Here is our experience of teaching English online while travelling around South East Asia, East Asia, Oceania and Europe.
A year of Travel took us to these countries:
- Sri Lanka
- New Zealand
- South Korea
A Year of Travel And Teaching Online
To start with, continuous travel while teaching is not easy… It was actually a challenge and in most parts, we wouldn’t recommend doing short stays constantly. Not only was it incredibly tiring but also stressful with packing up, moving, setting up, delays, wifi issues and noisy areas.
On the plus side, working while travelling brings income, which is a great thing to have while on the move, it meant we were able to worry less about sticking to a tight budget and could treat ourselves more often. This is something we did not expect to be able to do before we left. It also meant booking accommodation in Airbnb apartments and hotel rooms as we needed a private space to teach. So we avoided budget places like hostels and had a higher level of comfort which was really nice.
What to Bring
Before heading off we made sure we had these items packed in our bags.
- MiFI device- We used the EE Osprey Mini 2 available in the UK. We could put a data sim card inside and create our own WiFi point as a backup.
- Laptop, Tablet/Phone- We taught on both laptop based platforms along with app based.
- Good earphone and headsets.
- Portable props.
- A big smile.
- A notepad/book.
- Don’t forget clothes…
Also when landing in a new country make sure you pick up a sim card that is 4G enabled. Having this saved our backs so many times and not just for teaching. It has proved helpful in fending off scams in the forms of overpriced taxis as we could use Uber or Grab along with having Google maps ready to navigate us.
Our Experience of Each Country We Stayed in For Teaching
Our first stop on the trip we booked apartments and private rooms which were cheap all with free WiFi.
WiFi is mostly 4G based but was good enough for teaching, we had no real issues. Sim cards are cheap you need a passport to purchase a sim.
Check with the host before about your teaching situation as we found out we used most of the host’s internet allowance for the month.
The downside was noise, most places had a lot of outdoor noise such as the call to prayer at various times of the day.
We stayed in Colombo, Mirissa, Kandy, Bentota, Galle, Matara and Udawalawe.
Really good Wifi in Airbnb apartments we booked. Most apartments we stayed in had the 100Mbps package, usually, we had speeds of around 80mbps download and 70mbps upload.
4G is fast and good enough in most areas we used Digi and Hotlink (Maxxis), even on the Perhentian Island we had 4G with Digi although only one bar. In the major cities, it is fast enough for teaching.
On Langkawi Island, we had 3G and managed to teach just about but would not recommend it. Fortunately, Sassi wasn’t working for her current main online job yet (Landi)
We stayed in Kuala Lumpur, Cyberjaya, Georgetown, Langkawi, Butterworth, Kota Bharu, Perhentian Kecil and Melaka.
Internet was good we stayed in a mixture of hotels and apartments and had no real issues except for one hotel in Bangkok that had limited log in accounts for the WiFi.
4G is also fast but harder to get outside the airport as we crossed at a land border, more hassle and a language barrier at shops but we managed to get one from a 7 Eleven, we opted for the tourist package which is a certain amount of data for fix duration. DTAC Happy Tourist for 599THB 15 days with 6GB.
We stayed in Krabi, Phuket, Bangkok, Kanchanaburi and Pattaya.
We stayed in hotels throughout Cambodia, the WiFi speeds were good but of course, the issue here is shared connection so the speeds varied depending on how many people were using the WiFi.
4G was fast but the signal was patchy in some areas even in the cities, however 4G sim is essential for Cambodia due to hotels speed fluctuating.
We used Smart Axiata which is good and cost us $10 for 10GB back in November 2017.
4G in Otres Village is really good.
We stayed in Siem Reap, Phom Penh and Otres Village.
Stayed in hotels and apartments, speeds varied, some places fast some slow, in most cases, we had slow upload speeds of around 1-2mpbs which were not great. One apartment the WiFi was broken and they had no intention of fixing it during our stay.
4G is fast but again can be patchy in cities where one network has more dominance than another. Ideally, pick up two different sim cards just in case one has poor signal. We were there in December 2017 so things may have improved since then.
We stayed in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Halong City.
Access to WiFi and fast speeds aren’t great in the Philippines but they are improving. In the big cities, speeds were fine for teaching such as Manila and Cebu. Outside the cities the signal gets patchy, we stayed with family for 2 hours outside of Cebu City, we had to rely on our 4G and we were only just in range.
4G is essential as a backup here, prices aren’t as good as other South East Asian countries, we had to top up a lot of times but thankfully lots of people and shops offer top up service called “Load”, my aunt being one of them. On Cebu island, 4G is mostly found along the main road and speed varies depending on how far you are from the network mast. We had speeds of around 5mbps up and down. In the city, it is faster and more reliable. Having two sim cards is a good idea as coverage is split between them.
