week expeditions with world-renowned scientists working in the field. Teachers assist in collecting samples and analyzing them in the lab.
These expeditions allow teachers to apply the scientific method to current environmental issues. Past expeditions have focused on studying the effects of climate change in various locations, including 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 offer partially funded fellowships at a subsidized rate.
Who’s eligible: U.S.-based K-12 teachers of any subject.
Application deadline: Applications for the 2022 session opened 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 provide funding for various professional enrichment experiences for teachers. These grants support research projects, attending conferences and seminars, and other professional development activities. In the past, recipients have pursued diverse projects, such as attending a grant-writing conference in Miami or engaging in 11 weeks of intensive music and folk dance study in Mexico. While there is currently a focus on pandemic-related relief and racial equality work, 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. Visit their website for application periods and deadlines.
Find long-term grants and short-term adventures
The Institute of International Education (IIE) administers several programs that finance travel for secondary-school teachers. These programs are sponsored by various foundations, corporations, and government entities and can vary from year to year. One prominent program is the highly competitive Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching, which allows both U.S. and international teachers to go abroad for three to six months to learn about another country’s educational system.
Stay informed about the latest offerings and resources by signing up for the IIE’s free Global Opportunities for Teachers newsletter.
Program details: Grants vary by program. Visit the IIE’s program finder page for the most up-to-date information on available opportunities.
Who’s eligible: Full-time teachers with at least five years of experience are preferred, and additional criteria may apply depending on the program.
Application deadlines: Deadlines vary by program.
Study in Scotland, England, Japan, and more
Specialty groups offer a wide range of teacher travel opportunities for specific areas 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. The program includes a tour of Tokyo and its surroundings. Participants have the chance to visit Japanese schools, companies, cultural events, and engage in conversations with students, teachers, executives, scholars, and experts on Japanese society and education.
- The English-Speaking Union of the United States offers TLab-UK (formerly the British Universities Summer School program) on the humanities in Scotland and England. Previous trips have explored literature, creative writing, history, and politics at Edinburgh and Oxford universities. Participants in the Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance program in London even get the opportunity to perform on the stage of the Globe Theatre. Interested U.S. teachers should contact the nearest participating branch to apply for full funding.
- The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) selects Alfred Lerner Fellows for intensive Holocaust education at the Summer Institute for Teachers hosted by 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. During this program, 15 fellows visit concentration camps, ghetto sites, and engage with survivors, rescuers, and historians. Although these programs have a cost, the JFR heavily subsidizes them.
Program details, eligibility, and application deadlines vary by program.
Note: This post was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated in October 2021.