Innovation Field Trips


One of the things I am sure of when it comes to being more innovative and fostering a unique perspective is travel.  I have had the pleasure to work, study, and visit a number of countries around the world and each time I learn something new. However, the experiences I cherished most were my work and study trips where I learned about more than just the local architecture and landmarks.  Having the opportunity to observe, discuss and apply the local culture and business climate to my work back home has proven extremely valuable.  My recent exploration was around seeing if there is a way to continue getting those global business experiences after we have graduated or if we are working locally while only a few weeks in duration.

So instead of “Adventure Travel” I started looking for “Educational Travel” and I found a few resources.  A lot of these trips are great for broadening your horizons and learning new areas (read being “T-Shaped”) but there was overwhelmingly a lack of business or design focused trips and experiences.

Professional Volunteering

Professional volunteering is a great way to give back but also get a real inside look into how companies operate in other countries.  Most of these experiences tend to push my original time limit and can last from 2weeks-6months:

  • VSO(USA)/CUSO(Canada) – This organization is very well developed and has great opportunities.  There is a formal application process, training and support on the ground as well as some support on living costs.  The work that volunteers do is very impactful and ranges from SMB support to market assessments to web development.
  • Kaya – These are a bit shorter and require payment to participate but the trips are shorter in length.
  • UN Volunteers – Projects ranging in complexity and length for qualified professionals.
  • More Opportunities – Check out a larger list

Local University Travel

The local university in my city offers a number of short-term group travel opportunities for both continuing education and registered students.  One thing I discovered is if you already have a degree it may be possible to register as an “open student” or in a general degree program and gain access to some of these courses.

Organized Tours

This was the hardest category to find any potential providers in.  Here are a few I found:

  • ExploraInternational Innovation Tour – An organized tour to three innovation hubs (Silicon Valley, Signapore and Israel)
  • The A Factor – Focused on driving connections in 5 day exploration journeys.  The first event is planned for Nairobi with many other cities planned for the future.
  • eBike Berlin Design Tour – A one off event linked to a conference, but a unique model

Executive Education Abroad

There are a number of executive education programs offered from schools such as Harvard, HKU, and Insead among others that can offer a short-term international experience if you have the budget (programs can range from $5,000-$20,000 USD).

Have you found anything else?


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