How I Travel the World as a Freelance Writer

I get asked how I do it all the time. Even most of my friends and family still don’t really know how I can afford to travel all year.

The truth is, I still work (almost) full-time as a freelance writer. When I tell people this they often say the same thing: “I would love to do something like that.” This boggles my mind because I don’t think anyone knows just how EASY it is to travel as a freelance writer these days!

You don’t have to slave away and wish and hope for jobs… there’s thousands of people searching for great writers who are ready and waiting to throw piles of work into your lap. All you need to know is how to find them, so I’m here to tell you exactly where to go.

In this guide I’m going to explain the exact steps I took to find clients, make money, improve my skills, and build enough business to travel as a freelance writer!


Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s start with the most common questions I get asked about what I do before I break down the journey it took to get here.


How much money do you make?

This has certainly fluctuated. When I first switched from social media marketing to writing I had to start the process of getting long-term clients all over again. However, after a year I work around 4 to 5 hours a day and make between $500 to $1000 a week.


How long did it take to make enough money to travel?

A few months! If you want to start traveling right away, make sure you have savings for the weeks or months when clients lag and work is slow. I’ve noticed that work tends to slow down at the end of December and early-January, and then again a bit in the summer.

I took about six months before I was reliably making at least $2,000 every month. One year in, I charge more so I can work less and still make more money!


What kind of content do you write?

The first thing that comes to mind when most people hear “writer” is an old timey novelist like Hemmingway, puffing a pipe and drunkenly writing a paragraph a day. Unfortunately, that’s not me. Most freelance writers today are not writing books.

Instead, we create all of the web content you consume every day. This can include blog posts, web pages, product descriptions, email newsletters, and everything in between.


Can you really travel as a freelance writer anywhere in the world?

Almost. The only things that constrain me are timezone and internet speed. As a writer, if you’re willing to answer client messages late at night or early in the morning, timezones won’t be an issue at all. So far, they haven’t been for me even though I live 8 hours ahead of my clients, who are all American.

The other problem, though, is internet speed. But again, writing and uploading documents doesn’t require too much power so you can still work in places with a pretty slow speeds. I was able to travel as a freelance writer in Peru where the average speed is 6 mbps per second, but even that was still obnoxious and I try to stay in countries with fast internet whenever possible.

Ok, now that these are out of the way, here’s the exact steps I took to become a freelance writer and start traveling the world!


Step 1: Learn How to Write

When I first started writing, I thought since I had done it in college I was good to go… yeah, no. When I look back at the first articles I wrote for clients, it’s kind of embarrassing. The work was fine, but it’s nowhere close to the standard I hold myself to now.

Because of that, I wish that I had taken some refresher courses before I started. This isn’t just my ego talking either, now that I have a year of writing under my belt and my work has gotten better, I’ve been able to double my price without any complaints. I only wish I had improved my skills sooner!

Resources to use: You can find free courses on Coursera and Udemy to brush up on your skills.


Step 2: Build Your Freelance Profile

There are tons of freelance websites out there but for me Upwork fills all of my needs and I see no reason to use anything else.

Visit the website and create a profile, and take the time to fill out everything with thought and care. Upload a professional looking photo (if you don’t have one, spend an hour with a friend to create your headshot) and complete the rest. This is what my Upwork profile looks like to help you get started.

You may be thinking “Doesn’t Upwork charge ridiculous fees?” and the answer is yes. They’ll take 20% of every payment you receive from a client for the first $500, and then 10% after that.

But, it’s so easy to get around I don’t even know why people complain. Just charge enough that you’re happy with the final payment you end up with and problem solved. I know it’s annoying but Upwork makes travel as a freelance writer so easy that I’ll make the trade any day of the week.


Step 3: Apply to Jobs

Now that your freelance profile is built on Upwork, it’s time to apply for jobs. I’ll give you the same tip that I did in my guide to starting a digital marketing business: keep your proposals short and to the point.

You can only apply for 30 jobs per month on Upwork, so you need to pick to the ones that you really think are a good fit for your skills and will pay you what you’re worth. Send a quick message saying that you’d like to write it, briefly mention any relevant experience if you have it, your rate per word, and ask any questions you have, like what website the content will be posted on or how much work they expect to have per week.

