Thursday, October 25, 2012

How to Travel Europe on the Cheap While You're Teaching in London


Let's face it. One of the biggest draws to teaching in London is that you get to travel Europe on your weekends and breaks.  Not only are there more teaching jobs in London than in Canada as a general rule, but you get to see the world at the same time! 

But teachers don't make what they should (if you don't believe me, watch this video), so how can they afford to travel all over Europe on a tight budget?  The good news is traveling in Europe is cheaper than traveling in Canada.  You can get flights for pennies, stay in hostels that are really much better than you'd expect or even stay in hotels.  But let's say you want to really do it on the cheap.  Even cheaper than all the other teachers you know over there. 

Here are my tips & tricks for traveling on the cheap while having the experience of a lifetime:

  1. Voluntourism is big.  I did www.vfp.org myself, where you look through their database of "workcamps" or projects and apply to be a volunteer in exchange for room & board.  The projects are usually 2-3 weeks and cover everything from building restoration to teaching ESL to eye cataract surgery assistance.  I built latrines, assisted surgeons with eye cataract surgery and planted trees in Bangladesh for 2 weeks. I highly recommend travelling in this way as you get to know the people, the culture & actually live like the locals do. 
  2. WWOOF - which used to stand for Willing Workers on Organic Farms and is now World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  It's perfect for someone who likes to get their hands dirty and learn all about farming in different areas of the world.  Some WWOOF farms are for people with disabilities, so you could get some good SEN experience in there too.
  3. Get on the Bus. The Megabus! The Megabus often has really great deals where you can travel to far off places for 1 GBP.  Yes, one pound. You have to book in advance, and you can't be in a hurry as the bus takes a really long time compared to flying or taking the high speed trains.  But if you're an adventurer looking for a fun time on the cheap, then the Megabus is great. I took it to Cambridge, Oxford & Brighton while I was teaching in London.  It does take forever, but hey - for a pound, what do you expect?
  4. Fly RyanAirThere are a million reasons why this airline isn't up to par.  The planes are often dirty, they treat you like cattle, and they fly to areas outside of the main cities you want to go to so you have to get expensive buses to get to your city of choice from the airport. You have to pay for your baggage. But.  Listen up.  You can get flights for a pound if you pay attention & hunt for the awesome deals.  I've done it.  And for a pound, I'm willing to put up with all the reasons against the airline. 
  5. Travel when you know the teaching is slow.  Supply teachers have it made for this one. You know it will slow down around Christmas and that traveling at Christmas is killer, so avoid the lines & high prices and take off before the schools close for the holidays, and return after they re-open. The supply days will be few & far between anyway, so take advantage and book those cheaper off-season flights.  Travel in Europe is mostly priced around the school holidays so if you can avoid those dates you'll save heaps.
  6. Travel in a group. Contiki Tours and Top Deck Tours are really popular with teachers as they take care of all the planning for you.  They are relatively affordable, and you'll make loads of friends as you go which is a bonus.  Personally I've never done one, but I hear great things particularly from Australian teachers.
  7. Stay with a friend. I prefer to visit friends as a I travel, so that I get that great social time in plus free accommodations.  I went to Vienna 5 times to visit a fellow Canadian teacher who was working there. I love that city now as I know it more like my friend does, and not as much as a tourist.  Find friends that are working in other countries & visit them.  You'll love the experience so much more than staying in hostels/hotels!
I'm sure there are a million other awesome tips for traveling Europe on the cheap and I'd love to hear them from you. If you know any, please share! 

I'm also interviewing teachers for jobs that start in January 2013 so apply today:  send your resume & cover letter to apply AT classroomcanada.com

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!

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