What’s it like to work as an Au Pair? One Insider Shares His Experience!

Have you ever considering work as an au pair? An Au Pair is a nanny for international families. The job can include child care, tutoring, driving, and more for the family that you get placed with, and work can be found around the world.

I interviewed Josh, a 22-year old Australian working as an au pair in Germany. He shared some serious insight, so if you want to work as an au pair and get paid to travel, keep reading to find out everything you need to know to land the job!


The Stats

When you work as an au pair, all of these numbers can vary by location and family so you need to be sure to get everything in writing in your contract before you start. These numbers reflect Josh’s experience with a family in Germany in 2018.

Average Income: 250 euros a month + 60 euros per month toward a language course

Free Housing/Utilities: Yes

Tax Free: Yes

Free Healthcare: Yes

Vacation Days: 2 days of paid vacation per month

Certifications Needed: No college degree is necessary, but offering a police clearance can help as you’re working with children. Any other work experience with kids or training can be helpful as well.

Contract Length: 6 months

Where to Get a Job: Josh recommends Au Pair World, and it’s the only site he used to land his position. You can also look around on Great Au Pair, New Au Pair, or AuPair.com among many other options.




Finances can vary drastically, but just know that the numbers are never going to be too high. One of the main draws of work as an au pair is integrating into the local lifestyle. That means more often that not you’ll live in the families house, share your meals with them, and even use their car. All of those benefits are free of charge, which makes your actual salary go down to accommodate them.

Each country has a different pay rate, but in Germany Josh is making 250 euros per month. He also gets free housing, utilities, and his own car to use in his free time.

Taxes can be really tricky when working abroad, so you’ll have to look into that in your home country. Right now, Josh isn’t making enough money to break the tax threshold in Australia so his income is tax free. His host family also provides insurance through “Au Pair Dr. Walter,” which covers most healthcare options. Again, this is very country specific, and you’ll have to look into each separate situation that you consider.



Getting the Job

Josh recommends using Au Pair World to find a job for two reasons: it’s easy to navigate, and even better, it’s completely free.  From there, you can start the application process.

It begins with either you or the family sending a message stating that you’re interested and think you may be a good fit. After that, you can move on to Skype meetings. If you’re applying from within the country you want to work in like Josh was, it can even be possible to schedule in-person meetings before you commit to a family.

I asked Josh for tips on becoming a desirable candidate, and he says “you really must be yourself, relax and don’t stress about anything. Ask questions and be interested.” If you have experience or qualifications for working with kids, also make sure you mention them as well.

And the hardest part of getting the job? Accepting the offer. This is where you need to take the most care to ensure the family is a good fit, and more importantly, that your contract is fair and includes everything you’ve agreed upon. Some ways to do this are visiting your family before you sign a contract, or contacting previous employees and asking for an honest review of their experience. Once Josh heard their positive recommendations, it made it easy to choose the right family for him.

“The contract is also the most important part of your employment, so you need to be incredibly careful with your negotiations. Read it, highlight the potential things you have questions about before signing to clarify it, negotiate if needed and of course mention/include anything that you would like e.g. paid phone bill each month, personal use of car etc. Some families draft up their own contract, some go with the contracts offered on the website. See that the daily tasks are roughly outlined with the working hours stated and don’t get stung!”

Josh shared on example of a friend that’s an au pair and didn’t ask about the pets. Now they’re stuck watching it every time the family goes out because it was outlined in their contract but they didn’t double to check to make sure they understood before they signed it. Be careful to go over each and every task that’s expected and make sure you agree before you sign anything!




Josh works less than 20 hours a week for 310 euros per month, plus free food, housing, utilities, and use of a car. He was already in Germany when he accepted the job, but it’s also common to negotiate with your family to get part or even all of your flights out to their home city covered.

Other benefits of being an au pair are having plenty of free time if your family goes on vacation, or even the opportunities to travel for free along with them. If you’re uneasy about living in your family’s home, it’s also possible to work with one that provides an off-site apartment for private living space.

The salary is pretty low, so it’s hard to save money with the job. Instead, most au pairs use it as a way to see the world for cheap, and travel longer than they otherwise would be able too.




So, what does the day to day life of an au pair look like? Josh broke down his schedule for me, and it looks like this:

“Every morning I wake up at around 6:45 to be in the kitchen at 7:00 helping the mother prepare the boys lunches.


I make the kids beds, then we all have breakfast together and I ride a bike with the youngest one to school at around 8:00.


After that I go to my language school, then visit the gym usually for an hour and finally return home for some lunch with the family.


When the youngest is finished at around 3:00 I go with my bike to pick him up. This is where my work usually starts every day.


From about 3:00– 6:00 I help the parents drive the boys to and from sports. They are a very active family and the main requirement for the au pair job was to be a driver. I also mind the kids on a couple weeknights and usually one weekend night.”

So, the work load doesn’t look too bad. But wha if you want to travel? I asked Josh how easy it is to take vacation, and he shared that it’s not usually a problem as long as he schedules it with the family a month in advance. You can also get approval for special holidays, events, or trips you may already have planned for the future when applying with your family and ironing out the contract. He’s already explored some of the major nearby cities and has visits to Berlin, the Netherlands, and France marked on the calendar.

Josh was given his own bedroom in the house with an ensuite bathroom, and feels very safe in the neighborhood. Of course, one of the best things about traveling is the food, and working abroad as an au pair is no different. His meals usually consist of breads, meats, and chases for breakfast, and hot meal at lunch, and more charcuterie or cooked dishes at dinner. Yum!

At the beginning of a contract, living with a family can take a little getting used to, but Josh quickly found a work/life balance.  He has no problem recharging in his room, hanging out with the boys to play games outside of work, or making plans with other au pairs in the area based on the local tips and suggestions of his family!



Work as an Au Pair: Josh’s Experience

Many people choose to become an au pair to extend their travels and supplement their language learning. Josh agress that work as an au pair is “the best way to explore a culture and to see other countries in Europe without breaking too much of the bank.”

After working as an au pair for two months, he recommends it for those who are looking for the same lifestyle. You won’t be able to earn and save a lot of money, but you will definitely become immersed in the culture, kickstart your language learning, and get some great experience working with children. Josh says another bonus he didn’t expect is that “I have made some amazing friends from community pages setup on Facebook. It’s a great way to meet people from all around the world.”

