Teach and Travel with VIPKid

So, you want to teach and travel the world…

I wrote a post awhile back introducing you to my love for teaching English online. Now that I’ve done my first (brief) stint in Southeast Asia, I thought I’d give you a little heads up about how it all works to teach and travel. It seems like the dream, right? Travel around the world, work a little bit here and there, and never worry about money! Well, it truly is great, but there’s more to consider than that.

If you don’t already know, I teach for VIPKid and absolutely love it. I used to work for another company, but now solely work for VIPKid (and like it much better!) It has allowed me to roam around the US for 6 months, and come back to wander around Asia for almost 2 months without watching my savings account dwindle.

Requirements for being a VIPKid Teacher

 
 
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fisher twins // unsplash
 
 
 

First of all, you’ll need to be hired if you aren’t already (obviously). Make sure you fit the requirements. As of late 2018, these are the requirements straight from the VIPKid website:

 
 

– Eligibility to work in the US or Canada (sorry, California residents are now excluded)
– Bachelor’s degree in any field
– 1 school year of traditional teaching experience or the equivalent in mentoring, tutoring, or alternative education

 
 

You can be creative with that last one! ANY kind of work with kids, provided it has been a year or longer, can be translated into “teaching experience.” Maybe you were a volunteer tutor, art or dance teacher, or worked at a daycare. If you’ve worked with kids before and loved it, you will enjoy this job too!

 
 

You’ll also obviously need a computer (right now the platform is compatible with a Desktop, Laptop, MAC, or Surface. You’ll also need a camera (your built-in is fine!) and a headset (I use earbuds with a mic as I find them more comfortable–big head problems).

 
 

How to teach and travel

 
 

Internet speeds, internet speeds, internet speeds. This is the most important part of choosing a place to stay when you are preparing to teach and travel. You’ll need to find a quiet place to teach too, so cheap hostels are out. This is the most difficult part of teaching and traveling. You have to message your host on AirBnb, Booking or wherever you choose to book to have them send you a screenshot of their download and upload speeds. It should look something like this:

 
 
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These speeds are perfectly acceptable for teaching, although a higher download speed wouldn’t hurt. 
 
 
 

You might think that it’s too expensive to rent an Airbnb while traveling, but you can pretty easily earn your money back for a week’s stay in a day or a few. You can usually arrange a discount with your host, too, if you stay a month or longer.

 
 
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spend the morning lounging at the ocean and a few hours in the evening teaching cute kiddos! #vipkidlife
toa heftiba // unsplash
 
 
 

How much can I make?

 
 
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$$ with vipkid, you’ll always be paid in usd $$
 
 
 

Everyone wants to know how much money you can make while they teach and travel. It greatly depends on 2 things: 1) bookings and 2) how many classes you teach.

 
 

Peak hours are 7-9pm Beijing time and all morning on weekends, and when I open those hours they are typically fully booked. Most teachers start at $8/class, but a $1/class bonus for just showing up on time and not having IT issues. If you teach more than 40 classes in a month there is an additional $1/class bonus. Sometimes VIPKid also runs incentives where you can earn bonuses for opening a certain number of classes in a given time period.

 
 

All of that being said, I will tell you that I am super casual about teaching, and I don’t usually teach on weekends. I have a full-time job contract starting up again in Korea so I’m just not that worried about saving a ton of money at the moment. You could say I’m kind of on a “mini-retirement.” 😉 For the sake of example, let’s say you teach all the peak hours during the week. 

Peak hours during the week: 20 classes x $8/class base pay = $160
Participation Bonus: 20 classes x $1/class bonus = $20
40+ Classes/Month Bonus: 20 classes x $1/class bonus = $20
Total pay: $200/week x 4 weeks = $800

 
 

That’s $800/month for just working 10 hours a week. Sure, you’ll need to consider taxes (If you decide to stay abroad for 11/12 months of the year and you’re American you’ll qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion though! My amazing friend Jerrica of Jerrica from America is doing just this!). But if you’ve ever been to Thailand or Vietnam, you’ll know $800 is more than enough to live on in a month. And, by all means, teach more if you want to earn more. Teach less if you don’t need it and just want to relax. You’ve got the power, baby.

 
 
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alesia kazantceva // unsplash
 
 
 

How to find a place to stay

 
 

Most people I know use a word-of-mouth referral from another VIPKid teacher, or find places on Airbnb directly and message the host about internet speeds.  It’s also good to have a sim card plan that can be used as backup should the wifi cut out for a time.

 
 

Several teach and travel Facebook groups exist with recommendations of places to stay by fellow teachers who can vouch for the reliability of the internet connection. I like this one.

 
 

Meet all the requirements and want to apply?

 
 

I’m here for you. If you apply through my link or use my referral code (AMAND0639) and shoot me an email, facebook message or comment here with your email address, I’ll gladly send over the feedback I received during my interview (I was hired immediately after the first interview so I think it can be useful for you!) I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have that aren’t covered in this post.  For transparency’s sake, I do get a referral bonus if you use my link. I’d appreciate the support if you’ve read this far! 🙂

 
 
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nabilah saleh // unsplash
 
 
 

Thanks for reading, beautiful people! 

 
 
Amanda

Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting in South Korea

If you’ve landed a job teaching English in South Korea, congratulations! It can be a confusing process–you’ve passed the first hurdle. You may not be thinking of you finances just yet, but it is always good to have a plan! You will need a budget if you want to make the best of this situation financially. Because a lot of your expenses are covered, you may think budgeting is unnecessary. But with so much potential to pay off debt or save money, it’s good to have a general idea of where you want that extra cashflow to go. Follow my guide to budgeting in South Korea and tweak it to meet your own personal needs!

Everyone’s job will have a slightly different pay scale. For the sake of averages, I will say that you are starting with a 2.2 million won budget.  If you happen to make more than this, congratulations! You can follow my budget plan and put the remaining money into various categories depending on your needs. I recommend adding anything extra to debt payments first, then an emergency fund, then investments. It’s easier than you think to save over 50% of your income while in Korea.

Something that’s important to remember when making your budget in Korea is that you should always pay yourself first. What does that mean? It means you should put your budgeted amount of money “away.” This will look different for everyone, but for everyone it means that you cannot easily touch or spend this money. Do not leave this money in your normal checking account. Depending on your situation, this could mean putting aside 1 million won, paying 200,000 into your savings account and 800,000 towards your debt. Maybe you already have a solid emergency fund and you want to put the whole 1 million towards your debt.

You will, of course, be able to include fun in your budget. Part of the reason you went to teach abroad in the first place was because you wanted to enjoy a new culture, experience a new country and travel to surrounding countries. You should definitely allot a certain amount of money per month for these kinds of expenses because if you travel all the way to South Korea to sit in your apartment for one year spending no money, having no fun, and never experiencing the culture around you–you’re definitely missing out on something important! It’s the kind of investment that isn’t monetary.

Kimbap! Cheap, delicious and filling.

 

That being said, I was able to pay off $23,000 in debt, save about $6,000 and travel to 8 countries. I also traveled all around South Korea and regularly did fun things in my city with friends. I went out, had drinks, ate all the food and visited almost every province. If I can do it you can do it too!

Because in most cases you’re not legally allowed to have a side income while you’re working in Korea, you’ll have to rely on one source of income when making your budget. This makes it pretty simple and straightforward. I’ve created a sample budget below. Keep in mind that I’ve simplified everything for the sake of example. This would have been one of my more extreme months when I lived on only about 500,000 won. Your numbers will look different than mine because you’ll have different goals and interests.