Funding Your Next Adventure


Grants for Personal and Professional Travel

If you asked me to pinpoint the exact origin of my love for travel, I would tell you, without hesitation, it stemmed from a childhood obsession with Pippi Longstocking. Pippi, a young girl with incredible strength, lives alone with her horse and her monkey, but often embarks on fantastic adventures to faraway lands. In Pippi in the South Seas, she sets off to the South Seas to rescue her father, who has been captured by pirates. Swordfights and other mischief ensues. How, you might ask, does a young girl with no job finance such a trip? Let’s just say that Pippi had more than one trick up her sleeve. If you, like Pippi, have an adventure you’ve always wanted to take or perhaps a professional project that requires travel, you too can make it happen even if you are short of funding. Let’s have a look at a few grantmakers that specialize in such experiences.

Personal Travel Grants

Amazing as it may seem, there are funders out there that offer support to individual travelers as well as groups traveling together. Here are a few options for those of you looking to finance your dream trip.

Timmissartok Foundation
The Timmissartok Foundation assists individuals seeking adventure in foreign lands. This Foundation provides small grants to individuals of all ages and nationalities for projects that involve “travel with a purpose,” allowing them to explore a particular passion. On its website, the Foundation states that it seeks projects that embody the Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar’s philosophy that "The greatest adventure is still the voyage of the human spirit.” Awardees have received funding to travel the Silk Road by train, cycle from Argentina to Alaska, and circumnavigate the globe without the aid of motorized transport.

Youth Travel Foundation
Through a variety of grant programs targeting individuals and groups, the Youth Travel Foundation seeks to promote the education and personal development of young Canadian adults through travel. For example, the Mary Barclay grant supports youth between 18 and 24 years of age setting off on their first trip away from home. In addition, the Group Travel Grant funds groups of travelers taking a trip involving an adventure, volunteer, or educational component that contributes to personal development and intercultural understanding. For this program, supported projects should benefit both the travelers themselves and the host community.

Wish of a Lifetime and Wish of a Lifetime Canada
Young people aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a travel grant. If you are in your golden years and looking to realize a long-held aspiration, look no further. Wish of a Lifetime (U.S.) and Wish of a Lifetime Canada seek to shift the way society views and values our oldest generations by fulfilling seniors’ dreams and sharing their stories to inspire those of all ages. The organization fulfills four types of wishes for American and Canadian seniors: fulfilling lifelong dreams, reconnecting loved ones, renewing and celebrating passions, and commemorating services. Within these themes, the organization supports seniors with purpose-driven travel, meaning that a dream is achieved during or as a result of the trip. One grant enabled a senior to dip his feet in the ocean for the first time, while another one funded a motorcycle trip for a 95-year-old woman. Seniors may submit a wish on their own, or be nominated by a loved one.

Professional Travel Grants

For individuals seeking funding for a professional project involving travel, there are quite a number of funders out there. Let’s have a look at a few favorites.

Royal Geographical Society Grants Program
The Royal Geographical Society Grants Program “develops new knowledge and advances geographical science by supporting geographical research in the U.K. and overseas.” Of particular interest to individual travelers is the Expedition Grants program, supporting geographical journeys and expeditions in any part of the world. Examples of awards made under this program include the Journey of a Lifetime Award, for those interested in taking a dream trip and sharing their story on a documentary radio program, as well as the Land Rover Bursary, which provides grantees with funding and vehicle use to embark on a geography-related expedition.

National Geographic Society
Through its funding programs, the National Geographic Society seeks to enhance our understanding of the planet and empower the global community to generate solutions for a healthier and more sustainable future. The Society offers a number of grant opportunities for professional adventurers worldwide implementing bold and innovative projects in the areas of research, education, conservation, technology, and storytelling. Supported projects should align with one of the following focus areas: Wildlife, Human Journey, and Changing Planet. Grants are available to early career professionals as well as experienced project leaders, and funded projects may involve fieldwork.

Endangered Language Fund
Another global funder is the Endangered Language Fund, which supports endangered language preservation and documentation projects. Grants are provided to researchers and language activists from any country who are working on a project involving a language that is in danger of disappearing within a generation or two. Supported projects should benefit the native community while making a contribution to linguistic science. The Fund lists travel as one of the eligible expenses.

Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
For those of you who consider even “glamping” to be roughing it, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation offers travel grants to Venice, Italy, through the Venetian Research Programs. Funding supports the study of contemporary Venetian culture and society as well as historical research on Venice and the former Venetian empire. Individual scholars from the U.S., Great Britain, and the Commonwealth working in the humanities or social sciences may apply for a grant.

These are just a handful of funders that I’ve run across in my day-to-day work as a researcher in GrantStation’s International database. I’m constantly astounded as to the sheer variety of grants available to both individuals and organizations worldwide. So, if you are an individual looking to travel to the South Seas or finance a particular project abroad, chances are that there is a grantmaker that may be willing to fund it.

Action steps you can take today
  • Click on the links above to learn more about the travel grant opportunities discussed in this article.
  • Log on to GrantStation or become a GrantStation Member to access GrantStation’s U.S., Canadian, and International databases, which contain funding opportunities for individuals worldwide.