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The Airplane Plea!

The modern age is full of so many technological advances. Drones are flying around taking breathtaking pictures. Our phones can do nearly anything we dream of, they practically cook our dinners for us every night and tuck us into bed. So we just have one question.

How is flying still so shit?

Surely there is some way, any way, airlines could make the flying experience at least 1% better.

Here are a few areas we believe could use some improvement.

1. Seat Reclining

Let’s just ban it – remove the button!

Can’t we make all the seats the same, along with making them more comfortable? There’s always that one rude twat on every flight who thinks they are the only one flying. We’re all suffering here, and we should do what we can to make it a better experience for everyone. There is already such little space without the person in front of you reclining their chair.

Solution – Give everyone the same seat at the same recline, and don’t give us the option to change it.

 

2. Water Availability

Even in the best of circumstances, no one should go hours upon hours without adequate hydration. And airplanes are not even the best circumstances. They are dry, and passengers find themselves thirstier than ever.

So jacking up the prices of microscopic water bottles is a terrible and greedy practice. If the water can’t be free (which it should be, considering how much we pay for flights to begin with), it should at least be reasonable.

Recently we were on a Thai Air Asia X flight from Bangkok to Osaka (5 hours plus), and for a small water bottle we paid 9x what we would have paid on land.

Solution – Just give people some bloody water!

 

3. Smelly People

I’m currently writing this blog post whilst on a 6 hour flight from Seoul to Bangkok on the dreadful Eastar Jet. It’s two hours in, and I can’t take much more of this man next to me. Why? Because we’re so close to each other, I can’t escape the stench of his breath. I mean you’re on a flight filled with other people, and personal space is nonexistent here. Please brush your teeth beforehand!

Solution – Offer mints or a toothbrush with toothpaste.

 

4. WiFi

Most flights claim to offer WiFi nowadays. As they should, because it’s 2018, the internet is everywhere else, and we all rely on it in so many ways.

But despite these claims, the WiFi very rarely works. We always try, and we’ve only been successfully connected once. That lasted 5 minutes before we were asked to pay a huge fee for another 15 minutes that only came with a handful of limited and slow data.

Solution – Give us reliable and affordable WiFi, please! Don’t advertise what you don’t have.

 

5. The Middle Seat

Getting stuck in a middle seat can turn an already annoying experience into pure torture. Nobody wants it – nobody can even tolerate it!

Why is it a thing? We can think of several alternatives, such as…

Solutions – Make three rows of two seats. Then everyone will have a window or an aisle. Of course, it would take time to update every plane. In the meantime, shouldn’t the middle seaters get some kind of discount?

 

6. Comfort

There really isn’t much that can compare to a long flight. The discomfort is a unique experience – but surely there are some small ways to provide relief. Softer seats? A head rest? Something to lean on?

Solution – Ideally, let’s go for beds for all passengers on all planes!

 

7. The Food

There are two types of airplane food: food that is terrible, or food that doesn’t exist. On land, even cheap fast food or frozen dinners can be good. Why haven’t these cooking innovations made it into the sky yet? Is it because there is no competition from other food vendors?

Solution – Make customer satisfaction a bigger priority when creating the in-flight menu.

 

8. Not being able to pay on card!

On a flight from Melbourne to Bangkok with JetStar, we were offered no free water, no free food, and no free earphones for inflight movies. Of course, all of these are necessities on a flight that is 8+ hours, but when I went to pay they wouldn’t accept my card or the currency I was carrying. It was a very rough flight!

Solution – Planes should be ready to serve at a global level – especially when traveling internationally. This means offering many ways to pay for things like food and water.

 

9. The Wait

Travel days always have a pattern of “hurry up then wait,” and we understand that – but there is one wait that pains us the most and we’d love to see abolished: the wait to exit the plane upon landing. Why oh why does this always take a million years? It is the last thing you want after a flight, especially the ones totaling up to 15 or so hours. You just want to get up and walk.

Was our arrival a surprise? Did the airport not know we were coming? Couldn’t some preparations be made beforehand to speed this process up?

Solution – Analyze this procedure, whatever it is, and find a way to make it more efficient. Hire people who know how to move quickly and competently.

 

10. Checking tickets again, and again, and again…

It’s almost comical sometimes how many times our tickets get checked in the 5 minute span between lining up to board the plane and actually buckling up in our seat. Sneaking on the plane seems unlikely at this stage, to be honest. Everyone has already been through security and immigration – surely just one more check before boarding is all that’s necessary. Is this just to give bored staff something else to do?

There have been times we have been checked at the airport exit, two more times in the passageway, at the bottom of the ladder up to the plane, at the top of the ladder, and then a final check as we near the seats. Seems excessive.

Solution – One ticket check is fine!

 

11. Immigration Lines

Immigration officer must be the worst job in the world, or maybe it has a long list of rare qualifications. Why? Because we’ve never seen a fully staffed team at any airport. No matter how busy the airport or how long the lines stretch, multitudes of empty immigration desks are left empty. WHY?

Solution – Hire more people!

