10 NEW Types of Travel for the Modern Explorer

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GoAbroad helps you answer the question: What kind of traveler are you?

For thrill seekers, aspiring polyglots, culture junkies, and global philanthropists, there’s never been a better time in the history of mankind to live out the most wanderlustful fantasies from Timbuktu to Kathmandu. Tantalizing flash airfare sales, increasingly competitive inland transportations, and mountains of study funding opportunities have mowed down menacing financial barriers, allowing thirsty adventurers to travel the world on a shoestring budget. In an ever-shrinking global workplace, job competition has intensified and possessing cross-cultural sensitivity and international knowhow from time spent abroad can be a deciding hireability factor.

10 NEW Types of Travel for the Modern Explorer

Perhaps the largest driving force behind this epidemic of new ways to travel afflicting both young and old is the sheer amount of inspirational Instagram photos, enviable blog posts, and constant information surrounded us. Information is power, and gone are the days when a trip abroad was arranged through the family travel agent booking a week-long cruise with three different meal options. The power of the internet plus a sprinkle of creativity means traveling the world in completely reimagined ways. Whether you’ve been reading too many travel inspiring books or have just been paying a bit of attention this past decade, you’ve probably caught on.

Travel has evolved.

While sipping cocktails on an exotic beach under the shade of carefully groomed palms used to mean the epitome of a good time abroad, several different types of travel have been sprouting up. There are an uncountable number of reasons to travel abroad, so why not challenge the traditional holiday vacation with some enticing new types of tourism that will leave you with irreplaceable memories as souvenirs.

The types of travel —redefined for travel in the 21st century

If you’re looking for rejuvenating new ways to travel and spice up your adventures, these 10 NEW types of travel for the modern explorer will undoubtedly delight you.

1. Volunteer for a Cause You Care About

Volunteer holding a baby on a beach
Experience local communities from the inside out

Squeezing in a few days of good deeds into a vacation from work? Looking for a reality check for the few months in the summer? Whether you’re Peace Corp material or are better suited for a shorter term project planting trees, volunteering covers the whole spectrum of time ranges and interests. Volunteering abroad is the granddaddy of feel-good, do-good travel, which means there are endless programs under the sun to help facilitate humanitarian and environmental work in every corner of the Earth.

Pros:

Because this type of travel is known primarily for its positive aura, you can’t deny the powerful benefits coupled with volunteering abroad. Providing both personal and community gains mean that, when done right, volunteering abroad is a win-win for everyone.

Cons:

It’s easy to get caught up in the personal benefits of volunteering (that warm, fuzzy feeling and resume perks), but your involvement affects the lives of real people, real ecosystems, and real problems. Even if you go in with the right selfless intentions, you can further maximize your aid by taking the extra step to ensure you’re being a responsible voluntourist. If you’re not interested in volunteering abroad for the right reasons, your help might backfire.

Suggested programs for volunteering abroad:

2. Teach English or Other Subjects

Teaching children in a school yard
Teaching abroad is an exchange—you’ll learn just as much from your students as they will from you

Of all the types of travel for the modern explorer, teaching abroad not only pays off (it’s a paid job!), but also allows you to experience life abroad in a more immersed setting. The magic of paid, long-term opportunities abroad is that you can come home with a bundle of saving as well, a shocking revelation for any seasoned traveler hard-wired to budget travel to the last cent. Teaching positions are available everywhere from megacities to remote mountain villages, and entail instructing learners of all ages and walks of life. Soak in the local culture and language all while sharing your own!

Pros:

Apart from the monetary incentives, teaching abroad comes packed with opportunities for professional growth, such as youth leadership, cross-cultural communication, tutoring skills, and of course teaching experience! Short-term teaching abroad programs allow curious prospective educators to get their feet wet in the field, while long-term teaching contracts provide a great springboard into English education.

Cons:

While there are programs and countries that accept teaching candidates without a degree, some other requirements may present unique barriers. Depending on the program, you may be required to have a TEFL or TESOL certification, teaching experience under your belt, be a native speaker, or even have citizenship from an English-speaking country.

Suggested programs for teaching abroad:

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3. Study Something You Love

Three girls laughing together
Make memories studying abroad that will define you for a lifetime

The quintessential international college experience — study abroad! Maybe the least newcomer to this list of modern types of travel, this coming-of-age staple is seen in all shapes and sizes, from winter intensive programs to full calendar years abroad. It creates lifelong memories, inspires tattoos, and fosters friendships across oceans. Study abroad programs typically provide credit towards a degree program and some are organized to pick up logistics right down to your daily transportation. Open to all majors, ages, and levels of foreign language fluency, study abroad programs solidify educational gains in a new country.

