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How to Travel for Free Using Travel Opportunities and Scholarships

Travel for free, where’s the scam? If it’s too good to be true, chances are it’s not real. I am here to tell you that there are many ways to travel for free, many of which I’ve personally done myself. I’ve personally won travel opportunities to 9 different countries in 3 continents – all expenses paid for. You can find my resources about other methods across my social media platforms or in this blog. I am here to talk about free travel opportunities. Are these only for students? Are these only for people from specific countries or people who have excellent grades? Are you too old for this? Do you have to move abroad to get a travel opportunity? My answer to all of these is a simple NO.  In this article, I’ll be delving specifically into how to travel for free using travel opportunities and scholarships.

What are travel opportunities? Are they scholarships? 

Yes and no. The closest term to what these opportunities offer is a scholarship. A scholarship is usually known as a financial reward made to support a person’s education. But it turns out that there are more ways to support people than through monetary funding, but most of us don’t know this.  Imagine this: these are corporations and organizations out there that fund all-expenses-paid trips for people to gain skills in specific fields. For the younger people reading this, some will even pay for you to travel half-way across the world to interact with other people your age and learn from each other. I’ve seen trips for people interested in learning about a specific culture, trips for artists, photographers and entrepreneurs. The possibilities are endless. All you have to do is use Google, find them and apply.

a woman posing in the water

Hey there, and welcome to Go Global with Sibu! I’m a global citizen that has been living and traveling around the world since 2005 – all through budget travel, scholarships, study/work and living abroad opportunities.  I share everything I’ve learned over the years here – to prove to you that you don’t need money or privilege to enjoy everything that this world has to offer. 

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Why would anyone fund this?

Some corporations are looking for methods to spend money in ways that will count as charitable tax deductions. Others genuinely believe in a cause and want to fund it. Some organizations receive generous donations to fund trips that will benefit people from around the world. Others invite people and expect them to work in projects or raise awareness in their home communities as a thank you for participating in these. Most come with no-strings attached. But all of them have one thing in common: they understand the power of travel. By being in an environment with people from different countries and backgrounds, they know that this breaks down stereotypes and makes a long-lasting impact on those who attend.

As a recipient of multiple-travel opportunities, I want to dispel some of the myths behind scholarships and give you some personal examples of the opportunities that I’ve won over the years.

Any scholarship is a long term commitment

Contrary to popular belief, travel opportunities are not exclusively limited to long-term commitments. Yes, you can find programs that will sponsor your move abroad for 3 months or more, but there are also opportunities that can easily be less than a week long. There are numerous programs available that cater to individuals seeking shorter travel experiences, ranging from a few days to a couple of weeks.

These opportunities provide the chance to explore new cultures, immerse yourself in local traditions, and create unforgettable memories. Personally, I would love to choose longer opportunities but I don’t have the time. The shortest one I’ve been to was 3 days long in France; the longest one was 2 weeks long in Switzerland.


There is an age limit and if I’m over 25 it’s already too late

I’ve personally even seen opportunities up to the age of 40! If I see anything higher I’ll keep you posted. Being over a specific age doesn’t mean that you have nothing to contribute. If anything, they value your experience and expertise. And if you read in between the lines, for some they will even make an exception if they feel you have something interesting to offer. Yes, it will clearly say that they are open to ages beyond the requirements. All you have to do is read through.


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Attending a forum in France
I have to be a student

This is a big misconception that even I believed. I first found out about travel opportunities in my late 20s, and it wasn’t until the year I turned 30 that I got my first one: a one-year opportunity that would allow me to visit different European countries every 3 months so we could take part in workshops and learn from each other. I wasn’t even a student then! Some of the participants in the group were, and some weren’t. Age and interest in the topics of the opportunity (in this case – migration and human rights) were the only requirements.

There is nothing for my field

I’ve seen travel opportunities for fresh high school graduates that have not even made it into university and also for people who have over 10 years of experience in marketing. Yes, some will be specific about the field that you should be in and others genuinely don’t care. I’ve seen opportunities for people who are looking into starting their own business but don’t have any experience.

There was an opportunity once for people interested in Japanese culture. A one-week all-expenses-paid trip to Japan: if you could show your interest in the application form, you’d get chosen and flown to Japan for a week. Even though Japan is not at the top of my list, I can easily explain why I’d love to go and learn more about the people and their culture, and so can you.

I went on a travel opportunity to Russia back in 2018 simply because they needed people who had experience volunteering. Anyone who had ever volunteered, even at a dog shelter a few hours per month, could apply. All I had to do was pay for my visa, which was 25 Euros. That’s how I got to spend a week in Russia, network, learn about the history and culture, and all I had to do was apply. I got picked up at the airport, and everything had been arranged for me beforehand. I’m still good friends with some of the participants, and have even visited and stayed with them and their families in their countries.


