How We Got Here

How we got here

With a huge increase in travel and tourism over the past ten years, it’s easy to see why so many people are quitting their 9-5 jobs in pursuit of a life filled with more adventures, and less office time. It seems like just about everybody wants to travel full-time, but lack the knowledge and confidence to manifest it whole-heartedly. It’s one thing to tag your friends in idyllic pictures on Instagram… and it’s an entirely different thing to buy a one-way flight across the globe.

"I don't have enough money to travel".

This was the excuse we made for ourselves for far too long, until one day we read an article from NomadicMatt about teaching English that gave us the confidence boost we needed. From the very beginning, we knew this was something we had to fully commit to. Traveling and backpacking through the world had been a mutual goal of ours for so long, that once we got started; we simply understood that it needed to be seen through till the end. So this begs the question…
 
“How did we do it?”
 
Well, it was actually much easier than I think either of us anticipated. And we had a lot of fun along the way.
teaching english in China
 We knew that teaching English would not only be a rewarding experience, but would also provide us with the opportunity to travel, while earning income. After researching various TEFL certification programs, we settled for an online option through The International TEFL Academy.  While there are many options for TEFL courses, we found that the online option was most convenient for us, as we were still working our 9-5 ‘s back in Colorado at the time. If you are interested in learning more about a TEFL through ITA, please use the link provided above! It’s a globally reverred TEFL institution, and you’ll help us out by using it! 🙂 
 
After the completion of our TEFL’s, we now had to decide where to go. This is often the most overwhelming step of pursuing teaching abroad, because you’ll find that the TEFL industry is incredibly saturated. There are literally thousands of available teaching jobs posted globally each day, so it’s better to be as specific as you can.

Here are some things to consider when doing your search:

– Salary
– Education requirements
– Cost of living
– Political stability
– Personal travel interests

Teaching English was never our final destination, but rather a stepping-stone to allow us to travel while also saving money.

This being said, a high salary with a low cost of living was at the top of our list of requirements. After some research, we found that our options were basically China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. As first year teachers with no previous experience, other than the 20-hour TEFL practicum, our chances of landing a high paying teaching job decreased significantly. Additionally, only one of us actually possessed the now mandatory, four-year degree requirement. This meant that the only country where we met the education criteria and could earn a competitive salary was China.

giant gold buddha mae sariang thailand

Fortunately, China is huge country with diverse landscapes, and cities. It also happens to be ranked as the highest paying country for first year TEFL teachers, so that’s a thing. After stumbling across a teaching job in Fuzhou, China- we scored a Skype interview and nervously accepted a job working for York English, a successful training school well on it’s way to dominating the English education in South China. As with any move abroad we didn’t really know much about where we were going, which would make anyone wary. Although our school’s director was extremely helpful and responsive, there were so many questions that we knew simply couldn’t be answered unless we took the plunge and found out for ourselves firsthand. To be honest, we simply thought it was too good to be true. Stumbling across our school so easily, interviewing within 48 hours of contact, and accepting the job a day later just seemed too convenient. When our director told us they would be compensating us for our flights, providing a private apartment in the city, and that we could choose when we came, we were shocked. It really seemed to good to be true.

Confidence is power!

After reading about so many TEFL nightmares, it would have been entirely justifiable to simply walk away and find something that didn’t seem so, well… perfect. But, we knew… we had to see this through. So, we enthusiastically accepted with sheer power of determination and confidence to console any shred of doubt still left in our minds. We’re pretty sure our friends and family were unconvinced of the happiness we envisioned for ourselves in this new life, but we embraced it whole-heartedly. Immediately, we began planning for this new and exciting chapter of our life.
 
And so began the countdown, each week a different goal met and a new one set. We sold furniture and clothing, held yard sales, cancelled leases, sold our cars… we even entrusted our sweet kitty, Barnaby to a new loving home. We strategically severed the ties to our possessions at home. When it came time to leave, it was a whirlwind week of emotions, a lot of tears, and maybe more anxiety than we’d like to admit.
selling it all to move abroad
So… China, right? It’s hard to believe that our time there went so quickly. With every intention on writing about our experience there, we were simply too busy enjoying life as teachers, and our first international chapters to keep up with all the content. During our time in China, we traveled to Cambodia, The Philippines, Thailand, Bali, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and other various cities in China. We used every opportunity for travel (around 5 ½ weeks!) to explore places in Asia. Although we are working on catching up with all of these adventures, we hope that you’ll simply take our word for it when we say that teaching in China was an amazing experience. Our commitment to this path manifested itself in such a beautiful and fortuitous way.
  

Without things like rent, car payments, and health insurance, we were able to save around 80% of our paychecks every month.

We took easy tutoring jobs on the side to make additional money. And with performance based quarterly bonuses, and a low cost of living, we were able to end our sixteen months in Fuzhou with $15,000USD to travel with.
 
So, after sixteen months of teaching in China… we achieved our savings goals, traveled to five countries, and set ourselves up to travel exclusively for the next 8 months, before returning to our beloved school in Fuzhou to do it all over again next year.

Want to teach abroad? Read: How Teaching ESL Let Me Travel the World

As with anything, there was a bit of luck involved, but we like to think that we manifested this luck ourselves- and that our readers can too! Teaching English abroad is only one of hundreds of ways to make your travel dreams attainable. From volunteering, to workaways and couch-surfing, cruise ships, even blogging- the ability to travel and explore Earth is not one that resides in dollars, but rather your commitment to making it happen. Plenty of people are traveling, but even more are dreaming.

Go confidently in your dreams and you will find success in whatever you do.

For more questions about TEFL certification programs, teaching abroad, or information about York English, feel free to contact us or drop a message in the comments!

how we got to travel and live abroad

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