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.
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.
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.