Teach English abroad and travel the world (without breaking the bank)

Teach English abroad and travel the world (without breaking the bank)
Source: Pexels, Te Lensfix

With a qualification to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), you can teach English abroad and take your career in a completely new direction while traveling the world. A TEFL qualification from a quality, accredited provider can send you to corners of the world that you quite possibly would never have discovered otherwise.

Traveling doesn’t have to break the bank, you just have to know how to be smart with your money. Choosing an affordable TEFL destination to jet off to helps, too. Let us take you through some money-conscious travel tips you can apply wherever you go.

Plan whatever expenses you can in advance

Part of being savvy with your money is understanding what potential expenses you need to account for and when. Before you go abroad to TEFL, there are a few initial costs you’ll need to consider, besides the cost of the TEFL course itself.


Depending how far you’re willing to move for work, your flights could end up being your most costly expense. Fortunately, there are some generous employers who’ll reimburse you for flights at the end of your contract, but not all. Whether they do or don’t, you’ll still need to purchase your flight.

Documentation and notarization

Many visa/employer requirements will specify that you have to get key documents notarized. Some of these documents might include your degree, a criminal-background check, passport from an English-speaking country or evidence of your English proficiency as well as your TEFL certification.

Savings to cover at least one month of living expenses

You need to set aside enough savings for at least one month of living. How much you save should be in relation to the cost of living in your destination country and whether you’re moving to a rural or city location (living in rural areas tends to be cheaper). You won’t be paid until your first paycheck, so you need to be sure you can cover your food, bills, accommodation and general startup costs in the meantime.

If you haven’t secured a job before you move, it’s better to be cautious and account for it taking longer to find work than you plan. In this case, the more you save the better.

Choose an affordable TEFL destination

Now that you have a rough idea of the initial TEFL expenses, where will you go? You can still teach English abroad and make the most of your time away without spending all your earnings – it’s all about how you budget.

Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Spain and Mexico all make fantastically affordable TEFL destinations with low living costs and well-linked public transport and flights to neighboring countries. Checking off more great locations from your bucket list doesn’t have to involve the cost of another long-haul flight!

Saving tips

By following a few of the tips below, you could find yourself feeling in better control of your finances, able to spend more consciously and top up your savings at the same time.

Consider getting a prepaid card

Prepaid cards provide you with easy banking, allowing you to download an app and track your expenses. They’ll also give you a decent exchange rate without additional transaction fees (up to a certain amount).

You can even turn on notifications for every purchase you make – something about seeing how much you’re spending here and there motivates you to spend less!

Separate bank accounts for savings, regular expenses and disposable income

Staying in control of your finances is a lot easier when you know exactly how much you have available to spend. Working out a monthly budget will be made easier by separating your money into different bank accounts after your paycheck has gone in. E.g. one account for your regular expenses (rent, bills, transport, food, etc.), one for your disposable income and another for your savings. You’ll be less tempted to overspend when you’re more aware of your budget and whether or not you’re close to overstretching it.

Download money saving apps

There are a few apps out there that help you save, setting aside money in your account little by little, based on what you can afford. Plum, Chip and Squirrel are all apps designed to make you more aware of your spending habits and are definitely worth checking out. It’ll surprise you how much these little savings add up in a short space of time.

Prioritize what you want to do most

Another top money-saving travel tip is simply prioritizing your spending. Living in a new country will mean you’ll have a fair choice of activities to keep you busy. Prioritize what you do and how you can do it from month-to-month. Not every activity has to be expensive – museums, going out for coffee, hiking and general exploring can be done at a low cost and are each a great way of experiencing your surroundings and local culture.

Hopefully this article has helped make you aware of your initial expenses in preparing to teach English abroad and helps you understand how you can be money-smart while you’re away. Knowing what to expect in terms of costs will help you make the most of your time and ultimately not break the bank!

This article was contributed by Deborah Ferguson, an outreach specialist with TEFL.org.

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