Are you considering taking your education qualifications and business on the road and becoming a travelling teacher?
You are not alone. Many teachers have a great appreciation for the language, culture and traditions of other countries. If you are an English language teacher, it is tied to your career in many ways!
Sounds pretty great, right? Well, there are both pros and cons to being a travelling teacher. In this blog post, we will explore what it means to be a travelling teacher and discuss the pros and cons of this lifestyle. We will also give you six tips for becoming a successful travelling teacher and answer some frequently asked questions about this way of life.
Who is a Travelling Teacher?
Travelling teachers are people who make a living by working remotely or teaching in a school in a foreign country.
Modern remote working technology is a significant enabler for the rise of this lifestyle. There are also many websites that facilitate and make it possible for teachers to travel with their qualifications.
Some travelling teachers are considered digital nomads.
What is a Digital Nomad?
The word ‘Nomad’ refers to people who do not have a fixed home. Traditionally, nomads wandered from place to place, making a living by trading skills and goods.
Over the years, the popularity of this lifestyle decreased as people chose to put roots down and build permanent settlements. Over the last decade, we are witnessing this trend reverse. With the rise of the digital nomads, the nomadic lifestyle is, once again, popular.
Most digital nomads make money online, running their businesses, blogging, or using their skills, such as teaching, to work as freelancers. Some are even able to support their nomadic lifestyle with passive income.
These days, all you have to do is log into social media to see another digital nomad working on their laptop by the beach while sipping on a margarita.
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Pros of Being a Travelling Teacher
What are the pros of being a travelling teacher leading a nomadic lifestyle?
- Location independent
- Better work atmosphere
- Improved motivation
- Self-improvement opportunities
- New friends and challenges
- Opportunity to learn new skills/languages
- Opportunity for increased earnings and savings in some cases
Flexibility is probably the number one pro of the travelling teacher lifestyle. Tracelling teachers have the freedom to work almost anywhere in the world they please, which means they can travel wherever their heart desires.
Additionally, some travelling teachers find students to teach privately and save more than working a traditional job in their home country.
Finally, travelling teachers can often enjoy a better work-life balance as some jobs abroad offer a very attractive package.
Also, you might decide to take on other jobs in content writing or blogging like other travelling teachers. In that case, you can work from anywhere, set your schedule, use any software or tools to make your work easier, charge the rates you want and keep all the profits. If you worked for a salary in an office setting, all these things would be impossible.
Cons of Being a Travelling Teacher
While it may seem that living the nomadic life is a dream come true, there are also some cons to being a travelling teacher.
- Feelings of isolation
- Language barriers
- Missing out on special events with family/friends
- Lack of stability or job security
- Traveling can become exhausting
- Costs can add up
- Technology challenges
- Finances and tax implications
One big downside is that it can be hard to make friends when people are always coming and going in your life.
Additionally, living out of a suitcase can be tiring, and it’s not always easy to find a good internet connection when traveling, which can make things stressful.
Finally, even though you are teaching, it can sometimes feel quite isolating as you adapt to a new country, its language and lifestyle.
To illustrate the challenges of the nomad lifestyle, imagine if you took up some further remote work, and you decide to do group language classes or work as a podcaster to make money while travelling. This month, you decided to rent a villa in the Philippines by the beach and work from there.
It sounds ideal, but once you get there, the internet is slow, you can’t upload your podcasts, and video calls with your clients keep freezing.
What if you went to Aruba or UAE instead? The internet is fast, but the cost of accommodations is astronomical, blowing your entire budget. You also need a work visa to work from most countries.
As you can see, much research is required before you take off on your nomadic journey.
Tips for Becoming a Travelling Teacher
Working while travelling the world can be an enriching and life-changing experience despite all the cons. If you are ready to pack your bags, follow the tips below to prepare for and make the best of your travelling teacher life.
1. Find the Right Location
Selecting a location for your nomadic lifestyle is the most critical step if you want to start working as a travelling teacher. To find the right location, you must consider the various factors listed below.
1.1 Cost of Living
As we mentioned above, you can easily blow your travel budget and profits if you’re not careful.
While many consider working while traveling to be a vacation, you need to plan for long-term stays. You will likely not be staying in 5-star hotels or eating out every day.
Pay attention to the cost of living, including food, transportation, and accommodation, to stick to your budget. You could also consider couchsurfing if you want to get some short-term stays in.
1.2 Policies and Costs for Acquiring a Work Visa
If you’re American, Canadian, or from one of the several countries with a powerful passport, you have likely never had to worry about a visitor’s visa. Most countries will let you in for short-term vacations. Schools also provide a helping hand in the visa process.
You will be surprised at how restrictive some countries are when you decide to work from there. In some cases, you will be required to apply for a work visa or a special digital nomad visa to work out of the country.
You can sometimes get a valid visa for a certain number of days but extending it becomes very complicated if you want to stay longer.
Therefore, it is essential to research the policies of every country before you book anything and have an itinerary in mind to avoid any last-minute issues.
1.3 Internet/Mobile Speed and Reliability
As illustrated in our example above, internet reliability is the lifeline of your travelling teaching lifestyle if you decide to teach online. Slow internet or mobile connection can make it quite frustrating for you and the people who work with you.
Make sure to use several online resources to research the internet speed and reliability of digital nomad destinations.
