Make Money While You Travel with tefl247

My life plan went out the window when I dropped my accounting major, and I’m okay with it. I don’t know what I want to do forever, but I know it needs to involve travel: and lots of it. I’ll be graduating from university in less than a year, and my only requirement for a post-grad job is that it is abroad. With that in mind, I set off to become certified in teaching English as a Second Language.

Teaching English is one of the most prominent and successful ways for young people to move abroad with almost no money, which is what I’ll be doing. Tons of bloggers have done it: Amanda @ Living in Another Language, Matt @ Nomadic Matt and Liz @ Young Adventuress come to mind. I’ve been doing a ton of research and talking to a ton of people about my potential job prospects, and I have to say I’m extremely excited to start the application process and find a job overseas in 2016. The possibilities are truly endless with a TEFL certificate! Whether you want to move to Japan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, or France, you’ll likely need a TEFL certificate to find a reputable job unless you have some killer connections. Some of the most popular options are the JET (Japan) and EPIK (Korea) programs, which have a more intensive application process, but the list of benefits is insane. They fly you out there for free, you get a million bonuses, housing is covered – sounds like a dream come true for a poor college student, huh? Who doesn’t want to make money while you travel?

Once I decided that this was what I wanted to do, my next step was to get certified. Most of the options were ludicrously expensive; some courses were over $1000 dollars which was definitely not happening. After fruitless searching, I settled on taking courses as electives at my school and then paying $600 to actually get certified – it wasn’t cheap, but it was all I could find. Then, I stumbled upon tefl247: an up-and-coming TEFL course that certifies you with a 140-hour course for around $100 Canadian. I thought it was too good to be true, but I did some research and asked some questions and realized that this was actually legit.

make money while you travel

With tefl247, you get a fully accredited course for a fraction of the price of most. They can also provide job hunt help if you’re interested, and their creators have a ton of experience with English teaching. Another benefit is that since the company is still small, they respond to any emails or phone calls for help very promptly. You’re given three months to complete your course with tefl247, but I wanted to get it done before I started school again; so I put in lots of hours over Christmas break and finished it in about 3 weeks. The course I took has 10 modules, and you have to get higher than an 85% on a final test. I made to sure to keep detailed notes as I learned; they came in handy and I passed my test on the first try!

If you’re looking to become certified in TEFL, I can’t recommend tefl247 more! The customer service and quality of the course are phenomenal, and you seriously can’t beat the price. Trust me, I tried! If you use this link, you’ll get access to a code that gives you 60% off your course; making the 140-hour option only $99. You can also use the following coupon code: tefl247130.

My 2015 Travel Resolutions

Sure, a lot of people think they’re a waste of time – but I’m a huge fan of making New Year’s Resolutions. Although I rarely get to the end of the year successfully with them, I love goalsetting and I think they’re a great way to keep yourself on track, even just for a month or so. This year, to amuse myself on a plane ride  I made an excessively intricate spreadsheet of my New Year’s Resolutions. If you’d like to see the resolutions I made in the other areas of my life, let me know – but for now, here are my 2015 travel resolutions!

Write down all expenses on my trips

I absolutely love reading people’s budget posts about how much they spent on their trips. I’m hoping to start sharing this kind of content on my blog in 2015! I’ll have to be much more diligent about writing down my expenses while I’m travelling in order to make the posts as detailed as I’d like.

End of 2016 update: nope. just very nope.

Travel for the month of May

As I said in my announcement post, I’m planning to travel for the month of May before starting my job in Milan at the beginning of June! Check out that post to see details on where I want to go. In the next month or so I’ll start to plan a more detailed itinerary and budget for the trip. Travel planning is one of my favourite things so I can’t wait to get started!

Explore at least five regions of Italy

While I’m in Italy for the summer I’ll be doing international weekend trips, but I really want to explore Italy in depth as well! I’ll be living in two different regions and I know I want to make it to Cinque Terre, Rome, Florence and Venice, so there’s a pretty high chance I’ll accomplish this. Maybe I should increase the number!