 

12. The Price

And the icing on the cake is that, despite all the horrible things listed above, air travel is so expensive. It’s probably where the majority of our paychecks go after rent. Since we are paying so much, we’d love to see some of these complaints addressed.

Solution – Free flights for everyone! That’s a reasonable request, right?

The SiDash Plane

We had some fun brainstorming what our dream airline would be like – here’s what you could expect:

On this luxurious plane every passenger would pay a budget rate, be greeted with friendly smiles, and receive a gigantic bottle of water upon entering the plane. They will take to their seats, which would more closely resemble beds, and be given a choice of pillows and blankets! The working WiFi password would in the compartment next to the mini TV and complimentary fruit bowl. Staff will cater to every need and provide on meal on demand!

As you can see, our wishes are simple and no one could accuse us of extravagance in the least.

Now it’s your turn – what are your biggest complaints in the air? What’s the worst airline you’ve ever flown with and why? Let us know!

5 Ways We’ve Experienced Christmas Abroad

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, whether they went back home or traveled in some random location.

We spent our break in Japan and South Korea and got back to Bangkok in time for the New Year.

This time of year can be hard for expats and long-term travelers, and it might be one of the few times we really don’t want to be away from our hometowns. But most long-term travelers do spend at least one Christmas, if not several, somewhere unfamiliar out in the world.

We have both done it many times now, and the experience is always a bit surreal and different from the last time.

Here are some of the experiences we’ve had:

We’ve spent Christmas in our “home away from home.”

My first Christmas as an expat was in Guangzhou, China and I didn’t get enough time off to go home or travel. Simon’s first year in Bangkok was the same.

The good news is that 1st year ESL teachers usually have great friends and plenty of enthusiasm for the place they’re living, so the holidays are weird but a ton of fun.

In China, a big group of us found a restaurant serving Christmas dinner and then went to a party that lasted until the wee hours of the morning (even though we had to work the next afternoon).

In Thailand, Simon had the best night out of his life on Christmas Eve and then spent most of Christmas Day trying to recover while forcing down Christmas dinner (which admittedly doesn’t sound great, but he always looks really happy when he’s reminiscing about this).

I’ve spent Christmas with another family.

My next Christmas abroad was in England with Simon’s family. If I’m not with my own family, this might be the next best thing. It was nice to spend the holiday in a more traditional setting with a big tree, a home cooked meal, parents and grandparents around, and plenty of gifts. I was still on the other side of an ocean from my own home, but I felt just as cozy and nostalgic and as ever.

We’ve spent Christmas in the perfect Christmas location.

Another excellent Christmas recommendation for a traveler? Iceland! Everything was covered in snow, decorated just right, and full of holiday spirit. It was just the two of us, but it felt like we had walked into that perfect scene on a Christmas card.

We’ve had a backpacking Christmas.

This year we experienced Christmas with bags strapped to our backs, and although we spent the actual Christmas day in a (weird, empty, slightly pay-by-the-hour-ish) motel in Busan, South Korea, we spent most of our two week trip going from hostel to hostel. Backpacking in Asia couldn’t be more nontraditional, but it is also a very social way to travel – so if you want to feel part of a community rather than alone in a foreign land, this might be the way.

We’ve spent Christmas where they don’t really “do Christmas.”

For many of our holidays abroad, we’ve been in Buddhist or otherwise Non-Christian cultures that don’t really celebrate during this time of year. Decorations are put up, but there is something slightly off about them – whether they are using strange pastel colors or making the characters a bit too cartoonish compared to what we are used to.

The day itself is the most bizarre, as all the shops and businesses stay open and you’ll find everyone just going about their lives as usual. This can be extremely interesting or extremely depressing depending on your attitude.

But no matter where you are, you are likely to find a group of fellow expats and travelers who are determined to celebrate together have an amazing time. In Busan, we holed up in a cozy pub to drink mulled wine and champagne for two days. There were many other foreigners around doing the same. It wasn’t the most traditional, but it was a great time and will make a great memory.

Have you ever spent Christmas abroad? We’d love to hear about your experience! Share with us below.

Cultural Things That Could Shock a Foreigner (Part 1)

Traveling the world is certainly exciting, but we can’t claim that it’s always easy. There have been obstacles in every new country we’ve arrived in. Every culture, including our own, has its quirks that might baffle or trip up a foreigner.

Here are a few things we’ve seen around the world – things you might be thankful to know before you get there.

 

China – An Organized Brawl

Hate standing in line? You might actually miss the civilized organization of a queue while you’re in China. When riding the metro, get ready to push your way on the train or you’ll never get anywhere. When the train doors open, everyone just piles on and off at the same time. This leads to a lot of flying elbows, shouting, and pissed off people. It took us some time to get used to this process. But eventually we learned to enjoy letting off steam and whacking people with our umbrellas during rush hour.

Thailand – A Guessing Game

Common advice in “The Land of Smiles” is to ask for directions three times before you begin your journey. Some people are very reluctant to admit they don’t know something, so don’t trust the first answer you get. Confirm it with a couple locals first. And while Thailand is known for their relaxed, friendly culture, we’ve also learned that smiles here can mean many different things. Sometimes they reflect genuine happiness. But they can also signal nervousness or confusion.

