I never thought I would become a teacher. I still have a hard time calling myself that, or identifying as any profession really. But after finishing university, I’ve been able to teach to travel my way around the world.
I knew I wanted to do something useful; which is why I took international development in university.
I’ve had the travel bug for quite some time, so 17-year-old me picked something with “international” in the title. I’d enjoyed the volunteering I had done and wanted to do something meaningful.
My “let’s save the world” mentality was quickly crushed after just a few social science courses. Regularly being told how international aid rarely works and often contributes to cyclical poverty is a bit of a downer.
Great. Now what?
Many development agencies and not for profits want you to have a masters degree, have an impossible amount of experience (do tell me how “entry level” equates to 5-10 years experience) or be an unpaid intern/professional volunteer. None of which was particularly feasible at the time.
Teach to travel: The beginning
I came across info about a TESL course being offered on campus. With education being a pillar of development, I thought it would be a great opportunity to gain some international experience and a great travel opportunity.
So I looked into some teaching abroad opportunities online. Quite a few accepted fresh graduates, I checked a lot of their required boxes (native speaker, bachelor’s degree, TESL course), so it was looking more and more like a great option.
While part of me wanted to go to a less developed nation teaching at an orphanage or in an underprivileged area; logical Ashley had student loans to pay. That left me with a few options as someone with little experience. I received a few offers from China and Hong Kong and finally decided on Korea.
Teaching has turned out to be a great way to travel. Particularly if you’re from North America or any native-English speaking country.
Being from Canada, whenever I want to experience a new culture, my options are far, and really far. Starting off in Korea allowed me to get a paid flight to Asia. Of course, you still need to put in the work. I enjoy teaching (most of the time anyway, particularly when we’re not focusing on grammar), and you meet a lot of fantastic people.
While there, I was able to explore a few countries during my contract holidays. Once the contract was over, I exchanged my flight home for cash and went backpacking around South-East Asia for a few months. Not only was I able to explore quite a few countries, but I was able to save a decent amount while doing it.
Want to teach to travel somewhere else?
Asia isn’t your only option. It has the highest demand; some of the highest salaries, and is perfect for teachers starting out, but you could just as easily explore Europe, the Middle East, or South America.
Currently, I’m teaching in Spain through the BEDA Program. It is one of the many teaching in Spain options.
Other Options to teach to travel
Of course, teaching online also allows you to teach to travel. In many cases, it will also offer a higher salary than many classroom teachers (particularly in developing nations).
Classroom teaching, however, will provide a visa, allowing you to stay in your country of choice much longer. It will also often provide insurance, housing support, and provides a greater opportunity for meeting new people (working online can cause hermit mode).