Financial Travel Tip #100 – Earning Income Abroad by Teaching English

by Nora on November 9, 2013

That’s right readers: this is my 100th Financial Travel Tip! I’m still on a roll, with many more to come. The finance of travel runs deep; everything boils down to finance in the end. Money makes the world go round….so let’s go round the world with it!


Today we’re discussing another way to earn income abroad – by Teaching English as a second language. You can do this with private schools (for people of all ages), public schools, international schools, and even special interest groups or associations.

A number of my colleagues have sustained themselves (and traveled, and saved money) by teaching English abroad; I’m led to believe it’s a cultural experience unto itself.

Shy of a week-long informal volunteer experience in Spain, I haven’t tried my hand at teaching English abroad. I watched a television show prior to my travels that showed how hard people were working teaching English while trying to enjoy travel and life abroad, and it turned me off. I had already traded in one rat race; I wasn’t eager for another one.


It Pays

But Teaching English abroad pays – and often it pays well. It’s a great way to try your hand at living abroad (which is a cultural travel experience unto itself), allows you to use the area as a base for weekend and holiday trips, and often, you can accumulate savings to travel after your teaching contract is up (or between contracts).


A Week-In-The-Life of Teaching English Abroad

Here are some fellow long-term/full-time travelers who have taught English abroad, and they’ve written in precise detail about what the “daily grind” of teaching English is like:

A Week-In-The-Life of Chris in South Korea

A Week-In-The-Life of Turner: Once a Traveler (also in South Korea)

A Week-In-The-Life of Becky: Teaching in China


People Who are Teaching English Abroad

Here are a few more resources of people I know who have worked (or are still working) abroad teaching English.


Learn More About Teaching English Abroad

Here’s an article that outlines some solid tips and experiential advice from people who have taught English around the world:
How do I Get Into Teaching English Abroad? 


There are many places you can arm yourself with the skills to teach English abroad, as well as to find gigs. Oxford Seminars – TESL, TESOL and TEFL course provider, helps with your job search and job placement upon completion of your certification. You can explore various countries to teach abroad in here. 

Alternately, would you like to get your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate? You can do it all online, with Premier TEFL.


Other Ways to Earn Money While Traveling

There are dozens of ways to earn a living while traveling. To learn more about them, find the best career/job for you, read about other travelers’ experiences, and discover all the tools you need, check out Working on the Road: The Unconventional Guide to Full-Time Freedom.

Working on the Road


Related Articles on Earning Money Abroad:

Financial Travel Tip #65: Earning Money with a Working Holiday Visa

Financial Travel Tip #31: Location Independent Careers

Financial Travel Tip #42: Earning Income with Online Tutoring

Financial Travel Tip #19: Earning Money as a Travel Writer

Financial Travel Tip #63: Subsidize Your Travels as a Mystery Shopper

Financial Travel Tip #52: Getting Sponsorships



{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Turner November 9, 2013 at 10:38 am

Thanks for the bounceback. I’ll be writing up something on Matador soon about the perils of teaching English.


2 theprofessionalhobo November 10, 2013 at 7:17 am

Sounds like an interesting article! Feel free to post it here once it’s published.


3 Erin Wilson November 9, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I’m teaching English for the first time, in Kurdistan. l wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy doing it, but I love my students (a group of journalists), so it’s been a blast. I’m putting far more time into it than expected, but only because I really want these guys to do well. If the opportunity presents itself, I’d definitely do it again.


4 theprofessionalhobo November 10, 2013 at 7:17 am

Hi Erin,
How did you land that job? Did you have any ESL qualifications? Sounds like a great gig!


5 Daynne@TravelnLass November 10, 2013 at 7:53 am

Everyone’s druthers will be different of course, but…

“…I had already traded in one rat race; I wasn’t eager for another one.”

Well geez, I’d hardly call teaching English in some wondrously exotic corner of the globe a “rat race”.

Agreed, the industry of teaching EFL is indeed fraught with all manner of misinformation. But I can personally attest that…

Two years ago, I sold everything I owned, bought a one-way ticket to Vietnam, and (wisely) opted to take the CELTA (highly recommended – the gold standard of EFL teaching worldwide – with it, the world is verily your OYSTER and you can command the BEST and highest paying EFL teaching gigs) in Saigon. Following the month-long course, I was offered a teaching position at one of the best schools in Vietnam (ILA) at $20/hr. I opted to teach part time (and still managed to save a bundle) on 6 month contracts in both Ho Chi Min City and Dalat (traveling to Mongolia for a month, Thailand, Cambodia, the annual Elephant Festival in Laos, a near month in Australia, Sumatra, Nepal and Borneo between and within contracts). I’ve now taught both adorable kids and amazing adults, and I hafta to say: I L.O.V.E. every minute of it!