India – The Center of Attention

Confession: we actually kind of loved this. But not everyone will. Wherever we want, people wanted pictures with us. And once we took one picture, more people would flock to us until we were surrounded by a huge crowd. When we weren’t taking pictures, we would constantly catch people staring at us. And the small talk was endless! Everyone wanted to know where we were from, how long we were in India, and what we were doing that day.

Singapore – Surprisingly Strict Laws

No, we didn’t experience any legal problems during our time in Singapore. But we were surprised to discover there were very harsh punishments for misdemeanors as small as littering or forgetting to flush a toilet. But this explains how the city-state looks so spotless, even in the busiest areas.

USA – Dependance on Cars

We know our countries aren’t immune to these quirks. Kristin recently returned home for the first time, and what struck her the most was how spread out everything was. Of course this varies per city, but residential areas are rarely near many stores and public transportation is lacking. Having a car is almost always a necessity. Her average daily steps went from around 15,000 to less than 1,000.

England – Hefty Price Tags

We’ve written before about one of our most shocking experiences in the UK last Christmas – buying tickets for a short train ride! The price was staggering for someone who has gotten used to the cheapness of Southeast Asia.

If you’ve traveled to any of the same places as us, are these examples are relatable? Let us know if you agree or disagree – or add your own examples. And if you’re planning a trip to any of these countries, we hope we’ve prepared you for some potential obstacles.

 

TRAVELERS OFTEN GET ASKED HOW WE’RE ABLE TO FIND THE MONEY, TIME, OR COURAGE TO GO ABROAD.

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5 Things I’m Thankful for as an American Abroad

There are a few tough spots in my life as an American expat in Asia.

Most are pretty trivial – I’ve never been able to find the kind of deodorant I really like. Cheese is way more expensive than I’m used to. The drastic time zone difference between here and home can get really inconvenient.

And I miss certain holidays that just aren’t celebrated here – or are celebrated in smaller or different ways.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but I’ve yet to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte this season, it’s way too warm to get cozy in a cardigan, and I don’t even have an oven to prepare my favorite seasonal dishes in (not that I’d really know how to, anyway).

But the most important tradition for this time of year is still completely doable – which is giving thanks. And I think I have more things than ever to be grateful for.

So here’s my list of 5 things I’m thankful for as an expat:

#1 – I am embracing all my passions and interests in a way that seems almost miraculous.

Since I was a kid/teen, I have had a few consistent interests that seemed a bit random and unrelated. It wasn’t until I moved to China to teach ESL that suddenly everything clicked together in a way that is obvious and natural now.

I have been fascinated with words and language since before I can remember – I always loved writing, language arts was my best subject in school, and I was the person everyone went to with grammar or spelling questions.

As a kid, I also loved learning and daydreaming about other countries. I spent hours at the library filling up index cards with random facts about the countries I wanted to explore when I was older, and I made travel a priority as soon as I was old enough to.

Finally, as a high school student, I took a job in an after school program and immediately fell in love with all the kids I was caring for. I had another amazing experience as a camp counselor in college, and it was then that I realized I am happiest when working with kids and teens.

Teaching English abroad blends all these aspects of my personality and when I stop and think about this, I feel so incredibly lucky to have found exactly the right life for me.

#2 – I’m seeing and experiencing new things all the time.

Since moving to Bangkok in July 2016, I’ve traveled somewhere new almost every month. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think of this – I can’t believe how many places I’ve been now and cultures I’ve experienced, and I’m not slowing down any time soon! I love living in a part of the world where travel is so easy and affordable.

#3 – I’m much more interested in my own life.

When I lived in America, I would spend an embarrassing amount of time watching television. I could get through an entire series in a matter of days. It was the #1 way I spent my free time.

Sometimes I worried about this habit being unhealthy, but I could never break it – until I arrived in China. Once I was abroad, my TV routine just completely vaporized. I never even thought about the shows I used to obsess over. I don’t think I watched one for an entire year.

Now I’ll occasionally try to get into a series everyone is talking about. But it makes me restless and bored. I don’t enjoy it anymore, and I’d always rather be out experiencing something more real or substantial.

I think this change happened so effortlessly because I am genuinely happy with my actual life now, and I am thankful to be so excited by everything around me. Just going on a simple walk can be a great afternoon that energizes and inspires me. My mind is no longer trying escape a rut that I don’t really belong in.

#4 – I found an amazing partner in the most random place.

I have traveled alone a little, and it is definitely an empowering experience that I’d recommend everyone try at least once. But in the long-term, I am so thankful that I met Simon in the South of China and that we recognized how compatible – and rare – we were. Our dreams for the future are not very common, and finding someone who wants the same things and who we travel and live with so easily is definitely something to be grateful for.

#5 – I have the most amazing friendships.

We’ve mentioned in several blog posts how powerful friendships and bonds made abroad can be. We have so much in common with our friends out here, and we have a ton of stories together.

