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 months. Most teachers here at Teach and GO have extensive experience teaching abroad and online.
So here are some tips to help you teach English online and travel abroad. Generally, brand-new ESL teachers take a job first and 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, you teach from your hotel room. But if you want to do something more long-term, I suggest getting an apartment and making a foreign country your home base.
This is because 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 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 easily teach on the weekends, doing eight or more hours.
As such, you’ll make a lot of money teaching English online and 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 costly. 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 trying to understand how few Americans know about Google Fi. If you’re in America and going abroad, stop 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 hotspot has saved me. In countries like Thailand and Bali, the internet 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. You can either miss all your classes and risk getting fired, use your phone as a mobile hotspot or purchase an external mobile hotspot.
Please set up your phone as a hotspot before you need it.
This applies to any online teacher, even if you’re based in North America and reading this now. Set up your mobile device as a hotspot now so that you can still log into your class if the internet goes out.
You want to set up your phone as a hotspot before you need it because you’re going to want to just be able to log into your phone and turn on the hotspot feature and have it just work.
Do not spend 5 or 6 minutes; you don’t have to figure out how to make it work.
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 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 put together your 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 considerable 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 complement their studies.
Students don’t go to class on the weekend, so you can teach all day if you like, from morning to evening. This is a significant advantage over being based in the United States because weekend hours are typically when you sleep.
You could teach from 2 pm to 5 pm in Vietnam with no issues. If you were in America, that would be from 2 am to 5 am, which is unreasonable.
5 – Focus on Passive Income
As an online teacher, you can 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 each month simply by signing up new teachers. Any online teaching company almost always has a referral program where you can get a signup bonus if you refer a teacher who converts into a teacher.
It would be best to leverage this to increase your income without teaching.
6 – Research Visas Before Hand
Many newbie teachers who have never traveled and lived abroad before making the mistake of thinking they can move to Thailand or Spain and live there for six months to a year. You can’t. You can only stay in most countries for three months on a tourist visa. So if you want to slow travel, you must plan this out first.
They have a 6-month visa for Thailand, but you’ll need to have $7,500 in your bank account for over six 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 visas without a problem, but you’ll start running into issues if you try to do more than 3.
Vietnam, the country I’m moving to, currently provides Americans with a one-year tourist visa. Regardless, research the various visa requirements to plan your long-term trip.
7 – Get your background travel ready
You’ll want to have some 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 critical takeaway is to ensure you have a travel-ready background you can always have at your disposal.
So there you have it; those are helpful tips to help you prepare to teach and travel with VIPKID. It’s not as difficult as it may seem. Traveling and moving abroad can be a big deal if you’ve never done it before, but you can get set up in a week in a new country.