The Best Meaningful Travel Articles of 2016

by Published

As the year has come and gone, we’re called to reflect on what we learned this past year and how we can do better in the coming year. To our great delight, there was a large influx of articles published in 2016 surrounding themes of meaningful travel—travel that supports active engagement, intentional learning, sustainable decision-making, and reciprocity. As more and more different types of people are participating in experiential travel (and subsequently writing about it!), we’re getting a more robust understanding of the individual experience abroad.

Man holding binoculars
Welcome to the officially-unofficial GoAbroad content scouting report for 2016

Overall, 2016 was an awesome year for meaningful travel, especially since we love reading travel articles online. Check out the top-performing travel articles on GoAbroad.com, our favorites from the field of international education, and some of the best travel articles from other publications that we couldn’t *help* but share...

On GoAbroad.com

GoAbroad.com is very proud of the work we put into offering comprehensive, high-quality information to our wonderful community. Here’s what you all said you loved the most:

1. TRAVEL: Why Does Traveling Make You Feel Like Your Best Self?

“Oftentimes, our passion and drive for travel is personal, but the reasons why we are our best selves when we travel are largely universal.”

2. SCHOLARSHIPS: 45 Scholarships for Study Abroad Around the World

“There’s a reason the word “money” is used more frequently than any other word in rap songs. It’s important. And whether you agree with the likes of Eminem, Jay Z, and Tupac or not, we can all agree that money can be a major deciding factor when you are choosing where to study abroad (or if to study abroad at all).”

3. STUDY ABROAD: Top 10 Study Abroad Destinations for 2017

“There’s probably a good reason (or, rather, a lot of ‘em) that most of the world is interested in spending their study abroad time in one of the following ten countries. Whether it is a superb price:service ratio, the personality of the locals, world-renowned education standards, or a special landscape you just can’t find anywhere else on the planet (Cappadocia, anyone?!), these are the countries to visit if you’re ready for a good time with your education pursuits. From gelatos to mochis, we’ve got you covered.”

4. TRAVEL: How to Pick the Right Program Abroad for You

“With thousands of international program options out there, it can be overwhelming to find a program that fits all that you’re looking for. Whether you want to find a study abroad program, find volunteer opportunities abroad, find internships abroad, or are wondering how to find teaching jobs abroad, you're in luck. Here’s how to pick the right program abroad for you, without wanting to rip your hair out and without stress of not understanding your choices.”

5. LANGUAGE SCHOOLS: Ten Unique Languages to Learn Abroad

“Words are a lot like people: they hold the power to excite, disappoint, comfort, and anger. They are as powerful as any physical force and and can be just as influential. And, like people, they come in all shapes and sizes (or, rather, phonetics and grammar rules). So, instead of sticking with high school course selections, why not branch out from the language root and try your tongue at something new?”

Passion led us here written on a sidewalk
#Guilty

6. STUDY ABROAD: 3 Steps to Adding Study Abroad to Your Resume

“After your study abroad trip is complete, what do you do with everything you’ve learned? How do you use it to land even more opportunities such as jobs, internships, and volunteering positions?”

7. TEACH ABROAD: Find a Teaching Job Abroad in Summer 2017

“Remember, a summer job will be shorter than most teaching contracts, so keep in mind that some of the advice may need to be tweaked. But, don’t fear that your shorter time is going to mean you’ll miss out on too much, short term teaching jobs abroad can be a great way to see if the classroom is a good fit for you.”

8. TEFL: 7 Things to Know Before Getting a TEFL Certification Abroad

“Teaching English is a lot more challenging than it sounds, especially since English is one of the most difficult languages to learn. Words like “rough” or “laugh” are not pronounced the way they are spelled and grammatical rules in English come with an insane amount of exceptions. Don’t be intimidated, though. If you are considering getting a TEFL certification, you’ve come to the right place.”

9. WORK ABROAD: Languages That Will Get You HIRED & Where You Should Learn Them

“With so many beneficial tongues to choose from, the real question is which should you pick? Language learning is, after all, a lot of work, so you may as well choose one that will love you back!”

10. ADVENTURE TRAVEL: Psst! 5 Incredible Places Before Word Gets Out

“Have you ever wished that the places you traveled to weren't so crowded? We expect lines when visiting a theme park but we assume that a more adventurous getaway in nature is going to be void of people, full of wildlife, and exactly like that beautiful, isolated snapshot in the latest National Geographic issue. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.”

From the Field of International Education

We’re not alone in our mission of bringing authoritative information on international education to the world wide web. From student reflections to inspiring motivational pieces, here are our 10 favorite travel articles of 2016 focused on meaningful travel from across the field.

Subway ride in Asia
Some of our favorite reads for those long commutes.

1. API ABROAD: What it is Like to Be a “Minority” Abroad

“I only experience privilege in Bhutan when I am identified as a tourist because according to my friends and locals I look Nepali, Muslim or Bhutanese (Latinos are like unicorns here so that is not even a suggestion).  I have even had people come up to me and speak Dzongkha or Nepali in town.”

2. INTERNATIONAL TEFL ACADEMY: 4 Entrepreneurs That Will Inspire You

“The bottom line is, even if you aren't planning on making education and teaching your career, getting a TEFL Certification and teaching English abroad is an excellent way to launch or enhance your career prospects. Meet a variety of International TEFL graduates that have leveraged their experience teaching English abroad into their new careers by starting their own businesses.”