But living as an expat has also made me thankful for my friends back home. Before I left, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to stay in touch. Not only am I more active and busy than I used to be, the time zone difference makes communication tricky. Sometimes I wonder if my friends will eventually just write me off as someone who isn’t really important to their lives anymore – but every time I do hear from them or get a chance to catch up, I feel just as close and important as ever.

If you’re an expat living abroad, can you relate to any of these? What would you add to the list. And if you’re an American expat, how are you celebrating Thanksgiving while away from home?

TRAVELERS OFTEN GET ASKED HOW WE’RE ABLE TO FIND THE MONEY, TIME, OR COURAGE TO GO ABROAD.

WANT TO KNOW HOW WE DO IT?

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Travel Blog Posts We Love and Hate

We’re approaching our 75th blog post on SiDash Travels, and sometimes we can’t believe we’ve written as much as we have! Coming up with new content each week is both challenging and fun.

Some of our ideas are excellent (if we do say so ourselves) and others are better left off our brainstorm lists.

We also love to read other travel blogs for inspiration and our own entertainment. Doing so, we’ve become quite opinionated about the content of prefer.

There are certain types of posts we love and would be eager to read from any of our favorite bloggers. But some posts have also become overdone or we haven’t found very useful.

At the risk of a controversial post, we’d like to explore both types. Keep in mind, this is just our opinion – take it all with a grain of salt.

 

Posts We Love to Read

Travel Mistakes

We recently shared our biggest mistakes, and we were definitely inspired by the brilliant and hilarious posts we’d already read on this topic.

It’s a shame that people don’t share these stories more often. They are entertaining, memorable, relatable, and helpful for other travelers. What more could you want in a blog post?

When you make a mistake on a trip, it’s normal to think “how could I have been so stupid! Surely no one else has ever screwed up like this before.”

But people have – and sharing these experiences with each other is so refreshing.

Charity Projects and Volunteerism

We are able to travel the way we do largely thanks to our careers as ESL teachers. And while our paychecks are definitely a necessity, one of our big dreams is to be able to teach as volunteers one day – specifically in developing countries, or to children living in poverty or with refugees.

We know there are plenty of people who have done something like this – but we haven’t found many blog posts sharing the experience. We want to read about a real experience, including both positives and negatives.

If anyone has done anything like this, please share your stories with us! It will be at the top of our reading lists.

 

Honesty

If you’ve read our blog, you probably won’t be surprised that we love a good rant. Overly-positive travelers are just not our cup of tea – sorry! We want to know what annoys you, and we want you to get really passionate about it.

Many posts seem to butter up traveling to be perfect all of the time – that just isn’t reality. Tell us why you hated taking a night bus in Southeast Asia. Fess up when street food gives you the runs. It’s real, and we love it.

 

Unusual Recommendations

When researching for our next trip, it’s not long before every blog starts to sound the same. Finding a unique suggestion is so difficult, but so valuable.

We are desperate for information about a bar that’s hidden away or a sight that no one would think to see – give us a random adventure!

Posts We’re a Little Sick of Seeing

Packing Lists

Confession: we tend to pack in less than 10 minutes, usually moments before we head out the door and to the airport.

Packing isn’t complicated, and we certainly don’t need a unique list for every country or city we visit. We know what to pack when the weather is hot, and we know what to pack when the weather is cold. Other than that, what changes?

Does anyone really use these lists?

 

Top Things to Do (In a Whole Country)

Unlike packing lists, we believe these posts should be way more specific. When talking about a huge region, the suggestions get way too generic. Cut it down to a specific city – even better, a neighborhood. Then surprise us with your suggestions. Show that you really know the place you’re talking about and give us some real tips we won’t find somewhere else.

This is especially needed for blog posts on huge countries like China or Australia. Narrow it down, please!

 

“Our Day”

Here is some tough love for us all: unless you have a truly interesting story to share (see “Travel Mistakes” above), only your mother is really going to want to read about “your day in Rome.”

There are many reasons someone might read your blog. None of the reasons have much to do with you – so ask yourself, what is the reader getting from this writing? Useful insight? Laughter? Something they can relate to? An addicting story? The last one is probably the hardest to pull off, and you need something very rare and unique in order to do so.

 

SEO Arse Licking

Okay, we get it – Google is a powerful beast in this game. As bloggers, Google can make or break us all. When Google is happy, we are happy, and when Google isn’t that into us, we might as well hang up our hats and head home.

But as tempting as it is to make every content decision with Google front and center, we believe that our readers are really the most important key to our success.

Ranking high in search results means nothing if no one actually enjoys our articles or comes back for more.

Writing for Google alone can quickly give you a library of boring, skimmable articles that just hit the right keywords – is that what you imagined when you decided to start a blog? Is it actually what you want write? Because it’s certainly not what we want to read.

We’ll admit, this is probably a controversial post, but we hope most of you can relate.

Or maybe you have your own preferences and pet hates – these are just our opinions and we’d love to hear yours. Let us know what you think!

 

TRAVELERS OFTEN GET ASKED HOW WE’RE ABLE TO FIND THE MONEY, TIME, OR COURAGE TO GO ABROAD.

WANT TO KNOW HOW WE DO IT?

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE GUIDE.