Surprisingly for him, one of the biggest downfalls is how close he has come to his family, and how difficult it will be to say goodbye when his contract ends. “It’s going to be sad to have to leave one day… but life goes on and the boys become older.”

Work as an au pair isn’t a permanent position for most people, but a way to extend travels and stay abroad longer. Josh plans to use his savings to continue backpacking through Europe for 3 or 6 months after his first contract ends, then sign up for one more sitnt in Germany to complete his language courses before he heads home.


Work as an Au Pair for Language and Cultural Immersion

Out of all of the jobs in my working abroad series, working as an au pair pays the least. However, it also is the best ways to learn a language, get involved with a local culture, and make friends and connections that last a lifetime.

It’s all about what you are looking for in both your travels and career at the moment. If you’re not ready to jump into a full-time position or just want a way extend your backpacking trip without taking on too much responsibility, working as an au pair could be a perfect role for you.

All my love,

PS Not sure if an au pair position fits your needs? Don’t forget to check out more guides to making money while you travel, like teaching online ESL classes, starting a digital marketing business, getting a job as a flight attendant or even working on a yacht!

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Get a Job as a Flight Attendant: Everything You Need to Know

Want to travel the country for free? Get paid to fly to exotic destinations?

If so, it’s time to get a job as a flight attendant! I interviewed Kelly, who has been working for American Airlines for four years, and she had a lot of info to share. Keep reading to learn about the finances, lifestyle, and all the insider tips and tricks you need to know to get a job as a flight attendant!


The Stats

Average Income: Kelly makes about $3,000 to $4,000 a month depending on how much she chooses to work. Yearly before taxes in 2017 she made $53,000

Free Housing/Utilities: No

Tax Free: No

Healthcare: Yes

Vacation Days: You gain a certain amount of vacation days every year. Starting out you’ll get four days a year. After working for four years, Kelly is up to seven days a year, and soon she’ll jump to ten.

Certifications needed: You don’t need a college degree to become a flight attendant, but it does help. Around 30,000 people apply for the job every year and they only hire 500, so you want to stand out!



Getting the Job

If the stats look good to you, it’s time to start your job hunt. Kelly says the best way to get started is checking the websites of all the major airlines, because they usually have specific hiring periods. From there, you can send in an application on their website.

If you’re looking for more, join the Facebook group “Flight Attendant Career Connections” where there are job postings and plenty of people who are happy to help you out and answer any questions you may have.


The Application and Interview Process

Once you choose the airlines you want to work for, the application process if fairly unique. Kelly applied online, and a few days later had a video interview from home. Afterwards, they called to tell her they were interested, and flew her to Charlotte for an in-person interview.

What she didn’t know that was that there would be 90 other people interviewing at the training center with her… and only ten would get the job. Kelly said she doesn’t think she ever stopped smiling, because she was told they liked positivity and charisma. Clearly, it worked. Many other interviewees at the center said they had applied 4 – 6 times already and were never chosen.

The group was slowly weeded down. Kelly explains:

“Some instructors came into the room and said they needed additional information from a few candidates (about 20 of us) and told the rest that the interview was over and that they’d be in touch. We went into another room and were told we made it to the second round of the interview. We had a few more activities and then the face-to-face interviews.  After that, only ten of us got the job.  After being chosen, you do A LOT of paperwork, give them info for a background check etc. Finally, they told me they’d be in touch with my training date, which was only two weeks later!”

If you want to stand out in the interview, definitely remember to smile a lot, and check out the book called “The Essential Guide to Becoming a Flight Attendant,” which Kelly says was gold for tips on what they are looking for. Finally, don’t get discouraged! The acceptance rate is even less than an Ivy League school, so keep trying.


Starting Work

Once you get a job as a flight attendant, the final step is to make your location change. After the training, flight attendants are assigned a base (Kelly was given Philadelphia) and have five days to move to it. From here you have several options for housing.

Most stay in what’s called a “crash pad” where they pay $200 to $300 a month for a bed when they aren’t flying. Kelly chose not to go that route, because 12 people in one house just didn’t seem too fun to her (and I gotta say I agree).

Others will choose three or four friends from training, get a one bedroom apartment somewhere, and put four twin beds in to save money! You can also do what Kelly does and just rent an apartment on your own. It all depends on how much money you want to save, and how much you value your personal space…

Finally, some flight attendants choose to “commute” to their base, but it adds a strain onto the already stressful transition period. Kelly recommends, at least initially, to move to the base you are given and get used to the job before you consider commuting.




As stated in the stats, Kelly makes about $3,000 to $4,000 a month. But, income really depends on three things: your airline, your seniority, and how many hours you want to work.

If you get a job as a flight attendant at American Airlines, the starting pay rate is about $25 an hour. If you choose to work for a regional airline, you’ll start closer to $16 or $17 an hour. You’ll also get a raise every year that you work, up until you reach the maximum pay rate in year thirteen.



Just remember, airlines count hours a little weird. Flight attendants are only paid when the plane door is closed, so they aren’t getting paid when the flight is delayed or for any time they spend at the airport before one. However, they do get an extra $2.20 an hour for every hour they are away from their base city, to help cover costs of food and transportation on long trips.

When it comes to choosing your hours, you can manage if you want to work a lot or a little. Kelly is called a “high time flyer” in flight attendant slang. That means she goes “aggressive” to fly, and will get trips before others who don’t go aggressive or want as many hours. Because of this, she chooses to work from 85 up to 115 hours a month depending on the season.

Just like most jobs, the start can be difficult and income fluctuates. Kelly says it took her three years to have a steady and comfortable income. 


The Benefits Of Working as a Flight Attendant

So, why stick with it? For the benefits of course! Flight attendants get paid vacation, but also so much more.

One major perk of the job is free domestic flights, and international flights from $40 to $200 roundtrip! Costs depend on the country you are going to, because they only pay the taxes that those airports require.

For example, right now AA flight attendants can get round trip flights to Rome for only $50! The most expensive option she has at the moment is London at $225 round trip.

