Do you desire to combine your online teaching business with traveling around the world?
Teaching English online is a great way to generate income to fund your travels and make money on the road.
However, the combination brings in its unique set of challenges in addition to the exciting opportunities.
Understanding how to teach online effectively while traveling will be important to doing both successfully!
The First Steps to Teach English Online While Traveling
Many people are interested in online teaching but aren’t always sure where to start.
One of the best things to do before you begin is to establish what your priorities are when teaching online:
- Do you require a flexible schedule with no minimum hours required?
- Do you want a company that books classes for you?
Many companies are parent-booked and several book your classes for you but might require you to be on a fixed schedule for a certain number of weeks.
Why It’s Great
- Allows you to fund your travels
- Make money on the road
- Flexible work conducive to traveling
- Work on something else while you are teaching
- Creates other income opportunities
- Gain valuable skills
Research the Requirements of Companies
Many companies will require you to have a university degree, particularly if you want to teach children in China. Other companies will require teaching experience or experience with children.
In addition, many companies are going to require a TESOL course or teaching certificate of some sort before hiring you. It is important to do your research and ensure you know what the company requires before applying.
Another important consideration is to make sure the company you are applying to or are hired on with allows you to travel and teach in other countries.
Most companies are more concerned with nationality than with the physical location of where you will teach but there are some companies that require their teachers to be based in the US or Canada. A few companies will even pay you differently depending on what country you are teaching in!
Apply and Go Through the Hiring Process
Each company will have its own unique hiring process and they will all be slightly different but with some very similar components.
When you interview for a company, send in a video, or do a demo lesson, they are going to be looking for some kind of classroom space or environment that is welcoming and educational. Put some effort into putting up some simple decorations and background imagery to make sure that you look the part of an online teacher.
Most companies will require a short demo which acts as a quick screening of applicants. After this, you will usually be invited to do a live or recorded demo teaching of a mock lesson with a pretend student on the other end, often an adult pretending to be a child!
The VIPKID hiring process, for example, involves a short demo of one slide, followed by a 10-minute mock class before you can submit your paperwork, create your profile and sign your contract.
Top Tips when Teaching English Online While Traveling
Maintaining Stable Internet
One of the most important considerations for teaching while traveling is ensuring you have a fast and stable Wi-Fi connection.
Effective online teaching is dependent on a stable internet connection and making sure that your students have a positive experience in your classroom. While we cannot always control everything, Wi-Fi is something that you will want to ensure is working well before you attempt to open your online classes on the road.
Your best friend while teaching online is a stable internet. This is no exception while traveling and one of the most important considerations to be aware of when traveling to a new place.
Try the following tips to ensure a smooth experience:
Call ahead to your Airbnb, hotel or guest house
Most hotels or Airbnb owners will be accommodating to your needs if you let them know that you are teaching online while traveling and would like to know how stable and strong the Wi-Fi is.
Some people will even screenshot a speed test to put your mind at ease! Perhaps your host can also help you set up with a wired connection to the router to ensure even stronger stability.
Purchase a SIM card with data for backup
Either at the airport, or in town, make sure you pick up a SIM card that has data on it that can act as a backup in case you have troubles while teaching online. You will be able to hotspot instantly in case of an emergency!
Open your schedule when you arrive to ensure success
Some companies allow short notice bookings, which means that you can open your slots within a 24-hour window allowing parents or students to book you last minute. Doing this will allow you to get settled and determine if your accommodation is going to be acceptable for teaching online.
Setting Up a Travel Classroom
One of the struggles of many traveling online teachers is ensuring their accommodation can be transformed into a temporary classroom.
Many online ESL companies require a background of some sort, especially if you are teaching children. Your background should be simple, clear and engaging for children.
Your background does not need to look elaborate and most companies just require the minimum. On the flip side, many companies do not require anything, as long as you have good lighting and a clear, quality camera.
Firstly, focus on choosing an area in your hotel room, Airbnb or guest house that has a nice clear wall behind you. You don’t need to have a very decorative background but simple can be just as good. Avoid having parts of your hotel room in your camera view and work on having good lighting.
Another way that teachers who travel and teach online do is use digital backgrounds through apps like CamTwist and ManyCam. This will be something you will need to understand, learn and practice with before relying on in your classes.
