It’s a tale as old as time! Teachers are known for being underpaid, overworked, and have practically no time for themselves. If you follow teacher blogs or Facebook groups, there has always been a trend of complaining through humor about the flaws of the educational system.
Being a teacher may come with many assumptions from those around you, yet only a teacher knows that apart from these issues, they are there because they care, to change lives, and to inspire! But what inspires THEM?
I feel like it’s hard to get inspiration when you have limited resources to travel, opportunities to socialize, or get to know different cultures! They say traveling is the best teacher! You can only achieve real growth through what you experience first-hand! Without these experiences, the teaching act is somewhat incomplete.
Unfortunately, only a few countries are high-ranking in teaching job satisfaction, focus on the quality of teaching, on personal and professional development, and last but not least, that provide generous income packages. Japan, China, Taiwan, and Germany are the top four countries that invest in this genuinely significant pillar of society, which is education.
Moreover, many European countries lack the minimal working conditions for the teaching process to be carried out successfully and mutually beneficial, due to the government and implicitly the population’s gradual decrease in respect for this profession. Teachers are expected to teach following a curriculum, plan their lessons, get to know their students, and customize their teaching to each individual while maintaining a close relationship with the parents and informing them about their child’s evolution.
Unfortunately, many teachers live on a minimum wage, out of which a large chunk goes towards decorating their classrooms and buying school supplies. It’s a challenging task!
So, how can I dare say you can travel the world on a teacher’s salary?
With a change in outlook and priorities, you can find that there are countless examples of people that have redirected their focus to suit their dreams and vision about the future.
You may be surprised to hear that some people have even made a living out of traveling and teaching online from wherever they are. That’s what happens when you focus on your goal and set traveling as a priority. While many of us “suffer” from wanderlust, not all of us have the drive to get up one morning and take the necessary steps to put things into motion.
The idea is to want it so badly that you dedicate some time to researching what you can do to turn this dream into your reality. Opportunities don’t knock on your door unless you invite them over with an open heart; neither are big bags of money going to appear magically.
Everything worth it in life requires sacrifice, but the reward is even sweeter because of that.
Thus, to save you some time, here are #10 tips to get you started, but there are many more you can find online to suit your plan:
#1. Create a vision board for the places you want to visit the following year
It may take a year or even two, but there’s just something about waking up in the morning and staring at that vision board that gets the creative juices going and energizes you. There’s an incredibly large amount of people that can attest to this method of programming your brain to believe something is possible if you never let it out of sight. Just like daily positive affirmations, having your vision board in front of you and saying, “I can’t wait to go there next year!” is a sure way to keep you motivated to move forward and attain your goals.
#2. Get creative with money saving techniques
Yes, I know. This one is a no brainer! Easy to say, but it can prove incredibly hard to do when each individual’s situation can vary. Some may live from paycheck to paycheck, struggling to pay rent, barely covering daily costs. You would be amazed to hear that many teachers live in these extreme situations described above.
Though it may be challenging to set aside a sum of money every month that goes towards your dreams and personal and professional development, if you have a clear purpose in mind, it should prove easy. All you need to do is get organized and eliminate the unnecessary purchases we all make each month. When you save money for something that truly matters to you, it makes you aware of all the useless things we are tempted to buy in this consumer-oriented world.
An article I read online recently comes to mind, which talked about a couple in their early 30s who worked as teachers and had retired after eight years of work. They managed to raise a considerable sum of money after having their living expenses drastically reduced and now travel the world with their one-year-old. https://www.businessinsider.com/teachers-early-retirement-traveling-the-world-2017-1
#3. Apply for research scholarships, grants or awards
If you decide to apply for scholarships and grants, you will get double the advantages. You get to go and see the world while also advancing in your career. These training programs add plus value to your teaching as well as enriching your life and perspective by meeting new people from different backgrounds and cultures, finding similarities in your shared interests, or knowing what challenges other teachers face. The most common grant funding in Europe is the Erasmus exchange program. Furthermore, if you are interested in a research program as well, go to https://www.teacher.org/scholarships-grants/, where you can find many scholarships within highly reputable institutions, such as the Fulbright Scholar program.
#4. Join teacher traveling communities
There are Facebook communities such as Teacher travelers, or other social media groups where you can find tips on traveling abroad on limited resources, see special offers or stay in touch with kindred souls. You can also make meaningful connections all over the world, which opens up a wide range of possibilities.
#5. Apply for teaching positions abroad or even online
Teachers have much time on their hands during the summer, so with a little bit of research online, you can find fantastic opportunities to work abroad. Having a job in a foreign country surely allows you to have some time to relax and visit the country while working and earning pocket money to spend or even better covering your expenses there. Japan, for example, is always looking for native teachers to teach EFL, though it is necessary to have the required qualifications before starting, so you may want to look into that.
If you are looking to relocate and would enjoy being on the go all the time, there are platforms where you can do that, with a bit of adjustment to the time zone. Vipkid is one of those platforms that many teachers use to earn money while traveling. You can find a lot of information and teacher testimonies about Vipkid if you are interested.
#6. Open a travel savings account
The best piece of advice I could give you is to open a travel savings account and only dip into it if it is for travel expenses. Any bank has this type of account available if you choose to put in a request, and you should try to find an option that doesn’t have a monthly fee or hidden costs.
Another great tip, after you have opened the savings account, is to set up a recurrent automatic transfer for a sum of money you are comfortable parting with, every month when your bills get paid, that way you won’t even feel it. Any extra cash such as gifts, tax returns, money found in an old coat’s pocket should go into that account. It won’t be long until you see the difference this makes.
#7. Plan, plan, plan
Everyone loves a good plan! And who is better at organizing than a teacher? Even if planning is certainly not a fun activity, the feeling of security it gives you, the comfort of knowing that you have a backup prevents you from going into a full-on anxiety attack if something unexpected or unpleasant happens. What you need to take into consideration when planning are things like the duration of your stay, the place(s) you will stay at, your daily or weekly costs, the sights you want to see. When everything gets organized, you will find yourself more confident to set out on your journey, knowing that you have the tools to deal with any situation.
#8 Stay in hostels
If you are traveling alone and not working during your stay abroad, a great way to save money is to stay in hostels. You get to meet people and make friends from all over the world as if you live alone in a foreign country you may feel isolated and miss the people at home.
If you do your research, you can find hostels that offer all the facilities you need and decent living conditions. It won’t be like home, but for a few months, you will surely be able to adjust.
#9. Be brave
Embrace the unknown, learn from your mistakes, and in every negative situation that may arise, find a positive aspect to take in. If you keep an open mind and have a positive outlook on this experience, there’s nothing you can’t overcome.
Travel alone if you must! Don’t wait for someone to be available to accompany you. Everyone has their priorities, and some people may not be as determined or as travel-oriented as you. Don’t be afraid to chase after your dream. Fear prevents us from experiencing the best things in life, so let go of your worries, and you will soar!
#10. Practice gratefulness, be content and thankful for everything you have
When you are at peace with yourself and the world around you, your inner self radiates on the outside joyfulness and gratitude only within that mindset, and positive things happen to you. Think about your journey so far and all the obstacles you may have overcome in your life, and you will probably find you are stronger than you thought you were and more than capable of doing what others have dared to do before you.
Traveling abroad on a teacher’s salary is not an easy task to undertake, but it is possible if you make a few sacrifices. It is up to you to decide if you’re going to follow the suggestions above or come up with your way of achieving success. One thing is for sure. If you are passionate about traveling, and you want something different for yourself and your career, you need to act now and seize that opportunity. Remember that the road less traveled is often the most rewarding that contributes to your personal and professional growth.