End of 2015 update: this one was a success!! I visited Lombardy (Milan, Pavia & Lake Como), Liguria (Cinque Terre), Tuscany (Florence, Pisa & Cortona), Umbria (Perugia), Veneto (Venice, Jesolo, Verona), Trentino (Brunico & Lago di Braies) Friuli-Venezia-Giulia (Trieste & Gemona) & Lazio (Rome). That’s eight! However, Rome is the only south-ish one and the rest are way congregated in the north. The abrupt ending of my trip ruined plans that I had to visit Campania, Basilicata, and Apulla. Next time!

Go to Dubrovnik

After the ‘trip’ to Croatia that didn’t end up happening this September, I’ve been desperate to visit this amazing country. As a Game of Thrones addict and lover of walled cities, Dubrovnik is top on my list no matter how many complaints I hear about the crowds! When I’m living in Trieste, which is very close to Croatia, this will be a priority for a weekend trip.

Dubrovnik

End of 2015 update: Success! I visited Dubrovnik with a boy I met in Portugal and it was about a million degrees, and there were about a billion people. I didn’t love it as much as I expected to, but it certainly is beautiful. Post to come.

Visit Prague

For no real reason, Prague is SO high up on my list of must-sees in Europe. I’m in the midst of a book series that’s partially set in Prague, and the books are certainly fueling my desire to get there. There’s something about it’s distinctly Eastern European vibe (I say as if I’ve been there) that draws me in.

End of 2015 update: I visited Prague at the end of January, so this went well indeed! I fell completely in love with Prague despite the fact that literally everything went wrong on that trip

Visit at least seven new countries

My mom read this goal and scoffed at me, but then remembered I’ll be in Europe for four months – the best place in the world for country hopping, in my expert opinion. The list of countries I most want to get to (which incorporates the last two resolutions) includes Italy, Greece, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Morocco and Turkey. I’m hoping to visit more countries than just seven, but I simply must visit these ones!

End of 2015 update: The new countries I visited were the Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Turkey, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Germany, Italy, Vatican City, Slovenia, Switzerland and Croatia. That’s fourteen!!! Not bad at all. I only missed Greece from this list – still tryin to get there.

Make two trips within Canada/the US

Although I love exploring exotic places, I live in such a vast and beautiful country that it would be a shame not to take advantage of domestic trips. The USA is also so incredibly diverse, and I’ve only been to about 5 states so there’s much more to see! The problem is that a flight halfway across the country is pretty much the same price as a flight to Europe. Why oh why can’t we have budget airlines?!

I have a trip to Toronto and Montreal booked over my February break, which I’m excited about. I managed to spend less than $150 on travel costs by cashing in some United mile and taking the train home, so I’m quite proud. My other trip may be to Boston for the Women in Travel Summit at the end of March, but there are so many options. Any suggestions?!

What are your travel resolutions for 2015? Where are you dying to visit?

How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight

While the thought of embarking on an epic journey to the other side of the world fills me with excitement, the thought of sitting in a plane seat for 14 hours fills me with trepidation and dread. Part of the reason I love travel so much is that I feel the constant need to be on the go and doing something: exploring a foreign country fulfills that need. Being on a plane, however, provides hours and hours of forced sitting. If I don’t plan correctly, I will totally spend a whole plane ride fuming and glaring at everyone around me.

Luckily for my fellow passengers and travelling companions, I’ve come up with a few solid ways to survive a long-haul flight. A few of these points were contributed by some other travel-savvy women – if you’d like to connect with like-minded female adventures make sure to check out the Girls vs. Globe Facebook group, created by the lovely Sabina!

Variety

The most important thing for me to bring on a plane ride is a variety of things. My attention span is probably shorter than the attention span of a fruit fly, so if I don’t bring multiple activities I’ll revert to the aforementioned glaring. Especially on a flight that’s 14 hours or longer, I need to bring at least five things to do. I’ll talk about some of my favorites in the next points – just make sure you have enough things to be able to switch it up!
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Puzzle Books

This is a relatively new discovery, and it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you like crosswords, wordsearches or any other kind of puzzle, consider packing a puzzle book for your next big plane trip! I’ve picked them up from the bargain book section at Chapters, and you can also find them wherever you can find magazines. Doing a quick logic puzzle in the midst of a long-haul flight can perk me back up. It somehow reminds me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: eventually, I will get off this plane and I will need to use my brain.