A Guide to the Different Types of Teaching Opportunities Abroad

Teaching is one of the most popular and achievable jobs for those looking to work abroad. But some people find themselves resistant to this career path, saying that teaching just isn’t for them. It’s true – teaching isn’t for everyone. But teaching might offer a greater variety of positions than you think. Before you make your decision, make sure you know all your options. Not every job will have you standing in front of a class of 30+ screaming kids!

First we will start with ESL. This is teaching English as a second language, and it’s probably the most common job for foreigners abroad. But don’t worry – you’ll have other opportunities to choose from if this one isn’t the best fit.

BABIES

Even at the young ages of 0 – 3, parents are eager for their children to start learning English. There are many jobs out there looking for English speaking nannies or daycare workers, and your job description might lean more toward childcare with natural English exposure rather than formal English lessons.

KINDERGARTEN OR PRESCHOOL

The next step up would be working in a kindergarten. Most countries are crying out for teachers willing to teach 3-5 year olds. Your lessons will be simple, repetitive, and playful. You will lead a lot of games and songs with basic phonics skills and vocabulary. Most kindergarten teachers have an assistant (or two) to help out, and class sizes are generally small.

KIDS

The most popular ESL job is teaching kids in primary or elementary school, usually around 5 – 11 years old. At this stage, you will be introducing basic grammar, but nothing too complicated (even for those who don’t consider themselves to be great at grammar themselves. You will also set aside time in your lessons for reading and writing practice. Class sizes get a bit larger here, possibly ranging from 20-60 kids. The biggest challenge at this age is classroom management, but if you are firm and consistent with discipline it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

TEENS

If kids aren’t your thing, consider working with teens instead. There is a lot of variety when it comes to teaching teens. Sometimes your objective will be preparing for them for entrance exams to English-speaking programs. Some of your classes will focus more conversation and fluency. You might also have classes intended to improve reading comprehension and writing. Teens will still appreciate a few games and activities in their classes, and they usually are easier to manage than younger kids.

ADULTS

Finally, you have the option to teach adults. This is also a booming industry worldwide, with language centers all around the world attracting adults who want to improve their English for business or travel. Adults tend to be very motivated students, as they have actually chosen themselves to attend your classes (rather than their parents forcing them to go). Their enthusiasm for practicing English and interacting with a native speaker can be really fun. Lessons are usually conversation based, and therefore class sizes tend to be small.

ONE ON ONE

If you hate the idea of standing in front of a classroom, whether that audience is three years old or thirty, maybe one-on-one lessons are for you. Kids might need to be tutored after school, teens are often preparing for English exams or proficiency tests, and adults might want the flexibility or undivided attention of a private lessons. These one-on-ones usually pay more per hour, but you’ll need to collect quite a few to make a full-time income.

SMALL GROUPS

When it comes to conversational English, small groups are ideal for students. With only 2-4 students, they’ll receive plenty of attention from you, and having a couple students will allow you to plan more activities for them to practice dialogues together. You can charge similar rates as a private, but with a few more students you’ll make more per hour.

LANGUAGE CENTERS

You’ll find these everywhere in non-English speaking countries. Part-time and full-time work is available, and you can usually find ones for kids, teens, or adults. Keep in mind that your working hours will most likely be during evenings or weekends, when kids are out of school and adults are off work.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Public schools will be for kids, and class sizes will usually be larger. In most cases, the English levels will be lower – some students will have had little to no English exposure.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

For smaller class sizes, students more familiar with English, and higher pay, look into private schools. Of course, there will also be more competition for these positions. If you are a new teacher, gaining a bit of experience somewhere else might be necessary.

The last consideration for an ESL teacher is what level of English you are comfortable teaching. The options include:

FIRST EXPOSURE TO ENGLISH

This would be the most basic of level, and it’s rare outside of very young children. You’ll intoduce basic words and phrases.

VERY LOW LEVEL

Students will need work on new vocabulary and pronunciation.

LOW LEVEL

At this level, a basic introduction to reading and writing could be introduced.

AVERAGE

Typically an average level student should now have a sufficient grasp on phonics, and they should be starting to read and write.

HIGH

These students will probably be speaking more, and they should be able to read and write in a good manner.

VERY HIGH

At this point, conversational English should be very good and they will be able to read and write well, although they might struggle for the right word or phrase at times. Grammar mistakes will still occur, but they’ll be able to self-correct when asked.

NEAR NATIVE

Some students will have a dual nationality, especially at private schools, and they’ll be speaking fluently. They’ll mostly need help with the same things students back home need – advanced grammar and vocabulary, writing organization and clarity, reading and discussing literature, and public speaking.

So there are many types of ESL teachers, but we aren’t done yet! Because ESL isn’t the only option for foreign teachers. Not interested in teaching English? Consider these options:

BUSINESS

Many companies will hire English native speakers to help teach their staff how to conduct business with English-speaking companies and professionals.

TEACHING FOR TESTS

Many students will reach out to native speakers to help prepare for a test or exam which will be taken in English. The subjects for this might include English, but it could also vary from math to science to social studies.