These benefits aren’t just for the flight attendants, but also for their families and friends.  Kelly explains:

“My mom and dad can travel for really amazing prices, I’d say even less than a fourth of what a normal ticket costs. I also get 16 buddy passes a year, which are not free, but are discounted, and prices on those can vary depending on location and taxes. They can be complicated to redeem, but I do give them out to people who understand the process. I can also have one registered guest who flies for the same prices as I do (free domestically and for a fee internationally). However we get some money taken out of our paychecks when they fly, which can also be confusing at times. Overall, we have great travel benefits.”

When you get a job as a flight attendant, you will also get healthcare, vision coverage, dental insurance, a 401k that’s matched by the company, and the opportunity to peddle credit card apps, which Kelly makes an extra $500 to $1000 from every month.

So, can you save money with this position? Kelly says it can be difficult, but it’s definitely doable.




The lifestyle of a flight attendant is definitely different from a normal nine-to-five, but in a good way if you love to travel. Kelly gets 12 days off a month. She bids for her schedule two weeks in advance, and always knows what it looks like by the 21st of the month prior.

As a reserve flight attendant, she also sometimes gets called in to replace the senior attendants. When that’s the case, she often has to drop everything to be at the airport in only two hours.


Travel Often

Taking vacation is always easy, and flight attendants are constantly using their benefits to travel around the world. Any time flight attendants aren’t working, they can take an unlimited amount of free domestic flights or cheap international ones.

Kelly travels as often as she can, and it turns out that’s A LOT.  In a week she’s off on a solo adventure to Buenos Aires and Uruguay, and next month she has plans to spend a week in Amsterdam. Since she started working for AA, she’s been to Italy, Spain, France, Scotland, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Germany, Mexico, Israel, and many more countries. 

However, one common misconception (at least, that I had) was that flight attendants could extend layovers when they fly to international destinations, and explore them a bit longer. Actually, that’s not the case. You can’t extend layovers, and can only stay as long as you are assigned. Usually for international trips, that means 22 to 50 hours before your flight out again.


old city walls from above


Kelly’s Experience as a Flight Attendant

What makes someone decide to become a flight attendant? For Kelly, it just always sounded interesting.

She had just moved back to the US from Rome, and was missing the travel and lifestyle she had in a foreign country. A teacher she worked with had gone on to get a job as a flight attendant, so Kelly decided to apply as well. “Initially I thought I could never live that type of lifestyle, because I knew I’d be away a lot. I made the decision because of the travel benefits, but I genuinely love this job.”

The culture is really fun. Everyone usually has a great personality and is hilarious. Also, Kelly says, you never have a supervisor while up in the air, so you make all the the decisions which takes a lot of stress out of the job.

Kelly loves working as a flight attendant, but it’s definitely not for everyone. The schedule and hours vary wildly, and they travel a lot. “Many people end up quitting because they hate the lifestyle. It truly is a love or hate type of job.” 


Day to Day Work

First, Kelly packs, gets ready, and leaves her apartment for the the Philadelphia airport.

Then she checks in to the crew room, walks to the gate, and flies on anywhere from one to five flights in a day.

Finally, she arrives at her final destination for the night. When it’s not her base city, a shuttle waits to pick them and take them to their (all expenses paid) hotel. The next day, she gets up and starts all over again.


Pros and Cons

Of course, every job has pros and cons. For Kelly, the cons are being exhausted at times, and how hard the job is on your body. It’s hard to eat well when you’re always on the go. You can’t buy a lot of fresh food, because you’ll never be home enough to eat it before it goes bad. When you’re always eating in airports, you just have to find other ways to be healthy.

The pros, like the travel and medical benefits, the fun lifestyle, making a lot of new friends, and of course the long layovers in new cities and countries, definitely outweigh the cons of the position.

By the way, if you’re trying to get over your fear of flying, take it from Kelly. She’s flown thousands of hours in the past four years, but when I asked for horror stories she said there haven’t been any issues except a few bouts of turbulence. That’s always reassuring to hear!


palm trees


Get a Job as a Flight Attendant

If you want to travel the world and get paid to do it, it’s time to get a job as a flight attendant. Apply to airlines, take the leap, and expect the unexpected in this position. For Kelly, working as a flight attendant has been a blast. “Every discovery I’ve made throughout the process was always cool with me. This journey is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.”


PS not sure if this is the right job for you? Visit Working Abroad to see more ways to make money while traveling the world, like freelance digital marketing, teaching ESL online classes, and more! 


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How to Get a Job Teaching ESL Online Classes

Hey guys! This part of the working abroad series is all about teaching English as a second language (ESL) classes online. I talked to Leonard, who works full time teaching ESL online with VIPKID and travels extensively.

Some things you need to know before we get started: Most ESL teachers work for schools and organizations based in China, which means your schedule will need to comply with their timezones. Also, I’m really sorry to say that right now most of these positions are only open to residents of Canada and the US.

Still wanna know more? Here’s all the info you need!


Teaching ESL Online: The Stats

Average Income: I made just under $30,000 in 2017.
Free Housing/Utilities: No.
Tax Free: No, you will pay taxes to your home country.
Healthcare: Not provided
Vacation Days: There are no paid vacation days
Certifications needed: You must have a four-year college degree and experience working in education.  A TEFL is not required but it is considered when offering you your base pay. There’s a preference for candidates who’ve had experience in North American K-12 schools but I was hired with only tutoring/experience working abroad.
Contract length: Each contract is six months long and at the one year mark you are considered for a raise.

Start your job hunt on these websites

Daves ESL Cafe || TEFL.com || ESL Jobs World || ESL Authority || TeachAway



How to Get a Job Teaching ESL Online Classes

What ESL companies do you recommend?
I recommend VIPKID, which is the company I have been working for for nearly 2 years.

What are some red flags to look for with ESL online companies?
Lack of flexibility. Some colleagues of mine have worked for competitors which require making a set schedule. This often means working on Christmas day, New Years Eve, or other holidays with no extra pay or incentive.

Any tips for interviewing or becoming a more desirable candidate?
The students range from 5-12 years old. Often you’ll encounter students who have zero experience with English. It’s important to come off warm and friendly. During your interview they establish your base pay. This is your chance to ‘wow’ them. My advice is to be friendly, have a strong internet signal, smile until your cheeks hurt, and during the demo lesson use lots of body language and not speak to quickly. There are many Youtube videos with helpful tips regarding the interview/demo lesson.