Reading

I have a frightening addiction to reading (there are worse things I could be obsessed with) to the point where I read over 260 books this year. Oops. Quite a large proportion of this reading was done while sitting on trains, in planes, or on buses! If you’re an avid reader, use a long-haul flight to read that book you’ve been meaning to read for ages, or get through a bit more of Game of Thrones. Even if you don’t read much, surely a long-haul flight can convince you to enter the magical world of a book?

Either way, I would definitely suggest reading some chick lit. I love high fantasy and intricate dystopias most of all, but when I’m exhausted, uncomfortable and bored on a long-haul flight, I want to escape to a pretty world of rainbows and romance. On the flight home from China I read (among other things) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and would definitely recommend downloading this for your next flight – who doesn’t want to read about two adorable teenagers falling in love in Paris?!

Sabina also suggests reading books about your destination – rather than perusing a guidebook, immerse yourself in your next trip and get really excited!

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Movies

Most long-haul flights have some pretty sophisticated entertainment systems, which can provide hours of amusement. Richelle sayss she loves to watch a ton of movies & Sabina agrees!

“Long flights are the perfect excuse to catch up on new releases & I don’t feel guilty watching them as there’s little more to do.”
-Sabina Trojanova

On my United flight to China, I watched at least 5 movies – all movies that were just recently in the theater. Why not use the time to watch the hottest new rom-com?

Make New Friends

As an introvert, this option scares me a bit, but it can be well worth it, and my fellow travelers agree! On my 14 hour flight to Beijing I sat next to a man who had made the same trip over 14 times for work, so I obnoxiously quizzed him about every detail of China and the flight. Did he hate me? Probably. Did bothering him help me pass the time? Definitely!

“I chat. Yes, I’m that annoying chatter! I never get off a plane without having made a new friend… I just traveled from Paris to Rome, which is a short flight, but the lady beside me turned out to be from Virginia which is super close to me in South Carolina! We chatted the whole flight. I have an 11 hour flight home tomorrow, so I hope I meet some nice folks to pass the time with.”
-Summer Sondov

Get Inspired

There’s something about a long flight that can be pretty inspiring: take a moment to look out the window and think about how cool it is that you’re 30,000 feet above the ground. I love to do some dreaming and planning on my flights; whether I’m writing a business plan, daydreaming about my big goals, or simply journaling.

How do you survive long-haul flights? I would love to hear your tips!

5 Things I Learned as an Expat – Guest Post

Today’s post comes to you from Valerie, the brilliant writer behind Valerie & Valise. As I’ve never been an expat I don’t have any interesting stories to offer about living in another country – but Valerie certainly does! 

In August of 2012, I moved to London for what I assumed was the indefinite future. I was attending an MBA program based is Central London, with hopes of staying on to find a job in what I will always consider my favorite city. While I’ve since moved back to the U.S., my year living abroad and making friends with fellow expats has taught me a lot about what it means to move long-term or permanently to a new country.

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Everything is Different

Get this: the UK doesn’t really have salad dressing. Who doesn’t have dressing for salad? Instead, they have this weird mayonnaise thing called ‘salad creme.’ Their peanut butter is all wrong, if you can find it all. There are whole sections in the grocery designated for ‘drinkable yogurts.’ You can pay your phone bill by buying a voucher at the corner store. The money doesn’t fit your wallet anymore. Be prepared for this and much more, depending on your destination. It’s best to acknowledge now: your rules and preferences are no longer relevant, and it’s a big adventure to find out what new foods, hobbies, and habits you’re going to enjoy.