In Italy, hanging out after the conference
I have nothing to offer

The amount of times that I’ve seen people skip through these opportunities simply because they believed that they were not qualified from the start – without even looking at the requirements! If it says they’re only looking for students, maybe one of the requirements from the donors was to limit this to students. If it says 35 and under, then they need people with more expertise and want to have a wide range of professional backgrounds. But you won’t know this until you actually open the page and look at the requirements! Personally, unless it’s clearly stated in the title that I’m not qualified, I always have a look. All it takes is a few minutes to clarify whether or not I’m eligible. What truly matters is how you present yourself in the application form.

I have to be from X country to apply

This is another one of the biggest misconceptions. How do you even know if you don’t qualify if you haven’t looked at the requirements? There are opportunities for people from all over the world, some are limited to specific countries. I never assume – I always check first to see if I’m eligible. Once I can determine that I don’t qualify because of my age or country of origin, then I move on.


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I’m required to overdeliver afterwards

Most opportunities have no strings attached. You are flown out to the destination, you engage with others as part of the program, and then you go back home. In some, you will be asked beforehand if you can deliver a project during the program or afterwards. I personally do not see this as a deterrent. I’ve even used these projects as part of my portfolio whenever I apply for jobs. They’re great for working experience, broaden up my horizons, and they’re usually aimed at raising awareness in my community. You get a free trip, and in exchange, you volunteer locally or deliver a project for them when you go back home. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. And you’ll often get referrals and a certificate for this.

For some opportunities, if you want to continue being invited in the future, or if you want to become a part of their alumni network, projects might be required. When I got invited to Azerbaijan, this was one of the main points for successful applicants. I went back home and worked with local high schools to raise awareness about some political issues at hand. This was a two-day project of my own choice. I got flown out to Italy two years later by the same organization thanks to that project, and I’m still close friends with many of the participants.

In Azerbaijan, sightseeing after the forum
How can I stand out while applying for a travel opportunity?

Read the requirements. This isn’t a job application. If you don’t fulfill all of the points then you might have to wait for another opportunity to come up. Donors oftentimes have set specifications about who they choose and this is why there isn’t much flexibility.

I’ve rarely seen opportunities that take grades into account – but you do need to stand out somehow. What kind of leadership skills do you have? Are there any personal or professional projects you’d like to write about in your application that could be relevant? Don’t be afraid to showcase your skills and experience. Even if it’s not completely relevant, use them as you would when it comes to convincing a potential employer of your transferable skills.

There are many opportunities that don’t require any working experience whatsoever, even for 18 year olds. But – do you volunteer? Are you part of any local clubs? Do you have a weekend job that has helped you build new skills? The beauty of these opportunities is that they’re investing in you as a person. You have to be able to show them that potential.

I’m not going to lie. It took me more than a year to get my first travel opportunity. Applications are like job applications. The good ones take some time to get. Once I got that first one, I used that experience to apply for other opportunities, and my writing skills when it came to applications also became better. Perseverance is key.

What are the benefits of a travel opportunity?

Yes, a paid trip to another city or country is always a plus, but what else? I now have a wide network of friends and acquaintances all around the world. Some, like I mentioned before, have even invited me to their homes. I’ve been invited to work in professional projects with some of them. Others I keep in touch with regularly. And most of these travel opportunities are now part of my portfolio, and even my CV.

I have not once regretted going on one of these opportunities. Back when I was working in an office I’d only apply to ones that would fit my schedule and just take holidays to go on them, then the pandemic happened and the opportunities stopped for a while.

I’m applying for them again if they fit my interests. Besides the ones I mentioned before, I have seen opportunities for doctors, photographers or anyone with a degree. I also see some that are for people in their late teens or early 20s who obviously are not old enough to have a degree. The list goes on. The best part is, you can even be pursuing photography, for example, as a hobby. It doesn’t have to be your full-time position. Someone out there believes in the art of photography and wants to encourage others to improve their skills and expand their network. Like I’ve said before, the possibilities are endless.

In Nicaragua as a Team Leader
Where can I find these?

Google! I’ve got a screenshot here. Type something as simple as “free travel opportunities” and scroll down to see a few opportunities come up. I’m constantly looking for opportunities, jobs and grants – that’s why I’ve got an eye for these by now. I started in 2017!

I can’t share these here because the deadlines are always changing and it might not be relevant by the time you read this. I do, however, regularly share the ones I come across on social media, some on Instagram, most of them on Tiktok. So feel free to follow me there, and let me know when you’ve applied! I always love hearing your success stories.

Have I convinced you yet?

Travel for free, and learn along the way. Build up your portfolio, improve your network and see the world. What more could you possibly ask for? Do your research, put yourself out there, don’t be afraid of applying and never make any assumptions unless you’ve read the requirements. That is the best advice I can give you. For other travel resources, feel free to check out my other blog posts. And here’s to embracing everything that the world has to offer!

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