5 travel tips for TEFL teachers
Travel opportunities are a significant reason why so many people are drawn to TEFL in the first place. TEFL is one of the best ways to explore a country. It allows you to immerse yourself in a different culture and spend time researching your surroundings in ways that a vacation cannot. But, if you want to make the most of your travel as a TEFL teacher, there are a few things you should think about first. Here are our top 5 tips for TEFL teachers who want to travel!
Pay attention to contracts
If travel is essential to you, you should pay close attention to the terms of any contract you are offered. Particularly the hours, working days, and holidays. For example, working at a language school with split shifts (mornings and evenings) may leave you with little time or energy to explore the surrounding area – many teachers find these shift patterns exhausting.
You’ll also want to ensure that your days off are consecutive so you can travel further afield. Even if you only have two days off, you can get away for a few nights and explore a different part of the country!
Always read contracts thoroughly and always sign satisfied ones. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous employers will try to take advantage of newly-qualified TEFL teachers looking for their first teaching job.
Make the most of holidays
Holiday pay will differ depending on the country and employer. Public schools are more likely than private language schools to provide more holidays, but the price is often a lower salary. And, as previously stated, don’t just assume paid holidays are included – read the fine print!
It’s also common for teachers to finish one contract and travel for a month or two before starting another. Employers in some parts of the world give teachers an end-of-contract bonus, which can set you up nicely for an extended vacation!
Consider short contracts
Do you want to visit as many new countries and places as possible? A year-long contract that ties you to one location may not be ideal. Consider shorter-term arrangements at language schools or summer camps lasting from a few weeks to a few months.
It is important to note that in some parts of the world, short contracts are more common than in others. In Asia, where visa requirements are strict, most employers are willing to consider teachers who will only stay for part of the year. However, in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe and South America, teaching contracts can last only a term or a semester. Ideal if you want to spend as much time travelling as possible.
Think about where you’re going
Southeast Asia is popular among backpackers for a reason. Flights from Europe or North America to Thailand and Vietnam can be expensive, but once you’re there, you’ll find that connecting flights to neighbouring countries are very cheap.
Also, take into account a country’s infrastructure. Countries with incredible rail networks, like China and Japan, make getting around the country simple and often inexpensive. Europe is also well-connected by rail networks, making it easy to travel within countries and other parts of the continent. There are several interrail passes available for train travel throughout Europe.
Taking a job in a country or region with limited – or expensive – public transportation will limit your opportunities to travel as a TEFL teacher, so keep this in mind when deciding where to go!
Become a digital nomad
If you want the freedom to travel whenever you want, a traditional teaching position at a brick-and-mortar school may not be the best fit. The online teaching market is thriving. You can find a teaching job online and work from anywhere in the world. You only need a laptop and a stable internet connection to work.
Digital nomads may spend a short period in one location or take advantage of the growing number of digital nomad visas available worldwide and stay longer.