Do you want extra money to fund your world travels? Fortunately, there are countless study abroad and travel scholarships, grants, and fellowships available for those looking to travel on the low!
Travel and study abroad scholarships come in all types. While some programs fund trips that last a couple of weeks, others fund years worth of travel and study/research. Some programs cover all of your expenses (airfare, room & board, food, etc.) while others cover only part of the cost. Fortunately, for non-students, not all travel and study abroad scholarships require you to be registered at an accredited educational institution to apply. Take World Nomads Scholarships, for example, anyone can apply and the program sends travelers to complete all sorts of cool writing, film, and photography assignments around the world.
I encourage all those looking to travel frugally to take full advantage of travel and study abroad scholarships and other funded programs. These programs often provide the best opportunities for new (and oftentimes nervous) travelers to gain travel experience and confidence within a relatively safe and supportive environment. Travel and study abroad scholarship programs offer participants a supportive community and guidance towards a productive stay abroad.
Ok, let’s get started with funding your travels using scholarships, grants, etc. But first, you’ll need to know the steps to take in order to maximize your chances of being awarded funding!
Step 1: Search and Find Travel Scholarship and Funding Programs
10 Travel Related and Study Abroad Scholarships, Grants, and Fellowships:
- The Fulbright Program– covers a full year of study, teaching, and/or research abroad for college graduates, graduate students, professionals, artists, and teachers. There are many different programs administered all over the world (non-U.S.territory) countries around the world.
- Jerome Foundation Travel & Study Grant Program– supports emerging and creative artists with grants that cover periods of travel for study, growth, and exploration.
- Ambassadors Scholarship Foundation– sponsors several different scholarships geared towards promoting international and cross-cultural understanding and friendships. Some scholarships are awarded based on merit and others are awarded based primarily on financial need. You do not need to be a student to apply.
- Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship -supports international exchange opportunities like study abroad and career-oriented internships for U.S. university students abroad. The program annually offers over 2,700 awards of up to $5,000 each.
- Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)– fully funds U.S degree-seeking students to study critical languages in an intensive summer language institute. Critical languages include Arabic, Azerbaijani,Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu.
- America’s Unofficial Ambassadors (AUA) Mosaic Grant– is a series of grants that fund travel to Indonesia, Morocco, Tajikistan, and Zanzibar. The average grant award is $1,000.
- Huayu Enrichment Scholarship for Mandarin – supports Mandarin Chinese language study in Taiwan. The program provides a stipend of about $770 per month.
- CIEE International Study Programs (CIEE-ISP) Scholarships– awards scholarships to people who have been accepted into a CIEE Study Abroad program. The awards range from $1,500 to $2,000.
- Rhodes Scholarship– is an extremely competitive scholarship/fellowship that covers 2 full years of graduate study at Oxford University.
- Marshall Scholarship– completely covers 2 to 3 years of graduate study in the UK. US citizens who have finished a bachelor’s degree are eligible to apply.
Make sure to check out these opportunities and do your own research on the multitude of other travel and study abroad funding programs that you may be eligible for. The larger internet search engines like google and bing are great for the search. And if you’re currently a student, make sure to try out scholarship search engines like fastweb.com, scholarships.com, and the phone app Scholly.
Step 2: Apply to Scholarships
Now that you know that there are countless organizations just waiting to award travel money to deserving applicants, you need to know the best way to apply. Here are 3 monumental tips for applying to scholarships and other funding programs.
- Know the mission of the scholarship and show that you will carry on the tradition of that particular program. For example, the mission of the Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS) is to increase the number of Americans studying critical languages. So, in my application for the CLS program, I made sure to emphasize how I would further promote the study of Arabic on my university campus by using the language skills I expected to gain if I was accepted into the program. The strategy worked; I was awarded the scholarship and got to study Arabic in Oman for a summer.
- Get the best recommendation letters possible. While not all scholarship applications require recommendation letters, most do. A great letter will go a very long way and will increase your chances of being awarded funding. In order to make it easier on the person writing your letter, make sure to ask for the recommendation letter long before the application deadline. Also, provide your recommenders with a resume/CV and a summary of the scholarship program to which you are applying so they can write a detailed and impressive letter for you.
- Get your application proofread and edited! Students can ask teachers and/or guidance counselors to proofread applications and essays. Non-students can visit a local library or a community center and ask a librarian or an assistant to edit and proofread your applications if friends and/or family members are inaccessible.
Step 3: Create Your Own Travel Scholarships and Funding (if the scholarships aren’t coming in fast enough)
I know this will come as a surprise to most, but it is possible to create and set up your own scholarships for travel, especially if you are a university or graduate school student.
You don’t always have to apply to specific scholarship programs (like the programs listed above) to get funding for travel. If you have an opportunity to partake in any research, field studies, conferences, volunteer work, and/or foreign language study you can get funding using more unorthodox methods and “create” your own scholarships and student funding.
For example, in some situations, your professors and other university faculty members can directly help fund your travels. A friend of mine scored a great opportunity to intern with the United Nations in Jordan but she didn’t have enough money for the endeavor. She requested funding from her major department via her professor and fortunately, her professor came through and provided her with the funding in the form of a “DIY” scholarship. You just never know what type of access to funding that your professors and instructors may have—make sure to reach out to them and ask for support.
Always remember that applying for scholarships is a numbers game— applying to as many programs as possible yields the best results. While applying for scholarship programs, you should also take advantage of opportunities to make and construct your own “scholarships” to increase your chances of getting funding.
There are loads of opportunities to travel on the low using scholarship and funding programs. And with a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can even create your own travel scholarships and funding. As a university student, I was awarded all types of scholarships, fellowships, and research grants that allowed me to study and conduct research while traveling around the Middle East and parts of Europe. I was even successful in concocting my own scholarships and funds for travel.
Travel and study abroad scholarship programs even made my future (post graduation) travels easier and more affordable. Since I had the opportunity to briefly practice exploring and traveling on my own (while in supportive study abroad programs), I gained the experience and confidence needed to travel and live abroad alone after my college graduation.
If I can use scholarships to Travel for the low and to set myself up for easier and more productive future travel, you can too. I invite you to use all of the information in this post to make all of your travel dreams come true.