What is an expected starting ESL teaching salary for someone with and without teaching experience?
The base salary ranges from $7 – $9 per 25 minute class. If you teach more than 45 classes that month, you earn an extra $2/class. There are also incentives to teach short-notice classes and peak hours. If you have experience, expect to earn $18 – $20/hour to start. Most people without a TEFL or a lot of teaching experience are offered between $14 – $16/hour to start ($7 – $8 base salary).

Did you need to take any specific steps between application and hiring, and how long did the process take?
The process has changed quite a bit since I was hired. When I was hired there were only 2,000 teachers and 20,000 students. Now, there are roughly 20,000 teachers and 200,000 students. The time you sign up online until you start training could range from a week to two weeks, depending on how you schedule your interview and mock lessons.




Leonard made almost $30,000 in 2017 teaching ESL online full time. Here’s a closer look at his finances and the steps he took to get to that income level.

How many hours a week do you work teaching ESL online to make your income?
Some weeks where I work 49 hours, weekends included, to make $1,000+/week and other weeks I don’t work at all. In my best month I made $5,361.There was one month where I only made $70 because I was traveling in the Philippines and the internet was not stable enough to give classes.

Was it hard to get to that point or easy?
Fairly easy.  You open up your availability to whatever you are comfortable with.  It took me nearly two months to have a 98% booking rate.

How long were you working before you had a comfortable income?
My second month I was already earning more than I had been earning with my prior job. Initially, I hadn’t intended on doing it full-time but after I saw how much I could earn and the flexibility it afforded me, I decided to only work for VIPKID.

Are there other benefits?
There are always referral bonuses which vary from month to month.  Also, if you teach short-notice classes or durong peak hours from 7pm – 9pm Beijing time, you can receive extra incentive pay. I teach short-notice classes every day and earn an extra $4/hour.

Can you get more certifications to increase income?
I’ve heard of people getting raises after getting TEFL certifications but currently your eligibility for a raise is considered on an annual basis.  However, your profile may be more appealing to parents looking to book your classes if you have a TEFL.

If you don’t get healthcare, what do you use instead?
I live in Spain and here the healthcare is quite affordable. The most comprehensive healthcare plans won’t run more than 70€/month.

Is the work year around, or do you lose hours when students are on summer or winter breaks?
The work is year around but some teachers see a lull during Chinese New Year because many families go on vacation.  During the summer (July and August) there are often more students booking classes at hours which are typically harder to get booked during the school year.

Can you save money or it the income just enough to get by?
I can definitely save money. Here in Madrid my living expenses make up about 20% of my income and I live in a very desirable neighborhood. Last year in Thailand I was saving 90% of my income.




The whole goal here is to travel while you work! Leonard has been living abroad for the past two years while teaching ESL online full time. Here’s what his lifestyle looks like…

What is your schedule like? Do you work weird hours?
Part of the reason I live in Spain is because the time zone is very favorable for me. I usually work from 7am – 3pm with a lunch break at 11am. When I go back to the US to visit family the hours are brutal. I was waking up at 4am and finishing at 10am and then working again in the evenings from 6pm – 10pm.

Is it easy to take vacation?
Yes. There are no paid vacation days, but also no minimum amount of classes you must give. I’ve taken more than a month off at a time to travel. It’s easy because you simply don’t open up any classes for the period of time that you want to travel. When I was on vacation in Mexico, every morning I gave two hours of classes to start my day. This allowed me to splurge a bit more knowing that I was making money while vacationing.

Is it easy to travel to different time zones?
Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia offer the best time zones. There are many teachers who live/work in South America but they aren’t able to give as many classes. However they still earn just as much, if not more, than they would working as classroom teacher there.

Where do you live and how far does your income stretch there?
I currently live in Madrid, Spain. I spend about 20% of my income on living expenses, depending on the month.

Have you been able to travel often, if so, to where?
The number one reason I chose this job was for the flexibility. Since I started working for VIPKID nearly two years ago I’ve traveled throughout Thailand, the Philippines, Japan, Australia, Mexico and Italy. I often stay in each country for quite a while so that I can get a real feel for the country and travel around leisurely. I carefully select Airbnbs with high speed internet and I always have my phone as a hotspot for emergencies.

Do you feel like you’re always working, or have tons of money and free time to enjoy your life?
This month I feel like I’m always working because I have a trip planned to Indonesia and the Philippines in the spring. I prefer working a lot during the winter months, saving up all of my shekels, and then taking it a bit easier during the spring/summer when I tend to travel. Last year I had two months where I worked 26+ days and two months when I didn’t work at all.


Your Experience

What company do you work for?

Do you recommend this job?

Can teaching ESL online turn into a career, or is it just a short term position?
It can definitely become a career. There are lots of opportunities for career development. A few colleagues of mine now work as teacher evaluators and mentors for the company. There are also positions available relating to curriculum design and development in Beijing.

What is the culture like?
The culture at VIPKID is fun and exciting. There are always opportunities to interact on the teaching forums and share your ideas with your colleagues. There are also Facebook groups dedicated to VIPKID teachers abroad where there is plenty of information about where you can travel and teach.

What are the pros to teaching ESL online?
 – Flexibility to make you own hours
– Teaching one-on-one lessons allows you to really connect with each student
– Flexibility to live wherever you want
– Students can follow your profile and choose to book you whenever you have availability
– If a student doesn’t show up or cancels less than 24 hours before class you still get full pay unless it is a trial lesson

What are the cons to teaching ESL online?
 – The cancellation policy is very strict and impacts your eligibility for a pay increase
– It’s a service that the parents are paying for and they rate you on a 5 apple scale which can make you feel hesitant to assess the students honestly
– Some of the units in the curriculum are better than others

Are there any surprising aspects to this job that you didn’t expect going in?
I’ve made amazing connections with many of my students. I love to see them get excited to have class and update me on their lives. There are also opportunities to go to Beijing to see the headquarters and even see your students.

Is it tough for people without teaching degrees, or was it easy to adapt?
VIPKID has a very specific methodology that they want the teachers to implement. They do a good job during the training and hiring process to ensure that you are confident to teach once you start.