That’s it.

It should be about three to four sentences max, and then I always like to finish with the ol’ “looking forward to hearing back from you!” because I think it subconsciously makes people feel like they have to respond.

Just a tip, though. At the start when you have zero reviews and zero hours worked, it’ll be harder to get attention. Obviously make sure you have perfect spelling and grammar in your proposal, but also offer a lower rate than you normally would just to get your foot in the door. Once you have one or two reviews you can raise it for the rest of your projects.


Step 4: Always Give Exceptional Service

I stand by this more than anything, If you answer all emails and messages promptly and politely, people will love you.

Unfortunately, once you enter the freelance world you’ll be ghosted more times than you can count, and deal with the rudest people and most ridiculous requests. The bar is set very, very low for you already.

If you stay polite, turn in good work, and always make your deadlines, you will rise to the top. I 100% guarantee it. Even on the occasions where people were unhappy with my work, I had always been so unfailingly professional that they asked for changes, I made them, and they we’re even more thankful that it wasn’t a big deal!

When I first started out I was terrified that a one-star review would bring my freelance career crashing down, but then I learned that if you’re nice and normal, it’ll never happen.

One last tip: make sure you always ask questions. Most people haven’t worked with a freelancer before so they don’t know how specific they have to be about what they want. Nothing is more annoying than getting requests for changes that they didn’t even tell you they wanted originally.

After that happened once or twice, I learned to always state back exactly what the client wanted if I was unsure and didn’t start until they confirmed. Then if they ask for something different later, you can charge for a rewrite because the miscommunication is squarely on their shoulders.


Step 5: How to Spot Red Flags

In one year of freelance writing, I’ve heard from more assholes than I ever knew could exist in this world. Some people are seriously delusional, and you will have the unfortunate job of working for them… IF you don’t learn to spot these red flags and turn them down from the start.

If someone invites you to a job and uses words or phrases like:

  • “Rock-star” anything (this person will think work comes before all else in your life.)
  • “Content that drives traffic/makes conversions” (No, I’m not an advertising agency. I just write the content and will not be responsible for how it performs.)
  • “Work on commission” (Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever agree to this.)
  • “MUST” (this word used before any demand, often in all caps, means they’re probably an asshole.)
  • Or if they “need a sample project” before you start. (That is of course unpaid 90% of the time, no thanks.)

If you ever get bad vibes about anyone, if they want to pay you off-site before you start a working relationship, if they have less than 4.5 star average review, just bail.

You’ll soon learn to spot the makings of a terrible client in just a few sentences, and I promise the extra money is never worth the hassle and stress they will bring to your life. Just. Say. No.


Step 6: Extra Tips for Success

Here are some final things I wish I new before I started to travel as a freelance writer. Keep these in mind when you’re just starting out and hopefully they’ll make your transition a little easier.

Always ask for reviews. Once you become “top-rated” on Upwork people will begin to invite you to jobs instead of applying, and you’ll save so much time by just having your work handed to you.

Run everything you write through Grammarly to edit it (I use the free version but it definitely doesn’t catch everything) and PaperRater (or any other plagiarism checker) just to be safe. Then, leave it for a few hours and work on something else, so you can go back for a final edit with fresh eyes before you submit it.

Learn extra skills like SEO and social media management to be more marketable. About half of the jobs I accept require some knowledge of SEO and keyword density. Familiarize yourself with the terms.

Always charge by word instead of hourly. The client will put the money in escrow and you’ll know exactly what you’re going to make. Additionally, if you charge hourly on Upwork it’ll take two weeks to get paid instead of a few days, and if the client account is suspended for some reason you’ll have unending issues. I’ve found getting paid per project is both more profitable and safer.


Step 7: Scale Your Freelance Business

Working as a freelance writer doesn’t have to be a dead end job. There are easy ways to scale it and increase your income as you go.

The most popular option is to become the middle man. Once you have a lot of regular clients sending you work each week, simply hire someone to do it for you. For example:

Client X pays you 10 cents per word for a 2,000 word article every week.

You outsource it to another writer on Upwork for 3 cents per word.

At the end of the day, you get paid $200, pay the writer $60, and walk away with $120 in the bank just for a quick edit job.

