In 2018, with the help of remote work, I was able to transition to a lifestyle of full-time travel. In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how it’s possible to teach with VIPKID while traveling the world.
What Is VIPKID?
VIPKID is an online English teaching company. They hire qualified individuals to virtually teach 25-minute English lessons to children in China.
The children range in age from 3 – 15 years old and have varying levels of English knowledge. VIPKID pays teachers approximately $20-25/hr depending on their qualifications.
VIPKID teachers are allowed to work from anywhere in the world provided they have stable WiFi. For more info about this company, check out this blog post: What is VIPKID? A Complete Guide.
Signing Up For VIPKID
Wanting to sign up with VIPKID? I’d be happy to help you through the detailed process. My referral code is LAURA0279. You can also use this link to sign up and I’ll automatically become your referral. If you use my referral code, send me an email so I know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
VIPKID While Traveling: The Facebook Group
There are currently 5,000+ VIPKID teachers that use VIPKID to fund their world travels. We have created a Facebook group to bounce ideas off each other, get advice, share important internet tips, and support one another.
If you’re thinking of traveling while working for VIPKID, join this Facebook group: VIPKID Teachers Who Travel. (Please note that it is a requirement to be a VIPKID teacher to join this group).
Another awesome Facebook group to join is Digital Nomad Teachers and Tutors.
Step One: How to Travel
The most important part of teaching with VIPKID while traveling is finding a good location to work and play.
Some teachers are constantly traveling, bouncing from location to location every few days. Others take a different approach and travel slowly. Both are awesome and what you choose to do will be based on your finances and preference.
If you are someone who is looking to travel constantly, then we will call this “quick travel”.
Having a “home-base” is not for you. You want to go-go-go! Some teachers choose to do this to maximize travel. They want to see it all as quickly as possible.
The benefit of this type of travel is that you are constantly moving and seeing new things.
The negatives, however, are something to strongly consider. With quick travel, accommodation will be much more expensive (I will provide details on this later in the blog). Another thing to note is that it can be difficult to juggle adventuring and teaching.
This is the option we choose to take. With slow travel, we book a place to stay for a month or two. On the weekends, I teach quite a bit. On the weekdays, we schedule an adventure to somewhere nearby. Here is an example of what our schedule looked like during November 2018:
November 7 – 12: Teach from Bangkok
November 12 – 15: Explore Krabi, Thailand
November 15 – 19: Teach from Bangkok
November 19 – 22: Explore Siem Reap, Cambodia
November 22 – 26: Teach from Bangkok
November 26 – 29: Explore the Maldives
The reason why we choose slow travel is that it gives us the opportunity to really experience the place we are staying in. It is also MUCH cheaper this way.
Step Two: Location & Accommodation
Location is very important for several reasons. You must be sure that the location you choose to live or travel has access to the internet.
For example, living in Kathmandu, the middle of nowhere Russia, or in the rainforests of South America? Probably not the smartest places to live because the internet will be spotty.
You will also want to make sure the places you travel aren’t ridiculously expensive. I’m not saying that you CAN’T visit expensive places (Micheal and I totally went to the Maldives for a few days; one of the most expensive places on Earth), but it wouldn’t be smart to set up shop in an expensive place.
VIPKID teachers make enough money to support full-time travel, but probably not enough to make Dubai or New York City your home-base. Sorry!
A website I’ve found to be really helpful for deciding which locations to settle in for a month or two is The Nomad List. This website provides the best cities to live and work in as a digital nomad.
After you’ve decided on a location, you’ll need to find dependable housing. But where?
Airbnb has been our accommodation choice since we started traveling full-time. Of course, there are probably ways to find cheaper accommodation (housesitting, etc) but with Airbnb, you can stay month-to-month and verify WiFi capabilities (very important).
First, I look up the city or town I’m interested in living in. I set my filters or requirements for the home (entire home, WiFi, and sometimes a pool). Then, I enter the dates that I’m looking to stay (usually 28 days or longer). This will generate a list of all available housing that meets my criteria.
The best part? Most hosts on Airbnb give significant discounts to those looking to stay for longer than 28 days. The Airbnb we’re currently staying in offers 40% off when you book it for a month. An AMAZING deal and totally VIPKID-income-friendly.
If you haven’t used Airbnb before, I highly suggest it. Use my link here and get $40 off your first booking!
Step Three: Internet, Internet, Internet!
This is by far the most important thing you have to worry about when it comes to teaching with VIPKID while traveling. Stable internet is like oxygen for VIPKID teachers. Without a stable internet connection, you won’t have income.
Something that is vital when booking accommodation for your travels is to verify WiFi speed. Here is what I do:
Ask The Airbnb Host
This is a must.
BEFORE I book a place on Airbnb, I always message the host and ask what their WiFi situation is. I explain that I work online and need stable internet to work. I ask them to conduct a speed test on their internet in which I also provide them with this URL: https://www.speedtest.net
It would be best if they could conduct this speed test and send you a screenshot of the numbers they got.