What does the curriculum, structure, and day-to-day look like as an ESL online teacher?
The curriculum is a learner-centered curriculum that focuses on getting the student to speak as much as possible. Ideally, each class should have 70% student input and 30% teacher talk. With the younger students this is obviously not possible but that is the goal as they go on. There are 12 lessons in every unit. Lessons 6 and 12 are assessments. The curriculum is prepared for you and there is no need to lesson plan especially after you become acquainted with curriculum. There are teacher directions on the bottom of the slides.



Is Teaching ESL Online Right For You?

This is a great option for people who want to travel and work. Like Leonard I also love to travel slow, which is why I’m such a huge proponent of traveling full time with an income.

One major benefit to working as an online ESL teacher is the schedule. Because teaching ESL online is often for students and companies in China, that makes it much easier to travel to countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other cheap and gorgeous remote work hubs like them. The low cost of living in these areas also makes the income stretch farther.

Shout out to Leonard for taking the time to share these answers and his expertise in online teaching! If you’re interested in VIPKID specifically, you can use his referral link here. Otherwise, explore your options and if you end up taking a job, let me know! Good luck and safe travels 🙂

All my love,

PS Don’t forget to check out my other guides to working abroad in digital marketing, teaching in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and working on a yacht while traveling the world!


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How to Work on a Yacht and Travel the World

Have you ever thought about getting paid to sail around the world? That’s exactly what happens when you find work on a yacht. I’ve made it my mission to help people find ways to work AND travel full time, like teaching abroad or starting a digital marketing agency. Now, I’m gonna break down exactly how to find work on a yacht. I talked to my friend Jack who’s been in the industry for three years, and he gave me all the insider info you need to know to find a job on a yacht.

Jack has had years of experience sailing, so he works onboard a super yacht as a First Mate. However, if you’re reading this you probably (like me!) have zero experience working on boats. So, I’m going to focus this article on the lower level jobs available: the stewards, stewardesses, and deck hands.

Basically, a stewardess works inside and cooks, cleans, serves the guests, etc. A deck hand does the maintenance, repair, and physical labor type jobs. Both of these jobs can be filled by people with one certification and zero experience.

Ready to get a job? Here are the basic stats you need to know…


The Stats

Average Income: $2,500/month and up

Free Housing/Utilities: Yes

Tax Free: No

Healthcare: If you’re crewed on an American boat, healthcare will be provided. On international boats, probably not.

Free Flights: No, a boat is not going to fly you to them (unless you’re very experienced.) It’s better to go to the ports to find a job.

Certifications: You need the SCTW certification. The bad news is this certification requires passing a week long $900 class in Ft. Lauderdale. The good news is that afterwards you can job hunt on Ft. Lauderdale’s ports.

Contract Length: Contracted jobs for the stewardess/deck hand positions can be seasonal, so if you just want to jump aboard for a yacht’s trip around Europe or the Caribbean for a few months, it’s definitely possible.

Where to get a job: Jack says the best chance you have is to go to a yacht hub and walk around the port, handing out your resume and asking for work. Popular places to find work include Fort Lauderdale, Monaco, Malta, the French Riviera, and anywhere in the Caribbean. You can also check out these job sites that I know absolutely nothing about the validity of but seem to have a lot of available positions:

The Crew Network | Cruise Job Finder |  yaCrew | Blue Water | JF Recruiting | Crew Finders | YotSpot


Ok, let’s start with a finance breakdown. How much will you get paid, and how much can you save?

Deck hands and stewardesses get around $2,500 per month (or more) and should not accept less than that. First Mates with experience get payed around $6,000 a month and Captains around $12,000… so, if you work your way up the ladder it’s definitely a lucrative career. If you work on a chartered yacht, the salary will be lower but you also have the chance to make bank with large tips. As a whole though, working on a boat with one owner provides more predictable and steady income and work.

The best part about this job is that you will have zero expenses. There are no bills to pay because you live full time on the yacht. Jack says it’s usually a small room shared with one other person. The living spaces can feel a bit cramped but they’re also free soo… not bad!

However, this does mean that your yacht coworkers really become your family. You live together, you work together, and you really can’t escape each other. If you’re prone to drama or need a lot of personal space, this may not be the ideal living situation for you. But if you want to save lots o’ cash, it definitely is.


How to Get Work on a Yacht

Like stated above, the best way to get a job is to travel to one of the yacht hubs and physically hand out your resume and look for work on the docks there, old school style.

It goes without saying that if you’d like a job in the Caribbean, you need to look for work in the Caribbean, and if you want a job in Europe, hit the European hubs. Interestingly, American boats have to be crewed by Americans… so if you’re American, your best bet for a job is in Ft. Lauderdale, and if you’re foreign you may not want to head to the states to look for work on a yacht, because it will be much harder to find.

If you’re just starting out you will work a labor job like a deck hand or a service job like a stewardess. However, there are also jobs on boats for many different specialties. Chefs, nurses, and dive masters are all in high demand. If you have your certifications and experience in these fields, getting work on a yacht could be an awesome escape and way to travel and work for a year or two.

What if you have no experience? Well, you will at least need the SCTW certification which does qualify you to work on any boats. But we all know it’s not that easy.

One great way to get some experience on your resume is by doing “boat delivery.” Basically, this is exactly what it sounds like. You work on a boat for free, and move it from one place to another. You don’t get paid, but the yacht owner covers all your food and expenses, and will fly you home once the boat is delivered to its location. For example, you can help sail a boat from New York to Florida, spend a few days down there for free, then get flown home on the owners dime. It’s not ideal, but it’s a good way to pad your resume with boating experience.



Now for the most important question… how much travel can you do while working on a yacht?! Based on Jack’s experience, the answer is a lot. In the past three years he has been to all of the Caribbean, a dozen European countries, South Africa, the US, South America and more… all for free on the yacht.

If you land a job to work on a yacht, you will work 5 days a week just like any other 9 to 5 gig. Guests on the yacht always come first, but for the most part you will have two days off, even if it is irregular or a weekday. Those days off can be spent exploring the city your boat is ported in, and spending some of your hard earned cash.

