How To Fund Your Travels With Creativity

How To Fund Your Travels With Creativity

By |2016-10-01T23:47:12-04:00April 3rd, 2010|Thailand, Travel Tips & Advice, Work & Travel|147 Comments

How To Fund Your Travels

“I want to travel right now, but I don’t have any money saved. I think I’ll have to wait a couple of years before I can leave.”

The above situation is one that many people email me about, people who know that they are afflicted with the travel bug, but who feel the need to put that desire to explore this groovy world in the closet for now due to the balance (or lack of) in their bank account.

At first, I was going to write a lengthy introduction detailing my thoughts on a lack of money being a completely invalid excuse for not following one’s desire to travel. But then I realized that I could sum it all up in one sentence. Here it is:

When someone says they are unable to travel because of insufficient funds, they are actually stating, “I am unable to travel because I am not yet aware of all the opportunities out there that will allow me to accomplish my goals.

Of course, if you are $29,000 in debt, the situation becomes a little more difficult. However, the point is that you don’t have to wait until you have $29,000 in your bank account either.

And while there are literally dozens of options that will allow you to fund your travels and explore the world while earning money, I am going to focus on one option here. It’s an option that doesn’t require much planning at all, doesn’t require any experience and can be put into action almost immediately. In fact, if you’re reading this post on Saturday, you could be earning money in a foreign land by Monday. Actually, let’s say Tuesday just to give you an extra day to get over the jet lag.


It’s all about teaching English.


Let me re-phrase. What I am actually referring to is “Creative English Teaching”.

This form of teaching English overseas does not require a degree, nor a teaching certificate. It doesn’t require previous teaching experience either. Heck, you don’t even need teaching materials or even a classroom. All you need is YOU, a sprinkle of creativity and a desire to interact with people of a different culture.

When a good friend of mine and I decided to rest our tired legs during a trip to Southeast Asia a few years back, we were looking for two things. First, we wanted to find a location where we would enjoy living for at least six months and secondly, we wanted to find a way to earn some money.

For us, the decision was quite easy as we chose what had been one of our favorite stops during our two months of traveling – Chiang Mai, a mid-sized city in northern Thailand.


On our second day after arriving back in Chiang Mai we set out in search of work, thinking that our best bet would involve teaching English. The first thing we did was decide not to visit the dozens of established language schools scattered around the city, as we assumed they wouldn’t be interested in hiring two backpackers without any credentials to teach English to their students. Instead, we simply went over to the DK Book Store and bought twenty pieces of white paper and a black marker.

After creating twenty hand-written signs that read “Want to learn English from two Native English Speakers? First class free. Call us today!”, we took a taxi to the 25,000-student Chiang Mai University and posted the signs all over the dormitories and student union center.

And then we waited.

Amazingly, at 10am the following morning, the phone rang in our apartment and after a very brief conversation, we had our first student. After two more days, we ended up with over 20 students signed up for our classes, something that was, truthfully, quite unexpected and which forced us to get creative rather quickly.

We didn’t exactly have a classroom at our disposal, so we decided to hold our classes outside in the grassy common areas of the university. And upon realizing that we didn’t have any books or study materials, we decided to focus our classes strictly on conversational practice. Without any clue whatsoever about how to teach, we just winged it and acted as if we had been doing it for years. Luckily, the students proved so overly-eager to learn that they showed up to every class with a long list of questions to ask. By the time we finished answering them, the two-hour sessions were over and we didn’t have to rely on the ridiculous lesson plans that we had haphazardly put together.

Before we knew it, we were holding several classes per week with more and more students signing up almost every day. And that was that. We had organized and launched a successful English teaching operation in a matter of a few days.


Did we earn a fortune? Of course not. We actually charged our students a mere 100 Baht (approximately $3 USD per hour), but we earned enough income to live a comfortable life in beautiful Chiang Mai, one that included a decent apartment with mountain views and rarely having to watch what we spent. Had I been more motivated, I could have scheduled three classes per day, five days per week, and earned enough to accumulate a decent amount of savings as well.

For those that might think teaching English is not the kind of work you’d be interested in, let me point out that what I just described above could hardly be considered work! Spending a few hours a day sitting in a park, interacting with and creating friendships with the kindest, most respectful students imaginable, taking field trips to waterfalls, caves and Buddhist temples and learning about life in Thailand in a setting far from any tourist path, was more along the lines of a deep and rewarding cultural interaction than a dull work experience.

As a result, it’s a perfect way to jump-start your travels, live overseas, meet new friends, learn a new language, eat endless plates of pad thai (this yummy noodle dish can also help you start traveling sooner than you think is possible) AND earn as much money as you are motivated to earn.

And, and, and…Thailand is not the only place where you can fund your travels like this. If you’re dreaming of travel right this very moment but think you don’t have the money to do so, consider this: As long as you speak a decent amount of English, you could move to Vietnam, Czech Republic, Mexico, Bulgaria, Bolivia or Jordan (or dozens of others) tomorrow, and in most cases, with a little creativity, set up your own creative English teaching operation by the end of your first week.

Have you experimented with teaching English overseas or thought about doing so?

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  1. Rishi Dabrai September 30, 2016 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    It was great to learn about how you managed to teach the students English. I was thinking of travelling to Cambodia and Laos. Wanted to check with you if you I think I would be able to teach English there( being a native English speaker myself), without having a teaching job before I get there?

    Further, also wanted to check if u think I could use my tennis skills to help people with tennis in these places.

    Thanks in advance

    • Derek October 1, 2016 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Hey Rishi – Everything is possible. You don’t need to have a job before you go and can look around once you get there for sure. And as for your tennis skills…if you right the right audience for it, and market yourself properly, why not?

  2. […] out Dave’s ESL cafe for English teaching, or read Earl’s technique for “Creative English Teaching” (which could be used for teaching anything, […]

  3. […] something. Worst case scenario you can go legit and teach English overseas, or be a grifter like Earl and teach people under the […]

  4. Isaac Hanson April 6, 2016 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl,
    I was recently offered a job teaching English in Thailand at a place called Open Book Teachers. I can’t find anything on the internet about them besides their own website. Have you by chance ever heard of this place or know if they are legit/know if this could possibly be some kind of a scam? (they didn’t ask for any money, credit card number,etc)

    • Wandering Earl April 15, 2016 at 3:54 pm - Reply

      Hey Isaac – I haven’t heard of them but there are plenty of small organizations that might not have an online presence. But I would probably go there and check them out in person before signing anything or paying anything to them if they ask.

  5. […] friend of mine and I came up with the idea of teaching private English language classes (using some unique methods) in the city of Chiang Mai. And this endeavor worked out very well, earning me enough money to […]

  6. Jeffrey Aubin April 12, 2015 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl !

    Do you think a lot of people would be interested to learn French ? It is my native language and I believe it would be a better option for me !

