February 20, 2015 Comments (3) Adventure, Backpacking, Guides, Travel on a Budget, Travel Tips

Work and Travel – The Two Monkeys way!

Kach and Jon

Sustainable travel is a tough business. But Kach and Jon of Two Monkeys Travel have devised a formula that makes its seem so darn easy to work and travel.  On the road since 2013, the Two Monkeys really put their money where their mouth is. With incredibly detailed, and actionable advice, Kach and Jon inspire others, such as myself, to just get out there and do it. Lucky for us, they’ve allowed us to share some of their best kept secrets…


How to Fund and Sustain a Life of Travel

For most of us nowadays, the world is a fairly accessible place. Cheap deals on flights and accommodation, thanks largely to online competition, as well as the massive growth in information available to anyone with an internet connection, means more of us are seeing more of the world than ever before.  As long as you have a job and can save a little money each month, you can fund that once-in-a-lifetime backpacking experience to SE Asia, India, South America, Africa…the list goes on!

Unfortunately though, all good things must come to an end.  You’ve had your fun, escaped the ‘real world’ for a year or two and now it’s time to get back to reality; build a career; buy a car; get married; buy a house; put babies in the house…Your own preferably.  Don’t steal babies! So that’s it – work and invest and raise miniature versions of yourself and do all of the things that you’re supposed to do up until retirement age.  If you’ve looked after your health then you can get straight back to having fun again.  Go wild!  Grow your own vegetables; play golf; join some kind of committee; maybe go on nudist holidays when nobody you know is looking.  It’s gonna be crazy!

But what if you don’t want to wait until the age of 65 to enjoy all these wonders that life has to offer?  What if you want to join the naked-vegetable-golf-committee right now?!  Well, you know what, you can!

There are many ways that you can fund a life of continuous travel and if you’re prepared to stay somewhere longer, actually build up savings as well!

Firstly, here’s everything we’ve done to earn money since leaving our jobs and up until leaving Vietnam.

work and travel

Beatles Ashram, Rishikesh, India

Here’s our story: Jon is from the United Kingdom and I’m from the Philippines.  We both have completely different cultural, work and financial backgrounds.

Jon had already been saving for 6 months before he quit his job in the UK and flew to South East Asia.  His savings only lasted for 3 months though as he did a motorbike trip through Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam; which used up most of his traveling funds.

In my case, my traveling funds came from my last 3 paychecks I received while working in Kurdistan, Iraq. I quit from my job and initially planned to travel for 3 to 6 months, one month of which was with my younger siblings.  I paid for everything, which put quite a dent in my finances as well!

When I decided to follow Jon to Hanoi, Vietnam, he had already found a job, a house and had 2 motorbikes but his bank savings were suffering.  By that time I had been traveling for 3 months and still had enough savings, from working in Kuwait and Iraq, to survive for a month or two, however I didn’t intend to touch them as it was invested in my mutual funds in the Philippines.

Now for the important stuff – How we managed to save and sustain our finances in Hanoi, Vietnam upon choosing this long-term traveling lifestyle.

1. Teaching English

work and travel

Vietnamese New Year Celebration with May School where Jon taught English for 6 months

As posted in Memories of Hanoi, by teaching English we earned from $19 to $25. Jon, having a TEFL Certificate (from the UK) and being a Native English speaker, though without teaching experience, was able to get a 6-month contract with a private language school.  This paid a monthly salary of $1600 to $1800, depending on his working hours, with an extra of contract bonus.  He also took on some extra classes and private students to earn extra cash.  While now here in South America, you can also add yourself to websites which are specifically designed to help students and teachers to connect to each other, like this one, linking travelling teachers to students all over South America – www.englishclassforlatino.com

In my case, a non-native speaker without experience, nor TEFL certificate, it took 3 months to find my first teaching gig.  My first job paid me $17/ class (1 hour and 30 minutes) but I had a sure 30 class course over almost 2 months which paid me at the end of the course. After that, I was able to get a job through a private agency that sends teachers to rural areas in Hanoi, getting paid $20/hour for 10 hours every weekend and $25/hour for 5 hours on Tuesday and Thursday. This teaching job paid me weekly, so we used this money for our monthly bills while Jon’s monthly salary went straight to our 2014 Travel fund!

work and travel

My students in the public school

Also, there were times that some centres needed a teacher to cover a class which they advertised in TNH or Hanoi Massive.  I once covered a short class for a week, paying $200! They wanted me to work longer but I couldn’t commit knowing that we planned go travelling.