Pros:

One of the many joys of being a student are discounts and funding galore, meaning ways to travel through college are a serious “Duh!” Studying abroad during college grants you access to the sweet land of scholarships and financial aid that can cover tuition and personal expenses. While scholarship hunting does take a bit of research, there are endless resources to help you get a study abroad scholarship without wasting precious time.

Cons:

A study abroad experience is what you make of it, but a program’s structure can dramatically influence whether you spend more time mingling with locals and interacting with your surroundings or taking selfies with your American peers. Carefully plan out your goals before choosing a program, and pay special attention to logistics like housing and class structure.

Suggested programs for studying abroad:

4. Find Internships & Make Your Resume Shine

Interns working at a table
Equip your resume with just as many professional skills as international competencies

Torn about your summer plans? Looking for a change next semester? Not sure if you want to be a world adventurer or put your college skills to work in an internship to kickstart your career? You’ve probably guessed, but there are ways to combine all your professional hopes and global adventuring dreams in one giant bundle thanks to new types of travel. A great bonus is the college credit you might be able to get simultaneously. Phew, talk about multitasking! Learn about the international side of your dream job and pick up real-world experience at legitimate companies and organizations, all while immersed in an entirely new work culture and environment.

Pros:

If you haven’t already heard it enough, we’ll stress one top benefit of any international experience or internship: RESUME! Not only are internships abroad great for your personal and professional growth, they’re great for your CV. Dazzle yourself and future employers through what you can achieve abroad.

Cons:

It’s often a discouraging discovery to find out that many internships abroad are not only unpaid, but must be paid for in the form of a program fee. However, in addition to guaranteeing you an internship placement and housing, program fees do have good reason. Whether or not an unpaid internship is worth the investment is dependent on your circumstances.

Suggested programs for interning abroad: 

[How to pick the right program abroad for you]

5. Get TEFL Certified

School kids sitting against a wall
Enhance your natural gift for teaching English with a TEFL certification

Although all TEFL programs abroad are for teaching English, not all teaching programs abroad will get you a TEFL. A TEFL, or Teaching English as a Second Language, certification and is the golden ticket to teach English abroad with a long-term contract, providing teaching knowhow, credibility, and a thorough introduction to your new home where you’ll be teaching. Not every English teaching program abroad requires a TEFL, but it’s a definite advantage to have, especially when applying to competitive teaching programs. Don't you just love that certain "types of travel" help you make money, too?

Pros:

While you could take a TEFL course online to save the trip abroad, earning a TEFL certification abroad comes packed with unique perks that will catapult you faster into employment — one of ten awesome new ways to travel. Apart from learning country-and culture-specific teaching methods in your target teaching destination, the right TEFL program will also have tons of local connections to get you hooked up with a job the second you earn your certification (or even before).

Cons:

Before throwing money at the first TEFL program abroad that you find, do your research. Not all TEFL programs are created equal, and there are several factors to consider that will impact how well you learn the material, your post-TEFL job prospects, and how competitive your specific certification is in the field.

Suggested programs for earning a TEFL certification abroad: 

6. Complete Full Degree Programs 

Students jumping on a mountain
Turn up the heat by getting one degree hotter abroad

Of the modern types of travel, pursuing a degree program abroad encaptures the best of all world. It’s essentially studying abroad for the entirety of your degree length, has endless possibilities to pick up an internship or two while you’re there, surrounds you with the local student crowd, and gives you a home base from which to set out on weekend adventures abroad. Choose from tons of juicy American campuses abroad to secure American-recognized accreditation and all-English courses, or any number of prestigious international universities with a bit more global flare.

Pros:

Contrary to the common belief that a foreign degree is less prestigious than one from back home, a degree from a university abroad can actually get you just as much recognition and a good job—if you play your cards right. Rankings and reputation are aspects to consider when choosing a university that’s best fit for your field of study. Ultimately what you make of your degree program abroad and how you present your international experience to future employers is what counts when it comes to these types of travel.

Cons:

Different class structure, culture shock in and outside the classroom, and a very different approach to your discipline of study are just some of the hurdles you may face throughout your degree program abroad. Not having a work visa and a lack of access  financial aid can make funding a crunch, but overall cost of living and tuition can still be substantially less than back home.

Suggested programs for earning a degree abroad: 

[Keep reading: What does "immersion" REALLY mean?]

7. Start Young with High School & Teen Programs

Students standing together in front of blossoming trees
Forge friendships with other high schoolers from around the world

What better time to launch your globetrotting, United Nations cultural ambassador career than at the pinnacle of youth in high school? Your high school dream can extend oceans beyond dancing perfectly choreographed numbers to catchy songs in the cafeteria with Zac Efron. Even if High School Musical was before your time, you’ll soon find how high school exchange programs are better than the movies. Get a taste of the world through a fun-packed summer program or take the full plunge into a year-long residence abroad to truly experience life as a high school student elsewhere.