When it comes to vacation days and time off, that’s a bit more irregular. Low level yacht crew typically earn two days of vacation per month working. Jack emphasizes, though, that the boat owns you. The schedule is irregular and you have no control over it, and taking these days off isn’t very easy.

The longer you spend working on one yacht and the more experience you have, the more vacation you will get. Jack hasn’t taken any vacation days in the first 10 months of 2017, but he’s scheduled to have November and December completely off (and completely paid!) These kind of long breaks are perfect for travel, and during his breaks in the past Jack has been able to see the world on the yacht’s dime.


Is getting work on a yacht right for you? This could be a perfect job if you enjoy sailing, and prefer the opportunity to travel over owning material goods. Jack says this job is best for people who already enjoy being on the water or have sailing experience, but that anyone can do it. The biggest con is definitely giving up personal space, privacy, and control over your life.

But the pros outweigh the cons for him. As a first mate, he’s making more money than he ever would working with his college degree, and is saving to go to law school debt free. He says this isn’t the career path he wants to follow forever, but if you start out low level and enjoy it, there is a lot of room to grow. Yacht owners often provide learning opportunities and certifications to crew who want them, making it possible to move up the ladder and become a captain someday.

Get on a boat that is heading to countries you want to see, and you’ll be paid to travel and visit them. Most boats operate on a seasonal schedule, like the Caribbean in the winter, Europe in the spring or the Mediterranean in the summer. Find work on a boat with a schedule that interests you, and you’ll definitely enjoy the trip!



Getting work on a yacht can be an amazing way to see the world while making money. If you’re young, single, and up for adventure, this could definitely be a great move for you! There are also available jobs for many different specialties, and lots of room to move up in a career in yachting. Travel to dozens of countries on someone else’s dime and live for free for a few years… what’s not to love? Sounds pretty good to me!

PS Are you interested in traveling the world while working full time? Check out my guides to working abroad in digital marketing and teaching! 



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How To Teach In Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Hey, All,

I’ve been asked so many times how I can afford to work and travel that I decided to put together a guide to all of the different opportunities out there for you to work and live abroad.

There are a lot of different teaching posts available around the world, so I’m here to speak with people who have worked in them and spell out the pros and cons of working in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe so that you can decide which one is best for you.

This first post is one I have personal experience with: teaching in the UAE.

The Stats

Average Income: $2,000 month to $5,000 month

Free Housing/Utilities: Yes

Tax Free: Yes

Healthcare: Yes

Free flights: Yes

Vacation Days: 3 weeks Christmas, 2 weeks spring break, 8 weeks summer break, two or three long weekends, and half days during Ramadan.

Certifications: Needed? Yes and no. Abu Dhabi is now requiring a teaching degree or certification (TEFL won’t cut it), but I taught there from 2014 to 1016 with only a college degree. In Dubai, a college degree can still land you a job for now.

Contract Length: Most schools will require you to sign a 2-year contract.

Where to Find a Job:

Teach Away

Teaching Abroad Direct

Footprints Recruiting

Dubai Jobs

The Guardian

Teach Anywhere

*Disclaimer I am not affiliated with any of these sites or responsible for any job or experience you may have through them*


I found my job teaching at a SABIS school in Abu Dhabi through my college’s career portal on their website. My husband (only boyfriend at the time) and I both did a phone interview, and I took a bus from Boston to New York (in a snow storm) for an interview as well. They try to set them up for those who can make them, but it wasn’t required. We both were informed that we had the positions for the upcoming school year in February, and we signed the contract in March.

The contract included housing, utilities, flights at the beginning and end of the school year, healthcare, and a $2,200/month salary, equating to $26,400/year. However, we also received a raise our second year and a $10,000 bonus upon completion of our second year.

All in all, we received about $66,000 each in cash payment over the two years. With the value of the free housing, tax free income, and flights, the package was worth closer to $86,000 for the two years of work. Considering we were on vacation for about 7 of those months, it was a killer deal!

Every teacher (and I mean EVERY) also tutors kids under the table. The fees for an hour session usually range from $40 to $50 each, and there were some weeks before final exams where I was banking $1000 in tutoring sessions. It adds up fast.


The culture shock that I experienced after I moved to Abu Dhabi was real and definitely not easy to adjust to. When I first arrived, I thought that I’d be making a major lifestyle shift away from my drinking and party days in college (because it’s the Middle East, right?)

I was SO wrong.

There’s not a lot to do out in the middle of the desert, so we would hit the brunches hard. Brunch is a magical thing. In the UAE, it means that you pay a set fee and get access to a 5-star buffet and open bar for usually 4 or 5 hours at a time. Once those were done, we’d hit the bars and go dancing or drinking for the rest of the night.

There were beaches in Abu Dhabi, but we lived out in the suburbs (Khalifa City A), so they were farther away. It was also too hot in the summer and fall months, and they tended to be expensive to enter.

Instead, we’d usually opt to buy a Groupon to one of the luxury hotels and hit the pool for the day instead. In Dubai, there is a little more to do (the Jumeirah walk, Dubai mall, or Miracle gardens, for example), but you can only go to a mall so may times before you feel like you’re back in your pre-teen days.

On longer weekends, teachers would rent a car and drive down to Muscat or east to dive off of the Omani coast. The other Emirates like Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah offered some variety to explore but not much. All in all, the UAE is a strange place. If you don’t drink, and you love to explore the great outdoors, it is definitely NOT the place for you.

Now for the questions that I know you’ve been wondering about.

Yes, the UAE is Muslim. The call to prayer woke me up every night, and we often saw women dressed in burqas. However, they are pretty lax about applying their cultural rules to foreigners. When it came to clothing, my general rule of thumb was to wear either a tank top OR shorts but never both. With one or the other, I was usually fine. When we went out drinking, dresses, short skirts, and high heels were the norm.

The UAE is 80% expats, so there is a LARGE divide between the Muslim Emiratis and the Western expats. For the most part, the country is very first world, and the Muslim culture did not affect me much at all. I read a lot about horror stories and crazy arrests before I went, but they are rare (usually if you really piss off the wrong person). I have a friend who passed out drunk and woke up at the police station TWICE without consequence. It’s not as scary there as the media portrays it to be.


