School’s Out! Travel is In
Are you taking advantage of one of your biggest benefits as a teacher? Teachers get more time off than most jobs, but what are you doing with that time? Hopefully you are utilizing it to it’s fullest potential to refresh, renew, build skills, have fun, and see the world!
Sailing lessons in Italy
Traditionally many professions are faced with multiple hurdles when considering longer-term travel beyond a 2 week vacation. These hurdles normally center around getting time off from their job, financial, social stigmas of a gap on their resume, and fear of travel. As an education professional you have the time off and the ‘permission’ to take 2 to 3 months to travel – but are you taking advantage of it? If your summer consists of typically taking a couple of weeks to travel, then consider shaking up your routine and infusing a longer, meaningful trip into your summer time off. Here are some things to consider when planning a 1 to 3 month trip that will not only be fun for you, but good for your career.
Benefits of Extended Travel:
Improved Problem Solving and Creative Thinking - Getting away is an essential habit of effective thinking. Traveling abroad for an extended period of time can improve our capacities for problem solving and creative thinking.
Soft skills - most every long term traveler will return with better soft skills acquired from their time on the road. Travelers improve their risk assessment, negotiation skills, flexibility, patience, communication skills, adapting quickly to changing environments, and enhanced decision making.
Get first hand classroom content – You can teach geography, art, history, or social studies from a text book, but when you have first hand experience it can take your teaching to a whole new level. You have ways to better educate and engage the students based on your own experiences of seeing a live volcano, crossing the Panama Canal, hiking the historic Inca Trail, or climbing a glacier. You take back pictures, videos and real experiences that you are able to share in your classroom. If you choose your destinations/activities carefully, essentially, you are building your knowledge and skillset in your area of teaching expertise.
What to Do:
Choose itineraries and activities that interest you, but can also help you build your teaching skills.
Volunteer – You don’t have to volunteer in the field that you teach in. Break away and stretch yourself in new directions. There are many long term international volunteering options in various fields. If you want a break from teaching, then consider environmental conservation, building houses, rescuing animals, helping finance small businesses, or simply doing a cultural exchange where minor tutoring is needed.
Take an Epic Trip – really shake up your travels with an adventurous trip that you can share with your class upon your return as a learning opportunity. Hike the Great Wall, take a sailing adventure, climb Kilimanjaro, or participate in the Mongol Rally driving across 2 continents from London to Mongolia.
Build your skills - You can incorporate learning into your travels. Learn a language abroad while living with a local family. Take sailing classes that help you brush up on your physics but get you out on the open seas. Take a photography class in Thailand or learn how to box Muay Thai. You can also take an online class here. Traveling doesn’t just mean tours, your possibilities to learn around the world are endless.
Traveling on a Budget
Teaching doesn’t always afford an expensive travel budget, but there are ways to do extended travel for 1 to 3 months that are budget friendly. First off, try to choose a part of the world that is lower cost; Asia, South America, and parts of Africa fit lower budgets nicely. However, if you still want to go to Europe, then consider some of these other options.
House-swapping/sitting –house swapping can be a great way to reduce the cost of accommodations while traveling long term. Swap homes or apartments with another traveler in Paris or Capetown and allow them to stay in your home for the summer. You continue to pay your mortgage or rent, but you won’t have to pay anything extra for your travel accommodations. If you choose instead to house-sit, then you’ll get free accommodations in exchange for watching the owner’s pets.
Resources: homeexchange.com, trustedhousesitters.com
Working while exploring an area – yes, it is supposed to be your vacation, but short term working abroad can often be fun and exciting and doesn’t even feel like work. There are places where you can fill opportunities to do odd jobs in exchange for accommodation. From painting to planting, building to babysitting and shopping to shearing; it’s a great way to immerse yourself in a country and also brush up on your language skills.
Turn Your Travel Dream Into Reality
Start to dream now about taking advantage of your time off as a teacher and take an extended break you’ll never forget next summer. Plus, your class will think you are the coolest teacher ever after doing some of these adventures!
If you like the idea of a longer summer of travel, but are still intimidated to do so or don’t know where to start, then check out Meet, Plan, Go! (www.meetplango.com). Meet plan go provides inspiration and ‘how-to’ advice regarding career break planning and travel. We do this through our online website, our in person travel events around the country, and through our basic training community and class.
Meet, Plan, Go! is hosting travel events in 17 cities across North America on October 18th again this year. At every event will be individuals who have fulfilled their own dreams of traveling around the world , or are currently in the planning stages. You'll get information on how to prepare and plan for such a trip, how to overcome the hurdles associated with extended travel, and more tips on what to do with your time on the road.
Sherry Ott is a refugee from corporate IT who is now a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer. She’s a co-founder of Meet, Plan, Go!, a website and national event offering career break or sabbatical travel inspiration and advice. She also runs an around the world travel blog writing about her travel and expat experiences at Ottsworld .