Of course, this will require a time investment to find someone who writes well and can meet deadlines, but once you have the system set up there’s really no limit to how much work you can accept and how much money you can make.


See the World as a Freelance Writer

It honestly is this easy. These are the exact steps I followed and the lessons I learned along the way. I still work 9 to 5(ish) but I have gotten to see so many crazy and beautiful parts of the world I never would have explored otherwise.

Travel as a freelance writer is not for everyone. You will NEED to have the discipline to wake up and work everyday. Treat it like a job (seriously) and you’ll soon be making money and building your own reputation in the freelance world.

It doesn’t have to be a dream, or a someday, or a what-if. Log on to Upwork today and build your profile. Commit to taking one or two jobs a week for the next couple months, and move forward from there. It’s not as daunting as it seems to create a life of location independence, so if it’s something you’ve been yearning for take the leap!


PS still exploring your options? Visit the Working Abroad Series to learn more ways to make money while you travel and find in-depth guide to teaching online ESL classes, working as an au pair, getting a job as a flight attendant, finding work as a translator, landing a full-time position teaching in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, or even working on a yacht!

Check Out These Related Posts!

Slight North

Collect memories, not things. 

Travel for Free with the Beginner’s Guide to House Sitting

Bob and Fara aren’t your average forty-somethin’ couple. While most are busy with the day-to-day lives of raising kids and keeping their career afloat, for them that’s not the case.

In 2017, they found themselves singing a familiar refrain that is all to common amongst long-term travelers: “I quit my job, sold everything, and hit the road.”

Ok, it wasn’t quite as simple as that, but you get the picture.

Then, they made the mistake of starting their travels in Scandinavia where they immediately blew through their budget. After that, Bob and Fara quickly made their way to greener (aka cheaper) pastures in Eastern Europe and started searching for ways to save money so they could travel longer.

That’s when they discovered house sitting.

Bob and Fara have learned a lot as they navigate the wonderful world of house sitting jobs and snag free accommodation across the continent. Now, they’re here to share their expertise with you in the complete beginner’s guide to house sitting!


1. How do you find house sitting opportunities?

There are two different ways to find house sitting jobs while traveling.

Membership Websites

Our primary sources are two paid subscription websites that pair homeowners with house sitters:

There are numerous other websites out there, but these are the two which we have had the most success with.

In our experience, a homeowner will post an opportunity to the site with the important info (dates, approximate location, expected duties, photos of the property and pets, etc.). Then a house sitter can apply for the ones that interest them.

Many house sitting platforms are also set-up for a house sitter to post their availability (dates, locations, pet/maintenance experience, etc) and have a homeowner contact them when they have a need. However, we’ve never received any leads in this way.

Word of Mouth

As we meet people on our travels, it often comes up that we are house sitting as a way of financing our trip. Sometimes these chance encounters turn into leads. For example, Fara had met a nice Croatian woman through a knitting Facebook group and, before ever meeting her in person, she had connected us with one of her friends who needed a last-minute pet-sitter at the same time we were in Zagreb. Homeowners from previous house sits will also contact us when they or someone they know have upcoming trips planned before posting the opportunity to one of the house sitting websites.

We hope these word of mouth and repeat customer leads become a more significant percentage of our house sits in the future.


2. How much do you get paid?

Since we are traveling on tourist visas, we don’t have the right to work in any of the countries we visit and can’t legally charge for our services.

With that being said, there are still plenty of extra perks.

Financial Benefits

All of the homeowners we’ve house sat for offer us free lodging for the duration of the sit and often extend it to a few days before and after they are gone. Often we are left with at least basic staples with instructions to make use of anything that will spoil while the homeowner is away, including anything in the refrigerator, pantry, cellar or freezer.

We’ve been traveling primarily with a rental car, but some homeowners will let us use their vehicle while they are away as well.

We use a bit of fuzzy accounting when figuring out how much we make house sitting. If you look at it as money not spent on lodging, food and transportation it can easily amount to $50-100/day that stays in our travel fund during the duration of the house sit.

Travel Perks

There are several intangible benefits we receive by house sitting.

We get to “live like a local” for a little while, sometimes in a part of the world we would otherwise never consider traveling to. The homeowners we have met have all been wonderful people, who love travel, and warmly welcome us into their homes despite being practically complete strangers. We’ve taken part in local festivals that foreigners rarely attend, and finally, we get to be around animals without having to figure out how to travel with our own.


