13 Ways to Use Your Travel Experiences in Your Classroom

Many teachers are avid world explorers. We can use our travel experiences in the classroom to create wonderful opportunities for learning. Through my own trips I've transported my students to Mayan temples deep in the jungle and to Roman ruins on the Mediterranean coast. I know teachers that have brought their classes to the frozen Arctic, volcanic mountain tops, and mosquito-ridden swamps. We’ve celebrated Semana Santa in Mexico and Ramadan in Egypt.

There are many ways to use your own love of travel to enrich your lessons. Next time you head out during a school break, think about using some of the following ideas once you get back to school.

1. Write a travel narrative

Children often enjoy learning about what their teachers did during vacation. Share a written description of a place you have traveled to and then have students write their own describing some place they have been. It doesn’t need to be an exotic location. Everyone has traveled someplace new, even in their own city or town.

2. Comparing holidays

Have you ever visited a place during a holiday that is also celebrated in your own country? Different cultures often celebrate the same holiday in different ways. Show pictures or videos you took and share descriptions of it. Perhaps don’t reveal what the celebration is and challenge your students to identify the holiday. This is is a great way to showcase cross-cultural similarities and differences and challenge your students’ assumptions. Ask them why they think these cultural differences exist and have them research their origins. Education World has many great lesson plans centered on the December holidays so you can discuss your travel experiences in the classroom.

3. Authentic language learning

If you teach a foreign language and travel to a place where that language is spoken, record brief interviews with native speakers. My high school Spanish teacher would play recordings of conversations she had with taxi drivers, waiters, and people on the street from her travels. It was a great way to listen to different accents, regional slang, and get a sneak peek at what our teacher was up to over the holidays. This is also a great way to meet people while you travel!

4. Put those souvenirs to use

The souvenirs that you bring home are a great way to pique your students’ curiosity and inspire further investigation. Elaine Rittershaus, a technology teacher in Massachusetts, never fails to bring her travels back to the classroom. “I bought a bronzed chess set [in Athens] of all the original Olympic athletes and my kids loved that during one of the Olympics. I brought elves and gnomes from Sweden and Finland for folklore studies. And music CDs from the Sami people in the Arctic circle to compare with Native American drumming and songs. I brought back Belgian chocolates from Brussels, we made the connection with King Leopold, colonization, exploitation and Africa.”

5. Explore your roots

Students often take pride in sharing their backgrounds and culture. Whether they are immigrants themselves or descended from immigrants, so often they like sharing their heritage with each other. Let them share their own travel experiences in the classroom. Have them conduct research and gather material both in the form of internet/library research and family interviews to write descriptions and create presentations of the country their family is from.

6. Geologic exploration

Going to the beach? Bring back samples of sand from different places so students can analyze the grains to make predictions on what type of the environment the samples are from. You can even ask students to collect their own samples if they travel too. The Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence has a great lesson plan to use with this activity.

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7 Free Teacher Travel Programs

Teachers dream about summer vacation as much as their students. Unfortunately, most teachers’ parents aren’t taking them to Disneyland for an all expenses paid trip to see the world’s most famous mouse.  But what about teacher travel programs?

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How to Apply for Teacher Travel Grants

How would you like to expand your professional development through travel?  A teacher travel grant may be just the ticket for you!  In this guest post by Tim Wenger, learn how you can apply for a travel grant and stand apart from other applicants.  Take it away, Tim!

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Getting the Bump: Benefitting from Overbooked Flights

Greg Jackson is a teacher who loves to travel.  But how can he afford to go on trips when his only breaks happen during the high season--the most expensive times of the year to travel?  In this guest post, Greg shares one of his secrets with us.   Next time you fly, implement some of these strategies and you may end up putting some cash in your pocket!  Take it away, Greg!

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The Benefits of Solo Travel for Teachers

I've heard it over and over again:  "I want to travel, but I don't have anybody to travel with. "  

Many people wouldn't dream of traveling by themselves, citing safety as their primary concern.  Secretly, they also feel that traveling alone wouldn't be any fun and would get too lonely.   What's the point if you don't have someone to share the experience with?

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8 Great Travel Destinations for Teachers on Summer Break

Along with the long days and hot sun, summer break provides a great opportunity to get away from it all, reset, and possibly bring back some inspiration for the next school year. If you’re looking for your next summer adventure,  check out this guest post by Heather Knoff, traveler extraordinaire of couchtotravel.com!   Read on to see her top 8 picks for great summer travel!

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The 3 Best Summer Vacation Destinations in Latin America

When your vacation time revolves around school holidays, it can be challenging to find authentic, quiet, and affordable places to travel. Summer vacation in North America usually drives hoards of tourists to places like Europe, Florida, and New York City. Besides having to battle the tourist crowds – flights, hotels and tour prices are often astronomical.

Just south of the United States, you’ll find a plethora of exotic, culturally rich, and naturally beautiful countries that are also very affordable. The trick is to visit the right country at the right time, so you can enjoy your surroundings and not be deterred by bad weather. Continue reading

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Budget Travel Tips for Grown-ups

I didn’t start traveling until I was about 30 years old, so I never experienced the gap year/party hostel mode of travel. But I have always been a budget traveler, so I’ve had to learn how to balance budget strategies with making decisions that felt age and comfort-appropriate. I don’t think budget and comfort are mutually exclusive concepts, but I do think you have to know the budget travel tips and tricks that will give you a happy medium while on the road.

Read on to find out my best tips to travel on a budget as a “grown-up.” Continue reading

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How I Arranged a Free Trip to Paris

Despite its being consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most expensive travel destinations in the world, most people yearn to wander the streets and museums of Paris.  And why not?  Its colorful culture, heroic history, amazing architecture, famous food, iconic Eiffel Tower and lovely language are enough to seduce most of us into wanting to go for a gander. Continue reading

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