We used Globe.
We stayed in Manila, Mactan Island, Near CarCar City, Dalaguete and Panglao Island.
We did not teach during our stay as it was only a 2-night stay, but the hotel’s WiFi was very fast.
Wifi speeds varied; we stayed in hotels and guest houses along with two host families during a volunteering experience. Most places had fast WiFi but shared with other people, thankfully it was a quiet period so there were not too many people staying in the hotels.
4G is amazing here one of the best places and they still offer truly unlimited packages available only at the airport before border patrol. Pick up a sim card that allows unlimited 4G data for a certain duration; we chose 30 days which cost around £26. This turned out to be a lifesaver as the host families WiFi did not reach our rooms, so we used 4G data for two weeks straight. Very good and fast speeds with a reliable connection in all towns we stayed in.
Our vote for best 4G for stays of up to one month considering the price and unlimited data.
We used FarEasTone 遠傳電信.
We stayed in Taipei, Hualien, Taitung, Tainan, Lukang and Xihu.
WiFi varied and was good enough for teaching, we stayed in apartments, private rooms and house sat for someone. Speeds were good and we had no issues. It was actually Chinese New Year for part of our stay so we had a two-week break which is lucky as the place we house sat had a limited 4G internet package of 15GB which we would have easily used up during our stay of teaching.
We ordered a 4G sim online to be delivered to our first Airbnb which worked out as it was a lot cheaper than buying one in store and we had a promotion for double data. So for around $15AUD we received 10GB on the Lebara. 4G speeds were fast in Australia but prices varied and were high so ordering online before is a great idea. We stayed in big cities so can’t speak about the outback and between cities.
We used Lebara.
Time zone expect to teach til midnight for Chinese peak hours.
We stayed in Tweed Heads, Brisbane, Western Sydney.
WiFi varies in New Zealand speeds are mostly good; we stayed in a private room inside a hostel, apartment, hotel and house sat. Something to consider is that many motels and hotels offer a log in code for the WiFi which has a daily data limit, one place was 2GB per person, but we heard stories of some being as low as 500mb per room. Also, speeds are only good in the cities, outside of these areas they drop down to slow speeds. We had to base our travel plans around this and ended up staying in the Christchurch area and Auckland area, and just hiring a car to visit areas outside. We messaged many apartments on the South Island and the speeds were too slow for teaching.
4G is expensive and you don’t get a lot of data for your money which is not great. We spent around £25 for 8GB which is not a lot of data for the money. Speeds are fast though so it is a great backup. The best option is to order online before arriving which we did not do. There are good deals with MNVOs online but we bought a sim card from a petrol station.
We used Spark.
Time zone is not great for teaching Chinese peak hours in March, we were teaching from 10PM- 2AM.
We stayed in Christchurch, Auckland and West Auckland.
We only visited Bali in Indonesia and the speeds were good but reliability was poor. We stayed in entire houses, hotels and bungalows. We had the speed test from the entire house even though the speeds were fast enough; 25mbps download 8mbps upload but it fluctuated a lot. We had many occasions where the internet completely dropped out and kept disconnecting for the whole evening. This happened in a couple of places we stayed. We actually stayed on Nusa Ceningan, a little island 40 minutes boat ride from Bali, for obvious reasons WiFi was not great but it was usable except for occasional disconnections. We did not have many issues in Seminyak inside a hotel so it depends on the areas.
4G is fast enough we had two sim cards as coverage varies with each network so we had the top two networks and had to change them around depending on the area we stayed in. Again the signal can drop just like the WiFi so not always reliable plus the network coverage stated on the website sometimes was not correct.
We used XL and Telkomsel.
Same time zone as China.
We stayed near Uluwatu, Jimbaran, Nusa Ceningan, Ubud and Seminyak.
WiFi speed is very fast and consistent in most places we stayed, quite possibly the best speeds and most reliable we have had during our travels. Something great about South Korea is that most hotels have a router in each room even cheap budget rooms have routers. So each room has its own access point for WiFi, speeds are great for teaching. WiFi is pretty much everywhere in the towns and cities, and in Seoul, vouchers can be bought to access the large extensive network of WiFi points. we even picked up free WiFi from the street in some of the hotels.