There were about forty other twenty-something Brits, Irish (so many Irish) and other English speaking teachers working at our school, so our friend group was built-in. We all lived in dorm-style apartments and hit the nightlife hard together.

We would also frequent the “Ladies Nights” weekly, which was basically just when bars said f it and let all women drink for free. Awesome! I made some lifelong friends in the deserts of Abu Dhabi, and the social aspect of the schools and carefree lifestyle (lots of money, lots of travel) was an amazing experience.

My Experience

The school year runs from late August to late June. As teachers, we were required to show up two weeks early our first year and one week before the school year started our second year. Those two weeks are all the training you get before you’re thrown to the wolves though, so it’s NOT easy in any sense of the word.

It was tough because in the US, if you dislike your job, you can quit and find a new one. Teaching abroad is unique in the sense that your job, visa, and housing are all rolled into one. I couldn’t exactly quit if I was unhappy because I would be deported and on the hook for a $1,400 flight home. That being said, NOT every school is the same. If you have a teaching degree, your school quality and salary will increase significantly.

While tough to deal with, it was also nice to have that push to stick it out through the homesickness and culture shock. I’m so glad that I did. I thought about giving up many times and not signing for the second year (and second year bonus), but staying was the right choice. The second year was so much easier in every way.

What else did I go through that I wasn’t expecting? Something that definitely needs to be mentioned is a unique feeling of isolation from the rest of the world. Isolation may be a strong word, but I definitely felt very far away from my friends and family in the US.

Part of it was the 8 hour time zone difference. Our school week also ran from Sunday to Thursday, which meant that when everyone on social media was enjoying their Saturday mornings, I was prepping and going to bed early for school the next day.

Additionally, we worked on Thanksgiving, slept through the Super Bowl, and there were absolutely no Christmas or Easter celebrations in school. We missed two Christmases at home with our families because flights home were too expensive. However, our European friends didn’t have that problem. Still, though, I wouldn’t trade the experience that I had there for anything. For me, the benefits definitely outweighed the cons!



So, in recap, over our two year contract, we taught for 17 months and travelled for 7. We made extra money easily on the side and banked $66,000 each in tax-free cash before we left. If any of this sounds good, teaching in the UAE just may be for you!

Do you have experience teaching in the UAE or Middle East? Please comment below and share your thoughts!

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How To Start A Digital Marketing Business While Traveling The World

Hey all,

I’ve been asked so many times how I can afford to work and travel, so I’ve decided to put together a guide to all the different opportunities out there for you to work and live abroad. This current post is one I have personal experience with: working remotely as a digital marketer!

When I was first starting out, I reached out to other marketers with questions and for advice, but I was always rebuffed. They told me to pay for a consult, to buy their ebook or training course, or just ignored me completely. So, I did it on my own.

Now that I’ve started my business, I’ve been able to travel around the world. One of my favorite past times to compare flight prices on Skyscanner, pick a place, and plan our next move! I’ve been able to visit Colorado and LA, and lived abroad in Colombia, Peru, and Mexico.

I’ve noticed whenever I post about working remotely or digital marketing, I ALWAYS get flooded with requests about how I got started, and how I do what I do. I promised myself I would never turn away someone asking for help, and this blog series was born. Here is my how to guide with every step that I took to grow my small business and achieve my dreams so that you can do it as well!



The Stats

Average Income: $2,000 month to $5,000 month

Free Housing/Utilities: No

Tax Free: No 🙁 You’ll pay taxes to your home country, or if you establish an LLC, the country the LLC is declared in.

Healthcare: No

Free flights: No

Vacation Days: Kind of? You can take time off work whenever you want, but won’t be paid for it

Certifications needed? Nope. I’m completely self-taught, but I have a steady stream of clients and income

Where to find a job: I use many different websites to apply for freelance marketing work, but the one that I use the most is Upwork. Freelancer is also a common choice. Both of these sites are for contract/hourly work. Other sites I have profiles on include Cloud Peeps and Angel List, although the latter is more focused toward finding full-time remote work with a company, rather than contract freelance work. I also recommend building a simple website and promoting yourself through social media and LinkedIn and spreading the word to your friends and family to send more business your way.



Getting Started

My passion for travel has made my goal in life to be able to work from home, wherever that home may be. After teaching and living around the world, I began to brainstorm what skills and passions I have that would allow me to maintain my dream of remaining mobile indefinitely.

This dream came to fruition as a boutique digital marketing agency that specializes in social media management, content creation, web development, and branding for small business. I partner with clients that have amazing products, ideas, and energy to help them realize their dream of growing their businesses.

Does that sound too salesy? If so, it’s because I copied it from my LinkedIn profile because I’m lazy! But, it’s the truth. I got into digital marketing for the sole purpose of being able to travel and work remotely, and the fact that I enjoy it and am maybe even a little bit good at it is just a bonus!

Let me be clear, I have NO marketing background. Not a single college class, nothing for a side job or internship, nada. So, I went into this totally blind. Here are the steps I took to get from unemployed to successful business owner in 2 months.



1. Read. A lot.

I didn’t sign up for many of the scammy webinars or “social media courses” that are sold at the end of every marketing post and in every email, but I did read a lot of blogs. Some great bloggers in the social media world are Neil Patel, Kissmetrics, Amy Porterfield, Rick Mulready, and others.

Read about the best practices for each social media platform and learn how to run Facebook ads. Facebook advertising in particular is the most profitable thing that you can offer because it’s technical, confusing, and people just DON’T want to deal with it.

Once you get the hang of it and can start taking people’s campaigns down from 50 cents a click to 4 or 5 cents a click, I promise you’ll be in high demand. Learn about targeting, writing copy, and even practice building campaigns, ad sets, and ads in your own Facebook ad account without running them to begin to understand the layout.


2. Find a willing participant to let you practice on them if possible.

I know that I’m lucky in this regard, but my mom and aunts run a small business and let me take over their social media accounts for a few weeks. They even let me run a week long ad campaign. This taught me so much about how to find and create content, and it gave me practice with tools like Buffer, Canva, and Buzzsumo. Now, I repay them by giving my mom all the new tips and tricks that I learn to use on their accounts 🙂


3. Begin applying to jobs

Like I mentioned above, I use Upwork to find about 90% of my clients. You build out your profile and then can search for any kind of work you want, I always narrowed it down to social media management. You are restricted to applying for only 30 or so jobs per month, so you have to be smart about choosing ones that look like they have a good budget, are newly posted, and are work that you can do (or think you can learn to do fast!)