In short: It was the very BEST thing I’ve ever done.

So yes, I guess you could say I’m a big fan of teaching English abroad. 😉

You can read all about my “Tales of an expat teaching EFL in some g-forsaken rice paddy in Southeast Asia” on my TravelnLass blog, and I like nothing better than offering advice and inspiration to encourage others to likewise follow their wanderlust dreams.


6 theprofessionalhobo November 10, 2013 at 8:14 am

Hi Dyanne,
Thanks for your input! I think you’re wise to have selected to teach part-time, to give you more free time to enjoy the g-forsaken paddy of choice! 🙂
So glad you’ve found a calling…


7 Daynne@TravelnLass November 10, 2013 at 8:25 am

Indeed Nora, and funny thing… that choice of rice-paddy keeps changing, and changing, and changing… 😉 Presently in Chiang Mai, Thailand and have an interview with the British Council (arguably the best of the best in EFL teaching) next week. Then again, I may soon be done with Asia – and have to change that pointy straw hat on my website – to a SOMBRERO!


8 theprofessionalhobo November 11, 2013 at 5:40 am

Hi Dyanne – Ooh…..straw hats to sombreros… has a ring to it!


9 Elena April 9, 2015 at 8:33 pm

So funny Daynne–just saw a video on the fruit market there and thought–I wonder what it would be like to live there….


10 Mireille November 10, 2013 at 9:20 pm

As an English Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in Japan, I really enjoyed reading the articles about “a day in the life of”. It’s interesting to see the differences in lifestyle! Thanks for the article and all of the other “financial travel tips”! Really insightful.


11 theprofessionalhobo November 11, 2013 at 5:41 am

Thanks, Mireille!


12 Gregory Hubbs November 13, 2013 at 12:04 am

Hello Nora,

Interesting that your 100th tip is about teaching English abroad, still far and away the best way to immerse yourself in countries around the world while being able to relocate for long periods (with some work permit issues, at times, of course).

So many of our best submissions over the years have come from ESL teachers, and great travel indie writers like Rolf Potts have made this a gateway to a travel writing “career.” Given that as we grow older, and have more financial responsibilities at times, many combine teaching with freelance writing and publishing their own websites to make ends meet. You have cited examples of people who have done so very successfully.

In the end, we strongly believe that freelancing of all kinds is the present and the future (as it has been my past in various modes) for many ambitious and freedom-loving souls who cringe at the thought of a life in a cubicle on the 59th floor.

We recommend this as perhaps the best way for a college graduate to see the world, develop a global resume, while being paid well in some parts of the world (e.g. South Korea, Taiwan). But we don’t travel just to work…which is why Chiang Mai, Thailand and many other locations are so popular.

Thank you and bravo once again for your 100th tip Nora! Here’s to the next 1000!

Greg Hubbs


13 theprofessionalhobo November 13, 2013 at 8:49 am

Thank you so much, Greg! As always, your observations are astute.
It’s an amazing way to experience the world, earn money, and immerse yourself in a different culture. And anybody can do it; I’m currently writing a book about Working on the Road, and I’ve interviewed people of some very different ages and backgrounds who all teach english abroad.
Thus, not everybody has to be a computer whiz with a location independent business to travel full-time!


14 Davis April 10, 2016 at 3:17 am

Thanks for your great tips!
Teaching English abroad is truly a great opportunity to travel to different countries and experience so many different cultures. Not only you can earn money with a school in that country but you can also keep your job in some cases and continue making money as an online English teacher even after you go back home. I have just passed
the interview with this school called Mainichieikaiwa
in Japan.


15 Nora April 10, 2016 at 7:13 am

Hi Davis,
Congrats! How long will you be in Japan?


16 Davis April 30, 2016 at 2:10 am

Hi Nora,
I have been in Japan for about 7 months now.


17 Nora April 30, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Hi Davis,
Sweet! Enjoy Japan, and your new job!


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