Speed Test Results
The following are the magic numbers you’ll look for after completing a speed test:
Ping: You will want the ping to be as low as possible. Anything below 60ms is teachable but even lower would be better.
Download: The download speed can vary quite a bit, but I wouldn’t teach on anything less than 4mbs. The higher, the better. As a reference, VIPKID recommends 20mbs.
Upload: The number I look for is 1mbs, but higher would be best.
A back-up internet source is a necessity. The internet can be unpredictable in different locations. I’m currently teaching from Bali and if I didn’t have my back-up internet source, I’d be in hot water.
A back-up internet source could be anything from a cell phone SIM card, a local hotspot, or an international hotspot device.
If you’re a frequent traveler and you haven’t heard of Google Fi before, it’s time to make the switch.
We have successfully used our phones all over the world (they offer service in 170+ countries) and it has also been an amazing back-up internet source for teaching. From the USA to Thailand to Bali, Google Fi has saved my butt a million times.
With Google Fi you can forget about buying local SIM cards everywhere you go, unlocking your phone, or paying for a mobile hotspot. Data costs $10/GB worldwide. Use this link to sign up and get $20 credited to your first monthly bill.
Cell Phone SIM
For this option, you will need to get a local SIM card. This is quite easy to do in most places around the world. The best place to find information on which SIM card to purchase for data is on the VIPKID Teachers Who Travel Facebook group.
When looking for advice on this page, I use the search function and type in something like this: Thailand SIM. This will generate a lot of posts and information regarding the best SIM cards to buy.
A Local Hotspot Device
I currently use a local hotspot device here in Bali as a back-up. These devices can be purchased from local malls. In most countries, you will need to show your passport to gain a local SIM card for a phone or a hotspot device. Just understand that it is the necessary procedure.
An International Hotspot Device
The last option is to buy or rent an international hotspot device. Many teachers that I know frequently use their international hotspot devices as a backup internet source. These can be taken with you all over the world. The international hotspot device I recommend is Skyroam.
You can read our Skyroam Review here!
Step Four: What to Pack
Over the past two years, I’ve narrowed down the necessities for teaching with VIPKID while traveling. Here are the things you should definitely pack in your suitcase:
VIPKID Background For Travel
I bring a wall tapestry everywhere I go. It packs small, it’s versatile, and it looks good! This is the wall tapestry I use and recommend:
VIPKID Props For Travel
For props, I just bring my whiteboard and markers. Props can be found anywhere. No need to pack a bunch of toys. Get creative with your props and you’d be surprised by how few you need.
Tablet Or Computer?
I currently use both an iPad and computer, however, if I were to choose just one, I’d recommend the tablet. It is small, it works well with the teacher application, and it is easily portable.
Important tip: please note that an iPad is currently the only tablet compatible with VIPKID.
Power Outages While Traveling?
I hate to say this but power outages can be quite normal in other parts of the world. Having the equipment to handle power outages has saved me a few times, specifically here in Bali.
The things I recommend to bring:
Power Bank: this portable charger is very similar to the one I use. This power bank charges my iPad, my hotspot device, and my portable reading light when needed.
Important tip: a 10,000 mAh charger will be plenty. I had a 35,000 mAh charger that charged my laptop confiscated at airport security.
Portable light: when the power is out, your students still need to see you. A portable light is extremely handy. This is the one I use. It doesn’t hold a charge very long, but that’s what the power bank is for. This light is very powerful and creates a great glow.
Puck lights: if the power goes out at night, these puck lights are extra helpful in addition to a portable light. I use these to get rid of the shadows around me. I also use these when I teach from my truck when driving around the states.
Step Five: Budgeting Your Travels
As VIPKID teachers, we aren’t making hundreds of thousands of dollars. That doesn’t mean we can’t use our income to travel the world.
Budgeting is an important aspect of traveling, especially if you’re teaching with VIPKID while traveling. A few things I recommend doing to save money while traveling is:
1. Cook for yourself. Find accommodation that has a kitchen. It is MUCH cheaper to cook for yourself than to go out to eat every night. You can even set this as a filter on Airbnb!
2. Travel slowly. Although some VIPKID teachers may disagree, I think it’s more financially beneficial to travel slowly (spending at least a month in one location).
3. Purchase cheap or free flights. You can read all about travel hacking for free flights in this blog post: Extreme Travel Hacking: How to Get Free Flights Around the World.
4. Book cheap or free accommodation.
5. Learn how to budget efficiently.
6. Start by traveling to affordable locations: Southeast Asia, Central America, and Eastern Europe to name a few.
The Wrap-Up: Teaching With VIPKID While Traveling
Teaching with VIPKID is an awesome opportunity to work from the comfort of your own home or anywhere else in the world. Teaching with VIPKID while traveling is an amazing way to see the world and fund your travels simultaneously.
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