Teaching and Travel: The Perfect Combo!

Teaching and travel

Do you remember your favorite teacher? Sure you do.

Everyone has good memories of at least one teacher who made a real difference in their lives. Whether you loved school or couldn’t wait for summer to come, there was probably one special educator who inspired you, taught you something you’ve never forgotten, or helped you through a learning problem or personal crisis. Because after all, that’s just what teachers do!

On October 5th, we all take a day to remember and thank the women and men who give their lives to helping kids flourish. World Teacher’s Day has been held annually since 1994, a partnership between UNICEF, UNDP, the International Labor Organization and Education International. Special events are held world wide and UNESCO usually puts on an official gathering at their headquarters in Paris.

If you’ve got the travel bug and a gift or talent to share with others, teaching could be the perfect way to get paid to explore the world.

What Qualifications Do I need?

In most cases, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in any subject plus an ESL certification. The most common is TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). It’s an internationally recognized qualification that can be obtained online. Reputable courses could run you around $800-$1,000 and can take 100 hours to complete but once you’re done, you’ll be all set to teach just about anywhere.

It is definitely possible to find a teaching job without a credential, but you won’t make the same money and could find yourself fighting to get paid at all. One way around this is to volunteer with a reputable program and then use that experience to land yourself a paid position. Some will even help you complete your TEFL certification to compensate you for your volunteer work.

Where Can I go?

Once you’ve got the right paperwork, you’ll be amazed by the thousands of opportunities that exist all over the world. More people speak Chinese than they do English, but it’s still the primary language of business and teachers are in high demand. The greatest number of openings are in Asia but there are also plenty of postings for the United Arab Emirates, South America and Eastern Europe.

Where Are the Best Places to Teach?

It really depends on what you’re looking for, and every country has both attractions and deterrents.

South Korea: The pay is excellent, but you may feel isolated if you don’t speak Korean.

Chile: It’s a relatively safe country so you can feel free to travel around, but you’ll need a visa to teach as your tourist visa will expire after 3 months.

Africa: Many African countries welcome volunteers but don’t have the means to pay foreign teachers. If you can manage it, teaching in a country like Senegal can make a huge difference in the lives of kids who have so little.

UAE: Very well paid but jobs can be difficult to get as the competition is pretty tough for anyone with no teaching experience.

China: A wonderful way to explore the country and learn Mandarin or Cantonese but be prepared for a dramatic culture shock.

Columbia: A great place to teach if you want to work on your Spanish, but also one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Morocco: Perfectly situated to tour North Africa and Western Europe but very conservative making it a difficult place for non-Islamic women to feel comfortable.

Japan: Fantastic place to work but also a fantastically expensive place to live.

Spain: Regarded as the absolute best place to teach English as a foreign language but the pay isn’t great. Luckily, the weather is wonderful, living is relatively cheap, and it’s easy to pick up private tutoring on the side. 

Even if you’ve never contemplated taking up education as a career, there’s really no better way to fund your travels than to teach English abroad. A relatively inexpensive investment in a professional credential could have you packing your bags for an exotic destination in no time.

This World Teacher’s Day, we’d like to give a big thank you to all the teachers, coaches, trainers and helpers out there who played a big part in making us who we are. And for those of you just setting out to make a difference, we wish you all the success in the world as you embark on your grand adventure.