Need a TEFL certification but you’re itching to take off to a faraway place ASAP? You can travel the world and get certified at the same time with an online TEFL certification course.
As Teach Away's TEFL Program Lead, I get a lot of questions from prospective students who want to get certified but don’t want to hold off on their travel plans. Well, great news: you don’t need to delay either!
The beauty of online TEFL courses is that they are self-paced, super flexible and can be completed from anywhere in the world. So you can study wherever your heart desires.
In fact, there are many advantages that come with studying on the road.
For one thing, if you’re not sure where you want to teach English abroad, traveling can help you make that decision. Visiting different countries can give you an idea of what places are really like before you commit to living and working in one location.
Or, if you decide that you don’t want to settle down in one place, you can continue your nomad lifestyle by teaching English online. That’s right: once you’re TEFL certified, you’ll have a great way to make money while you travel. Pretty awesome, right?
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s circle back to doing a TEFL course first.
How can you complete a TEFL certification course while traveling?
- Enroll in an online TEFL course that’s flexible and self-paced.
- Make sure you have all the tech gear you’ll need to take with you.
- Choose travel destinations with reliable WiFi access.
- Budget for a longer trip with a flexible itinerary.
- Start your journey and study wherever (and whenever) you want!
1. Choose a flexible online TEFL certification that you can do from anywhere.
Everyone’s English teaching journey should start with a TEFL course because one thing is for sure: you'll need a TEFL certificate to teach English abroad.
If you’re ready to start your globetrotting adventure now, there are two great options for getting TEFL certified while studying abroad.
The first one is doing an online TEFL certification course. This is undoubtedly the more flexible and affordable option.
You’ll learn all the same content as in a face-to-face TEFL course, plus have the freedom to study from wherever you want, whenever you want. So then you can bounce from country to country or settle in any overseas destination you choose.
Worried about balancing your free time with studying? Don’t! Since online TEFL courses are self-paced, you won’t be tied down to a specific schedule or time zone.
The second option is doing an in-person TEFL course abroad. But this option can be very pricey, once you’ve factored in course fees, airfare, student visa costs and accommodations. Plus, you’ll be tied to one location for weeks, whether you like it or not.
So if you’re looking for a TEFL certification course that can move with your travels, you’ll find that getting certified online is much more flexible than doing a course in person.
Of course, choosing the right TEFL course for you will depend on your budget and travel goals. So you should do some research before enrolling in a course.
2. Gear up with everything you’ll need to study online while you travel.
If you’re planning to study online while traveling, here are some things you’ll need to take with you:
A laptop with WiFi connectivity
Sure, mobile devices like tablets and smartphones have come a long way. But you still can’t beat the capabilities of a laptop when it comes to completing an online course.
If you don’t have a laptop already, don’t worry about spending too much. Nowadays, there are laptops out there for every budget. Just look for one that’s light and small enough to fit in your carry-on.
This may seem obvious, but I’ll remind you just in case: You won’t get very far if you can’t plug your laptop in, so don’t forget to bring your charger!
You also won’t get far with a charger that won’t fit in a power outlet, so you’ll need to bring the right travel adaptors with you.
Before you leave on your trip, double-check the outlets and voltages in the countries you’ll be traveling to and get the right adaptors for each place.
A protective laptop case
Since you’re going to be moving from place to place, it’s also a good idea to bring a protective case for your laptop to make sure it survives the journey – especially if you’ll be living out of a backpack!
Online TEFL courses often include instructional videos, so you’ll want to pack some headphones for your listening comfort.
If you can fit them into your budget, noise-canceling headphones are ideal for minimizing distractions when you’re studying in public places.
Traveling with valuables can be stressful. So for your own peace of mind, it’s always good to secure your bags with a luggage lock.
And if you’ll be staying in hostel dorms, always ask if there are lockers in shared rooms where you can safely store your tech gear.
So, to review, here’s the short list of the things you’ll need to add to your packing list:
What do you need to pack to study while you travel?
- Laptop charger
- Travel adaptors
- Protective laptop case
- Luggage locks
3. Plan a travel itinerary with optimal WiFi access.
For any online student, a reliable WiFi connection is essential!
So keep in mind that even though WiFi is now a given in many countries, it’s still not accessible everywhere. That’s why making sure that you’ll have reliable internet access on your trip will take a bit of planning.
A good place to start is making sure any accommodations you book have good WiFi connections. Most hotels nowadays have free WiFi available in your room, where you can study with no distractions. Hostels normally have WiFi in rooms and/or common areas.
Cafés and restaurants are another good source of WiFi, but will take a little more research on your part. There’s nothing more annoying than finding a cute cafe to work in, ordering a coffee, and then finding out it doesn’t have WiFi.
Getting out and going somewhere local to study also means you don’t have to cut yourself off from traveling while you study. You can get your work done while enjoying the local scenery and delicacies at the same time.
Also, keep in mind that you should plan your itinerary carefully if you want to visit remote places without internet access, like national parks, campsites or undeveloped areas. You should plan to visit these places when you know you won’t need to complete online coursework.
4. Extend your travels (and study time) by budgeting for a longer trip.
It’s the eternal travel dilemma: do you take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime trip by packing in as many activities as you can, or do you take a proper break and really, truly, relax?
It’s all about finding the right balance between travel and coursework.
Studying is going to be an extra pull on your time while you travel. You don’t want to miss out on any experiences because you’ve got to hit the books (or, in this case, the online modules). There are a few simple ways to make sure you are staying on top of your studies and still having fun in your free time!
Firstly, budgeting for a longer trip will put you under less time pressure and, hopefully, mean you can fully dedicate yourself to whatever you’re doing: whether that’s mastering a new teaching approach, or simply laying on the beach.
You can also save money on longer trips by seeking out budget-friendly destinations, accommodations and transportation.
5. Enjoy traveling the world while getting TEFL certified.
Once you’ve planned your trip, enrolled in your online TEFL course and packed everything you’ll need, it’s time to hit the road! But remember to be realistic. Don’t try to fit studying into a packed itinerary, or else you won’t have time to enjoy your travels.
Finding the perfect balance between studying online and traveling will take some time. You won’t want to miss any opportunities in the destinations you visit, but learning something new can take time too.
Two of the best tips for success for online TEFL courses are, firstly, don’t rush your studies. And, secondly, spread the work out rather than trying to cram everything in at the last minute.
Most 120-hour TEFL courses take 4 weeks of full-time study to complete, but the University of Toronto OISE TEFL and International House UC Berkeley TEFL both give students 12 months to complete their online TEFL courses.
To get the most out of your schedule, you can dedicate an hour or two a day to coursework and still be able to finish in as little as 6 to 12 weeks.
Your travels will not only be filled with new cultures, countries and friends but thanks to your TEFL course, brand new skills too. And who knows, you might like some of the places you visit so much that you end up living (and teaching!) there in the future.
Time to take the leap!
Whatever stage of trip planning you’re at, you can start your TEFL journey today by enrolling in a TEFL course and working on it at your own pace.
If you’d like to learn more, feel free to set up a call with me. I’m always happy to chat about all things TEFL!