SPORTS COACHING

Many firms will look to hire an English coach to teach sports. It could be a football class, a swimming class, or even a boxing class. Parents see this as an opportunity for their kids to be exposed to English while doing something fun.

CONVERSATION CLASSES

This could be talking about anything. Maybe a student wants to learn how to order food, go shopping, or discuss recent news stories. I once taught a class about dating norms in Western culture.

PRIMARY TEACHER (INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS)

A perfect fit for a fully qualified teacher certified from a native-speaking country. These jobs pay the same as your home country, but usually the cost of living is much less so you can have a luxurious lifestyle. International schools are very similar to native schools, and nearly all subjects are taught in English and conduct outside the classroom is also done in English.

PRIMARY TEACHER (NON-INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS)

This is often overlooked, but many bilingual schools look for native speakers to teach a variety of subjects in English, such as math, computer, or health.

UNIVERSITIES

If you have an advanced degree, it will be easy to find a job teaching in a university overseas. We’ve even known people who’ve landed these positions without completing their Masters, or who get the job based on experience alone with no work completed toward a graduate degree at all.

 

As well as working in formal education, there are also some fun opportunities to teach within the expat community. These are good roles for people with special interests or skills, but official qualifications aren’t always necessary. Some examples include:

YOGA TEACHERS

In cities with a constant flow of travelers or expats, English yoga classes are always in demand. You can find jobs at gyms or studios. Some yoga teachers will even host classes in local parks for a small fee or donation.

FITNESS CLASSES

From Zumba to spin classes, you can also lead a variety of exercise classes for the English-speaking community.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

It is very common for expats to teach piano, violin, guitar, or another instrument in English. They aren’t giving any official language lessons, just allowing the student to be exposed to the language while practicing another skill.

CODING GRAPHIC DESIGNER WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT

The expat community often includes some “digital nomads” who make money online while traveling long-term. Offering courses or one-on-one tutorials for graphic design or website development could give them new skills to grow their business.

These are just a few examples, but the possibilities are endless. Think about your own skills and experiences – what can you offer to the local or expat community when you travel?

There are so many different types of teaching, most people can find the right students, subject, or approach that works best for them. Don’t want to deal with unruly children? Try teaching adults. Not comfortable teaching grammar? Take on beginner or lower-intermediate students. Don’t like standing in front of a class? Go for small groups or private lessons. Just don’t rule out this easy path to a life abroad until you’ve explored all options.

If you’re thinking about getting started with ESL, then check out our guide here. Furthermore if you’re interested in teaching in China or Thailand we offer specific guides to those countries.

 

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Minimalism & Travel Life

After living abroad for a few years now, my life seems pretty normal to me. I have a steady job, a consistent social life, bills to pay, and a favorite coffee shop that I visit regularly.

But sometimes it really hits me that my life today couldn’t be more different than it was 3 years ago.

And I don’t just mean the obvious, outward differences – like how everyone around me is speaking Thai, driving motorbikes, and eating really spicy food.

Sometimes it feels like I created a whole new world for myself when I became an expat.

When I think about my American life, I remember feeling so immobile and weighed down by all my responsibilities and possessions. I read a couple blogs about minimalism and location independence. The thought of getting rid of most of my stuff and being able to easily move where I wanted, when I wanted, was so attractive to me. But it also seemed impossible.

I had shelves and shelves of things – how could I move freely around the world?

Years later, when I was preparing to move to China, I loved the feeling of dropping off all my stuff at charity shops. I loved getting all my stuff down to just three bags.

When I moved to Thailand, I only needed two bags – both carry-ons.

One of my favorite feelings: being at the airport with a one-way ticket and only a couple bags.

Being abroad has reshaped my perspective in many ways – one of the most important ways is showing me how to fully embrace a minimalist lifestyle.

Why Minimalism?

So why is this such a big deal to me?

First, it has made life a lot more peaceful. The less things I have, the less I have to worry about. I don’t need a big apartment to fit all my stuff. I have less to organize and clean.

When it’s time to move, which happens often as an expat, it takes less than hour to pack. It still shocks me how little I really need, and I love it.

It’s also cheaper because I rarely shop for anything I don’t need. I now believe that spending money can easily become an addiction. I used to get a strange pleasure from buying something, even if I knew it wouldn’t have much use in my life.

Today, my money mostly pays for experiences and memories, not little knick-knacks. These expenses are more meaningful and worthwhile 100 times over, and they’ll never be lost, broken, or taken from me.

I’d much rather spend my money on creating these memories.

Minimalist Travel

I have also learned to pack very lightly when I travel. I don’t think I’ll ever go on another short-term trip with more than a backpack. Simon and I even share one backpack on trips that are 4 days or fewer.

Giving up giant rolling luggage has brought me so much freedom as a traveler. My stuff is easy to carry while staying handsfree. I can quickly throw everything in my bag and change locations every couple days without a worry.

Minimalist Tips

If you want to travel (or live) with fewer things, here’s the best advice I’ve received: Get rid of anything that you don’t find useful or meaningful. If you’re struggling to give something up, put it in a box and write the date on it. If you haven’t taken it out in 6 months, give it away. If you have a lot of nostalgic, sentimental items, take pictures of them instead.

