Planning an Educational Trip Abroad. What You Need to Know.

Are you thinking about taking an educational trip to a faraway place? Every year, millions of working adults, semi-retired, teachers who have the summer off, and others head to places like Africa, Europe, Japan, India, and elsewhere for once-in-a-lifetime educational excursions. Some travelers are authors working on a book project, while others are Japanophiles, African history buffs, and researchers in Ph.D. and master’s degree programs. No matter the reason, it’s a fact that a large percentage of people who go abroad do so for reasons other than sitting on beaches and soaking up the sun.

If such an excursion is in your future, it’s imperative to know how to plan the journey correctly. In most cases, it’s not just a matter of booking a flight and hotel. Educational trips call for things like special visas and special arrangements. It’s best to start planning at least two years before you want to depart for distant shores. Now is the time to reduce monthly expenses and get financially set for the big event. There’s paperwork and red tape to think about as well. Plus, everyone who seriously ponders an international venture should know about the best and worst destinations. Additionally, avoid making common mistakes that have the potential to ruin an otherwise memorable journey. Here’s how to get started.

Make Plans and Set Goals

Specialized travel calls for specific plans. Are you headed to Greece for an archeological dig, to Japan for a tour of the North Country, to Ireland for a study of ancient castles, to India for a religious pilgrimage? It takes time to decide which country to choose and those are just a few of the hundreds of types of educational jaunts people take, and it takes detailed planning to get good results. Spend several hours online researching your options, getting contact information for academics and government officials, and scoping out special accommodations for non-traditional travelers. If you’re writing a book, conducting a survey, or doing any kind of research, check with universities and departments of education in the country where you’ll be staying.

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Cut Monthly Expenses

Part of the preparation is related to personal finances. The quickest way to cut monthly expenses for anyone who still has education debt is a student loan refinancing arrangement. Essentially, those who opt for this effective tactic are creating a new loan to replace the old ones. Whether you have one, two, or more school loans right now, refinancing can make a huge difference in how much you save per month toward your travels. This technique works best if you do it as early in your planning process as possible. The more months of savings you can set aside, based on the reduced monthly outflow, the more you’ll have available for covering trip expenses.

Get the Paperwork in Order

The upside of academic journeys is that you can usually stay longer than tourists in restricted places. Japan allows tourists just 60 days before they have to leave the country, obtain a new visa, and reenter if they want to stay longer than the original 60-day allotment. But those who apply for cultural visas can generally stay for up to two full years without doing any other paperwork. The situation is similar in dozens of other nations, so be sure to check the requirements for obtaining a cultural stamp in your passport long before you intend to depart.

Best Destinations

As of 2022, some of the top destinations for cultural and educational vacations include all the nations in Europe, Australia, Brazil, India, Panama, Egypt, Russian Siberia, Myanmar, and Kenya. There are no bad places as long as the location holds some special attraction to satisfy your research or curiosity. But, places like Egypt and Siberia have long been popular among the academic and literary set, going back more than a hundred years.

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Don’t Make These Mistakes

For those who’ll be spending time doing research, writing, exploring remote locations, photographing natural wonders, or digging for artifacts, it’s important to avoid some common errors, including the following:

  • Paying locals to show you secret structures or collections of books or art
  • Staying in the private home of a person you don’t know well
  • Giving cash deposits to organizations, before you depart, that promise to give you access to otherwise inaccessible places
  • Packing recreational drugs that are legal in your country but illegal in the nation where you’ll be staying
  • Handing your passport over to anyone except an embassy official who needs to inspect it
  • Purchasing antiques, bones, or artifacts that are illegal for you to own or remove from the country

Nothing is out of limits, subject-wise, but the most popular reasons people take scholarly sabbaticals are related to archaeology, art, indigenous cultures, ruins, ancient history, and language study. Keep in mind that much cultural traveling is connected with religious pilgrimages to Buddhist, Christian, Judaic, and other holy sites.

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