Pros:

Riding on the cusp of adulthood but still under parent supervision proves to be a difficult time in the life of any teenager. With very structured environments, an educational foundation, and the chance to break free from routine, high school programs abroad leave both teenagers and guardians with a satisfied smile. Some self exploration and cultural immersion are just some indisputable reasons youth travel programs are awesome.

Cons:

While spending a summer overseas with a high school program abroad is typically a streamlined process with no academic hurdles and a full itinerary of enriching activities, a semester or year-long program abroad gets a bit trickier. From figuring out academic credits to program funding to navigating through a year away from home, long-term programs are definitely best reserved for the determined and not faint of heart.

Suggested high school programs abroad: 

8. Master a New Language at Immersion Schools

Older men speaking to each other
Decode the inner workings of your favorite cultures by learning the language

If you sat through high school Spanish class asking yourself when you would ever use sentences like “la manzana está al lado del libro” (the apple is next to the book), you’ll be able to build the much needed bridge from textbook to application by learning a language abroad. Immersive language programs abroad not only equip you with all the foundational structures of a language, they provide a cultural backdrop and endless opportunities to practice outside of class. You’ll be 100% prepared to answer when your roommate, Luis, spontaneously asks where he misplaced his apple.

Pros: 

Taking courses at the language’s source provides the direct context in which you see the language come to life in everyday interactions. Rather than aimlessly memorizing conjugation patterns and irregular verbs, you’ll be out in the wild actually putting your language skills to use and solidifying your classroom gains. Attending a language school abroad is the best bang for your buck and the fast track to proficiency.

Cons:

The dirty truth about learning languages abroad in a language school is proficiency is not a guarantee. Setting realistic goals to achieve within a short time frame and taking initiative to strike up conversation in your target language will help , but you should always keep in mind that it just might not be possible to become a native-level French speaker through a one month immersion program in Paris.

Suggested language schools abroad:

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9. Work Abroad — Get Paid to Live the Dream!

Photographer shooting the London skyline
Practice your career in an entirely new environment

It seems like all the rage nowadays for graduated adults to get a taste of working abroad is teaching English abroad. However, perhaps one of the best kept secrets (or maybe it’s just too obvious) to settle down abroad after you receive your college diploma is simply finding a job. Obtaining a visa for long-term work can be a bear to tackle, but there are special programs and organizations that can help you land a job abroad and get you the legal status to boot. 

Pros:

Working abroad as a ways to travel isn’t just a two week cruise around the Caribbean, it’s uprooting and replacing life as you know it with an entirely new one. For those just emerging from their college campus bubbles or wandering away from home, working abroad will teach you how to adult in more ways that you expect.

Cons:

Dealing with taxes, bureaucracy, and corporate culture is already stressful enough in a familiar language and environment, but adding a whole different spin certainly throws a wrench in the mix. Unexpected challenges to working overseas will have you relearning everything you thought you knew about workplace culture and the simplest coworker interactions.

Suggested programs for working abroad: 

10. Heart Pumpin' Adventure Travel

Campfire and a starry night
Get a new view of your favorite constellations from a different hemisphere

Although the types of travel for the modern explore we’ve covered so far have a greater professional purpose or an education goal, our collection wouldn’t be complete without the adrenaline pumping, heart racing adventure travel. Sometimes we want to break away from responsibilities and worldly problems, dig deep into our primal sides, and just have fun. Put your drawers of yoga pants to use and treat yourself to some TLC on a yoga travel program, or explore the Earth’s last frontier on a scuba travel program.

Pros:

Rather than figuring out all those nasty travel logistics yourself (and dealing with cultural and linguistic barriers), adventure travel programs take care of all the dirty work for you. Guaranteed quality, structured itineraries and often included transportation will save you tons of time and headaches.

Cons:

Those who are adventurous and nature-loving enough to be interested in adventure travel might grapple with the question, “Should I book a tour or travel alone?” Solo travel or traveling with a friend are completely differently experiences than having the security of a group. However, if you’re more worried about planning logistics than finding yourself under a Tibetan waterfall, group adventure travel is the way to go.

Suggested adventure travel programs:

Calling all modern explorers for new types of tourism!

There’s no expiration date or prime time to travel abroad. The evolution of travel has given way to a colorful, expansive collection of types of travel that cater to everyone from all walks of life. Regardless of your available time frame, financial situation, language abilities, or age, we promise there is at least one program abroad that will fit your needs. All you need is an insatiable desire to explore the world and the initiative to do more than soak the afternoon away in a hotel hot tub (although that can definitely be arranged).

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