3. What responsibilities can you expect during a house sit?

Before every house sit we meet the homeowners in person and prefer to spend a day or two with them running through their daily routines with the pets and other responsibilities. Most homeowners have a detailed manual with all the important information for the house sitter, but it is not a replacement for hands-on interaction. I guess a very trusting homeowner may do everything electronically, but it would be counter to our desire to meet and interact with the locals.

Most of the house sitting opportunities posted (and the ones we’ve experienced) include caring for the homeowner’s pets. The most exotic pet we’ve cared for so far has been chickens, and we had to collect and eat the eggs.

Most of the homes we’ve cared for are at least partially heated using a wood burner, so in the winter there could be some chopping and bringing in the firewood and tending to the fire.

In the spring and summer there could be some light gardening and yard maintenance or tending to a swimming pool.

At the very least a house sitter should be expected to keep the house at least as tidy as the homeowner left it to them.

We’ve seen house sits posted that included duties such as tending farm animals, keeping an eye on contractors making improvements to the home, or even helping to run a hotel or bed & breakfast… We’ve declined to apply for such “opportunities”, but they may appeal to others.


4. How much flexibility does house sitting require?

Flexibility can be defined many ways when it comes to house sitting. You are dealing with two private parties (homeowner and house sitter) who are operating under a mutually beneficial agreement, so anything is possible.

It has been our experience that dates need to be a little flexible which is why we prefer to build in a few days on either side of the homeowner’s expected departure and arrival just in case of some last minute change in travel plans. We’ve never had a homeowner cancel on us, but it can happen. We know of some house sitters who draw up a basic contract in case of cancellation to recoup some costs associated with such an event.

During the house sit, Murphy’s law dictates that something will happen you are not fully prepared for. This is just a fact of life and successful house sitters are flexible enough to handle these cases in stride. Pets may gets sick, but the homeowner should leave you with contacts for veterinary care. Something in the house may break or stop working, but our own homeownership experience has taught us to fix what we can and call an expert for what we can’t. This flexibility is part of the job description of a house sitter.

When talking about locations, flexibility will open up many more opportunities for the house sitter. A significant number of house sits tend to be located in rural areas or small villages with limited access to public transportation, restaurants, and shopping. Even when an opportunity is found in a major city, it will likely be located in the more residential areas, away from the central tourist districts.

In the off-season, house sits can be more easily found in what would be considered a vacation destination. It is also worth noting that the more popular a destination or season is, the more competition there will be with other house sitters.


5. How many house sits have you done and how many are set up for the future? 

We’ve completed five house sits since last December which is when we got serious about using house sitting as a form of lodging. The shortest duration has been a three or four day weekend and the longest was two weeks not counting the time we stayed before and after the homeowner was gone.

These have taken us to rural Ireland, London, the Pyrenees in France, Zagreb, and Lake Balaton in Hungary. We have confirmed sits upcoming in Transylvania, back in Croatia, and Luxembourg and at least a couple others we are in the process of negotiating the final details.

Every few days Fara is finding new opportunities to apply for that will fill in the gaps between the upcoming sits.


6. Can you give me an estimate on how much time and money you invested to land each one?

Money: We currently have memberships on five different house sitting websites which cost approximately $30-120/membership/year. 

Time: I tend to just read emails that have been sent to us by the house sitting platforms.  

For example Trusted House sitters sends me two emails a day (morning and evening) based on the sits they have received in that timeframe before made public on their website. The email is organized by country and alphabetical so I can quickly scan to see if there are any sits in countries that we are near or plan in the future to be in or close to.  

On a weekly average I might spend 30 minutes looking at these house sitting emails. If I see something listed in one of the emails that looks like it might fit our needs I will send it to Bob for his opinion and if he thinks its a good fit then he will let me know and I apply for the sit. Bob keeps track of our Visa dates for permitted time within a country. So often he will have to run a calculation to determine if we have the available time to do that sit based on the Visa situation at that time.

There have been three sits that we had to turn down based on inadequate Schengen Visa time although we would have loved to perform the sit.


