One of the greatest benefits of teaching abroad is the opportunity to travel to countries that you probably would not have otherwise ever visited. Teaching English in a foreign country is different from teaching in an ordinary school in your home country.
While K-12 teachers in North America often struggle with long hours, homework of their own, disgruntled parents, and salary disputes, ESL teachers abroad are often given somewhat of a golden ticket- that is, if they choose a country that is viable in this regard.
Rather than accepting a position out of desperation for work, ESL teachers have the luxury of having more options and thus being pickier with teaching jobs. Of course, there will be certain schools, countries, and continents that will not provide you with the means to lead a lavish lifestyle. However, with a proper look and some disciplined planning, you’ll swiftly find yourself on the road less traveled.
Save Money Teaching Abroad and Travel the World
The first aspect to consider if you want a job that allows you to travel is the salary you will earn teaching English. Many places will give you a beyond decent wage.
How much can I earn teaching abroad? And, is it enough to travel? The average entry-level ESL teacher earns $2,000/month, which goes a long way in most parts of the world. Experienced ESL teachers earn $3,500-$6,000/month plus benefits depending on location. If you choose to teach English in East Asia or the Middle East, you will likely receive a free fully-furnished apartment and other benefits such as return airfare and health care costs. So for the most part, all your income will be fun money!
If you don’t have any debts in your home country, the only element you’ll need to compare with your salary is the cost of living in your newfound home. And, if you play your cards right, you can find yourself with a fair amount of disposable income, all while living a comfortable lifestyle in a foreign country.
Many Asian and South American countries afford ESL teachers the ability to eat at restaurants and grab a drink with friends frequently, all while racking in a bit of saving. There is a huge potential to save money teaching abroad, but practicing cost-efficient habits in your everyday life will allow you to save up for trips to visit different regions or even neighboring countries. I always prioritized travel over nightly outings and I feel it paid off because I had more quality time with myself, learned more about the world, was humbly forced to learn foreign languages and communicate with basic words, and met great people we’re still friends to this day.
Travel to Different Countries on the Cheap
For those of us who were born and raised in North America, traveling outside is always quite a physical and expensive ordeal. With oceans on both sides, booking a trip across the pond or even across the country is a serious commitment. This changes, however, when you find yourself teaching abroad in Europe, Asia, and South America.
Residing on these continents allows you to be in close proximity to a plethora of vastly different languages, cultures, histories, and cuisines, almost all of which are open for your exploration. Plus, traveling between countries and even continents can be unbelievably cheap.
While flying across the U.S. or Canada might take a bit of financial planning, you can book a bus from one South American country to another for the equivalent of a few hours of work. Bullet trains in Asia allow for speedy weekend getaways, while budget airlines in Asia and Europe let you spend your vacation money on experiences rather than flights.
These types of travel opportunities certainly should not be passed over, since you never know when you’ll get them again. Just make sure to check the visa restrictions requirements before you get overly excited and hop on the next train to anywhere.
Overcoming Your Fears
The one obstacle that ESL teachers abroad must overcome in their quest to travel is a simple one: fear. Living abroad alone undeniably makes you more comfortable being in other countries and environments in general. I had an American co-worker in Jeju Island who had a majorly debilitating case of social anxiety. She had never gone anywhere alone and found it very difficult to be in public places with strangers. She decided to push herself and moved abroad to teach on a whim. After only a few months, she was planning solo vacations around South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia by motorized scooter.
Moving to a foreign country can be intimidating, to say the least. This is especially true when you know nothing about the place or if you’re aren’t well-traveled (yet). Teaching abroad thus empowers you to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. In this way, and at least for me, teaching abroad was my rite of passage into adulthood. It was my first meaningful job after university, the first time living fully by myself with the money that I earn, and the first time living in a completely different country.
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