Traveler Teachers Checklist

By | September 27, 2014

A Teaching Abroad Checklist:
Preparations to teach English abroad

If you are going abroad for an extended period, and have saved up the money. You will need to prepare a lot of things: including… (but not limited to):

Getting Cashed Up

It’s difficult to predict cash flow when you’re setting off, but you will always spend more than you expect. Unexpected expenses will show up when you least expect them.

When you are planning, make sure that you have enough cash, credit cards, and traveler’s checks to get you through to your first pay check from your new teaching English abroad job.

For credit cards, debit cards, and ATM cards, you will need to know where you can use them, not every country uses the same systems, so getting local cash may be awkward especially if you are not in a major metropolitan area.

Check with a decent guidebook and don’t believe what your bank says unless they have a local branch where you want to go!

Pre-Arranged Job

If you are going to a pre-arranged job that you have found on the Internet, you SHOULD prepare an emergency fund to get you home, in the event the job falls through (and it sometimes will for reasons you can’t always control).

Leaving to go look for a job in a foreign country will require an even bigger budget because you will have to include the job search time as unpaid, so the time to your first pay check will be much longer. Choosing an affordable destination or saving up a larger budget is highly advisable.

Do calculate how many days you estimate that you will be without a salary. Don’t forget that you may need a month in work before you receive a salary payment (though many jobs may pay weekly or bi-weekly).

You will need to budget for accommodation and food during that time. You may also need to budget for additional expenses like travel, etc. 

Job Search Timeline

Many traveler teachers turn up without a job in the destination of their choice, perhaps after a period of travel elsewhere. Looking for a job on site is a great way to get to know the terrain, people and what life might be like there.

But this will lengthen the period to your next paycheck, and you may face foreseen expenses (travel to pick up your working visa) and unforeseen expenses, too (visa fees, permits, etc.). It’s almost impossible to predict what expenses you will actually spend, but having an idea of what you need to spend is a great idea.

Documents, Documents

I said it twice, but you really do need quite a lot of documents if you wish to teach English abroad, so you need to make a list of things you need before you leave your home country.

Forgetting an important document will slow your job search & visa approval period considerably, and may mean even losing some job opportunities.

Travel Documents

You will need your passport obviously because it’s pretty difficult to travel without one. I suggest that you take your regular ID as well. You will need to be able to prove who you are. Again and again.

Driving License and International Driving License

If you drive, you should take both your national and international driving licenses (easy to obtain). This will help you rent vehicles, function as a secondary ID (for many purposes), and generally makes life easier!

Work Documents

These documents will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, job to job, and regulations are always subject to change.

However, you will need your identity documents, educational qualifications (degree, teaching qualifications), updated resume/CV, health/vaccination reports, and so on. I would also include unopened reference letters, testimonials, etc. in case you are asked for these.

You may also need, depending, a recent police report (if you work with children), a higher degree for college or university work with a copy of any thesis (perhaps, a USB copy will do).

Work Visa Documents

You will need many things to process a visa in your chosen destination, but rules vary. Some of the things you will need:

  • Various passport type photos (2″ and 1″ type);
  • Passport and/or other ID;
  • Job Contract (this will have certain requirements, too);
  • Educational Certificates;
  • Health (& Vaccinations) Report; and
  • Police Report.

In some jurisdictions, Police Reports, Health Reports (if not done locally), Contracts, etc. need to be translated into the local language as well as English.

Not fulfilling the regulations for the application procedure because you can’t produce the required papers will not endear you to your prospective employer, and may see you lose your verbal offer to someone who has their teaching English ducks in a row already.

Doubtless you will face additional requirements as your particular job situation demands. Make a list, keep checking it for things that you might forget to do and for things you might forget to add.


Applying for a job BEFORE you leave your home is always safer and less risky from a number of angles, gives you time to consider your options, and allows you to back out of a dodgy contract/employer (they exist!). I do recommend this for first time teacher travelers.

This list of things to do isn’t complete by any means, and may vary. If you think I should add something, drop me a line, and I may add it!

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