7 things to consider when travelling the world teaching TEFL online
Getting qualified to teach TEFL online can help you live your dream life. If you’ve ever wanted to travel the world and still earn an income which helps you afford this, then TEFL is a great solution. With online TEFL job opportunities more available than ever, the dream is now within reach!
If you have a TEFL online teaching job then you’re all set to go off and travel wherever you might want to. Remote working is more popular than ever and there are numerous destinations that you can choose from. Whether you like cities or quieter towns, there are remote destinations for everyone! However, there are some things worth thinking about before you go and while you are travelling that will make sure your new remote life works out.
This may seem obvious but we can often get carried away with excitement and not think it all through clearly when planning travel. You need to ensure that, wherever you are, there is not only access to the internet but good internet! After all, teaching online requires video conferencing, sharing screens and using programmes that require more speed and data. It’s important that you have sufficient internet speed to do your job, otherwise, you’ll end up losing your main income while travelling!
If you are booking a hotel or apartment for your stay, check the reviews and ratings for comments about the Wi-Fi. This is normally pretty important for most travellers so if the internet is slow, they will likely comment on it! Search for internet mentions in the positive comments too from remote workers who may have spent a longer time in the accommodation. Don’t forget you can always message the host for confirmation of the internet speed. Hotel internet tends to be slower with a greater volume of people using it.
There are a lot of resources about remote working now which will also review the general connectivity of a town or city. Do your research on google about this! There are many lists of top places for remote work that you can consult. It might sound like a dream to work from a remote village or beach area, but if you don’t have internet speed then this could be a disaster! Although we have all seen the typical remote image of someone working from a hammock, it’s pretty hard to TEFL teach an online class like this!
You will most likely already work with a time difference with your students but don’t forget to think about this carefully when you choose a new location. Work out the time difference between your normal timetable and your destination. You don’t want to arrive and realise that you now have to teach at 1 am or in the middle of the afternoon when you’d prefer to be out exploring.
If you have your own students, you could ask about the possibility of changing their times but it’s best not to be inconsistent with this. It’s not realistic to expect your students to change their time every month when you move locations. If you work for a big company, this can be easier if they have classes at all hours but you should check whether you will get the workload you want/need. Companies tend to have hours which are considered peak times. If you go from working during these peak times to other hours, you might not get the same salary you want for your travels.
If you know that you will spend more time in a particular part of the world then it’s a good idea to research ESL companies that cater for this market. You can apply to work for them and then have a more agreeable timetable when you are travelling.
Make sure you check the requirements for the countries you want to visit. Depending on your passport, you may have the option to stay a few months visa-free which makes travelling easier for you. A lot of countries offer a tourist visa which allows you to visit for a few months. It’s a good idea to factor these costs into your budget if you have to pay for visas for multiple countries.
If you decide you’ve fallen in love with a new place and don’t want to leave, you might want to look at your long-term options. A lot of countries now offer a remote working visa which can allow you to stay up to a year or more. Again, these processes take time and money so be organised with your paperwork, bring copies of all of your important documents and research what you need to do!
If you already teach online, then you know that your workspace is very important! You need a quiet place to teach in, preferably with a neutral background. When you’re travelling, you have less control over this but you can check whether there is a separate work area or desk in the place you are staying. Take a good look at the photos and see if you like the look of it for a work environment.
Perhaps you’ve thought of staying in hostels to save money. This is a great way to meet people and keep costs down, especially when travelling long-term. However, hostels don’t always offer the greatest work environment, especially for video calls with noisy backgrounds and lots of people using the internet. Think about this before you book your accommodation! Your students will not continue paying for lessons if you have people running around shouting while you teach!
That being said, there is a new trend of co-working hostels which offer a good solution for being in a more work-focused environment. These hostels offer good internet and good working spaces, especially for remote workers. This can be a practical middle option to meet others and save little money. If you decide to stay in your own apartment, you can also check out co-working spaces which have a day or weekly passes so that you can work there. This is a good way to network and get out of your hotel/ apartment.
Access to equipment
Every online teacher knows that they need a good laptop and the equipment to go with. A good webcam and microphone are an online teacher’s essential tools. If any of these break or get lost abroad, then you might be stuck and left without being able to work. Make sure that you have insurance or the back up funds to replace anything you need to. The worst thing would be if your laptop broke or was stolen, so have an “in case of emergency” plan in mind!
It’s also worth making sure you will have access to replace these as in some countries it may be more difficult to get the brand you normally work with. Not every country has Amazon deliveries to save the day so replacements might take longer. This isn’t a reason to avoid your adventures but having a monetary safety net would be a wise idea in case something happens to your teaching tools!
You know that budgeting your money is a serious consideration when travelling abroad but when you’re working remotely, budgeting your time is also a key factor when TEFL teaching online. You might not spend your time in the same way you did when you were a carefree tourist visiting for the weekend. You should consider this when planning how much time to spend in each place.
Depending on your work schedule, you might not have as much free time to explore. If you plan on visiting a big city which you could normally cover in two jam-packed days, consider whether you will be able to do everything you want to do if you also have to factor in the working hours of your day. You might need to compensate by staying longer if you only have a few hours per day to explore.
This can also apply to onward or internal travelling. Check your schedule before you book any flights, buses or trains! If you normally work a Tuesday morning and see a flight you want to take, can you rearrange these classes? Or do you need to fly at a different time to work around your schedule? You might need to consider planning any travel time in the evenings or at the weekends when you’re guaranteed not to be working.
Most of the time, your employer won’t mind (or care) where you are in the world as long as the classes are done, the students are happy and everything is working well. However, there are some companies which stipulate you must be in the country where they are based.
It’s up to you whether you want to enquire about this and the possibility of moving countries. You don’t want to risk the chance that you won’t be able to access a platform because you are out of the host country’s IP address. If your company isn’t flexible on this, then you should look for alternatives that will allow you to move around and continue teaching.
Teaching TEFL online and travelling for longer periods of time can give great opportunities. It’s always a good way to get to know a place on a deeper level if you stay longer and get to know the city on a more “local” level. You can also meet other remote workers who are in the same boat as you and make some lifelong friends! You might even find a place that you love so much that you’ll settle down there for more time.
Working online with TEFL can give you great freedom and allow you to explore the world! Travelling and working remotely long-term isn’t always as easy as it seems but it can be a great adventure! It’s important to have everything organised and think of all possibilities when working remotely. Don’t forget to consider everything so that your experience goes smoothly and you’re able to get the maximum out of your travels!