Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow. - Anita Desai
One of my personal dreams is to travel the world. It’s the reason I started this blog! I grew up moving from one place to another, but it was mostly within the United States. I didn’t realize how amazing the world was and how little I knew about it until my family and I moved to Japan!
Nowadays, many people have also come to the same realization as I did all those years back. It’s not uncommon to hear stories about people quitting their 40-hour per week jobs to travel the world and being paid to vlog it or blog it.
But as a young university graduate, the question I had was, “How can I make money and travel the world while in debt?”
The truth is, you can’t drop everything and travel because you have no money to do so. That’s where I was a year ago, and still sort of am. It takes awhile, especially if you have student loans and other debts to pay off. But even with this debt, travel is possible! Will you have as much free time as full-time travel bloggers and vloggers? Probably not – but you’re out there and can make the most of it until you get to that point!
So, what is this way to travel even when in debt? It’s simple really.
- Are you in four-year college or university, or did you graduate from one?
- Do you speak English fluently?
- Is living in another country one of your dreams?
If you answered yes to all these questions, then …
Yes, teaching! All you need to do to start your travel adventures is teach! It can be any language, but especially if you can speak English, you can travel the world teaching English in various countries. Actually, many, many countries are looking for qualified, native English speakers to teach. The pay and benefits vary, but once you get your foot in the door, it’s very easy to build your way to those top-dollar jobs with little hours and excellent benefits, which means more time and money for you to travel.
Have I sparked your interest? Here’s how to make money and travel the world.
Step One: Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
The first step is getting your bachelor’s degree. Many countries won’t accept unqualified teachers and expect them to come equipped with a degree to prove that they have the necessary skills to perform the job. They want to make sure you can perform well since they’re paying for you.
It’s not 100% necessary to have a bachelor’s degree, but I highly recommend it, especially if you plan to do extensive traveling. Unless you plan to get one job and stick with it until you gain several years experience, you will need your degree to have any fighting chance of getting a job overseas.
English is the highest preferred subject, but don’t worry if you have a degree in political science, gender studies, or mathematics. As long as you have a degree, you can find a job. Just make sure you get your B.A. from an accredited institution.
There will be certain jobs you will encounter that do require a degree in English, ESL, or Linguistics, but generally these will be higher-level jobs that will consider taking you if you have several years experience. I have an English degree with a concentration in language, writing, and rhetoric, and I found that it gives me an advantage in employment against others and allows me to negotiate for a higher salary.
Step Two: Get Certified
You’ve gotten your bachelor’s degree! Great! Now, it’s time to get certified.
Except for some jobs in China every so often, many jobs will require some sort of certification that shows employers that you know how to teach English. You can find these online, at colleges and universities, and training academies. There are many options that you can choose from to fit your personal goals, interests, and needs.
Once you start looking these up, you’ll see that there are a few different terms: CELTA, TEFL, and TESOL are among the top ones you will see. What’s the difference between them?
CELTA is the Cambridge English certification to teach English. It’s widely accepted, and there are hiring bodies now asking for CELTA qualifications versus other options. You can find one of their training centers in over 130 countries worldwide where you can choose from face-to-face or online courses, both of which will provide you with a minimum of 120 contact hours. A CELTA can cost around $2,800 for the course, and the timeline can vary based on your schedule.
To find out more about CELTA, check out the Cambridge English website:
TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It’s useful if you plan to teach in countries where English is not the first language, such as Japan, Oman, or Chile. Like the CELTA, it’s widely recognized and accepted. These courses can vary in pricing and options and can be found in 100 or 120-hour options. However, it’s always best to choose 120 for a more desirable and higher paying job.
To find out more about TEFL Certifications, check out the International TEFL Academy:
TESOL, or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is a more recent certification that allows you to teach both abroad in non-English-speaking countries (just as the TEFL does) and within English-speaking countries. This certificate gives you the flexibility of traveling or staying put at home. This is the type of certificate I obtained.
TESOL certification courses can also vary in price and length. My course was about four months long, run by my university, and was a hybrid course for about $1,800 with 120 internship hours. Do some research into which TESOL program is best for you.
To find out more about TESOL Certificate courses, you can go to the American TESOL Institute’s website here: http://americantesol.com
PLEASE NOTE: If you are not a native speaker of English, you will most likely have to take the IELTS and/or TOEFL exams. Scores may vary between certificate programs.
Step Three: Find a Job!
With your bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate in hand, you are now ready to find a job! Your traveling dreams are within your reach. But where do you find a job? How can you know it’s legitimate? And are you limited in the countries you can go?
Most new teachers will find plenty of opportunities in East Asia. China, Japan, and South Korea are some of the top countries that are in high demand of English teachers. Vietnam and Thailand are a couple of others off the top of my head that are in need of English teachers. For many of these jobs, you will be teaching children and not adults, or a combination of both.