Giving Up Souvenirs

For many travelers, souvenir shopping is a huge part of their trips. I used to be the same way, but I noticed that most of my souvenirs didn’t have that foreign spark when I got home with them. Again, these became meaningless trinkets that took up space in my bag (and later my apartment).

Here are some things I find way more valuable than a typical souvenir:

– Photos
– Videos
– Journal entries
– Screenshots of my social media posts or messages to friends during the trip
– A copy of the playlist I was listening to
– Contact information of new friends I’ve met

Has traveling made you less attached to stuff and more interested in life experiences? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Expats: When Is It Time to Move On?

If there is any word that describes us, it would probably have to be restless. While many of our closest friends and family back home seem to find great satisfaction in settling down, creating a home, and growing roots, we are always craving something new, something adventurous, and something foreign.

This is the main reason we have chosen life as expats. We can’t imagine ourselves ever staying in one place too long.

We’re always on the go!

But time does seem to speed up sometimes, and many fellow expats talk about waking up one day to realize they’ve been in the same place for years – even though that wasn’t their intention.

We have so many places we want to live and experience as expats, not just travelers. So we know we have to guard ourselves from accidentally settling down.

When do we think it’s time to move on? These telltale signs are red flags for us:

Life starts to become routine.
We are living abroad because we want an exciting life. When our home base loses its luster and routines become the norm, it’s time to shake things up. Some questions to ask yourself: Are you eating the same meals from the same restaurants every day? Is every road familiar to you now? Has it been months since you’ve tried something new?

You aren’t as excited to return “home” after a holiday anymore.
One of the best parts about living as an expat is that you don’t experience the end-of-holiday blues anymore – you love your travels, AND you love being “home” in your new country. But when your return to day-to-day life is getting you down, it might be time to consider moving on.

How are you feeling on your return flight?

You’re getting annoyed easily.
You might find yourself becoming irritable at the most trivial things and start blaming it on the country. Traffic, slow service, even the weather – is it getting under your skin and affecting your moods?

You are no longer surprised by cultural differences.
When you first arrived, there was a surprise around every corner. People and life were unpredictable. Everything felt so random, and it was easy to romanticize the weirdest things – even crapping on squatter toilets or the crazy Asian way of driving. But eventually that surprise fades, and you start knowing what to expect. It’s time for a new challenge!

Bangkok’s traffic is beyond words.

A lot of your friends have already moved on.
One of the best parts of being an expat is finding friends who also love to travel. But your social circle will constantly be evolving because people are coming and going all the time. If your original group of friends has dwindled, it probably means you’ve been settled in for awhile. Are you ready to try something new, too?

You’ve explored most of the country and its surroundings.
Seeing an entire country or region is impossible, but if you live somewhere long enough it might feel like you have. If you’re planning your next long weekend, and you’re feeling like you’ve already done it all, it’s probably time to set up home in a new part of the world.

Your reasons for staying are mostly about finances.
There are plenty of countries where you can get a good paycheck compared to the low cost of living. If you’ve been somewhere too long, you might start to think you’ll never get it this good anywhere else. There are actually opportunities all around the world. Relocating might take a little extra coin, but finances definitely don’t need to hold you back.

Your reasons for staying are about comfort and ease.
Maybe you’re enjoying the comfortable life you’ve made. If you are truly happy, that is great! But think back to the day you first left your home country. Were you looking for comfort? Did you want an easy life? Or were you expecting something more? Have those desires changed?

You aren’t feeling inspired at work anymore.
If your expat life is tied to your career, staying fresh and motivated at your job is essential. As teachers, we can fall in a rut if we stay put too long. New schools and new students give us a boost of energy and inspiration, especially when we are switching to a new age group, subject, or educational approach.

You need a lot of energy and creativity to teach!

Leave while it’s still good.
Actually, our best advice is to leave before any of the above happens. In fact, we think it’s best to leave when things are still really exciting and fun. Why? Because you are preserving your memories and leaving on a high note. If you wait until life is getting a bit stale, that might be what you remember when thinking back to that city. It’s a brave decision to make your exit during happier times, but wouldn’t it be horrible to resent a place that’s give you some of the best memories of your life?

We’d love to hear from other expats! When do you decide to move on? Have you ever stayed somewhere too long? Share your experiences below.

 

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A Traveler’s Bucketlist – Beyond Sightseeing

When it comes to traveling, there are countless preferences, styles, and activities. Every traveler has their own pace, their own favorites, and their own frustrations.

While we will never deny we love a good tourist hotspot, we’ve also discovered that most of our memorable moments and fun days do not come from sightseeing.

Instead, we get the most excited about new experiences we have while exploring the world. So while many of our pictures may feature us at the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, or the Great Wall of China, our best stories take place in an entirely different setting.

If you can relate, this travel bucket list is for you. It won’t send you to any famous landmarks, but we think you’ll definitely have a worthwhile and adventurous trip if you can check off all or some of this list.

