One of the benefits of remote work like teaching English online is that you can do it while living abroad or even if you’re traveling for a few month. Most of our teachers here at Teach and GO all have extensive experience teaching abroad and online.
So here are some tips to help you teach English online and travel abroad. In general, we suggest brand new ESL teachers take a job first then transition to the online space, but whatever process works best for you is fine.
1 – Slow Travel by Getting an Apartment
If you’re taking a one or two week trip then you simple teach from your hotel room. But if you’re wanting to do something a bit more long term I would strongly suggest getting an apartment and making a foreign country your home base.
The reason for this is that it is much easier to travel to places like Thailand, Bali or Japan if you’re already based in a country like Vietnam. Being located in asia makes life a lot easier for online teachers for two reasons:
- Better hours
- Better location
Better hours – No early mornings
One plus of basing yourself out of say Vietnam or Thailand is that you can teach Monday to Friday starting a 3 pm and ending at 9 pm if you want. You can also teach on the weekends, doing 8 or more hours with ease.
As such, you’ll be able to make a lot of money teaching English online and actually be able to travel and explore new places without worry.
Flights in America are expensive. Flights from America to anywhere else in the world are equally expensive. It makes travel a big deal. But, if you’re based in Romania as an online teacher then trips to Europe are easy.
Same with being based out of Vietnam or Thailand. Want to visit South Korea or Japan? A flight from Vietnam is only $150 USD.
2 – Get an International Sim Car, Ideally Google FI
Your data plan won’t work abroad, and if it does it will be crazy expensive. The solution to this is to get an international sim card. The best we’ve used is Google FI.
We’re still shocked by how few Americans know about Google Fi. If you’re in America and going abroad stop right now and get a Google Fi sim card. You get a sim card with an American number and turn it on and off as needed.
That means you can get a local phone number abroad, but still have an American number when you need to log into sensitive accounts or call home.
3 – Your Phone is Your Best Backup
Any responsible online teacher will have backup internet at the ready. This becomes more essential as you travel and live abroad. I can’t tell you how many times using my phone as a mobile hot spot has saved me. In countries like Thailand and Bali the internet simply goes out randomly for an hour or two due to a storm, construction or perhaps a mishap with the power lines.
This even happened to one of our teachers in Connecticut. All of a sudden at 6 am the internet went out. Your option is to either miss all your classes and risk getting fired, use your phone as a mobile hotspot or purchase an external mobile hotspot.
Setup your phone as a hot spot before you need it.
This applies to any online teacher, even if you’re based in North America and reading this now. Setup your mobile device as a hotspot now so if the internet goes out you can still log into your class.
You want to setup your phone as a hot spot before you need it because you’re going to want to just be able to log into your phone and turn on the hot spot feature and have it just work.
Not spend 5 or 6 minutes you don’t have figuring out how to make it work.
Simply go through the process of turning your phone into a hot spot using this guide and you should be good to go. When the internet stops working all you’ll have to do is fire up your phone, turn on “hot spot” with the click of a button and your laptop should automatically connect.
4 – Have multiple online teaching gigs
You used to be able to teach online with a platform like VIPKID, but now the opportunity is gone so you should look at non Chinese teaching companies or putting together your own student client list.
The hours are much better for teaching students in China outside of the United States and Canada. Instead of early mornings, your classes can be afternoon and evenings.
Another big leverage of being abroad is that you can also teach a lot of hours on the weekend if you choose to do so. This is because students in China use VIPKID as an after school program to compliment their studies.
On the weekend, students don’t go to class so you can teach all day if you like from morning to evening. This is a big advantage over being based in the United States because weekend hours are typically when you’re sleeping.
In Vietnam you could teach at 2 pm to 5 pm with no issues. If you were in American that would be 2 am to 5 am which is simply unreasonable.
5 – Focus on Passive Income
As an online teacher you have an opportunity to earn passive income through referrals. If someone signs up through your link to an online teaching platform like VIPKID, you can earn anywhere from $50 to $100 per signup.
Some VIPKID teachers make hundreds of dollars extra each month simply by signing new teachers up. With any online teaching company, they almost always have some sort of referral program where you can get a signup bonus if you refer a teacher who converts into a teacher.
You should leverage this as a way to increase your income without needing to teach.
6 – Research Visas Before Hand
A lot of newbie teachers who have never traveled and lived abroad before make the mistake of thinking they can just move to say, Thailand or Spain and live there for 6 months to a year. You can’t. Most countries you actually can’t stay in for longer than 3 months on a tourist visa. So if you want to slow travel like I suggest, you need to plan this out first.
For Thailand, they have a 6 month long visa but you’ll need to have $7,500 in your bank account for more than 6 months. Conversely, you could go to Thailand on a 3 month tourist visa and then plan on going to a neighboring to apply for another tourist visa. You can do back to back tourist visa no problem but you’ll start running into problems if you try to do more than 3.
Vietnam, the country I’m moving to currently provides Americans with a 1 year tourist visa. Regardless, do your research into the various visa requirements so you can plan your long term trip.
7 – Get your back ground travel ready
You’ll want to have some sort of simple background you can take with you to make for your online teaching background. You have many options. It could be something as simple as a map or a flag you always use in every class or something more complex.
The key takeaway is to make sure you have a travel ready background you can always have at your disposal.
So there you have it, those are some helpful tips to help you prepare if you decide to teach and travel with VIPKID. It’s actually not that difficult as it may seem. I know travel and moving abroad can be a big deal if you’ve never done it before but you can totally get setup in a week in a new country.