3. DIVERSITY ABROAD: Dealing with Stereotypes While Studying Abroad

“Learning to cope with this— the feeling of being “othered”— is bound to happen as soon as you find yourself somewhere new (or even here, in the US!). And although the feeling that you’re looked at as ‘different’ can happen here, that feeling can certainly multiply when going to another country.”

4. CET STUDY ABROAD: May All Beings Have Happy Minds

“Though the monastery is still in the city, the incredible amount of peace that overtook my body from my toes to my head the moment I stepped foot in front of the gate made it seem as if I was transported to a completely different realm. Mountains adorned the horizon instead of street lights and freshly built buildings. There were vast plains of beautiful, still healthy green trees instead of black hardened asphalt. Grey rooftop buildings with splashes of red windowsills gave more of a village, friendly vibe in my heart than the more individualistic nature of the booming city center.”

5. GOOVERSEAS.COM: Why Study Abroad Will Make You Question Everything

“Without a doubt, spending a few months or a year in another country can change your outlook on everything from your individual style to how you feel about personal space, not to mention your threshold for embarrassment. But it can also bring up deeper doubts about the issues that really matter in life -- like chicken buses. Let's take a look at some of the ways studying abroad can make you question everything you thought you knew to be true.”

6. KAYA VOLUNTEER: Being a sustainable traveler in a not-so-sustainable destination

“...the truth in many developing nations is that they do not have the resources, and their long lasting traditions often seem anything but sustainable. It can be a sad reality when you arrive and realize that being sustainable is not something widely acknowledged in the destination..”

7. IFSA BUTLER: Underrepresented: A Call for Men to Study Abroad

“Men, it’s time to take a step out of our comfort zones. It’s time to address our fears of unfamiliar environments.”

8. IES ABROAD: A Semester in Review: Have I Changed?

“I’m lying on my couch, wrapped in a blanket and watching the West Wing.  I’m eating my mom’s delicious chocolate chip cookies and enjoying the warm winter of Tucson.  For all intents and purposes, I’ve picked up right where I left off four months ago. So...did it all really happen?  Did I really spend a semester living in Germany?  It sure doesn’t feel like it, at least on the surface.”

9. IIE & INTEREXCHANGE: Let’s expand “study abroad” to include more than just “study”

“Our collective definition of ‘study abroad’ should also include work, teach, volunteer, and other educational and experiential programs. Gap year and postgraduate programs. Social good and volunteer programs. Peace Corps and the JET Program. Programs that are non-academic, not necessarily tied to a university or college, and not even necessarily targeted at currently enrolled students, but programs that offer significant educational experiences for young Americans all the same.”

10. GVI: 12 Ways to Travel Responsibly

“START AT HOME. Your responsible travel adventure starts before you even leave the house.”

Elsewhere on the Web

We’d be silly to assume the content written by our friends and partners are the only travel articles of 2016 worth reading. Here’s a shortlist of our favorite meaningful travel articles of 2016 written on/for publications we love:

Little boy laughing while playing in water
Meaningful travel discussed elsewhere brings us so much joy!

1. HUFFINGTON POST: Now, More Than Ever Before, College Students Need To Study Abroad

“As we discuss issues such as systemic racism or the discrimination of Muslims, I realize that many of my students don’t have a counter narrative to the one that is offered through media outlets. So we read, and we have difficult discussions. I encourage them to interact with people who are different and to listen. But mostly, I just want them to travel because I know that once they immerse themselves in another culture, they will see the world in a different way.”

2. TRAVELERS TODAY: Top 5 Reasons Why Traveling Improves Mental Performance

“A research commissioned by the US Travel Association has confirmed that the exposure to an unfamiliar environment jumpstarts a person's overall mental performance. Hence, these mild waves of 'fight or flight' adventurer stimuli encourage the top five areas of mental performance.”

3. USA TODAY COLLEGE: What I realized about international students when I became one

“This new perspective has given me a new respect for the international students who come to the United States for their education, as they go through many things that I have never had to go through before my parents’ move.”

4. PBS: Learning a foreign language revealed a world I never knew existed

“I guess at the time, it didn’t seem all that important. But I have come to believe that learning a foreign language is a quietly revolutionary act and that there’s never been a better time to do it.”

5. AMERICAN GAP: Why a Passion for Learning is Your Best Gap Year Souvenir

There’s that pair of comfy traveler pants – wild patterns with cinched waists and ankles. Or the prints of beautiful artwork made by a local you conversed briefly with. There’s the magnet for mom, the T-shirt for baby bro, and the precious charm bracelet you mentally commit to never losing. While all of these mementos have value and – hopefully won’t end up in the bottom of a dusty box in the attic as their fate – there’s one incredibly powerful souvenir that your Gap Year will leave you with: A rekindling of a love for learning.”

6. HUFFINGTON POST: 7 Privileges I Was Made Aware of By Traveling

“I’m here to show you the privileges I became more aware of from traveling abroad, as a solo, African-American female. Yes, African-American because both my parents were born in Nigeria, while I was born in California.”

Want to get more involved in meaningful travel?

Start 2017 on the right foot. Here are some ideas to stay engaged with meaningful travel as the year unfolds:

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