7. What does a typical process look like from the first application to getting the job?

After submitting an application the ball is almost entirely in the homeowner’s court, so there is a lot of waiting on our part. If we don’t hear back within a few days and it is a house sit we are particularly interested in, Fara will follow up with the homeowner to show interest and prompt a response.

At this point the application will go one of two ways. The homeowner will give us a “no” response (and a continued lack of response we also take as a “no”) or they respond to schedule an interview.

The interview is typically over video chat, in some cases it will be entirely via email, messenger or text, and in one unique case we were in the same general area as the homeowner and scheduled an in-person interview at their home.

This interview is as much for us to interview the homeowner as it is for the homeowner to interview us and in our experience has always ended with both parties agreeing to continue with the house sit.


8. How do you make sure your house sitting requests stand out from the rest?

Fara tries to tailor each application to the homeowner rather than just sending a canned, boilerplate request.

Adding personal touches such as relating past experiences with animals to the homeowner’s pets or showing knowledge and interest in the location they live in makes a difference. We try to emphasize that our story is unique in that we’re neither twenty-somethings straight out of university nor retirees enjoying their twilight years traveling.

Above all else, we try to portray ourselves with as professionals with many years of experience from owning and caring for our own homes and pets.


9. What surprised you the most about house sitting? Is there anything you wish you knew before you started?

The most surprising thing for both of us is how much we needed to treat house sitting as a business with us as a service provider and the homeowners as clients.

We went into it a bit naively thinking that we’d make our travel plans and pick up house sits along the way. This resulted in only rarely finding opportunities we were even available to apply for. It wasn’t until we changed this mindset and made our itinerary flexible enough to accommodate going where the house sitting opportunities were, that we were successful finding and landing house sits.

If we had known what we know now, we would have also built up our house sitting resume before embarking on our long-term nomadic trip. Without a history of successful house sits, it took the right homeowner to be willing to select an apparently inexperienced house sitter.


10. What has been your favorite house sitting experience so far? Would you recommend it to others that are interested?

It may sound a bit like a cop out, but it would be impossible to pick one favorite experience as they are all memorable for different reasons.

The Ireland house-sit was exhilarating because it was our first sit and everything was brand new. Despite us not really having a clue what we were doing, the homeowner is willing to let us watch her pets again later on this year.

In France we took part in their Carnivale celebration where we were the first Americans anyone could remember being in attendance.

The pets we took care of in Hungary now occupy a special place in our hearts. We went back a few weeks later to pick up something we left behind and they were all ready for us to stay and take care of them again.

We love this “job” and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone wanting to experience real life in a foreign place.


The Beginner’s Guide to House Sitting

Hopefully these 10 questions and insightful answers from experienced house sitters can help you understand the process and the perks a bit more. House sitting while traveling can help you save some serious cash and extend your trip longer. Use this beginner’s guide to house sitting to get started and the explore your options today!

Read more about Bob and Fara’s travels on their blog at Can Do Latitude and simplify your travel plans with their Schengen Visa calculator.

You can also explore more ways to extend your travels with the Working Abroad Series, where you’ll find guides to teaching online ESL classes, working as an au pair, getting a job as a flight attendant, starting a digital marketing business, landing a full-time position teaching in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, breaking into freelance writing, or even working on a yacht!

Check Out These Related Posts!

Slight North

Collect memories, not things. 

How to Become a Translator & Work Anywhere in the World

Are you bilingual? Do you have a knack for grammar and writing? If so, it may be time to become a translator!

This job is ideal because just like freelance writing or digital marketing, it’s easy to freelance or work remote with an agency. When you become a translator you can finally achieve location independence and make money while traveling the world, just like Daniel and I have been able to do.

For this article, I interviewed two translators. Justin started in 2017 and gets most of his work through just one agency. The other, Eki, has been working as a translator since 2012 and chose to go the freelancing route. Both shared their experiences with me, along with an in-depth look at their lifestyle, hours, finances, and most importantly: the exact steps they took to become a translator.

Ready to get going? Become a translator and work anywhere in the world with their expert advice!


group working in a cafe


The Stats

Average Income: $2,000 to $4,000 a month

Free Housing/Utilities: No

Tax-Free: No, you will need to file taxes appropriately in your home country.

Healthcare: No, you will need to purchase your own.