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The Important Things are the Same

Human beings are cool: all over the world, we’re basically the same. Most of us crave love and attention and appreciation, we like to connect with one another, with beautiful scenery and architecture, with cute animals, babies, and more. You can be sick with the flu in Rome on Christmas Day (yes, it was literally the worst) and that pharmacist is going to be just as kind as your neighborhood pharmacist back home, even though you can’t speak the same language. While a lot of your assumptions about “how the world works” are challenged by living abroad, there are some things to take great comfort in: we as humans are generally great at taking care of one another, and there is always a community you can find to join.

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There is a Magical Two-Year Wall

I heard this primarily from my long-term expat friends, but apparently there’s a two-year wall for most places you live. After about two years, the differences in the way things work–how your landlord doesn’t have to fix your lights because that’s not a rule, how you can’t consistently get a certain grocery item because it’s not in high demand, how it’s impossible to talk to your parents because of your bad wifi… these things get under your skin, and can turn a beloved destination into a hostile one. This isn’t to say you should leave–just be prepared that you might start to get uncomfortable as you move out of the ‘honeymoon phase’ of living somewhere new.

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You Will Get Homesick

You will miss the place you call home, but not in ways you can currently imagine. Me? I never missed the U.S. so much as when I walked into Subway. Man, that bread smelled just like bread back at the Subway I used to eat at near work in Indianapolis. I ate a lot of Subway, because it made me feel like I was still connected to that home, even as London became my home. At the same time, if you move again in the future, you’ll have homesickness for your expat life too. We humans are definitely creatures of nostalgia!

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Returning to Your Native Country Becomes its Own Adventure

I remember stepping off the plane in Philadelphia for the first time since I had left Denver 13 months earlier. The first thing I noticed were the smells–food in the U.S. has an incredibly strong smell, especially those foods sold in airports including Auntie Annie’s and Burger King. I found that crossing the street felt almost as foreign as it had when I moved to London, since I was now having to retrain my brain which direction to look. The first time I drove a car, I was genuinely worried about remembering which lanes and turn directions were correct–just as I had been when I first drove in the UK.

These lessons are pretty consistent among expats who’ve come home, or who are able to look back after a long enough time as an expat. Living abroad for any length of time that you don’t consider vacation is an incredibly valuable experience. You’ll learn more about the world you inhabit, and more about yourself. You’ll have 20 lessons of your own after the first month!

Giveaway: My Top Travel Essential!

On my recent trip to China, there was one thing I took along that I loved way more than I expected. I now fervently recommend this product to anyone and everyone – a reaction that seems a bit extreme for something as mundane as shampoo and conditioner.

I first saw Lush’s solid shampoo and conditioner on Alex in Wanderland, one of my favourite travel blogs. Alex had an equally ridiculous reaction to these lifechanging products, and her reasons for making the switch totally won me over! I hate lugging around giant bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and my mega-thick hair requires approximately 10 bottles of conditioner per week. (Definitely not an exaggeration). I have also never been on a trip where my shampoo and/or conditioner didn’t explode, coating everything in my cosmetics bag in gooey cream. I’ve also been refocusing on living in a more sustainable way: what better way to start than by cutting out an excess of shampoo and conditioner bottles! Lush itself is an amazing company that I never hesitate to support, so I raced to my local Lush.

My one worry was whether or not these would actually work – my hair is an utter mess if I don’t use nice conditioner. I sure didn’t want to spend ten dollars each on these products if it was just going to mean that I looked like crap in all of my once-in-a-lifetime photos. I decided that if I was so excited about the possibility of them working, it was worth a shot to see if they lived up to their promise! And let me tell you, they did.

The shampoo is just as incredible as promised. You rub it on your head once or twice and it fully lathers up – it works just as well as any shampoo I’ve ever tried! I was a bit more skeptical about the conditioner, since Alex didn’t like it and said a lot of people seemed to agree. While it doesn’t make my hair gorgeously luscious, it works well enough for me, and I had no complaints! Each product is supposed to last for 80-100 washes, which is super impressive. The tins are also super convenient, since once you buy one you can keep it forever and ever. Oddly, my conditioner’s tin is harder to open than my shampoo’s, but I mastered the art after a little while.

