Five years ago I found a tiny grant through a journalism fellowship so that I could shoot a documentary short about sex-trafficking in South Africa during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Four years ago I found some small financial aids to help me study the Lakota language, and three years ago my brother and I found a grant through his college that helped fund our dream of rafting the entire Mississippi River.
I had very little experience in any of these fields beforehand, but in each case I was able to realize the dream through extensive research and grant applications. In that vein, here is a roundup of suggestions, travel grants, and links to help you plan your next adventure.
Huckberry Explorer Grant - For the past two years, Huckberry has offered a cash prize of $1,000 along with tons of cool gear from their favorite suppliers to help applicants realize their dream adventure. The application for this year just closed, but it pretty much just consists of explaining what you want to do and why in a paragraph or two. Read about the application process or check out some previous winners.
Study Abroad - If you're still in school and your program is somewhat flexible, you should absolutely check out the study abroad or foreign exchange programs. Generally speaking, it's much cheaper to live abroad in student housing than as a normal traveller, and it's much easier to attain a visa. Not to mention you'll get a whole new perspective on education and you'll be able to absorb a new culture over many months.
Wwoof it - The World Wide Organization of Organic Farms is a loose association of national organizations that help place volunteers on organic farms and has been around for about 40 years now. Volunteers (often known as wwoofers) put in an average of 4-6 hours of farm work in exchange for a full day's worth of room and board. According to their website, "You may be asked to help with a variety of tasks like sowing seed, making compost, gardening, planting, cutting wood, weeding, harvesting, packing, milking, feeding, fencing, making mud-bricks, wine making, cheese making and bread making." It's an incredible way to see the world and work alongside locals in such a way that will cost you very little while you're doing it -- and you get to work with your hands. What's not to love? Most wwoofers stay an average of 1-2 weeks, although you work it out individually with your host and many people say as short as a few days or as a long as 6 months. While I've never done this personally, I have a number of friends who have, all with positive responses. Read more or sign up on their website.
Consider Teaching English Abroad - If you're ready for a more long-term adventure, there are so many organizations that facilitate this that it's hard to narrow down the list. Most programs don't require previous teaching experience, but of course require you to be in the country for at least a full school year. Good programs to check out include InterExchange, CIEE, Language Corps, or even something like a Fulbright Scholarship.
Road Trip Nation Travel Grants - Road Trip Nation offers two types of unique grants for people who wish to roadtrip across America, and a film crew tends to tag along. The Green RV Program places three people (either applying together or separately) in a structured summer roadtrip to interview a successful person about their journey to success. The Indie Program can be done any vehicle at other times throughout the year. The program tends to attract college age guys and post-grads, but are open to anyone of any age or level of education.
The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting - Don't discount yourself just because Pulitzer is in the title. The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting helps fund international trips generally between $2,000-$10,000 (but sometimes as much as $20,000) to report on issues of global importance. It's open to writers, photographers, journalists, videographers/filmmakers, and reporters. There's a hearty emphasis placed on multimedia reporting, so it might be worth talking to your artistic buddies and coming up with a group project.