In 2016 and 2017 I got the wonderful experience of teaching abroad. I originally planned to continue living and teaching in different countries outside the United States, but my plans have changed. I’m working in my local school district now, but I still want to be able to go to a country and be immersed in their culture, just as a was while I was teaching overseas. So, I decided to use my summers to travel to countries for an extended summer vacation instead of the typical week or so.
The problem is that I’m in education and everybody knows that educators are underpaid. So, I had to figure out how I can travel for an extended period of time, while on teacher’s salary.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned:
1. Research Programs
There are opportunities domestic and abroad to work, volunteer, or learn. During your summer vacation, you can find a 5-6 week job in another location. Usually those jobs are working in some type of summer program. There are also volunteer opportunities that allow you to give back to a cause you are passionate about. If you like to use the time to expand your mind, there are programs that help you learn while you travel. If you want to travel to another country, consider signing up for a program that teaches you the native language as well as gives you opportunities to explore the country.
2. See if you can find a program that includes accommodation and meals.
If you choose to be a part of a program while you travel, I strongly consider programs whose costs include accommodations and meals. If you want to travel for an extended time, luxury hotels are going to get very expensive. When accommodations are included, it’s usually a homestay or a place where others in the program are staying also. Choosing a homestay allows you to be fully immersed in the culture and experience life as a local. It also gives you the opportunity to eat authentic meals and practice the language.
3. Determine what you need a tour guide for and what you can do on your own.
While most places offer tours of their popular places, you can always do a little research and go on your own. I do a mixture of both. If the place is far away or difficult to get to, I typically sign up for a tour. I am NOT trying to get lost while abroad. If the place is in a common location, I’ll go by myself. I don’t need someone to hold my hand across the street.
4. Research typical prices to ensure you aren’t getting taken advantage of.
Before traveling, research what the typical cost of some of the activities you’d like to do. You don’t want to be a victim of overpaying for something just because you didn’t know the typical cost.
5. Get away from touristy spots, but stay in areas that are typically safe.
Most things in the tourist spots cost more. Again, do your research on any area before venturing off, but it’s ok to get away and explore other areas. Everything in those locations are geared towards making a profit. The food, the souvenirs, everything. They know you’re on vacation and assume you have money to spend.
I do a lot of research before I travel. I’m pretty brave and adventurous, but I can’t just get on a plane and figure it out when I get there, nor can I afford to do that. Researching and planning your vacation can help you turn your summers into adventures without breaking the bank.