    • Wandering Earl April 13, 2015 at 3:16 am - Reply

      Hey Jeffrey – Absolutely. I’ve met people teaching all kinds of languages as they travel. It’s not as if you need 500 students to make it work and there are always a few people everywhere interested in learning a variety of languages for whatever reason!

    • Anup December 7, 2018 at 6:24 am - Reply

      Hey Jeff, come to India, Kerala particularly, you can find so many people interested in learning French,Spanish, Latin or yeah whatever. People here are more eager to get to know the basics. Any yeah i can be your first student as well. 🙂

  7. […] can do as Wandering Earl and a friend did as he set his feet in Asia, with no experience or TEFL course whatsoever, did a little creative […]

  8. […] Taught English in Chiang Mai, Thailand, earning approximately $150 USD per week (more than enough to live well in this city at the time) […]

  9. Deepanshu January 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Do you think students will show this kind of enthusiasm for a non native speaker?

  10. Joseph November 19, 2014 at 12:44 am - Reply

    Earl, How do you avoid getting in trouble with countries in regards to a work permit? From other government sources I’ve read about certain countries, any type of work is prohibited, even volunteer work, and those guilty could serve jail time. Every time I look at the actual laws, they always seem to me more prohibitive of becoming a longterm backpacker than money. Each country has so many rules for visitors!

    • Gunner January 12, 2015 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      How did you teach them english if you dont know there launguage. Did the other traveller know? Please explain how they understood you.

      • Wandering Earl January 13, 2015 at 1:36 pm - Reply

        Hey Gunner – We spoke only English and the people I taught were university students who already knew a good amount of English from their studies.

    • MeNZ May 27, 2015 at 5:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Earl,

      I was wondering about this as well. Mind to explain further?

  11. mike August 19, 2014 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Earl this sounds like a really, and I mean really great idea for anyone who speaks the certain language they are teaching. Also I would do this myself yet I have a thick accent even though I am a native English speaker. My concern is how would I go about teaching English with my thick accent?

    • Wandering Earl August 19, 2014 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      Hey Mike – I think you won’t find it to be too much of a challenge as you’ll have to speak quite slowly when teaching and it probably won’t take too much effort to make sure that your students understand. It’s hard to say overall of course but I imagine you’d figure it out!

  12. Jake June 18, 2014 at 8:56 am - Reply

    This is a really good idea, just a bit concerned about not paying taxes for these countries?

  13. Matt May 4, 2014 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl!
    I just wanted to respond and say “Thank you” for sharing this excellent post! I’ll be jetting off to Europe for a few months and I was considering this idea for extending my travels. I was just wondering: what would the time commitment be for this? Would it be best to find an apartment beforehand and stay for a few months? Or could I just teach for a few weeks, crash in a hostel, get the cash and move on?

    • Wandering Earl May 5, 2014 at 1:27 pm - Reply

      Hey Matt – Chances are that if you get students to sign up, they will want more than just a couple of weeks. They will usually be looking for a longer-term tutor so you would want to commit to a few months at least I’d say. Otherwise it’s not really worth their time or money to sign up for classes that won’t last too long.

  14. tim cordial April 26, 2014 at 1:44 am - Reply

    HI… I have noticed a lot of teaching jobs overseas, for the past two years it seems like i cant make it by ten minutes without catching my mind wandering about all of the great opportunities overseas… I did have a question about being able to possibly teach. I am 28 years old.. I’ve completed 56 college units, two classes shy from getting a AA degree. I have spend 6 years in the U.S. army and have had a chance to travel to some pretty cool places……. i/e Germany, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, mexico, Kuwait, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan. I’m wanting to venture off the beaten path now…. before it was always about taking a vacation to one or two places at a time before coming back home to the states. My biggest question and worry is being able to obtain work visas as to travel for a continuous amount of time. I dont have any set time frame, i figured i would just know when and if i ever wanted to return to the states or settle abroad. Could i get by finding work here and there without proper work visas or is it something i should definitely have dedicated time set aside to obtain these permits/visas; another worry is if i do have to worry about obtaining work visas it seems that it could become expensive and time consuming, i wouldnt want to find myself out of money and waiting for paperwork to be processed . I am healthy, and have construction experience/heavy equipment operator/roofing as well as landscaping and then experience with odd jobs including warehousing and last but not least my military experiencing. I’m only going to be able to start with about a 5,000 usd budget. I’m going to sell my car, worth a minimum 2,500 to purchase my first one way flight. Could you please recommend a good starting point? A country where i could for lack of a better phrase “get my feet wet”. Thank you …. -tim

    • Wandering Earl April 30, 2014 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Hey Tim – The thing is, you generally can’t get a work visa for a particular country unless you are hired for a particular job first. Countries don’t hand out work visas to travelers who just want to try and find work when they arrive. So if you look online, get hired for a position in a different country, that company or organization will help you obtain the necessary work permit so that you can legally work there.

  15. From Dreamer To Traveler April 22, 2014 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    […] there is always a way. I have seen countless examples of people doing whatever it takes to succeed. Earl from once taught English in Thailand with no formal training to get by and travel just a bit longer. […]

  16. Marijke March 24, 2014 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    I really like this idea! I’m not a native English speaker, but I speak it almost as well as I speak Dutch (yes, I’m from the Netherlands). Can I still do this teaching thing? (since no one is interested in learning Dutch haha ^.^)

    • Wandering Earl March 25, 2014 at 4:03 am - Reply

      Hey Marijke – I know non-native English speakers who have managed to successfully teach English with this method, so it is definitely possible.

  17. […] enough to hire anyone with any decent knowledge of English. Or you could be a genius and do what Earl did when he was low on dough. He made his own language school overnight! What a […]

  18. john January 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    i like how you ask people questions at the end of each article it helps them get more out of the article i think sorta like some school books do

  19. Nick January 15, 2014 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Would you say the less developed and more impoverished the country is, the easier it is to get away with this? Also how would you transfer it into savings if it’s basically illegal money? Have you any information about doing this in Brazil or other countries in Latin America?

    • Wandering Earl January 16, 2014 at 4:57 am - Reply

      Hey Nick – Generally speaking, I’d say yes, but at the same time, I know people doing this in Spain, Italy, Argentina and more, so it is possible in many parts of the world. As for the money, chances are you won’t make a fortune so the money you’d earn would go towards your living/travel expenses. This is not a method to earning a ton of money so I doubt you’ll be left with an amount worth sending to your savings.

  20. Vagabond Tim November 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl,

    I was happy to see someone actually put what I considered to be a crazy idea into practice. I was even more thrilled to discover that it worked 🙂

    I do have one question though, what if any advice do you have for navigating the ‘work visa’ problem, do you simply not tell the local governments about this and run around on tourist visas?
    Another related question is do you generally move on after 90 days or so from each location or is there some other way to remain longer without complications from extending ones visa?