“What if I don’t want to travel to East Asia first?”
You can definitely find other countries. Many South American countries will also accept new teachers. I would say, from personal experience, it’s more difficult to get jobs in Europe or the Middle East starting off, but it is possible if you keep trying! My first job out of my certificate program (and right out of university) was in Saudi Arabia. If you can find an opportunity in the Middle East, the jobs there usually have high salaries, high benefits, and are tax-free.
If you want to start with traveling somewhere else in the world, don’t give up. Just be smart and be safe when searching. That brings me to websites where you can find teaching opportunities abroad.
Here is a list of some safe websites to look at:
- Dave’s ESL Café (International Job Board) – http://www.eslcafe.com
- Teach Away – http://teachaway.com
- Footprints Recruiting – http://www.footprintsrecruiting.com
- Greenheart Travel – https://greenhearttravel.org
- EPIK (Teach in S. Korea) – https://www.epik.go.kr:8080/index.do
- JET Program (Teach in Japan) – http://jetprogramme.org/en/
Never apply for a job that asks you to pay some large amount of money. No employer will ask you to pay for anything, besides maybe your visa fees and/or flight ticket, both of which you will likely be reimbursed for (if it’s a good job!) I would suggest steering clear of anyone who says they need you to pay money to apply for the job. Be smart about things, and if anything feels suspicious, trust your gut and don’t do it!
Step Four: Prepare for Takeoff!
You’re nearly there! You’ve gotten your bachelor’s, you have your certification, you’ve been accepted for a job – now what?
At this point, your employer should give you more information about your visa. Regardless, do your research on visas, fees, safety, cost of living, and all of those things. I recommend doing this even before accepting the job offer. You want to have some sort of idea of what you’ll be encountering, especially if you know nothing about the country you plan to work in.
Here is a list of things you may need before leaving:
You must have a valid passport to travel abroad and obtain a visa to the country you plan to work in. If you are a US Citizen, the US Department of State states passports can take about 6-8 weeks to process. It takes around 2-3 weeks for expedited services.
You can also find third-party agencies that claim to help you attain your passport even sooner than this, but they are pricey. My recommendation is, if you’re certain about traveling outside of your country, to begin the passport process while you’re obtaining your certificate. This way you avoid all those unnecessary costs and can wait out the 6-8 weeks.
A Foreign Travel Visa
You will have to obtain a visa for the country you wish to work in. Usually these are “work visas” or “business visas.” Sometimes you can complete everything yourself without the need of an agent, but if it’s your first time applying for a visa or if the country is one that requires you to go through an agent, I highly recommend Passport Visas Express. Personally, I don’t recommend Travel Visa Pro as I’ve gone through horrible customer service issues with them.
Some visas require that you have a medical exam with updated vaccinations before being allowed to enter the country. This will vary from country to country. For example, South African citizens may require different vaccinations than UK citizens for the same country. It depends on what’s going on in your area and how it could affect the country you visit.
TIP *** Make sure to check out Travisa to check if you need a visa and what the requirements are: https://www.travisa.com/Visa_Search.aspx
A Good Travel Backpack/Luggage
This is obviously optional, but I consider it so important for a traveler, especially if you intend to travel long-term. I recommend a travel backpack to make getting through airports easier and more efficient. If you’re the type of person that brings quite a few things (after all, you are moving for a year or more), then one large, updated suitcase allows more items. This means you’ll have less pieces of luggage to worry about. If you know you can get away with a smaller suitcase, go for it. That’s always best.
Usually an employer will choose (with your approval, of course) and pay for your flight. Some employers, however, do ask that you pay for your ticket and then they will reimburse you once you arrive. If they give you a limit of, for example, $1,200 to spend on a ticket, try to stay at or under that budget or you will bear the rest of the cost. Sometimes, if you find a ticket for $1,000 out of your $1,200 budget, certain companies will let you keep the difference. Find out all this information from your employer before booking a ticket.
At this point, you’re ready to start your journey! You’ll be traveling the world in no time. Contracts with English teaching jobs can last anywhere from 3-months to 1 or 2-years long; it all depends on what you’re looking for and how long you wish to spend in that country.
Also, if you choose a 1-year contract and then fall in love with the country, many employers will offer renewable contracts that you can extend for another year. If you’re in debt, this is a great way to pay it off. The first year you can focus on paying off debt. After that, you can return for a second year and see more of the country you’re living in. This way, you won’t have to be worrying over your finances!
Teaching English is a great way to see the world while also making a positive difference in it. Of course, this isn’t the only way to make money and travel. Try out some other options if this one doesn’t suit your liking.
If this article helped you, don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter for future updates! When you subscribe, you’ll get to download my free eBook, “Arabic Phrases for Travelers.” Opt in now!