Regardless of where you are traveling, you will most likely encounter the issue of crossing time zones. Whether you are crossing state or province lines or traveling to a country in the far East, be aware of the time zones that you are traveling to and how this may or may not impact your classes.
Sometimes it will be more effective to wait until you have arrived at your destination to make sure you will be able to teach in that time zone.
Make sure you use a timezone convertor to help you manage this. Sometimes, you can also automatically switch your time zone in the company’s portal so that you are not manually doing this and potentially making a mistake.
Props and Classroom Aids
Most companies, especially online ESL companies focused on teaching children, require some sort of usage of props or visuals in the classroom. Whether or not it is stated in your contract, parents also like to see this.
How do you travel with your three-drawer desk full of realia and props?
The short answer is…you don’t!
Think about 2-3 must-have props that you can bring with you on your trip. Whether you are a short-term traveler or a long-term traveler, traveling light will be important!
Bring items like a whiteboard, a puppet and a few 2D instructional props that aid your teaching. There is no need to pack many props as this will not be sustainable or practical.
Some of the best props can be digital props. Consider using applications like Google Docs to organise lesson specific props or go to images you would like to use in your classes. This doesn’t take a lot of preparation and can be created quickly.
Balancing Time and Work
Remember why you are traveling in the first place. No one sets out to travel on new adventures and to see the world only to be stuck in their hotel room the whole trip.
Teaching online while traveling creates wonderful opportunities but you should also create and enforce balance for yourself and make sure that you are leaving yourself time to explore, enjoy and appreciate your time away from home.
Travel is usually a restful period and you want to make sure that you are not consuming it with work to the point that it takes away from the travel that you intended in the first place!
How to Be a Full-time Online Traveling Teacher
Diversify Your Income
Teaching online while traveling is extremely rewarding but it is only one source of income. If the company you work for goes under, or your students stop booking you, you might be left with nothing.
It is a great idea to diversify your income. But what exactly does that look like?
One simple way of doing this is to be hired with more than one company. If you are committed to teaching online with a company then, as an independent contractor, you should be hired on with at least two companies to ensure you have a backup.
Choose companies that don’t require minimum hours you have to teach, especially while traveling
Whether you want to go independent and create your teaching business or not, try these other ways of diversifying your income:
Start a YouTube Channel
Starting a YouTube channel about online teaching or teaching while traveling could be a great niche to explore and the content would be interesting for many people to watch. It isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, but with some hard work, you could start to monetize it after some time.
Make a Blog
This is a great thing to make while you are on the road as there will be so many stories and experiences to share with an audience. People love to learn how to travel and teach or how to make money from home and on the road or how to become a full time digital nomad. While this is a slow process, after time, a successful blog can generate income.
Do Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a great way to recommend products in your niche (online teaching) while making a small income from their sales. You can use your blog, YouTube channel or social media to promote these online teaching products or you can set you a very niche specific website to attract people to purchase your products. Amazon has a great affiliate program that you can apply to be a part of.
Start a Passion Project
Many people use online teaching to start their passion project. Did you always want to get into selling products online, or create your own business? Use online teaching to help you diversify your income into another area of online work that could further sustain your travels and lifestyle.
Have Realistic Expectations
Whether you are traveling short-term or long-term, it is important to have realistic expectations of teaching online while traveling. It is not always glamorous and exotic as the images on the internet might make it appear. It takes planning and preparation to do it effectively but when done well, it is very rewarding and you will find yourself able to travel to more countries because of this great job that you can do “on the road”.
You should always have savings, especially when traveling. If you are taking short trips, then this may not be a huge issue, but if you are doing long-term travel or want to set sail for an extended period of time, make sure that you have savings to catch you if you fall, and something to fall back on if things don’t work out as planned.
Teaching English online while traveling is a very rewarding experience and one that can fund your travels and help you to create an income that suits your lifestyle, it also comes with important considerations.
To combine the two, it is important to understand the challenges as well as the rewards and use these tips to help you feel setup for success!
Traveling and teaching online can bring life-changing opportunities and experiences! The reward is great and there is a large community of online teachers who travel extensively and can support and guide those that want to do it as well.
With proper preparation and equipped with the right tools, all online teachers can take their gig on the road!