    • Wandering Earl November 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm - Reply

      Hey Tim – In relation to the teaching that I did in Thailand, I did not get a work visa. I just stayed on a tourist visa, kept quite low-key and got away with it. Some countries it’s easier to do than in others though as some are quite strict.

      As for the 90 days, every country is different. Some countries allow you to stay for more than 90 days, others for less. Some countries allow you to easily get a visa extension, other countries allow you to cross into a neighboring country for a day, then return and get a new 90 day visa. The rules are different everywhere so it really does depend on where you’re headed.

  21. Craig November 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Can you get around in all the countries you’ve mentioned on your blog without speaking much of their language? Did you have a LOT of trouble? Thanks!

    • Wandering Earl November 12, 2013 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      Hey Craig – I’ve never had trouble with language, mainly because English is widely spoken these days, I try to learn at least the basics of the local language and when that doesn’t work, hand gestures and body language work just fine!

  22. […] there is always a way. I have seen countless examples of people doing whatever it takes to succeed. Earl from once taught English in Thailand with no formal training to get by and travel just a bit longer. […]

  23. Shannon November 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Are there any specific reliable places/companies you recommend to contact in order to teach? I’ve always wanted to teach abroad, but unsure of the proper contacts/sources.

    • Wandering Earl November 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm - Reply

      Hey Shannon – The thing is, I would go directly to schools and language institutes and not use a global placement company. And there are thousands of such schools all over the world….just have a look at and you’ll see just how many there are. The key is to contact the schools, talk to current teachers in order to find out exactly what the teaching environment is like, and to find out as much information about a school as you can before signing any contract. You just don’t want to accept a job, fly half way around the world and find out it was not what you had expected at all.

  24. michael donato October 30, 2013 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    hey Earl, me and my fiance are about to do a long travel trip (we both quit our high paying corporate jobs to adopt a new way of life, we thought it would be best now due to our young age of 25) and i have a question as i am very interested in teaching enlish. What kind of lesson plans did you use? Draw a picture of an item and say it in english? By the way i love the website, ill try to donate soon to help keep you going on your wonderful journey.

    • Wandering Earl November 1, 2013 at 2:29 am - Reply

      Hey Michael – I didn’t use any lesson plans actually. I simply asked the students what they wanted to learn and since this was just conversational english classes, they would just bring up different scenarios that they wanted to know how to talk about properly.

  25. Sebastian October 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    Do you have any information or idea about teaching in European countries such as Italy? I was researching working under the table as you did and apparently there’s a lot of risk involved with the possibility of penalties such as being “fined, imprisoned and/or a banned from re-entering italy (or any other Schengen country) “. I’d love to this in Italy but as I’m sure you’d imagine, I’d rather not be imprisoned in a foreign country.

    – Thanks!

    • Wandering Earl October 30, 2013 at 7:11 am - Reply

      Hey Sebastian – There are always risks no matter where you do it but the main thing is obviously to keep it all low-key. I do know people who have taught informally in Spain, Portugal, France and Italy without any problems but they relied on word-of-mouth and didn’t go around advertising their services too openly. And then they simply taught/tutored in their apartment or at other people’s homes.

  26. sarah October 1, 2013 at 10:13 am - Reply

    How did you teach without knowing their language? Or did you?
    Or did you point/draw/ and just figure it out together?

    • Wandering Earl October 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      Hey Sarah – You don’t need to know the local language because you will almost always be teaching students who already have a grasp of English. And most language schools don’t allow students or teachers to speak the local language while in the school. Everything has to be in English because this helps the students learn much more quickly.

  27. Hunter August 13, 2013 at 11:34 am - Reply

    How would you go about teaching students who speak a different language if the only language you know is English? Would you have to learn their language first so you can sort of translate and relay the information?

    • Wandering Earl August 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      Hey Hunter – Not at all. Usually, when you teach a foreign language, you are teaching students who already know the basics of that language. So you don’t need to know the local language in order to teach.

  28. Daniel August 7, 2013 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Wow, very nice idea.. but.. what about a non native english speaker like me? hahaha,
    I speak english, but it’s no expert and my accent in terrible 😀
    my native language is spanish and there is not so much people interested in learning it

    • Wandering Earl August 12, 2013 at 3:24 am - Reply

      Hey Daniel – You can definitely do the same thing with your own language. What do you mean there is not so much people interested in learning it? What is that based on?

      here are people in every country who want to learn Spanish, and French, German, Italian…any language for the most part! You don’t need 100 people, you just need a few people to sign up and there are definitely a few people in just about every major city and town who wants to learn Spanish.

  29. […] Earl’s guide to fund your trips with Creativity […]

  30. Allie June 20, 2013 at 2:17 am - Reply

    One of my aunt’s friends taught English in South Korea on a theater degree and she got paid loads more than you. She also had to adhere to a classroom setting though and had a contract that meant she couldn’t actually go anywhere for a year. She loved Seoul and is one of the people gladly willing to hook me up with jobs and lodgings.

    • Wandering Earl June 20, 2013 at 8:45 am - Reply

      Hey Allie – Yes, working in a country such as South Korea or Japan, and working for a language school as well, does typically pay more. But the restrictions are not for everyone and it’s much more work involved!

  31. Michael Scott April 17, 2013 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    Hello I would really like to get to talk to you. I know so many people want to I am sure. If you can email me and we will skype.I am a fellow traveller to.

    If you do not have time that is cool too.

    Best regards,


  32. Kimmy @ AfterGlobe March 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    I love this idea! I also love not having to spend the $$$ all the sites I go to on-line say that I need to pay to become certified. I will for sure be borrowing this idea from you while traveling.

  33. David March 11, 2013 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    When you where teaching English to those college students, did you know how to speak Thai or did the students know some English?

    • Wandering Earl March 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      Hey David – Nope. You don’t need to know the local language because students already know some English usually and if you work at a language school, they will require the students and teachers to speak English at all times so that the students learn faster. The local language is not needed to teach.

  34. Jocelyn Iris February 2, 2013 at 2:24 am - Reply

    I’m interested in travelling but I want to travel to English speaking countries & getting a job & paying living expenses is much harder. It’s only easy to find a job that pays enough to live on with no qualifications in Canada or England, for example. Is there a different way to travel these places without savings or working full-time?

    • Wandering Earl February 5, 2013 at 10:49 am - Reply

      Hey Jocelyn – Given that there are really only a handful of English speaking countries, it is more difficult to find work there. However, you could always try a working holiday visa for Australia or New Zealand. Such visas allow you to work in any job and you can stay in each country for up to a year.