Vacation Days: No paid vacation days, but both freelance and agency work are flexible and taking unpaid days off is easy.

Certifications needed: As with most freelance work, knowing your stuff is all that matters and being self-taught won’t hold you back. However, you can also get language qualifications or a professional certification from the American Translators Association to help boost your resume.



Although I got a bit into each translators’ average income above, I wanted to dig deeper into their finances.

Justin says when it comes to freelancing your income will vary based on your language pair, whether you work directly with an agency or have to find your own clients, your subject areas (are you specialized in anything, like law or medicine?) and of course, the amount of hours per week you’re willing to work.

Just like my writing clients, Justin and Eki’s clients pay per word rather than per hour. That means making an hourly estimate isn’t easy, but generally translation work lands them between $20 to $50 an hour based on the difficulty of the assignment.

So, how much time goes into earning their salaries?

While numbers vary, Eki said right now he’s making around $2,000 per month with a 20-hour work week. Justin pulls in $4,000 per month, because he works closer to full-time.

Both also said that the workload is very uneven, meaning that they often take in small projects on the weekends, or go from slow periods to super high workloads, and then back again. If you’re looking for a very steady income while you start out in the freelancing world, working as a translator may not be for you.

However, there is one major benefit. No, it’s not healthcare, a 401k, or paid vacation… it’s something even more rare: location independence. For Justin and Eki, this is what encouraged them to become a translator and makes up for the financial uncertainty!


table with japanese dictionary, camera, and money


How to Find Work as a Translator

First things first, where is the best place to find translation opportunities? Justin recommends both ProZ and Translators Cafe as the go-to job boards for established translators, even though he ended up getting a job with an agency that he found on LinkedIn instead.

To land your first gig, he says the most important things is “familiarity with other subject areas and the language of those subject areas. A good translator is required not just to convert words from language A to language B, but to write them as if they were written by a specialist in that field.” 

One way that agencies differ from freelancing, though, is that they’ll often require potential recruits to pass a test. Luckily, Justin found that the first agency I signed up with gave me a test of reasonable difficulty and offered a contract with a reasonable rate. Since then, I have applied for jobs with other agencies whose tests were unreasonably difficult or whose evaluators were unreasonably strict for the terrible rates they were offering.”

Eki, who relies on his freelance income rather than an agency, suggests online marketplaces like Upwork as a good jumping off point as well. However, he makes no allusions that starting out is easy, and warns that in the beginning “you really need to prove yourself, and probably work for pennies to even get any job in the first place so that you could start gathering feedback that would make it easier in the future.”

Although he’s chosen the freelance route recently, Eki recommends working through an agency as well because you don’t have to waste time looking for jobs and can work when you want and as much as you want.


work desk with a computer and books


The Lifestyle of an Online Translator

Now for my absolute favorite subject… travel! One of the major reasons why people choose to become a translator is so they can work anywhere in the world! Interestingly, at the moment both Justin and Eki are based in Southeast Asia.

Justin explained that he fell in love with Vietnam last year, and loves living there because the cost of living is incredibly low. His rent in Airbnb apartments has averaged to $290/month during his past few months in the country, an amount that he can easily make in just a day and a half of work.

Eki clearly had the same idea and says he enjoys living in Thailand because it allows him to have a stress-free life on his current income (although he is strongly considering heading back to Europe soon). The digital nomad life has allowed both men the freedom to travel extensively after they became translators.

Justin has definitely not let the opportunity go to waste. “I embarked on this SE Asia journey in Jan. 2017, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and got the agency contract a month later. Since then, I’ve visited or stayed in Kuala Lumpur, southern Thailand, Bali, Bangkok, northern and central Vietnam, Siem Reap, and India (Bombay, Pune, Bangalore, Mysore, Hyderabad).”

His favorite travel memory so far was a 12-day cycling tour through Thailand and he strongly recommends the Ha Gong loop in Northern Vietnam to other travelers as well.

Eki also enjoys the international travel that’s been possible since he’s become a translator. “I tend to visit two to three new countries each year, staying for few weeks in each location at a time,” he told me “And I go between Asia and Europe one to two times a year.”


riding bikes in Vietnam


Personal Experience Working as a Translator

Finally, Justin and Eki both finished their interviews with a few comments on their personal experience working as translators.

