One year ago, I quit ESL teaching in Taiwan. Now I’m on an indefinite travel adventure in Central America.
When I left Taiwan, I knew that I wanted to travel more but I still didn’t know how I was going to achieve that. Instead of sitting down and crafting out a long-term plan in time for our return to unemployment, Luke and I booked a flight to Vietnam and blew some of our hard earned savings. After all, we’d saved them for travelling.
By this time, I’d started keeping track of our expenses. Vietnam is a cheap place to travel, but when I looked at our Vietnam travel budget, I realised that the £6000 (that’s $9600) we’d each saved from teaching in Taiwan wasn’t going to go that far. We had to rethink the way we travelled.
Achieving a Sustainable Travel Lifestyle
After a year living in Taiwan, we had decidedly become ‘slow travellers.’ We were only able to travel in little pockets of time – weekends, Chinese New Year, unpaid holiday time – which meant it took us a whole year to travel a country that others might breeze through in a few weeks. We once hosted a Couchsurfer who scootered around the whole island in 6 days (that’s a bit crazy!)
When we went to Vietnam, we travelled the whole country in 3 weeks. It was way too short a time and meant we had to skip a few places, take more sleeper buses than I would ever like to and, inevitably, we were rushed to pack all the things we wanted to do into our day. Not only is this kind of travel expensive, but it’s not the kind of travel that Luke and I enjoy.
While we were in Taiwan, I started reading A Cruising Couple. I found their travel blog originally because they were also teaching English in Taiwan. After they left, which was about 6 months after Luke and I had arrived, I continued following their adventures – house sitting in Costa Rica. Ahhh, you say. Though at the time long-term travel and house sitting still hadn’t occurred to me as a future plan for Luke and I.
Thanks to our Taiwan savings and our generous families who had missed us enough while we were teaching in Taiwan to let us live at home again without a job, we were able to change our lives. I set about researching ways to achieve long-term travel, including house sitting.
One day I told Luke that he and I were going to become house sitters. “Sure,” he said, “What do I have to do?” We set about making a profile on a house sitting website, set up our own little house sitting website, and posted ads on Craigslist pages. We still had some savings, so we agreed that we would take the first good house sitting opportunity we were offered, anywhere in the world, and try to make it work. That’s how we ended up in Costa Rica (thanks, Jess!)
How I Changed My Job to Travel the World
Ever read a blog post titled How I Quit My Job to Travel the World? Well, for me and Luke, even with our little stash of savings, quitting our jobs and just travelling the world was unrealistic. Sure, we could have spent it all and travelled how we liked in Asia for 6 months, or we could have super budgeted and lasted the year with some house sitting gigs. But then what? Then we’d have been back to square one and looking to return to ESL teaching.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Taiwan and will always love Taiwan. I met some incredible people who changed my life and worked with children who amazed me every day, but I didn’t want to return to ESL teaching.
Why? That’s another story, but in short, teaching was stressful, life as an expat was challenging and being in one place restricted our travel time a lot.
Not only did we need to rethink the way we travelled, we needed to rethink the way we worked. That’s when I started building my travel blog – but you’ll know of course, that travel blogging isn’t going to make you enough (if any) money to travel the world. Nonetheless, it was my first step to becoming a long-term traveller and a writer.
Yes, I became a freelance writer. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but that’s what everyone tells you not to do, right? I signed up to oDesk and began working for less than minimum wage. I got the references I needed and was lucky to land an awesome job which I still have now (thanks, Tim!) I was now able to work from anywhere in the world.
A Year on from Teaching in Taiwan
One year after leaving my teaching job in Taiwan, I’m travelling, I’m blogging and I’m writing. Now more than ever, I realise how none of this would have been possible without that year I spent in Taiwan. Not only would Luke and I not have had the funds to takes risks and start building our long-term travel dreams, but we might never have discovered our love of slow travel or house sitting.