  35. Emmanuel February 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl !!!
    Thanks a loooot for this post, it really inspired me so much that i read every single comment and answer following it. I’m struggling to finish my studies in English, but i can’t wait to go out there and explore the planet!! so imagine my surprise and happiness when i read that an authority in travelling like you claimed that teaching English is an easy way to make a living!
    My idea is to travel to the Titicaca lake and then carry on to Macchu Picchu, in Peru (i’m in northern Argentina so these destinations are relatively near).
    As I’m writing and telling you about my plans, a cousin phoned and encorouged me to do the travel together by motorbike! I don’t have money to afford the bike or the travel, and I know nothing about bike maintenance, but nothing happens by random, doesn’t it? Everything has a reason, so finding your blog in the right moment with the right words, meeting new people on facebook interested in the same topics than me, and even receiving a call with a perfect timing to talk about travelling in the very moment I’m writing about travelling are kind of confirmations from God telling me that I’m in the right direction.
    Titicaca and Macchu Picchu are only the beginning. I also want to visit other continents and definitely want to live the experience of working for a cruise line. I still don’t have a clear vision about how to raise money for the motorbike and the journey, but I know what I want and that’s a start. You injected me hope, enthusiasm and faith through your words. That’s much more than what I expected to have today. Thank you!

  36. Adam Finan January 24, 2013 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    I am a long time reader, first time poster. I love your blog website. From the beach hut in Goa to teaching in Thailand, I say well done you are living the dream of most and an inspiration.

    I currently moved to New Zealand after 3 years working in Australia in a way to serious job for a 26 year old free spirit who has been bitten by the travel bug.

    I am from Ireland and have been travelling about 5 years now.

    I have hole heartily based my next move to Mexico based on your reviews and look forward to moving there to work on my Squidoo pages, eBooks and blog.

    I left Ireland with -$16,000 in my bank account, a flight to Australia and a job packing plants into pots in the baking heat for 10 hours a day.

    3 years later I am debt free, living in Queenstown, New Zealand and have been to Thailand, Ireland & Indonesia on holidays since I left in 2009.

    I am grateful for the time and effort it must have taken for you to become as established in the travel world and if I was in Turkey, I would definatly be going on your ‘I Love Turkey Tour’..

    Anyway, just giving you my two cents on why money is not an excuse not to travel. I done it, and I know lads who landed in Australia with $50, slept on my couch for a few months and are now set up and loving life.

    On the note of teaching english, big respect to what you done!
    I have looked into doing a TEFL and even started an online one, but to be honest, I find it quite useless doing TEFL online courses. I need interaction. Your enthusiasm and energy is what made it work for you and self belief also. You don’t need to be in an International school to make it. A bit of common sense, some research and native english skills should do the trick.

    All the best with your travels

    Adam Finan

    • Wandering Earl January 30, 2013 at 4:14 am - Reply

      Hey Adam – Thank you for sharing your tale and it’s such a good example of how this life is possible. And as you know, I absolutely agree about money not really being a major obstacle. As long as you can get to your first destination, the possibilities are endless!

  37. Adrian January 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl,
    thanks for your article and the way which you are going through.

    I would like to get more details about level which you should represent to teach English other nationalities. To give you more information:
    I am going to go to Peru in October to give volunteer. In the free time I think to give language lessons, but I am not native-speaker. Also I am not perfect-conversation-mate. Do you think is that possible to teach younger children, any basic skills and that can provide me enough money to survive?

    Thank you for your response in advance.
    Good luck,

    • Wandering Earl January 24, 2013 at 4:16 am - Reply

      Hey Adrian – You’ll probably have a better chance teaching university students who already know some English and just want someone they can converse with and ask some questions to. That would be a good option I would think.

  38. kathy January 12, 2013 at 11:47 am - Reply

    I taught English, very creatively usually driving my principle up the wall by not following the rules (but the parents loved me and I had the best students so she couldn’t argue with my techniques), in Seoul Korea from 2001 to 2004. I always wanted to do something like this but never thought I would get the chance, then after graduating Uni and without any job options I applied, had an interview and 2wks later was in Seoul. I went for 11mths and 3yrs later my mum asked if I was going to consider using the natural resources degree I had earned. I loved living in Seoul and loved teaching, but after 3+ yrs it was time for more adventures. And now I always have a back up to fall on.

  39. […] change and as a result, I’ve had to make adjustments accordingly. There was a stage when teaching English worked perfectly for me, when working on board cruise ships was ideal, when I just wanted to […]

  40. steve November 12, 2012 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl, a very inspiring story. I’d love to give it (or another creative idea) a try. Were you not afraid of getting in trouble (deported / fined / jailed) for not having a work permit or teaching license?

    What do you mean by “keep it low-key” in your comment above? Isn’t posting flyers all around a school somewhat high visibility by design?

    • Wandering Earl November 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      Hey Steve – I wasn’t afraid as my operation was quite simple and nothing that brought attention to myself. And posting flyers around a university is quite low-key as I just meant that you don’t want to tell everyone you meet that you are teaching classes or working illegally. If you don’t talk about it, nobody suspects anything and nobody bothers you about it. In general it is those who start telling others about what they’re up to that eventually get caught.

  41. Micah November 9, 2012 at 12:42 am - Reply

    Genius post! I’m actually headed for Bangkok this coming Monday, the 12th. I’m 19 year young and living with my parents, however, after dropping out of college last year, and quitting my job, my parents are not like any decision I make. They told me that if I left for Thailand and I wanted a home to stay, I would have to pay rent, phone, and car, and also go back to school and work for someone. That might be there “American” life, but it’s not for me. Thus, I must find a way to make money on the run.

    I bought a passport and have around $1,500 to work with. I’m only taking a backpack, so this is very new for me. My question is, being that I’m 19, do you think I could take this opportunity to use in Thailand? If I could somehow find an accommodation and start a travel blog as yourself, THAT WOULD BE MY DREAM COME TRUE! I’m a little nervous/scared, for living with my family in the states is all I’ve ever known. However, if one can do it, anyone can do it (: Thanks for the inspiration! Any response would be greatly appreciated


    • Earl November 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Hey Micah – Thank you for the comment and you’re right, if one can make it happen, anyone can make it happen. Will it be a challenge? Yes. But again, it is possible so stay focused and don’t give up on your goal. You should be able to use the method above to teach in Thailand and as for creating a blog, as long as you are willing to work hard, a blog is always an option. It takes months, if not years, to create a blog that earns even a little bit of money but everyone has to start somewhere and if you do reach your goals eventually, the difficult journey will have proven to be well worth it!

  42. […] read a particularly dangerous blog post by from, which recently made it to Time’s 25 best blogs of 2012. Earl, the […]

  43. Laura October 7, 2012 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    But is it legal to just start teaching on your own, on a tourist visa?

    • Earl October 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      Hey Laura – Technically it’s not allowed on a tourist visa although it is quite common in many countries. And as long as you keep it quite low-key then the chances of any problems are very slim.

  44. Nomadic Translator @latinAbroad October 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Prof. Earl, I just have one more question:

    How the HECK did I not think of this before?!