Some tips on proposals – keep them short and sweet. I was applying with huge long paragraphs about what I could do for the companies, and my response rate wasn’t great. Now I have a go-to proposal that almost never fails.. And no, I’m not going to share it with you 😉

But I will say this.

Keep the focus on them. Mention their name and their specific requests to show that you read it, and then ask a couple questions about how you can help them and their business. People feel obligated to respond to questions but will probably skim if you spend three paragraphs talking about why you’re qualified for the job. Save that for a later conversation once you already have them engaged.


4. Accept job (and freak out internally)

Ok, I still can’t believe that I landed two large jobs in my first two weeks of applying. I had zero experience, and even worse, zero reviews on my profile! It was a miracle. Once you have your first clients on board, KEEP THEM HAPPY. That means putting in extra hours and effort to make sure that your work is creative and represents their brand well.

Go the extra mile for them, and most importantly, just be available. Someone who is attentive and responds promptly and politely to emails automatically jumps into the top 10% of freelancers just for that alone. Your quality of work is far outweighed by your customer service. I promise.


5. Learn a lot

Man, when I think about what I know now and what I knew then, it’s crazy that people were even paying me. You will learn SO MUCH as you go. I recommend, once you’re a few months in, to start leaning towards a niche category if possible.

I had a large client in politics and by running their ads and working with their in-house advertising team, I learned a lot about targeting and writing copy for political news sources. When I picked up a second political client, I had experience in the field already and could jump right in to giving them great results.


6. Get Reviews

Any time a client ends a contract, chase them down for a review. Even if it takes two or three emails, these reviews will change your life.

Here’s why.

Now that I’ve been on Upwork for months and have plenty of positive reviews, I don’t apply for jobs anymore. I have a “top-rated” badge which means that I could up my pricing, and now I get invited to jobs who want to work with me rather than the other way around. It’s an ego boost AND a time saver. Reviews are everything. Get them.


7. Build Your Own Online Presence

So now that you’re a master marketer, you should be able to jump from freelancer to business owner and market your own business, right? We filed our business as an LLC with the state of Ohio. It costs about $100, but it protects you from being sued to a certain extent, so it’s worth the money. It can also make your taxes easier depending on your situation.

Then, I bought a domain name and built a basic wordpress site. Daniel has since updated it, but mine was entirely passable without knowing an ounce of coding. Get a Gmail address with the domain name and you will look like a true professional. Trust me, it goes a long way (and helps you stay organized!). Next, jump to Twitter and Instagram, and start growing your accounts and your followers. Write interesting and informative blog posts to draw traffic in, and bam, you are now a business owner. Congrats!

I don’t want to make starting my marketing company look like a walk in the park because it definitely wasn’t. However, I DO want to show you that it’s possible and not as daunting as you may think. If you dream about leaving your desk job, use these tips to get started learning about social media and land your first marketing clients in your spare time without any risk!




Ok, the most important part. How much money do I make?!?

Here’s the breakdown. I started researching social media management and building my website in August. By the beginning of September, I had my first two clients and was making $2400 a month. Since then, my client base and jobs have fluctuated, but most months end up between $2000 and $3000. This work is done in about 20 to 25 hours a week.

I could (and probably should) bump it up more, but I like to spend my free time on Slight North. If you worked a full 40 hour week every week and had clients paying you for it, you could easily pull in $5,000 or $6,000 a month.

The main problem is client turnover. I work with a lot of small businesses who just opened a website and think that once their social media is up, they will immediately begin selling hundreds of products a week. When a month passes and their growth is steady, instead of explosive, they usually take social media into their own hands or abandon their business all together. This means that taking on new clients is a never ending process for me and leads to the fluctuation in income mentioned above.

The cons of owning a digital marketing company include:

  • My taxes as a small business owner doubled, from 15% to 30%.
  • I am responsible for providing my own health insurance.
  • I have no paid vacations.
  • There’s pressure not to take time off so as not to lose a client.

However, the pros list seems to even them out:

  • I live in South America where the cost of living is low. $3000 here goes A LOT farther than it would in the US.
  • Travel health insurance is also a lot cheaper than US health insurance.
  • I can travel and take half days whenever I want to, or work from a remote island, new city, or hut in the mountains. Lifting the location restriction from work has been the greatest move of my life.


My Experience

If you work in the freelance business, you need to have thick skin. If you don’t, I promise that you will soon. One month you may be celebrating record high profits, and the next you’ll be threatening legal action against a client trying to ghost you while owing money.

Be ready to be looked down upon and outright disregarded. That 40 minute phone conversation you had? Yeah, they probably won’t even  bother to answer a quick follow up email asking if they still want to work together. It’s easy to be blown off in a digital relationship.

Another difficult aspect of running my own business that I didn’t expect was the burden of bearing the sole responsibility of a project and not having any one else to look up to or get advice from. Everything that I manage and produce is attached to my name alone, and it’s a lot of responsibility to make sure that my work ALWAYS reflects well on me. No tasks will be handed up or down the chain of command here.

Owning a digital marketing business is definitely not the walk in the park some bloggers make it out to be, but it may be a good choice for you. My advice would be to always be paid upfront, never turn down an interview or invitation, and not to take yourself, or your work, too seriously.

For me, digital marketing is a means to an end: travel. While working, I’ve been able to visit LA and Colorado, spend time traveling through Colombia, Peru, and Mexico, and am currently planning out move to Romania, Bulgaria, and Easter Europe!

The money is good, and the hours are flexible. Don’t undercut your worth, but don’t overcharge. Work hard when you do, and keep your clients happy. Just like anything, there’s a work life balance and the stresses that come with it. In the end, I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for the world. At least, not until something better comes along 😉



Are you interested in working remotely or breaking into the digital marketing scene? Leave a comment below or shoot me a message, and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have! Good luck!

All my love,

PS not what you’re looking for? Check out how to teach ESL classes online, how to work on a yacht, and how to teach in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to scratch that travel itch while still making money! 

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