5 Ways to Make Your Travel Dreams Come True

I love to travel. I know, who doesn’t, right? Although travel is fun, it is also beneficial to my teaching practice. Each trip is an investment in my professional development. It’s like a field trip, adding real life experiences to former knowledge to deepen understanding.

Today I will share why travel is important for art teachers along with some tips to help you make it happen.

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Our world is getting smaller. There are many serious global problems requiring worldwide cooperation to find effective solutions. It is more important than ever to gain an understanding of cultures outside our own. There is no better way to achieve this than through travel.

Remember, you bring it all back to your classroom and your students. They will become responsible for caring for our world and solving these complex problems. Teachers like Lessia B. know this firsthand. She says, “Kids love stories. When I can illustrate how our culture is not the only culture from experience and often, with humor, they become more worldly themselves. They begin to get that it’s not just all about ‘us.'”

However, international travel is expensive. In many cases, prohibitively so, especially on a teacher’s budget. But don’t fear! There are ways teachers can lessen the blow to their wallets.

Below are 5 organizations that offer travel programs, information, and grants to teachers.

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  1. Institute of International Education
    This is a non-profit organization with a mission to increase international education. They manage several programs for teachers, including the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching and the Toyota International Teacher Program.
  2. Fund for Teachers
    This organization funds teacher travel and sends teacher fellows all over the world each summer.
  3. Education First Tours
    This company organizes tours around the world for teachers and students. Why not organize a group for next summer? Teachers travel free with a minimum of six students. They also organize professional development tours for teachers. I went to China with them in 2013 and learned a great deal.
  4. Educators Love to Travel
    This Facebook group is a wonderful way to connect with other teachers who have an interest in travel. Here you can find all sorts of opportunities for teacher travel. It is not specific to art teachers, but the page administrator is an art educator, so much of the content is art-related.
  5. Teach Overseas
    Why not teach abroad? This is a great way to really experience a culture and get paid at the same time! The State Department maintains this page about international teaching opportunities. It includes helpful information and links to a variety of different companies who hire teachers to work overseas.

Remember, you don’t have to go far.

Although international travel is great, it’s good to check out your own backyard, too. I recently visited my state’s capital, which is not far from my home. I had never visited before, and I left wondering why I hadn’t gone sooner. It was so interesting, and I learned so much. The next week, I was able to share what I learned with my students as we started an architecture unit. There are gems like this everywhere, and you may not need to drive far to get to them. I bet you’re thinking of places you can visit right now. Why not take a road trip this summer to explore?

Knowledge gained about a place and a culture when you travel is unique. You will be able to share your story with your students, instead of just the facts. Sarah Mays, the creator of the Educators Love to Travel Facebook group puts it this way, “Travel has become an important part of me being an art teacher. Whether touring the Iznik Tile Foundation in Turkey or the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, I have been able to use firsthand knowledge through travel to enhance my curriculum. I believe travel has allowed me to become a better art teacher by bringing authentic, relevant and exciting experiences to my students, which helps them begin to understand how they are connected to the world and its people. ”

In short, kids love to learn from teachers who are passionate and have something special to share. So pack a bag and get out there!

Do you have a story about how travel has enriched your teaching?

Why do you think travel is important for teachers? 

Anne-Marie Slinkman

Anne-Marie teaches elementary art in Virginia. She is a life-long learner who is passionate about providing relevant and meaningful art experiences for all students.


  • Mel

    Don’t be afraid to do it all on your own, particularly to an English speaking country. Keep an eye out for cheap flights to London, Auckland, or Perth. Research and book hostels near to the city center, and book all the guided tours you fancy once you arrive. It will work out cheaper AND personalized to your interests and needs.

    • Anne-Marie Slinkman

      Thank you for the great advice, Mel!

  • Kathy

    Another awesome organization is GEEO: Global Exploration for Educators Organization: http://www.geeo.org Their motto is “We help teachers explore the world.” I traveled for 3 weeks in Rajasthan, India–visited schools, spoke to locals, road a camel & an elephant, and thrilled to see art everywhere. You can even get college credit, take a non-teacher along, and the web site offers funding possibilities like Fund for Teachers grants (www.fundforteachers.org) and for rural teachers there are Rural Trusts Global Teacher Fellowships. India changed my life, and I would never have gone without GEEO. It was amazing to travel with other teachers of all ages and experiences, and I couldn’t recommend these opportunities more highly!

    • Anne-Marie Slinkman

      Wow, Kathy, that does sound like an amazing trip! Thank you for sharing your story and information about another amazing organization that supports teacher travel.

    • Melanie Fidler

      This sounds awesome- thank you for sharing! How did you make it relevant to your curriculum? I need to propose a grant to my school…

  • Kelsey Long

    There’s an amazing network of international schools as well. I work at an international school in Hong Kong, and these schools support the arts in a way that public schools simply don’t. Working here gives me an opportunity to explore a different side of the world and further my own career. I used TIE (The International Educator) but most teachers use ISS (International School Services) or Search Associates to find international jobs.

    • Anne-Marie Slinkman

      It is a dream of mine to teach abroad some day, Kathy. I am glad that you enjoy it! I grew up overseas, and attended international schools along the way. I agree, living overseas is something unique! Thank you for sharing your ideas.

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    I have traveled with students through EF (mentioned above) to France, Italy, Spain, the UK… planning another trip for 2019 to Peru. It is a fantastic way to experience the world while building authentic relationships with students that will last a lifetime. There are many companies that provide similar opportunities (some seem much better than EF, but I have an established history with EF since 2008, so I would love to hear others’ opinions of pros and cons of the other companies).

  • Melanie Fidler

    Anyone know of any Art-Ed related travel/grant opportunities for this summer 2018? The school I work at offers travel grants, as long as it pertains to our teaching curriculum. I find it hard to find art-related trips…many are geared towards other subjects and it’s a hard sell making it seem “artsy” or authentic to my curriculum for young students… any ideas?