Camel Riding – While it wasn’t always the most comfortable experience, seeing the desert by camel was an unforgettable experience. I never realized how tall a camel is, and it took a lot of balance and core strength to keep from slipping off. The tour guide who took us out also provided two home-cooked meals and time to lie outside under the stars.

Boat Parties – If you’re by the coast and have a decent group of friends to split the cost, you can rent a boat and crew for a party on the water. We did this in Oman, and it was beautiful, fun, and relaxing.

Hot Springs – One of our favorite things to do in China was visit a Hot Springs park. Small pools are scattered throughout a flower garden, and the idea is to soak in each one by one. Despite being called “hot” springs, they range in temperature from practically boiling to ice cold. They also have a variety of aromas and medicinal properties, relieving stress, arthritis, acne, or inflammation.

Cliff Diving – Simon loves these high-adrenaline activities, whereas Kristin is much more nervous about heights. Whichever side you fall on, you should try it at least once. You’ll feel unbelievably free and come up laughing afterward, we promise.

Festivals – One of the best ways to get to know a new culture is to celebrate one of their holidays alongside them. We definitely recommend Songkran in Thailand, and there are several others we hope to experience one day (Mardi Gras, Holi, and more).

Cooking Classes – Loving the local food? In many countries, you can find one-time cooking classes designed for travelers. We signed up for one in India and had a great evening trying something new (and stuffing our faces).

Safaris – It’s always surreal to watch certain wild animals in their natural habitat, especially when you have only seen them in zoos before.

Motorbike Trips – If you had asked me five years ago if I’d ever get on a motorbike, I would have laughed. Now it’s one of my favorite ways to explore an island, mountain town, or small village.

Exploring by Water – You can get an entirely new perspective on some cities if you go by boat, kayak, canoe, or even paddle board. If you’re ever in my hometown, Anna Maria, I definitely recommend getting up and down all our canals. You’ll be right in our backyards and eventually find yourself at the beach.

Old Forts and Castles (with a twist) – Okay, so this one is creeping into sightseeing territory. But we did have a blast one day when we explored an old Omani fort that was basically empty except for us. Instead of browsing the fort slowly, reading everything, we decided to play hide and seek. It was really funny, way more entertaining, and we still were able to see everything.

This list is just based on our own experiences – there is plenty more to do out there! Share your best travel experiences with us, and maybe we’ll also give it a try.

 

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Tips for Traveling Vegetarians

When traveling, many people discover that they actually need fewer things than they once thought. If you want it to be, life can surprisingly simple.

I’m happy with a bed to sleep in, a few changes of clothes, and my phone to help out with local maps, translation, keeping in touch, and entertainment.

And a few meals a day, of course. Sound easy? It is! But many think finding these meals would be a challenge for me while traveling since I am a vegetarian.

My favorite pasta dish in Italy

It’s true that many cultures around the world eat very meat-heavy diets, and the concept of vegetarianism isn’t too popular.

But I have never gone hungry anywhere. I’ve eaten a few strange meals, usually on my first day somewhere, but in the end vegetarian food is always accessible without any worries.

Spring rolls and egg coffee in Vietnam

If you are also vegetarian and you’re worried about an upcoming trip, here are my best tips:

Learn a little about the food before you go. No matter where you’re heading, it only takes a quick google search to discover the most popular dishes. Find out if any of the common local cuisine is suited for your diet. Then keep a look out for these items on menus.

Learn how to say “vegetarian” or “I don’t want meat” in the local language. When I lived in China, I would just say “bu yao rou” (don’t want meat) if I couldn’t figure out the menu. A few minutes later, I’d be handed something vegetarian. Thailand has been a little trickier as not all food vendors will make something vegetarian for me, but if I say “mungsawirat” (vegetarian) I will usually at least be pointed to a place that can serve me.

My first couple meals in China

Combine sides to make a meal. I have actually done this my whole vegetarian life, even prior to my time abroad. It’s why I constantly reassure my friends that I can figure out something to eat no matter what restaurant they choose. I don’t need any of my food to be labeled a “main course.” Give me a salad, potatoes, and some beans. Altogether it fills me up just fine.

Look for western restaurants. We’ve yet to visit any city that didn’t have a least a couple western restaurants. Even if the traditional local meals always include meat, you’ll likely find some familiar vegetarian food on a more international menu.

Talk to other travelers or expats. Meeting fellow vegetarian or vegan travelers has been very common for me. I’ve probably met more abroad than I did back home. Ask them where they have been eating and share tips.

Pastries, crepes, cheese, and chocolate in France – maybe not the healthiest, but it’s all vegetarian 🙂

Go to the grocery store. If you’re really stuck (which, again, has honestly never happened to me) then you are guaranteed to find vegetarian food at the grocery store. There isn’t a country in the world that isn’t selling rice, beans, potatoes, fruit, and veggies at the market.

Cooking in India

Pack your own. This is completely unnecessary, but it can give you some peace of mind if you are still worried. The first time I left the country I was heading to Tanzania and I had no idea what to expect. I stuck several jars of peanut butter in my bag for safety.

I’d love to hear from other vegetarian travelers! How do you usually find the best food abroad? What country was best for meat-free diets? And where was it more of a challenge?

 

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