George Lucas Educational Foundation

On the Road, on the Cheap: Get Around Without Going Under

Teacher travel discounts let you journey lightly -- at least in the wallet.
Sara Bernard
Related Tags: Teacher Development
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Credit: Photodisc

You might think, reasonably enough, that being entrusted with the young minds that represent America's future might bring teachers more of a thank-you than a paycheck with little left over for a well-deserved vacation. Alas, reality tends to have other plans for educators. However, all is not lost. A few financial perks exist in the teaching life, and at this time of year the best of these are travel discounts specifically for educators. Although the budget for satisfying wanderlust may be thin, these discounts can help travel prices slim down, too.

Educators Bed & Breakfast Travel Network

Current, former, or retired educators who join this extensive online network qualify for discounted stays at fellow members' bed-and-breakfast establishments. Sign up by paying a $10 initiation fee and $36 in yearly dues, and you and your immediate family become eligible to stay in any of the 6,000 member homes in more than fifty countries for a per-night price of $36. Meanwhile, your home becomes eligible for hosting other members as well (with additional discounts for hosting). Not only can you find comfortable, inexpensive accommodation this way, you'll also tap into a useful educational network, because your "innkeepers" are teachers, too.

Educational Tours

How do you use your teaching skills, continue your own education, and travel free at the same time? Sign on to lead an educational tour. Dozens of tour companies hand out free trips and cash bonuses to teachers willing to share their knowledge with other travelers. The biggest player in this field, EF Educational Tours, lets teachers travel free and even earn continuing education units. EF also offers language schools, cultural-exchange programs, and tours for adults as well as students. For free travel as a group coordinator with Go Ahead Tours, gather six people (including family and friends) who want to take a tour and you travel for free, with cash bonuses for you or discounts for your companions. With the tour company Explorica, you can travel free if you sign on at least six students.

The ISE Card

The initials stand for International Student Exchange, but ISE Cards -- with their great discounts -- are available to teachers, too. Take South Africa's Baz Bus, dive off the coast of Western Australia, tour London, rent a car, or even enjoy a good meal abroad for far less than it costs those unhappy folks who forgot to become teachers. The card also provides up to $2,000 in medical benefits, a toll-free twenty-four-hour emergency-assistance hotline, and up to $2,000 in airline-bankruptcy protection (a handy benefit these days).

The ITIC Card

The International Teacher Identity Card also functions as a freebie magnet. Knock down the cost of flights, accommodations, museum admissions, sports-equipment rentals, cultural attractions, and more by flashing this card -- discounts will quickly pay for the $25 annual cost. Not bad, considering that the ITIC, like the ISE, also provides basic accident insurance when you travel outside the United States. This coverage includes hospital stays, medical expenses, emergency evacuation, repatriation of remains (an unlikely need, let's hope), and baggage-delay insurance (far more likely).

Sara Bernard is a former staff writer and multimedia producer for Edutopia.

Comments (32) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

John Judah's picture

The size of EF gives it a great advantage when there is an emergency on tour. Having an office in major cities around the world, EF has personnel on the ground ready to assist if there is a problem. I have personally seen how EF responds to on tour emergencies. As for the hotel issue, I had rather have a hotel a bit farther out and near a major metro line.

Tempe Murphy's picture

I have led 13 trips with EF since 1996, plus was a participant on two others. I have had outstanding service from them. Our flight in Peru was cancelled on our way from Ecuador and all arrangements were made for a new flight before we landed. Whenever there has been a glitch, it was handled professionally and without question. I had one lady that was diagnosed with cancer and EF honored her trip with future travel vouchers until she was abled to travel two years later. I have lead tours to Scandinavia, Russia, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, Spain and Portugal, Eastern Europe, Greece, Italy, Peru and the Galapagos, Egypt and Jordan, Sicily and southern Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey. I have traveled to 44 countries, all with EF, including their outstanding convention trips. I am part of the EF family and proud of it. EF rocks. Tempe Murphy

Tempe Murphy's picture

[quote]I cannot believe that you would focus on EF which is well-known to give much less ervice than what you pay for. They are cheap, but accomodation is often way on the outskirts and too much free time for students. Why did you not focus on the most outstanding stduent travel organization anywhere. ACIS is and always has been the best! You get cdntrally lcoated hotels and lots of included actuvutues. IT is not the cheapest, but in student tarvel you get what you pay for with ACIS!!!![/quote]

Tempe Murphy's picture

The first comments attributed to me were not mine. They were the comments that I was responding to. Thank you as EF is the best. Tempe

James Baldridge's picture

I have traveled with my students using EF every year since 1989, and not one time have I found their services or hotels anything less than great. While traveling with students, a centrally located 5 star hotel is a total waste of money. Hotels are for sleeping, and the hotels that EF uses are clean and comfortable. EF itineraries are packed full of interesting and exciting activitives. I will continue traveling with EF Educational Tours for many years to come.

jacksonmk's picture

Although it's possible to travel for free in a big city, it's difficult. Cities are built on money, and necessities like fresh air, clean water and a safe place to sleep are difficult to come by in cities.

Go to the country, where people are more relaxed, food is plentiful and there's ample room for one traveler to lay out her sleeping bag under the stars.

M_Matthews's picture

While traveling in Europe, I found the ISE card to be extremely helpful in getting discounts at hostels and tourist attractions. They key is doing the research and asking for group rates if you are traveling in a group.

W.P Carey MBA Student

bonnie's picture

Does EF offer opportunities for teachers to travel with their own kids (ages 9 and 13)? I'd like to begin educational travel with my own children and not sure where or how to start.

keirabride's picture

In order to make the most of travel abroad, try to plan at least a couple of activities that aren't listed in tourist guide books or blogs.

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