The Globetrotter’s Dream: Getting paid to travel

For many, travelling the world is a life dream. However, being tied down to a 9 to 5 is often the default for most adults entering the workforce, leaving many would-be-globetrotters listlessly scrolling through Instagram. But you need not be trapped, enviously looking at the adventures of others, you can travel and get paid to do it. In the globalized world, there are a whole plethora of jobs for travelers all around the world.

One of the easiest and most accessible options for many is teaching English abroad or online. These two options offer you different strengths and weaknesses, but both of them will get you out of your cubicle and onto the open road.

Travel and Teach English  

 The first step to travel and teach English is to get a TEFL certificate. Most countries will allow you to teach English with any university degree paired with a TEFL certificate. A 120-hour TEFL course will give you the proper credentials to teach both in a traditional government school abroad and with most major online English programs.

 When it comes to selecting a TEFL program, you have a lot of options but not all TEFL programs are created equal. You can find dodgy online businesses that will give you a “TEFL Certificate” for a couple of bucks after taking an online test. But these unaccredited services are not recognised by many major schools or teaching organisations, making them utterly useless. Don’t be fooled by the prices, you get what you pay for.

 Instead, it is key to find an accredited, recognised and respected organisation. Doing so will help you get hired for better jobs. A good example of such a service is The TEFL Org. They are the UK’s most accredited course provider and a name recognised throughout the global English teaching world. With a certificate earned through their services, you will be equipped, prepared and qualified to teach English anywhere.

How to Get Paid to Travel Teaching English

 Once you have your TEFL certificate, you can begin job hunting. At this point you face an important decision, do you want to teach English online or do you want to work as a teacher in a traditional school abroad? Both are great options and offer different benefits and drawbacks.

Teaching English in a School Abroad

 This is the more traditional option. Popular destinations to live and teach English are South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. The most accessible and popular of these locations are Asia and SouthEast Asia with China, South Korea and Thailand being major markets. That being said, you need not limit yourself, you can look into locations ranging from Costa Rica, to the Czech Republic, to Vietnam. You can travel to almost anywhere in the world teaching English.

There are many benefits to teaching English in a traditional classroom. First, you will become immersed in a new culture. When you teach in a brick and mortar school, you will need to live in the city and interact with the culture. This will give you a wide range of experiences communicating, commuting and cooking in a foreign country. These experiences alone are an adventure and will make you feel deeply connected to the place where you are teaching. It’s one thing to travel to a new country, it’s a different thing to live your life there.

 Second, teaching in one place will allow you to develop a sense of community in your new home. You will be able to make new friends and meet people which will make living abroad much more sustainable in the long run.

 Third, teaching in a traditional school offers stability. You will often be given a calendar of the year and a contract outlining how long you will be expected to teach. You will have a designated salary and benefits that are consistent throughout your time teaching.

 The potential drawbacks of teaching in a brick and mortar school are you are bound to a set number of hours teaching each day and are limited by the vacation time allotted by the school. The majority of your time will be spent in the location where you live and teach with your travel time largely reserved for your term breaks. And finally, learning to navigate the workplace in another culture can be confusing and difficult at times.

 Teaching English Online

 On the other hand, you can teach English online which offers its own set of benefits. First, this option gives you the ultimate flexibility since you are not bound to a specific location. You can be teaching in one country for a month and then travel to another country for two weeks while maintaining your same work schedule. All you need to do is make sure you plan your travel time around your work hours and stay at places with reliable wifi. If you don’t want to be bound to one place and culture, then this is a tremendous option.

Second, many online English programs let you set your own hours, within reason. You will normally be required to offer a certain number of hours weekly, usually between 6-10, but after that, you can determine how much you want to work. This allows you to maintain some income while traveling or to buckle down and take on more hours when you need to make some money. It’s an added level of flexibility because you aren’t bound by a specific number of hours you need to teach each day.

 Thirdly, teaching online offers a level of comfortability and ease not afforded by the traditional classroom. You can teach online from your own home in your comfy chair as long as you have good wifi and good lighting. Also, many online English programs provide ready-to-teach curriculum which severely decreases your preparation time.

 All that being said, there are a few potential drawbacks to teaching online. The first is lack of community. It’s really easy to get bored and lonely teaching English for hours online in a room by yourself. Second, depending on the program, your hours may be dictated by your performance or ability to sell your own teaching services. This can create an inconsistency in hours at times, thus making it more unreliable than teaching English abroad with a consistent salary.

Choose How to Get Paid to Travel

In light of these different options, it’s important for you to think about what you want from your experience in teaching English. Do you want to have more stability and really experience another culture? Then maybe a traditional school is the right choice for you. Or, if you are looking to see as much of the world as you can for a specific season, then maybe the flexibility of teaching online is a better option. Either way, there is no excuse for not seeing the world through teaching English abroad. Instead of scrolling through you Instagram, watching the adventures of other people, you can get paid to have an adventure of your own! All you have to do is choose how you want to do it.

Ruben Arribas is a Spanish traveler who has traveled more than 70+ countries around the world. Now based in the Philippines!

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