1.4 Language Barriers
You can get by in many destinations worldwide by conversing in English. In many more, local languages rule, and it can become a challenge to accomplish daily tasks like ordering food, catching a bus, paying bills, etc.
If you are the kind of person who enjoys learning new languages and can make an effort to learn the basics, you’ll enjoy the challenge. If that’s not your thing, consider going to a location where most speak English.
Another critical consideration while picking your location is the local weather.
If you can’t stand snow and prefer surfing to skiing, you may be interested in a warm Mediterranean climate like Portugal over others with cold weather.
Keep in mind that even warmer destinations have a period of low season, and that’s for a reason. Travelling teacher hotspots like Thailand and Vietnam are also well-known for their rainy seasons and frequent hurricanes.
Is it easy to get around using public transit, or will you take lots of taxis and rent cars? How safe is it to drive? Do you need an international driver’s license to drive there?
All these questions should be answered before you settle on a location. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of your transportation choice, as it can quickly add up to be one of your biggest expense buckets.
1.7 Crime and Safety Ratings
Some places may have a low cost of living, warm weather, and easy work visa policies. They could also be notorious for crime and be generally unsafe for foreigners.
Look at travel warnings and crime statistics for each country you are considering.
1.8 Time Zones
South Asia has some of the best countries for travelling teachers. If you are from North America, consider the time difference and how it affects your work. For example, if you need to meet with clients in New York, your local working hours in Thailand will be between 10 pm to 6 am. Is this something you can handle? How much will you enjoy your travels if you sleep during the day and can’t go out at night?
If you have dietary restrictions, read up on local food options. Local cuisines can be entirely different than what you are used to at home.
How much it matters is up to whether you consider that a deal-breaker or an opportunity to expand your palate. Many places worldwide do not offer as many food options for those with dietary restrictions as you may find in North America.
If you’re a foodie, pick a place that appeals to your tastes. Good food is important to ensure that you enjoy the area you’re visiting.
1.10 Nightlife, Recreational, and Social Options
You may be there to work, but one of the big pros of being a travelling teacher is absorbing the culture and interacting with the locals.
Some nomad havens are vibrant cities with lots to do and experience, while others may be sleepy towns where everything shuts down in the evenings.
What you prefer is up to you, but it certainly should not be a surprise once you get there. Read some reviews and get an idea of the culture before you go.
Find a supportive community of other travelling teachers or digital nomads.
There are many online groups and forums where like-minded people can connect and share advice. Some even organize in-person events to give you a place to meet others in a similar position and seek friendships.
Make sure you have the right tools and equipment for working remotely.
You may not find the same brands or quality you use back home. This could include a good laptop, a portable printer or scanner, quality microphones, camera equipment, drones, hard drives, etc.
Look into policies for local permits before you leave. For example, if you want to take photos with a drone, many countries do not permit those or require permits.
Invest in travel insurance! We’ll repeat it, do not forget to buy travel insurance before taking off on this life-changing adventure.
It’s essential to protect yourself in case of an accident or injury while abroad. The school may also cover the insurance cost.
The costs associated with seeking medical assistance in a foreign country for a minor ailment or major accident can bring your travelling teacher career to an abrupt end so make sure you have some insurance.
5. Finance and Taxes
Travelling teachers must learn to manage their finances while on the road. This includes learning to do taxes, convert currency, manage bills, keep track of expenses, etc.
When travelling abroad and using foreign currency, you likely don’t want to be relying on your bank. Wise is a great option for exchanging, sending and receiving foreign currency without the hefty exchange fees.
Travelling teachers who work remotely may have complicated tax situations because they’re working across multiple countries and jurisdictions, so be sure you know what you need to do when it comes time for filing taxes at home.
When you work as a digital nomad, your income may be taxable in several countries. Keep track of any foreign income and file your US tax return on time with the IRS so you don’t get penalized for filing late.
6. Prioritize Your Mental Health
Traveling or working alone for extended periods can cause anxiety and loneliness. You will need to find ways to stay inspired and motivated during long stretches away from friends and family members who might otherwise provide emotional support when times get tough.
Luckily, you can access resources and communities to maintain your mental health while traveling. There are quite a few online therapy sites like TalkSpace and BetterHelp.
You can also meet like-minded people and other nomads through online communities like Couchsurfing, Outside Member, Meetup, and Nomad Summit. You can also try co-living and co-working spaces in hubs worldwide.
Is the nomadic travelling teacher life right for you?
The answer depends on your circumstances and what you’re looking for in a work and travel experience.
If you’re prepared to deal with occasionally feeling homesick or lonely and are comfortable learning new skills and navigating different cultural norms, then becoming a travelling teacher could be a great way to see the world while still earning an income.
If you’re not sure whether this type of lifestyle is right for you, it’s always best to do more research before making any decisions. We hope that this post has provided enough food for thought for you to make an informed decision.
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.
Guest Author: Ash & Pri
Ash & Pri are the founders of AshandPri.com, where they empower readers to make smart money decisions across all aspects of life. After achieving their FIRE goals in their 30s, they launched their blogging business in late 2021 and scaled it up quickly to generate a consistent income within a few months. You can find their expert financial advice & tips featured on sites like Forbes, GoBankingRates, Apartment Therapy, MSN, and more.
I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!