    • Earl October 6, 2012 at 4:50 am - Reply

      @latinAbroad – Not sure, but you better get out there and create something similar soon!

  45. Daniela September 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    So glad I found this page on my search, and I appreciate you posting a few blogs about female travelers going solo around the world.
    I’m currently feeling my life is about to hit a turning point and I’m working on being fluent on my 3rd language. My call to travel has gotten stronger, so … maybe it’s time!

  46. Will August 3, 2012 at 9:51 am - Reply

    People without the experience just do not realise how easy it is to survive on very little. In Thailand I got a job promoting for a restaurant on Koh Phi Phi island. It was only about 300 bhat a day but it meant I could pay off my accommodation and he even chucked free meals in out of kindness. This meant I could stay on the island for a month during high season and only spend about £60/$93. Similarly in New Zealand I used my work visa to extend my stay up north in the bay of islands by working a week or two on the production line of an oyster factory! It easily paid of accommodation and food and put some extra in my back pocket along the way.

    • Earl August 7, 2012 at 9:08 am - Reply

      Hey Will – That is an excellent example of how to make traveling even more possible. You just have to think outside the box, make some connections and find creative ways to earn some money. Seems like you managed to do quite well as I don’t know many people who would turn down a month on a Thai island for $93!

  47. Neville Solomon June 20, 2012 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Don’t you have to know THEIR language first in order to be able to teach them yours? So you can translate what they’re saying?

    • Earl June 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm - Reply

      Hey Neville – You don’t have to know the local language at all because you will almost always be teaching students who already speak some English. And usually the rules of the school require students to only speak English so that they will learn faster. If this were not the case there certainly wouldn’t be so many foreigners teaching English around the world 🙂

  48. Ian Robinson June 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    I’ll be taking advantage of this one day. This would make a fantastic blog post too. If you had video taped the whole process and taken pictures. That would be a killer show to watch….

    • Earl June 19, 2012 at 7:34 am - Reply

      Hey Ian – Perhaps I can use the photos/video documentation for other helpful travel/income ideas I plan to write about in the future.

      • Ian Robinson June 19, 2012 at 11:28 am - Reply

        Yeah mate, I’d be keen to learn about it. If you find yourself in the Philippines in the next 12 months, give me a shout and I’ll organize and adventure. 🙂

  49. Amit Sonawane May 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    This is some great insight. I am planning to leave for Chile in August and teach English to survive. If you have any experience in the region or know any tips then I’d appreciate it. Looking forward to hanging out here more often 🙂


    • Earl May 31, 2012 at 9:26 am - Reply

      Hey Amit – That seems like quite a good adventure ahead of you! I’ve been to Chile once before but it was a long time ago so I don’t think I have many current tips to share. I did love my visit there though.

      And I shall look forward to communicating with you some more here on the blog. I’ll be curious to see how your South America experience turns out! I’m confident it will be amazing of course 🙂

  50. Katrina April 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl!!
    I was just wondering… Do you ever miss your roots? Do you stay in contact with original friends before you left… Or family… How do you form real attatchments to people when you cannot stay long… Do you ever feel lonely or is your communication with the every-changing world around you enough…
    Thankyou! Your website is inspirational

    • Earl April 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      Hey Katrina – I actually do stay in touch with a lot of people from home, both family and friends. I generally return to the US twice per year for a few weeks in order to visit everyone and then my family and friends tend to visit me somewhere in the world once or twice per year as well. This, combined with Skype calls and email, allows me to stay quite close to everyone.

      And I don’t feel lonely while traveling either, mainly because there are so many people to meet everywhere I go. And these days, I usually know a few people in most of the destinations I visit so I am rarely far away from friends!

  51. cristina @thetravolution April 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    I have been putting off the idea to teach abroad for about 3 years now. I feel like now is the time, I need to do this! Thanks for writing this Earl and giving me that bit of extra push 🙂

    • Earl April 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      Hey Cristina – You just have to go for it and once you get started, you’ll be mighty glad you did!

  52. Rica March 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl! In your opinion, what are the chances of a non-native speaker teaching English in SEA? I’m a Filipino and I want to explore the option of teaching English without a certificate in Vietnam someday. Inspiring post, as always 🙂

    • Earl March 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      Hey Rica – It really depends, although it is harder to find a teaching job for those who are not native speakers. I certainly know of people who have landed such jobs but it can be tough to convince a school to hire you. I would check out a website such as, which lists hundreds of job openings for teachers. You could contact some of the listings and see what they have to say…and hopefully you will get some positive news!

  53. […] Earl Baron, a perennial nomad and world traveler, created a straightforward but clever business selling English lessons in […]

  54. david November 28, 2011 at 11:43 am - Reply

    I have a few questions. I’m currently in China (Qingdao) teaching English. It’s been about five months and I’m bored. I want to move around. How much money (rmb) did you collectively start with to get your housing taken care of and food until you got your independent work off the ground? Did you have another job to subsidize your living costs? How did you get your visa situation worked out? Did you just head out with some savings and try to make money afterwards? If you had a job to begin with when (if you did) did you abandon your “job”?

    • Earl November 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm - Reply

      Hey David – I actually just began my travels with $1500 in my bank account and no plan to travel for so long. Once I decided I wanted to travel indefinitely, I started teaching English in Thailand, earning just enough to pay rent in a good apartment and enjoy myself over there until I figured out a new plan. My next step involved working on board cruise ships as a Tour Manager, something I did on and off over a period of 8 years. And once I decided to leave ships behind for good, I began working on my online projects and businesses.

      I did not have a job to begin with as, after graduation, I worked as a substitute teacher for a few months and then began traveling. And in terms of visas, when I taught in Thailand, I was simply there on a tourist visa that I renewed every 30 days by crossing into Myanmar for lunch and then crossing back into Thailand 🙂

  55. Kat November 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    P.s… Its amazing how you have picked up languages along the way, I would LOVE to speak another language besides english but have always thought it would be wayyy to difficult for me personally