4G is also very fast, the set up is similar to Taiwan with the option of buying unlimited data for a period of time but it is more costly. Ideally buy the sim card at the airport, picking up a sim card in the city is a lot harder and only certain phone shops will sell to foreigners along with few 7 Elevens in tourist areas. Plus the deals are not as good as the airport. We bought it as a backup but did not really need it as the WiFi was so good. There are options to buy limited data sim cards but they were costly. So it depends on how long you are planning to stay.
We used the KT Olleh Sim.
We stayed in Seoul, Jeju Island and Sokcho.
WiFi is fast but not always reliable in hotels. We were actually slightly let down by Japan as we had high hopes considering its technological stereotypes. Speeds were good but when sharing a connection it did drop and caused some issues. Most of the time they had Wifi point for each floor to connect to. Not as many free points around Tokyo for free WiFi.
A good 4G deal is hard to get and stressful, we bought a backup sim card due to staying in hotels and some problems we had on our first night. From researching sim cards only data options are available to visitors which is fine (except there was one sim you can get for voice). Sim cards are VERY expensive, it was one of the worst we encountered, high fees for little data. We found a good deal for unlimited data for 10 days sim card but it came at high price £40… and it sucked! We had 4G for 2 days and then it was 3G for the rest of the time. It needed a lot of configuration to work in the MiFi device. Not worth it. One of the main options is to hire a WiFi device with a sim inside but prices are high!
Japan was too expensive for teaching online we were lucky to get lots of free stays at hotels due to a writing job. Otherwise, we would only recommend Japan for a short stay, all the money you will earn online teaching will be spent straight away. Amazing place though so still worth it and being able to at least earn some money making the trip easier.
We stayed in Tokyo and Ito.
Speeds were fine for teaching but we were only in the country for 4 nights, the apartment we stayed in had a shared WiFi point so it did have issues at peak Germany times but for teaching Chinese peak hours (morning Germany time) it was fine.
We did not buy a 4G sim card as it is harder to get for foreigners from doing some research, although for EU residents the option to roam at home is available in Germany so your sim and data plan from your EU country will work here for a certain amount of time varies with networks. I use Giff Gaff (UK) which means I get two months to roam like home in the EU outside of my home country.
Time zone for Chinese peak hours is around 12-3PM.
We stayed in Stuttgart.
WiFi speeds are mostly fast in Hungary and reliable we had one apartment with 60mbps download and 30mbps upload. Although we had one apartment where the host gave us the incorrect wifi speed before we arrived and it was far too slow. So we had to use our mobile data (roam at home). Most places have fast speeds though.
4G is fast and you can roam like home if you are from the EU depending on how long your network allows it. Reliable speeds on 4G. Trying to register a Hungarian 4G sim card troublesome especially if you don’t speak Hungarian or you are not a resident. It took about 6 shops to find one that would work and in the end, we needed a Hungarian address to sign up.
We used Vodafone.
Time zone for Chinese peak hours is around 12-3PM.
We stayed in Debrecen, Budapest, Balaton and Gyor.
We spent a month in Valencia in one apartment speeds were ok but it turned out the WiFi was shared between three other apartments so speeds were up and down. Overall the speed was good during the morning but got worse as the day progressed. Peak evening times in Spain the speed would be very slow.
4G again roam like home available. We found a cheap option for 4G ideally order it online before arriving as it is harder to find in shops. Simyo offers cheap data deals and promotions. We got 20GB for 15EUR with an extra 15GB promotion so 35GB. The sim card can be bought in Hola Mobi stores. Address and ID needed. Fast speeds and a reliable connection. In comparison, other sim cards were charging 15EUR for 4-8GB so this is a great one to pick up.
We used Simyo.
We stayed in Valencia.
Prior to leaving on our trip, we taught English online back in our home in the UK annoyingly our apartment did not have access to fibre internet, half of the block of apartments had fibre half did not. We were still able to teach but it wasn’t great. It now has access to fibre and speeds are available up to 200mb download, fibre is fast in the UK if you choose Virgin Media not sure about other providers. We taught at my parents home before leaving and had speeds of around 70mbps download and 25mbps upload.
4G is a huge market in the UK, we both use Giff Gaff an MNVO running on the O2 network, speeds are fast and it offers good rates for UK prices. Although there are some better deals available on other MNVO if you want to do the research. EE+ 4G is very fast which we also had inside a MiFi device for a photography job for quickly uploading images while out and about. Speeds are reliable and very quick but fairly expensive.
We taught In Surrey, Hampshire and Devon.
Looking for accommodation for your trip while you travel and teach English online?
Book with Booking.com and receive £15 off your first stay.
Book with Airbnb and get £25 travel credit towards a booking.
Join Trusted Housesitters and look for free accommodation around the world in exchange for pet and house sitting.