Moving around a lot is great, but if you really want to get to know a place and its’ people, nothing beats living there and there is always work if you know where to look. After 3 months of traveling around South East Asia, Jon and Seb’s travel funds were diminishing and the motorbikes were suffering some serious issues; the main one being that they were shit! So they set off on the three day ride from Laos to Hanoi, Vietnam in hope of finding work. Luckily they had already prepared for this situation before leaving the UK. Both had completed a 150 hour TEFL teacher training course so that they could have some kind of income almost anywhere in the world. As things turned out, Hanoi is actually heaven for native English speakers looking to make good money. Teaching jobs there pay $20-30 per hour and living costs are some of the cheapest in the world. Jon landed a job teaching kids for 20 hours a week and rented a huge house with 3 guys; Seb, the half-French Cumbrian; a mysterious yet disturbing Swede named Martin; and Eachan, a 19 year old Geordie who realized Vietnam was loads better than the army…It was interesting…..
I, on the other hand, didn’t have any teaching certificates and wasn’t considered a native speaker in Vietnam, so it took me a few months to find teaching work, but once I landed my first job the flood gates just opened for me. Also, since I have a good deal of marketing and administrative experience, I was also able to find freelance work.
Although we both had full time jobs as well as other part time jobs to help us save for our next big backpacking adventure through India, we still found time to take short trips away. In seven months we rode a motorbike around North Vietnam for a week; spent a week in Laos; had a luxury cruise in Halong Bay and even treated ourselves to 4 and 5 Star hotel breaks in Hanoi and Ninh Binh!
By the time we left Hanoi, we had enough savings to travel to Singapore, India, The Maldives, UK and South America over 6 months. And we were hardly sticking to a tight budget – the odd 5 star hotel managed to sneak itself into our India trip!
Our 5 star hotel in New Delhi, India
Option 3 – Work WHILE Traveling – Truly Mobile Travelers!
While living the expat life in Vietnam was an amazing (and quite profitable!) we both knew that in order to achieve that next level of financial freedom and mobility we needed to invest in some new skills that allowed us to work on the move.
Of course this would have to be something we enjoyed as well as providing a solid source of income to top up our pockets now and then.
Jon at Shri Kali Ashram, Goa, India
I had practiced Yoga in the Middle East and later completed a month long intensive Tantra Yoga course in Thailand, whilst Jon had practiced Tai Chi in the UK and Yoga in Hanoi. Our decision to become qualified Yoga teachers was the main motivation to travel to India, where we studied traditional Tantra Yoga with Shri Kali Ashram in South Goa.
Jon’s yoga class in Ollantaytambo, Peru
Towards the end of our India trip, we also visited Rishikesh in the North West, where we found Dr Vinod Kumar, qualified Doctor (MD), Ayurvedic Doctor and founder of the Ayuskama centre, where we studied to become Ayurveda Massage Therapists. Between us we specialize in Marma Point therapy, Pre and Post Natal and Childcare massage therapy
Business card in Arequipa, Peru
With these new skills we could now be truly mobile, practicing our interests and passions whilst funding our travels around the world.
Option 4 – Volunteering and Work Exchange – Stretch your budget…and your travels.
You won’t be able to save money or even earn it through this route, but you can definitely extend your budget, and consequently your travels, by working a few hours a day in exchange for your bed and at least one meal a day. This is most often in hostels but you can also find more interesting jobs with eco-projects or charitable organizations.
Bowl of Compassion, Bodh Gaya, India
We have both volunteered teaching English in Cambodia and Laos and I worked in a Hostel on Koh Pah Ngan, Thailand. We also worked 4 hours a night in a beach restaurant in India for two meals a day and worked in a Hostal in Ollantaytambo, Peru for a month so we could learn Spanish and visit Machu Picchu. We also used this as an opportunity to meet massage clients and host Yoga classes!
Waiters at Duck n Chill – for FREE yummy food!
Duck n Chill. Agonda Beach where we worked at the bar at night!
However, BEWARE of anyone asking you to pay any kind of fee in order to volunteer. We don’t believe in paying to donate our time, effort and skills to a good cause, but volunteer work has become so popular and accessible (thanks internet!) that many have taken advantage by charging extortionate fees for a ‘rewarding experience’. Unfortunately it’s quite common for very little of this money to go to the people who actually need it.
One of Jon’s yoga class in Ollantaytambo, Peru
About the Authors
Kach Medina and Jonathan Howe are working-on-the-road couple from the Philippines and UK. Having each decided to quit their jobs and set off around South East Asia to start their new lives, neither imagined they would end up traveling the world with someone they met in a backpackers’ bar in Laos. But that’s what happened! They are both certified Tantra Yoga Teachers, Ayurveda Massage Therapists and TEFL Certified Teachers. Working wherever and whenever they want! Travelling since April 2013 and currently exploring South America. their next major travel goal- Antartica via Argentina
Visit them at www.twomonkeystravelgroup.com
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