  56. Kat November 20, 2011 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    Wow! Firstly I would just like to say that what you are doing here is so self-less and inspirational! So thankyou for all of your help 🙂 you seem like a really decent open-minded experienced person and its so refreshing to see you using your knowledge to empower others!
    I am 20 years old and have a-levels behind me, but have decided to travel next year rather than go to university which I can do at any point in my life…
    At the moment Im working full-time trying to save some money, with all other expenses aside Ive worked out that I will probally have about 1 & 1/2 to 2 thousand saved up by the time Im ready to up and leave. I have the right mind set to do this, its a dream waiting to happen! Amongst other things I have much strength and creativity which you have highlighted the importance of. I also have hope and faith, there is so much I want to acheive including a novel which will take years but gotta start somehwhere?! I think teaching english is an amazing idea. Everything you have written has related to me. I understand that travel is not all about money but using the resources around you to the maximum, grabbing every opportunity with both hands and appreciating whatever positivity comes your way.
    I beleive I can do this… But Earl there are a couple of things which make the beginning of this journey very un-clear for me…A bit blurry…
    Where the hell do I start! The problem with me is that my weaknesses are geography/history/numbers & figures etc… I meen geography is my worsttt subject a couple of years back I thought liverpool was a country lol! How would I know where to head off to first or the expense of living in different places, I dont understand exchange rates, its all alien to me 🙁 The world awaits me, its calling my name…It fascinates me but I am clueless!
    I have ordered a book from amazon called “The travel book” by lonely planet publications…Im hoping it gives me a better insight as to where I want to go, what would benifit me personally and give me some info about other countries/cultures. I just need a sense of direction as I truely dont know where to start…theres so many places I would love to explore, from the top of my head japan!…I have a friend who went to austrailia to travel last year, he wanted me to leave everything behind and go too but I needed to finish college and save, Im sure he wouldnt mind me visiting which could be a good starting point but ultimately I would prefer doing this alone. Any advise you could offer would be much appreciated, thanks again
    – Kat

    • Earl November 21, 2011 at 4:09 am - Reply

      Hey Kat – Thank you so much for the comment and consider yourself steps ahead if you already know that you want to do some traveling and are ready to make that happen. The key to getting started is to simply look at all the factors involved. If you are going to have $1,500 to start off with, then Australia and Japan should probably be taken off the list as both of those countries are very expensive. So I would try and choose another destination that still appeals to you but that is much cheaper to travel around as this will remove much of the pressure of having to watch every dollar you spend and worrying about whether or not you can afford your next meal. And considering that you’re young and you have plenty of time to travel, don’t worry about trying to get to the perfect destination on your first trip. Just get out there and start traveling, anywhere!

      And exchange rates and all that stuff shouldn’t be a worry at all. Once you get out there in the world and you are forced to deal with all of those things, you’ll pick it up quite quickly and soon enough it will all become natural. Hopefully the travel book you ordered will help but in the end, the best way to learn is to just communicate with other travelers and to get out there and start traveling yourself!

  57. […] option is to set yourself up in a park and offer private lessons just like Wandering Earl did in Chiang […]

  58. Liana September 5, 2011 at 12:08 am - Reply

    Hi! I’ve always wanted to travel and i really thought I’d have to have a lot of money to do it. I thought comfortable travel would be completely out of reach for me, but your story has really inspired me. One question I have for you though: How many languages do you know?
    As of now i only know English and Italian. How did you teach English to people who didn’t speak the languages you speak?

    • Earl September 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      Hey Liana – At this point, I can speak Spanish decently but that’s about it apart from the basics of several languages. Basically, when you teach English, your students will generally already have a basic understanding of English and you will be required to teach your classes only in English (as this helps the students learn much more quickly). As a result, knowledge of the local language is not necessary. Trust me, there are thousands upon thousands of people teaching English around the world and the overwhelming majority of them are not fluent in the local language at all!

      • Vivienne January 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm - Reply

        Hmmm… that does make sense. English is quite a universal language. I went to Tanzania, East Africa last year on a humanitarian school trip and we taught English to elementary school children as well as basic computer training. They knew very basic English, but I could tell that most of the things I said just went right over their head. Even slowing down my words only helped so much. My question is, did you ever work with younger students who did not understand as much? How did you get past situations where they simply did not understand what you were trying to teach them? Personally, if two Native Russians were offering to teach their language on the cheap in MY country, I’d for sure sign up but I still have no idea how to speak Russian. Would you have to advertise to your students that you are not proficient in their language?

        • Wandering Earl January 21, 2013 at 3:10 am - Reply

          Hey Vivienne – I never worked with younger kids for that very reason. Instead, I always chose to work with university aged students who already had a decent grasp of English language skills. And in these cases, the students don’t expect you to speak their language…they just want to practice English and you don’t need to know any of the local language at all. It’s the same concept that many language schools use as well – students, no matter their English level, as well as teachers, are required to speak only in English at all times while in the language school. It helps the students learn much more quickly!

  59. Kristen August 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Earl, this has actually really inspired me.. Thanks for sharing! I am DESPERATE to travel, but remain here at my desk job solely for the sake of my savings account. I know this is no way to live, and it will end soon. But reading this encourages me not to hold back, that it’s not impossible to make ends meet with a little ingenuity. Now there is no excuse.

    • Earl September 1, 2011 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Hey Kristen – I know it can be a challenge to get started but it’s one of those things where if you can somehow figure out a way to make it happen, chances are you won’t regret that decision. So even if it takes a little more time to get in a position where you can travel, just think about how happy you’ll be when you board that first flight!

  60. Roy | Cruisesurfingz June 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Very enterprising, to start your own teaching operation! I taught English in Czech Republic myself before joining cruise ships. Funny how us working holiday makers follow similar routes 🙂

    • Earl June 26, 2011 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      Hey Roy – It only makes sense that long-term travelers figure out some of the same ways to survive while on the road! I would have loved to teach English in the Czech Republic for a while…another one of my favorite countries.

  61. […] Taught English in Chiang Mai, Thailand, earning approximately $150 USD per week (more than enough to live well in this city at the time) […]

  62. When things don't go as planned April 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    […] with $1500. One idea Earl has was to post ads around town that he would teach English to students. How to Fund your travels with creativity. He didn’t have a TELF or other certification, he just taught conversational English. […]

  63. hildergarn October 3, 2010 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl. I just stumbled your blog via google. It’s great the creativity you applied to earn some bucks. Since you’re an experienced traveler, i want to ask you if it’s possible to do the same with teaching spanish, since that’s my main language.


    • Earl October 3, 2010 at 11:40 pm - Reply

      Hey Hildergarn – There are opportunities to teach Spanish as well, although there are of course much fewer opportunities than teaching English. I was actually doing a little research for my upcoming trip to Istanbul today and found a person willing to exchange the extra bedroom in their apartment for a few hours of Spanish lessons each day. Free rent in Istanbul for teaching Spanish sounds like a good deal to me! You might have to look a little harder but there are always people interested in learning Spanish as well in different parts of the world…

      • hildergarn October 5, 2010 at 11:19 am - Reply

        Thanks Earl. And for teaching english, does it matter being a pro? Obviously is more easy to teach english for a native speaker, but since english is my second language and i’m not a pro speaker, i don’t know if students don’t give a damn about it.


        • Earl October 6, 2010 at 7:44 am - Reply

          Hey Hildergarn – It basically depends on whether or not students could learn something about English from you. You don’t need to be an expert (I barely remember most of the grammar rules myself) but you would need a good enough understanding of English so that your students benefit from the lessons and want to return for more!