For Eki, translating started out as a side job that he just sort of fell into because getting the work was easy in 2012. He stayed because he liked the many pros of the job, like location independence, freedom to work as much as you want to increase income, and the decent salary for hours worked (as long as you don’t have expensive taste, he specifies).

However, he does miss the Nordic safety nets that many other Finns enjoy in his home country. Still though, when prompted, Eki confirmed: “Unless machines completely take over, I’ll probably be doing this to my dying day.”

For Justin, his road to translation was similar. Originally he was looking for coding jobs, but fell into translating when we saw the ability to rekindle his use of the Japanese language he studied as a child. I asked if he recommends it to others, which is clearly a bit of a loaded question.

“For introverts who know another language and are genuinely interested in language, it can be a good fit for a while. It also depends on your language and areas of expertise. (The most lucrative fields are legal/patents for Japanese, oil/gas for Russian, etc.) Translation is just as much an art as it is a science, so it is important not to underestimate its challenges.”

To him, one of the biggest pros is the limited need for video conferencing, making it an ideal job for nomads in areas of low internet connectivity. He also feels in-control of his time on a daily basis, which isn’t something most others with a nine-to-five can say. However, one major con that sticks out to him is that “it’s rather hard to make fixed plans or maintain a full schedule of non-work activities, as work can and does come in randomly and require you to suddenly drop everything. To a certain extent, I feel like I’m living sort of “reactively” for now.”

Justin can see himself working and traveling for the next few years, but ultimately becoming a translator was his jumping off point for more and he hopes to use his experience to create mobile and web tools for language learners in the future.


temple in Thailand


Become a Translator with these Insights from the Experts

One of my major goals here at Slight North is to keep the site honest… always. That means interviews like these, which share both the good and the bad or becoming a translator. The work isn’t steady, hours can vary, and moving up is hard. However, it IS a great way to make money while traveling and stay on the road longer, or even indefinitely.

Are you considering taking the leap to become a translator, or have you worked as one in the past? If so, I would love to hear from you in the comments below!


PS still exploring your options? Visit the Working Abroad Series to learn more ways to make money while you travel and find in-depth guide to teaching online ESL classes, working as an au pair, getting a job as a flight attendant, starting a digital marketing business, landing a full-time position teaching in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, breaking into freelance writing, or even working on a yacht!


Check Out These Related Posts!

Slight North

Collect memories, not things. 

What’s it like to work as an Au Pair? One Insider Shares the Details

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 among many other options.


building in the city



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 family 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 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 a more private living space.

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.

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.


European buildings on a rainy day


Getting the Job as an Au Pair

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 his friend is stuck watching the family pets 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!


red and yellow metro car


Lifestyle When You Work as an Au Pair

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 workload doesn’t look too bad, but what 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.


European city from above


Work as an Au Pair: Josh’s Experience

Many people work as an au pair to extend their travels and supplement their language learning. Josh agrees 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 au pair stint 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 the 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.


PS still exploring your options? Visit the Working Abroad Series to learn more ways to make money while you travel and find in-depth guides to teaching ESL online classes, starting a digital marketing business, getting a job as a flight attendant, finding work as a translator, landing a full-time position teaching in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, breaking into freelance writing, or even working on a yacht!

Check Out These Related Posts!

Slight North

Collect memories, not things. 

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!


buildings in Italy


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.


NYC skyline



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 town on the sea


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.”

She also says that the culture is really fun and everyone usually has a great personality. Even better? 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 still exploring your options? Check out the rest of the Working Abroad Series to learn more ways to make money while traveling, like working as a freelance writer, landing a job as an au pair, teaching ESL online classes, finding a position on a yacht, and so much more! 

Check Out These Related Posts!

Slight North

Collect memories, not things. 

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 || || ESL Jobs World || ESL Authority || TeachAway


train and a lake


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.


bike and storefront



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 euros per 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.


european streets



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.


temples and hot air balloons at sunrise

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 company 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.


photography in the city


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 🙂


PS check out the rest of the Working Abroad Series to learn how to start a digital marketing business, get a job teaching in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, become a flight attendant, find work on a yacht, earn a steady income as a freelance writer, and so much more!

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