How To Make Money While Traveling Abroad: The Digital Nomad Life Part 1
One of the biggest questions digital nomads are asked is, so how exactly are you doing this? It is a fair question to be sure, but one that unsurprisingly doesn't have a simple answer. Or at least the one that you would expect--I'm not sure.
I came to this life recently; without a trust fund or savings to fall back on. There are times when I lie in bed at night asking myself what on earth was I thinking? But at the same time, I wouldn't trade it for anything else in the world.
So, how am I managing? Let's find out.
From a very early age, I've always wanted to work as a writer and live abroad. As a teenager, I was enamored with the movie Under The Tuscan Sun. It was a story about a writer who moved to Tuscany after a really nasty divorce. From then on, my friend and I would wax romantic about owning a villa in Tuscany. For her, this was probably a pipe dream, but I meant it. So, 15 years later I found myself working as an English teacher in Spain. Which was close enough for the moment.
As I wasn't a trained teacher, I took a Teach English As a Foreign Language (TEFL Course). I got to brush up on a few grammatical basics that I had forgotten. I also got some basic information about cultural sensitivity and ways to engage students of different ages and backgrounds. While this wasn't necessarily applicable to my job in Spain, the certificate was extremely useful when it came to earning other work.
So is a list of companies that I have used to help me pay my bills!
The first online English teaching job I got was with VIPKID. This is a China-based online tutorial platform that allows children ages 4-12 to learn from a native speaker. I've been doing this job now for two years and I love it! I make my own hours and am able to travel anywhere in the world as long as there is a high-speed internet connection.
Sound good to you? Great you should give it a try. And don't worry, you don't have to have teaching experience to do this job, but you do need to have experience working with kids. It is a fairly simple gig. All of the curricula is prepared for you. All you have to do is engage the students throughout the lesson. And this can be more challenging than it would appear. As you are essentially a face on a computer or tablet screen, students can and do walk away from you at any time. I've also had kids burst into tears as soon as I appeared on screen, while others just stared blankly for the entire 25-minute lesson. And recently, I've been taken inside the bathroom and completed a lesson while the child was on the toilet.
Yeah. That really happened.
But don't let that scare you off. The overwhelming majority of the students are adorable and teaching them is a lot of fun. Over the years, they've taught me simple words in Chinese. And many of the older kids and I have discussed cultural differences between the USA and China. These classes have also helped me to see beyond stereotypes and realize that people and people and children are children. The children I teach in China behave almost identically to those I've taught in America and Spain. Well, more like the children in America. Spanish children are a very special bunch.
Again it is a great gig, but I need to emphasize that you need a HIGH-SPEED internet connection. I mean it. While the money is fairly decent roughly $15-18 an hour, if your internet is not working properly, you will be penalized. And as you work essentially as a contractor bad interactions with students lead to fewer bookings. Keep that in mind.
Qualifications: Native Speaker from US or Canada, Bachelor's Degree, TEFL certification preferred, previous experience with children a must.
This was the second online platform that I signed up for. The company runs out of Turkey, although the students come from all over the world. The classes are generally informal and conversation based, however, there are times when students will want something more structured. But don't worry. English Ninjas has an entire curriculum that you can use at your disposal. And if there is anything that you ever need clarification on, you can always head to Google. She will never let you down.
You can find the link their website in the title. Just tell them that Candace sent you!
Qualifications: Native Speaker, Bachelor's Degree. They may accept undergrads, so check out the website anyway.
Cambly is another online English Tutoring platform. I am not sure where they are based, but there are a lot of students from Saudi Arabia and East Asia. They pay on time and there are always plenty of students to teach. The link is in the title.
Qualifications: Native Speaker. Great option for students.
In addition to working as an English teacher, I also pick up freelance writing jobs. Upwork is a huge bulletin board where there are dozens of jobs are posted daily. There are also jobs for web-designers, graphic designers, etc. I've found many interesting and fun jobs there.
These are just some of the things I am using now to fund my life abroad. Please feel free to ask me any questions. And good luck on your journey!