  64. […] search I also got a link in my Twitter feed to @wanderingearl‘s blog, which included this post about how two guys with no experience became English teachers in a foreign country. It was easy. […]

  65. […] friend of mine and I came up with the idea of teaching private English language classes (using some unique methods) in the city of Chiang Mai. And this endeavor worked out very well, earning me enough money to […]

  66. […] – When I spent a stretch of time teaching English in the northern city of Chiang Mai, I shared an apartment with a friend of mine. I believe we paid […]

  67. G @ Operation Backpack Asia May 6, 2010 at 6:47 am - Reply

    I like it! Great idea with the first class free. You just might have given us another idea to use for our 3-year trip through Asia. 🙂 Thanks, I’ll be subscribing!
    .-= G @ Operation Backpack Asia´s last blog ..exhausted-at-the-peak =-.

    • Earl May 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      Hey G – I appreciate you following the site! With a little creative English teaching you could turn your 3-year trip into a 5-year adventure!!

  68. […] friend of mine and I set up our own English teaching operation in the city of Chiang Mai instead of trying to find work at an established language school. We […]

  69. John Bardos -JetSetCitizen April 13, 2010 at 12:17 am - Reply

    Teaching English was also the way that I moved to Japan. Teaching is a great way to explore the world and you don’t even need to be a ‘teacher’ to get started.

    I also recommend the direct teaching approach. I started my own school in Japan and can attest to how much better it is than working for others. It doesn’t really take much capital or credentials if you are outgoing and likable.

    Japan is probably the best country to teach income wise but you will need a university degree to get a work visa. If you have enough of your own private students AND you pay taxes, you can self-sponsor.

    University students are definitely the target market to aim for in every country.
    .-= John Bardos -JetSetCitizen´s last blog ..The Ultimate Guide to Volunteering Abroad =-.

    • Earl April 13, 2010 at 10:49 am - Reply

      Hey John – Thanks for sharing your thoughts as you’re definitely an authority on the subject of teaching English! And I agree fully that targeting university students (which my friend and I decided to target quite randomly) is the way to go, as their existing base of English, respectfulness and the fact that many of their families have extra money to spend for classes, makes them a great potential market.

      That’s also interesting that you can self-sponsor in Japan – I’ve never heard of anyone being able to do that anywhere else.

  70. Sam April 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Wow, Earl, thanks for the inspiration!

    I got qualified to teach English as a foreign language last year when I realised it’d be a good way of seeing the world and now enjoy it a lot, especially when students are really keen.

    I really like this idea of yours, especially taking the students out of a classroom setting and in to the ‘real world’ like the zoo and the cinema and use language in a way that we do everyday.

    @Adam: it’s surprising to us that many people still ask how you can afford to do a RTW trip because we know you don’t have to be loaded to do it. If they’re asking that, it’s because they don’t know that; they haven’t been let in on the secret!

    @Erin: I know it can be daunting to be asked by a student why something is or isn’t right, especially with regards to grammar, but just rely on your instincts as a native speaker of English. You might not be able to explain the rule and its exceptions to them, but you can tell them how an incorrect sentences ‘feels’ and what impression or image it gives you, which might even be more meaningful (and memorable) for them.

    • Earl April 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      Hey Sam! Thanks so much for your comment and for offering some solid advice as well.

      In the beginning it was difficult for us to organize regularly scheduled classes because we wanted to explore Chiang Mai and its surroundings…so that’s how the idea of ‘field trips’ evolved, as a way to explore and teach at the same time! And of course, the students preferred those days too. Considering that it really didn’t take any extra effort to organize, we tried to do it as much as possible.

      Where are you teaching at the moment?

      • Sam April 12, 2010 at 3:12 am - Reply

        Right now, I’m on a little break from teaching, but I have been teaching kids in Austria. I’m going back in a couple of weeks, and in the future, I’d like to go to Spain, Taiwan, Japan, maybe Thailand or anywhere else it might take me. My blog at, has some (and will have more) solid advice about teaching since it’s all about teaching English an travelling. And yes, that’s with two ‘l’s because I’m British!
        .-= Sam´s last blog ..Image of the week: Saint Basil’s cathedral =-.

  71. Erin April 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Fantastic post – it really makes the idea of teaching English accesible. We just met someone in Brazil who was teaching private English lessons and making much more than she would have in a language school. Private conversation classes sound easier too.

    To be honest I do feel a bit nervous about doing it without a qualification though. I wouldn´t want to let my students down by being a rubbish teacher, or not be able to answer a question.
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Photo of the Week: Akha Village =-.

    • Earl April 11, 2010 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      Hey Erin – Private lessons are definitely the way to go! I was quite nervous as well, but offering only conversational practice made things a lot easier. Since we were teaching university students, most of them already had a general understanding of English already or were actually taking college classes in English at the same time. So we acted as the ‘extra practice’ and in the end, all they wanted to do was learn how to converse normally, and that only required us to teach some basic grammar rules and concentrate instead on slang and pronunciation.

      We also offered our students their first class for free, not only for the students, but so that we could determine if we were up to the challenge ourselves!

  72. Jass April 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl,
    Thanks for the article!
    What were your lesson plans like, eventually? How creative were they? How were you catering to different levels of ability?

    • Earl April 10, 2010 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Hey Jass – Thanks for visiting!

      We basically were a little unorganized for the first couple of weeks of classes but eventually we began grouping our students into classes based upon their abilities. And when needed, we turned to the extensive resources found at for lesson plans, language games and other teaching tools.

      However, we did try our best to stay away from the usual learning environment and ended up taking our students on frequent field trips to places all over the region in place of using a traditional classroom format. This of course was well received by our students, especially the class we held at the Chiang Mai zoo! Sometimes we also took the group to the cinema and held a class afterward where the students would explain and ask questions about the film as a way to practice their English. This was another big hit as you might imagine.

      We also had a steady stream of students interested in one-on-one conversational tutoring which just involved finding a quiet place to sit and chat about any subjects that came to mind and didn’t require any lesson plans at all.

      So in the end, we found a way to avoid the need for traditional class structure for the most part.

      If you’re thinking of doing something similar yourself, feel free to send me an email with any other questions you might have. I’d love to help out as much as I can.

  73. Dena April 9, 2010 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Hey Earl,

    Great post! I just want to let you know that I featured it in my weekly Friday Carousel of links here: I think that my readers will really enjoy this.

    Have a great weekend!

    In love & light,
    .-= Dena´s last blog ..Carousel — 04.09.10 =-.

    • Earl April 9, 2010 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks Dena…I appreciate that very much! I’ll go check it out right now…

  74. Maria Staal April 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Great story! A very inventive way to make some cash. I travelled around Australia and New Zealand doing odd jobs like decorating and gardening for board and lodgings. It was great fun, and although I didn’t earn anything, I didn’t spent much either.
    .-= Maria Staal´s last blog ..Putting Radbod on the Map =-.

