There’s no denying the educational value and reinvigoration that teachers gain out of traveling with GEEO. Investing in your own education, professional development, sense of wonder, and personal joy is so worth it! Just ask our thousands of alumni. While our travel programs are already discounted for educators, we know that saving money to travel can be difficult. Our staff has traveled independently to over 100 countries around the world on a shoestring budget, and we plan dozens of travel programs for our teachers every year, so we want to share our tips for budgeting and saving for your upcoming adventures with GEEO.
But first, budget.
The first step to making a savings plan is to create your trip budget, which will become your savings goal. The GEEO team is slightly obsessed with spreadsheets, so we made you a template that you can copy to create your own personalized travel budget. It includes every cost you need to consider as part of your GEEO program. Set aside an hour of your time and get granular with it. Follow the itinerary and do a mental walkthrough of each day, from how you will get from home to the airport (will a friend take you or will you take a rideshare?) to how much you plan to spend at restaurants (are you okay with getting the cheapest thing on the menu or do you want to be able to splurge?) to which optional activities you want to do. The “Costs” section of each program page provides you with a general idea of how much you should plan to spend on meals and optional activities. Going through this exercise and using our budget worksheet will help you set your savings goal.
Once you’ve made your budget and determined that you will be able to save up for your program, make your deposit to save your spot by registering for your trip. GEEO programs often sell out, so make sure you save $350 for your deposit first.
Now that you’ve registered for your program and know how much you need to save per month, organize your finances.
Open a savings account. Your bank might have free savings account options, so ask them what they can offer you. One of our staff members enjoys using the high-yield savings account (HYSA) offered by CIT Bank. These types of accounts offer online banking, allow you to earn up to 50 times more interest on your balance than in a regular bank savings account, and you can set up automatic, recurring transfers from your checking account. Other HYSA options include Chime, CITI, and American Express. Do your research and choose the savings account that best meets your needs. We highly recommend setting up automatic transfers to your savings account each month so that you know your savings will grow and you’ll meet your final goal. However you decide to set the money aside, the important thing is to start saving for your adventure!
Add your savings amount to your monthly budget. Making room in your household budget for your savings is imperative to achieving your savings goal. Is there anything you can take out of your current budget so you can save? Is there anything you can do to earn a bit more each month? We’ll give you some ideas on how to save and earn extra cash below.
Set a final payment calendar reminder. The card that you used to pay your deposit will be automatically charged for your final balance around 60 days prior to your trip. If you’d like to use a different card, you can call us with different payment information before the due date. Set a calendar reminder for about 65 days before your trip so you can make sure that your savings will either be in the account that we charge, or set a reminder to pay off your credit card with the savings you’ve built up.
Ways to Save or Earn More
Make your GEEO reservation during an early booking sale. At GEEO, we like to encourage people to book as early as possible so they have plenty of time to prepare for their trip and so we know which programs are proving to be the most popular. To encourage you to make an early decision, we offer a 5% early booking discount for all participants who sign up within the first month of our programs being available. To show how much we value your loyalty, we offer an 8% early booking discount exclusively for our alumni educators who have traveled with us in the past. We typically publish our seasonal catalog about 9-10 months before travel time.
Earn a $100 referral credit for every new teacher you refer to us. Our Educator Referral Program is only open to GEEO alumni, but for repeat travelers, this is a great deal! If you have traveled with us before and sign up for one of our programs, we will reward you with a $100 discount off the price of your program for each new teacher that you refer who books one of our programs and travels in the same school year as you. To qualify, your referrals must never have traveled with GEEO before. Please note that if you refer multiple people under this program, you will receive multiple discounts of $100, up to the price of your trip!
Apply for grants. There are plenty of grants, programs, and fundraising platforms available for teachers who want to travel and need financial assistance. Read our grant and funding advice for ideas and resources.
Cancel some subscriptions. How many streaming services do you really need? Read about your travel destination instead! What about that gym membership you never use? Go on a hike with friends! These monthly charges add up over time, so canceling a subscription or two can carve out a significant amount that would be better spent on new, exciting experiences abroad.
Prepare your own meals at home. Eating out (even at school!) adds up quickly. Matt, a Spanish and ESL teacher from Wyoming who traveled to the Galapagos with us, said, “Ask yourself [if] you really need to go out to eat. Or would you rather eat at a restaurant somewhere exotic?” There are lots of resources out there to help you meal plan so you can save money—up to hundreds of dollars each month.
Pick up extra duties at school. This varies by district, but many school districts offer opportunities to teach summer school, host a club, be on lunch duty, etc. to earn extra cash. GEEO alum Patty said she earns extra cash by “doing coverages during my preps and teaching college classes. I know colleagues who make good money tutoring too.”
Earn travel points with a credit card. If you are good with a budget and can ensure you’ll pay off your balance each month, using a credit card that earns you points toward travel is an easy way to earn cash back or points that you can redeem for flights.