2. Freelancing (Admin Job)

Since we had a high savings target, we had to work more hours to earn more money.  But teaching can be exhausting at times. Luckily though, through an advert on Facebook, Jon was able to get an editing job in an office where his job was to back-check and proofread emails.  At $20/hr and 10hrs/week it was exactly the boost we needed!

work and travel

Teaching baby yoga!

I was able to get a job at this western-franchised company for children, which I was very sad to leave but I had to.  I developed marketing plans, organized open house events, pricing strategies and taught baby yoga to kids.  This job only paid me $10/hour but I had a fixed 80 hours per month (or $800/ month salary.)  I sometimes worked at night, weekdays or bulk hours on the weekend!  My sister even spent Valentine’s Day with me in the office since I had to work from 9am to 9pm!

3. Private Classes

work and travel

Private class

This is my favorite, our private classes. Jon was able to get a private class teaching 5 cute Vietnamese kids in their house where he was paid $20/hour and was teaching them twice a week (1hr and 30 minutes per session).  I had two adult private classes.  I was tutoring my first student three times a week on how to pass her Canadian Immigration interview and she paid me $25/class while my other lovely student was working for the government and just wanted me to practice with her and improve her business English.  She also paid me $25/class, 3 times a week!

work and travel

Crazy schedule on our last 3 months!

In our last 3 months in Hanoi Jon and I weren’t able to see each other as much as before, because our schedule was fully jam-packed with work.  I also had to learn how to drive a motorbike in Hanoi traffic for work, but it was all worth it, we left Hanoi with enough money by just living there and enjoying life for 7 months (9 months for Jon!) but saving for only the last 6 months!

TIPS for Couples

1. Compromise

As a couple, you will both know and learn each other’s spending habits by living together.  In our first month of living together, Jon and I were paying for our own food, drinks and etc. (completely different from the Filipino culture!)  This changed once we started making longer term plans together and we began to share all of our income and expenses; from food, to bills and partying.

2. Save Together

work and travel

This is how I organize our budget while traveling!

3. Set a Goal and Target

We had a monthly target of travel fund to achieve.  I wrote on the wall and we can clearly see upon waking up in the morning. We tried to live smartly and sometimes frugally.  Whilst saving and with both of us working, we were able to travel to North Vietnam, a week in Laos, holiday trip in Ha Long Bay and a Christmas stay-cation in a 5-star hotel but we were able to leave Hanoi with travel fund to sustain our trip to South America!

work and travel

Weekend trip in Ninh Binh, Vietnam!


Part 2 coming soon!

 About the Authors

Kach and JonKach 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

Drop by their Facebook page and get to know them!

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I'm an aspiring scuba diver, novice spelunker and avid adventurer.I have a penchant for always getting lost with an established track record for choosing the worst places to eat. With a healthy aversion to staying in one place for too long, I am the ceaseless wanderer and explorer. I recently traded in the suit for a backpack, and am now pursuing to live a life of sustained travel. I travel to learn, I travel to live and I travel in search of adventure.
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3 Responses to Work and Travel – The Two Monkeys way!

  1. Carmen says:

    Great post guys! Have you tried the Trail Wallet app? It’s a budget app we use and it’s really great, you should try it!

    • Carey says:

      Hi Carmen,
      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to read the article. Great app recommendation. I wasn’t familiar with it until now. I might add it to my top travel app post!

  2. Ahmad Nur says:

    Hi, it’s great post guys, it’s spearing me and my partner they way you managing your budget for traveling. keep it up and wish you all the success.

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