    • Earl April 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm - Reply

      Hey Maria! That’s an excellent point you made. Apart from earning money, there are also dozens of ways to exchange some work for free accommodation, meals, etc and thus drastically reducing one’s travel expenses. Although, I think you’re the first person I’ve heard of that did some decorating while on the road. I love it, that’s a far more creative idea than my English teaching!

  75. Raam Dev April 7, 2010 at 7:29 am - Reply

    Wow, this is fantastic, Earl! I’ve seen so many “teach English by earning a certificate and getting hired by a school” posts that his is extremely refreshing. Especially since I’m way more likely to try it!

    As you know, I’m exploring and living in India right now and teaching English like you described as a backup plan is perfect — in fact, that is now my backup plan should I fail to make income online (which is what I’m working on now).

    A couple of questions:

    1) Would you have to worry about school officials or the town/government harassing you for putting up posters?
    2) Would you have to worry about town/government harassing you for making money without any official “permit” to do so?
    .-= Raam Dev´s last blog ..How I Discovered That I Was Discriminating =-.

    • Earl April 7, 2010 at 9:02 am - Reply

      Hey Raam – I’m glad to hear you’re thinking about it as well. I actually taught English the same way for a couple of months up in McLeod Ganj, India, the village that is home to the Dalai Lama and a large Tibetan community. So that’s another option…

      To answer your questions…

      I think that such an operation is small enough and insignificant enough that school/town officials aren’t really too concerned. Actually, by the end of our stay in Chiang Mai, a professor allowed us to use his classroom and not once throughout my entire time there did anyone approach or even ask us any questions about what we were doing.

      As for earning money, I never ran into any problems with this at all either. Of course, we didn’t go around declaring that we were teaching and earning money without any permits to everyone we met! Again, I think that it was such a small operation that officials (especially in third world countries) have a lot more to worry about than trying to uncover an English teaching operation that is just earning enough money to survive.

      However, I’m sure in some other countries, you many rouse some suspicion, so I would definitely check with others who might have lived where ever it is you may plan to teach English before setting something up.

      Keep on enjoying those jeep rides in India!

  76. Jonny | April 7, 2010 at 1:06 am - Reply

    Great article man and Chang Mai is not a bad place to spend some time, very peaceful.

    Great creativity shown there and I am glad it paid off for you mate. Well done.
    .-= Jonny |´s last blog ..The Power Of Expanding Your Reality As Highlighted By My April Fools Millions =-.

    • Earl April 7, 2010 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Thanks Jonny. I’m a big fan of Chiang Mai and have found it a great place to live. I wish I could go again right now for the upcoming Thai New Year’s Festival in a week!

  77. Adam April 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Great story! The first thing out of people’s mouths when I tell them I’m about to take a RTW trip is always something along the lines of “how can you afford it.” It surprises me every time!

    And I love your idea for teaching English creatively. Definitely going to try that out. Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Adam´s last blog ..Johnny Cupcakes and Marketing =-.

    • Earl April 6, 2010 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      Hey Adam – That’s the thing, a little creativity can stretch your dollars more than most people would ever believe. After all, it’s worked for me for 10 years and counting now! And I know what you mean about others not understanding how you’ll afford your trip. A RTW adventure sounds like something that would require tens of thousands of dollars, when in fact that is far from reality.

      I look forward to following your own upcoming adventures!

      • Adam April 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm - Reply

        Thanks! And I look forward to finally starting on my adventure (just a few weeks and counting!)

  78. Mike April 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Let’s say for someone living in Mexico, Quintana Roo area. How much do you think someone would need to make monthly USD to live a comfortable life?
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..5 Questions to Ask Homeowners When Looking at a Home to Buy =-.

    • Earl April 6, 2010 at 8:17 pm - Reply

      Hey Mike – That’s a tough question to answer as it depends on what one is looking for. Apartments near the beach but away from the town center are as low as $400 per month, $250 per month a few blocks away from the ocean. But if you want to live in the center of Playa del Carmen, for example, you can expect to pay $1000 or more per month for an apartment. Apart from that, life is quite inexpensive and simple, and a very comfortable life could probably be had if one earned around $1000 per month.

  79. Nate April 5, 2010 at 10:25 am - Reply

    I just love the creativity here! It’s all about using the limited resources you have and coming up with a way to do something. It’s ‘looking outside of the box.’ I don’t really care for that term all that much….but that’s definitely what you did here. Most people (heck, I would probably fall under this category) would have thought..’oh, I don’t have any experience,’ or ‘the language schools aren’t hiring, so I’m out of luck.’…and then just leave it at that. You did a wonderful job of coming up with an alternative…go directly to the students and market yourself. Cool story!
    .-= Nate´s last blog ..You Have Only This Moment To Live =-.

    • Earl April 5, 2010 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      Hey Nate – The same way of thinking can be used for thousands of situations we face in our non-traveling lives as well. I really think that a little creativity can turn many of our everyday challenges or problems into new and positive opportunities instead. And once you start thinking with creativity, it becomes addictive.

  80. Alan April 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Ah! Love reading about stuff like this.

    What a creative way to see the world. Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Alan´s last blog ..2010 Quarter 1 Update =-.

    • Earl April 4, 2010 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      Hey Alan – It’s incredible all of the opportunities that are really out there, that make traveling much easier (and cheaper) than people think. I’m sure a lot more people would buy those plane tickets they’ve been hesitating to buy if they only knew!

  81. Brian Wadman April 4, 2010 at 7:33 am - Reply

    Wow, I think I have goosebumps. Those were good days. Thanks for capturing them so well. The kindest, most respectful and eager students doesn’t even begin to describe them.

    You forgot to mention playing basketball while watching the sunset, drinking milk and eating toast with hundreds of Thai students as a nightime recreational activity, devouring the ex-pat bookstores, and riding on motorscooters as the prime method of transport. An unforgettable experience.

    • Earl April 4, 2010 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Hey Brian – Thanks for adding those to the list my friend. This could easily turn into a 10,000 word post if we listed every wonderful aspect about those days in Chiang Mai. Allow me to quickly add right now, Mr. Smiley’s restaurant, trivia nights, Songkran festival, holding classes in Dunkin Donuts and border runs to Myanmar…

      And it was those students, every single one of them, who were the true highlight of that experience!

  82. Carlo April 3, 2010 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Ingenious! It’s always best to cut out the middle man if you can; plus you can be your own boss.

    I’m so drawn to the idea of cutting the cord and being a perpetual traveler for while.. but it’s hard to give up the security of a good paying job, especially one that let’s me travel at least monthly to other countries for work….

    • Earl April 4, 2010 at 9:41 am - Reply

      Hey Carlo – Thanks for commenting! It sure is a tough decision whether or not to travel on a more permanent basis, especially when your ‘real job’ already allows you to travel. At least you know that if you do decide to break free completely, it doesn’t take long to start earning some money without having to worry about returning to the job you left and life you left behind.

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