One lucky winner of this giveaway will be receiving the same products I own and love – my top travel essential – courtesy of Lush! I reached out to the company to see if they’d like to work with me for this giveaway, and to my shock they said yes within 2 days: yet another reason to love this fantastic company!

First, the Karma Komba Shampoo is described as follows:

“Start your day with good Karma and great hair by washing with our hippy solid shampoo bar. It gently cleans your hair and scents your locks with our signature Karma fragrance. In addition to the groovy mood it leaves you in, essential oils of orange, pine, and patchouli keep your scalp soothed and toned. For those who suffer from knotty hair, the oils in Karma have a beneficial side effect of smoothing hair, allowing you to brush through it without pulling your hair out. Considering that our solid shampoo bars last longer that most relationships, this is very good Karma indeed. Lather up!”

The Jungle Conditioner smells absolutely delectable. You can also use it as a shaving cream: cutting one more botle out of your backpack!

“Tame your mane with our solid fruity conditioner filled with an abundance of fresh fruit and conditioning cocoa butter. LUSH co-founder and inventor Helen Ambrosen was the first person to make a solid conditioner work. She discovered that cocoa butter will slide onto your hair to make it softer, and then dissolve in water to leave it smooth, shiny and de-tangled. Jungle feels rich and hydrating on the hair and leaves you with a fresh, fruity fragrance after washing it off.”

Giveaway closed

Unfortunately this giveaway is only open to my readers in the US and Canada – I’ll get you next time, international readers! Good luck, and let me know if you’ve ever tried solid shampoo! Any other green, travel-friendly product recommendations for me?

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Why I Need to Travel Solo

If you didn’t know yet, in less then a week I’m headed to China for a 12-day solo trip. When I tell people I’m going on my own, some people call me brave and say it sounds cool. However, the vast majority don’t get it – why would I want to travel on my own? Aside from my introversion and tendency to enjoy myself more on my own, there are a few very real lessons I’m hoping to learn from solo travel:

FEAR

I’m scared of everything. Seriously, I know three year olds braver than me. Most of them are. From snakes to the dark to bathrooms (I watched a horror movie), almost everything makes me nervous and I hate how it affects my life. Travelling alone will show me that I’m capable of doing something pretty scary – so why can’t I get over my fear of the dark?? It’s getting pathetic.

 

An update from three years later – guess who conquered my number one fear, water? ME! This is a photo right after scuba diving in Zanzibar.

Getting out of your comfort zone is one of the most therapeutic things you can do, and backpacking China alone at 18 is definitely out of my comfort zone.

VANITY

I like wearing makeup and getting dressed up, but when you feel like you can’t leave the house without undereye concealer that’s a problem! Travelling alone will be the ultimate escape from trying to impress people – there’s literally nobody there that I know.

Why would I wear makeup for a horseback ride around Cappadocia?

Travel also shows you how little how you look matters – walking through an impoverished town makes me regret that $35 face powder more than I already did, and shows me that beauty doesn’t come from the outside.

DEPENDENCE

I’m definitely a very independent person and I hate accepting help from other people, but that doesn’t mean I’m not dependent. I call my mom every time I cook, I don’t clean anything without asking my roommates how to do it, and I Google the rest. I won’t really be able to do any of these things in China, and I’m hoping it’ll force me to learn how to stand on my own two feet.

I can do anything on my own now – including solo photo shoots.

 

PRIVILEGE

I come from a middle class family and parents who have showed me the value of travel, advocated for me to skip grades, and given me everything I could ever need. I like to think I’m very aware of my privilege and what’s going on in the rest of the world, but every time I travel I’m given a stark reminder of how lucky I am.

The worst trip of my life, where everything bad happened – and yet, because I’ve travelled, I can still look back at it as an amazing week.

SHYNESS

One of the most irritating parts of my personality is my inability to open up and start a conversation with a stranger or just generally put myself out there. When I’m in China, I’m fairly certain I’ll need to ask people for help (see above point on dependence), or be thrown into conversations with other backpackers at hostels, encouraging me to break out of my shell and get over my shyness. Maybe this will even translate back home.

Didn’t know any of these people until this day.