15 Jun Featured Intentional Travelers: To Love To Live
We’re excited to bring you another Featured Intentional Travelers interview today. This couple has taken on an awesome adventure that epitomizes what intentional travel is all about. Here’s what we learned about them:
Anthony and Claire are two UK-qualified physics teachers who quit their jobs in December 2014 to embark on a six-month TEFL internship in China. In September 2015, they’ll be out again around the world, this time to volunteer in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka & South Africa mainly teaching English (with some turtle conservation in Sri Lanka). Following this, they plan to continue on to Australia to explore what the East Coast has to offer and try out surfing, sailing and diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
Their website name, To Love To Live, reflects their view on life: ‘To Love’ each other, life and the opportunities the world offers and ‘To Live’ experiencing the great variety in culture found across the world, taking ourselves outside of our comfort zones and meeting amazing people.
Kayaking Ha Long Bay, Vietnam a few hours before Anthony proposed
How did you get started in this travel lifestyle?
We started out as tourists really, taking advantage of the regular holidays that UK teachers receive to explore places near and far.
Our first extended trip together was a four week tour of SE Asia last summer when we explored Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Whilst an organised tour with a premium operator, we did get the chance to see real life in the countries we visited and mixed with lots of other travellers from across the world. Though both of us had travelled before, it was this trip that gave us the incentive to really look into long-term, slow travel. Since that time, our plans have become bolder. It started the journey to our six-month internship here in China which we added onto the start of our planned RTW trip originally due to begin in September 2015. In the next stage of our journey, we plan to spend extended time in the developing world. We hope to make a difference – no matter how small – taking advantage only in the memories we gain from the experience and the time spent in the communities we will support.
Forbidden City, Beijing
What are the pros and cons of teaching English abroad? What benefits does your particular TEFL program provide for interns?
First and foremost TEFL teachers are in demand worldwide in practically every country as the desire to learn English continues to grow in importance globally. This makes any TEFL teacher with some experience (and desirably a TEFL qualification) a valued commodity who can earn whilst they travel. Additionally, many TEFL roles include additional perks such as living accommodation allowances/included accommodation as part of your contract (in addition to your pay), so you have a base to explore an area and a country over an extended period of time. Taking into account that most offer return airline tickets to your home country for completing a contract of one or more years, you’ve got an affordable way of earning whilst being based in a foreign country.
On the con side, you are working for somebody else (i.e. a school) and so lose the flexibility that a digital nomad / freelancer would have. Added to that, many roles require you to maintain office hours which can be far longer than your actual teaching commitments, resulting in some downtime when you need to be at work but not actually fully occupied. However, you’ll normally have internet access and the ability to manage yourself so this time can be used to your advantage (we’ve found it invaluable to get our blog off the ground and understand China as we explore it). On top of that, as this is a contracted post you’ll get regular pay checks for the duration, allowing you to plan how to spend your money on your time off!
As interns with i-to-i TEFL on the ImmerQi Teach & Travel China programme, we get the advantage of all the perks of the experienced TEFL teacher but with a reduced timetable and on the job training for when you lack the experience. With language being such a challenge here, our programme also includes two hours of Mandarin language training a week and we get a food allowance which pays for good quality local cuisine during the working week. Although we paid up front for the internship, we effectively receive this money back over the course of the six months we spend here in China – in effect, we swap our time in school for six months free food, accommodation and exploring in China!
How do you afford to travel?
At the moment, we’re being paid for our work on the TEFL internship so we effectively break even. For our RTW trip, we’ll be using savings to pay for our travels. However, most of the time we will be volunteering which includes accommodation and often food. Giving this time back will allow us to travel for far longer and to make much more of a difference in the countries we visit. We hope to one day make a small income from digital, location-independent work so that we can continue to volunteer in the countries that need it most as well as exploring such cultures.
If you could give one piece advice to others interested in your lifestyle, what would it be?
Don’t put it off, just go for it! There are so many opportunities for those willing to take a small risk and you’ll never regret it. If you wait for retirement, you’ll be waiting forever and you have to wonder whether you’ll be fit and healthy to make the most of it. Take a grown up gap year, career break or sabbatical, write a bucket list and explore yourself and the world you live in.
Are you a fellow Intentional Traveler? You don’t need to be a blogger. Share your story with us to be featured in an upcoming blog post (and potential book project). Help inspire others to pursue more meaningful, transformational travel!
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