Two years after leaving their US home, Vanessa Small and her husband have visited 14 countries and counting…How? By teaching English online, they’ve funded their jet-setting lifestyle and whoa have they made the most of their time at every single location. Blogger and cooking whizz Vanessa takes us behind the scenes of her DaDa classroom; discover if you have what it takes to rock the online English teaching world.

Vanessa, teaching online is blowing up right now in the world of TEFL. Tell us about your path to teaching English online…

It started after I went out on a whim and purchased 2 weeks for Tokyo, Hong Kong China and a layover in Seoul. After that my husband and I knew we wanted to travel long term. We started searching on how to do this and found out about teaching online. That night we bought the Premier TEFL 240 hour course. We finished it in 4 months, while my husband worked 3 jobs and obtained two bachelor’s degrees. I worked as a 3’s preschool teacher and obtained my degree in Early Education. 

After that, we quickly found a stable job with Dada and went on the road 6 months later. It has been a year and four months of traveling and teaching. Coming up on our 2 year teaching anniversary.

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𝐇𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐨 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞: 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐈 𝐚𝐦 𝟓 𝐝𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐚 𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐤. 𝐓𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐞. 𝟐 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐨 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐜𝐤 𝐚𝐭 𝐚 𝐣𝐨𝐛 𝐮𝐧𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐥 𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐥𝐲 𝐩𝐚𝐲 𝐦𝐲 𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐬. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐈 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐑𝐚𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐈 𝐭𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐚 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐩 𝐨𝐟 𝐟𝐚𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐛𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝟐𝟒𝟎 𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐓𝐄𝐅𝐋 𝐜𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 @premiertefl 𝐑𝐚𝐲 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝟑 𝐣𝐨𝐛𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐛𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝟐 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐦𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝟏 𝐣𝐨𝐛 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐛𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐲 𝐝𝐞𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐄𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐄𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. 𝐖𝐞 𝐡𝐢𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐝 𝟏 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝟒 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐨 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝. 𝐎𝐮𝐫 𝟐𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐮𝐩 𝐬𝐨𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐧'𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐧 𝐮𝐬. 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐛𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐓𝐞𝐟𝐥 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐩. 𝐎𝐛𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐓𝐞𝐟𝐥 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐚𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐝. 𝐑𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐈 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐲 𝐜𝐨𝐝𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐄𝐒𝐋 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐔𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐝𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐛𝐢𝐨 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐜𝐤𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 '𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫' 𝐜𝐨𝐝𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐅𝐑𝐄𝐄 𝟑𝟎-𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐀𝐝𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐝 𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐄𝐧𝐠𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐓𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐂𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞. 𝐀𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐨 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐮𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞(1/2)

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As an online English teacher, what are the most important considerations when considering teaching platforms to join?

What are your needs? Flexibility or stability, for Dada our students are booked for us. No need to wait for parents to choose you based on reviews. I have a set schedule that we can change in the app with 2 months’ notice. I see the same students every week and some I have had since I started.

Other companies you have more flexibility being allowed to set the hours you want to work every two weeks. You acquire students based on the stability of parents’ reviews.

Check out my Dada teacher introduction video:

What does a day in the life of a busy online English teacher look like? 

Morning: Currently I work in the morning Monday through Wednesday 8:25 am- 1:45 pm London time. Saturday and Sunday: 6:15 am- 1:45pm

Afternoon: It is usually spent doing assessments which are unpaid. I have about 10 each weekday and 12-13 for each weekend day. They should be about a 1,000 character write-up summarizing how the class went. What the child learned, areas to work on, etc. 

Evening: Often it is spent still finishing up my assessments or cooking.

Our weekends which are currently Thursday and Friday we do sightseeing around the city we are in or take day trips.

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Sorry for it being so long without posting. Still trying to get it together. I am so sorry for the delays. Been hard getting grounded in a new city and finding the time but here you are.⠀ ⠀ Our month stay in KL has been great! We had a rather long commute to a very impersonal co-working space. ⠀ We worked 70 hours this month 4 days a week. Without any of the other workers speaking to us. That’s not how co-working normally is. It had three food stalls which were out of this world! Costing no more than 2.50$ USD.⠀ ⠀ Met so many locals that became instant friends. Tried northern Indian food which I love, Chinese, Malaya and ate with our hands more than a few times.⠀ ⠀ Took 8 late night grabs to our shared apartment. Met three different roommates. We really got a local feel for KL!⠀ ⠀ Hear all about it in Wednesday’s blog post. Your guide to teaching in Kuala Lumpur.⠀ ⠀ -Vanessa⠀ ⠀ #malaysia #kualalumpur #travel #nomad #coworking #grab #food #blogginggals #ontheblogtoday #instablogger #bloglife #bloggerbffs #bloggersofinstagram #bloggersgetsocial #blogbossbabe⠀ #travelgirlsclub #wearethetravelgirls⠀ #traveldeeper #wanderlust. #traveldiaries

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What’s it like to teach online alongside your husband? Do you have similar schedules? 

We have the exact same schedule as that is peak hours for our job. Our biggest struggle is usually working in separate areas where the students can not hear the other one teaching. Which now has been two-bedroom apartments but even sometimes that is not totally soundproof. Which is our biggest issue.

During your online teaching career you’ve traveled A LOT! Tell us all about it 😍

We have been to 7 countries in Asia and 8 in Europe during our travels so far.

We started in Thailand on the islands. Then our route went to Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Singapore and then Malaysia, Singapore. We then went into Europe and the UK and so far have been to Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, England and now Scotland. Travelling soon for a week’s holiday to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day.

Our biggest thing is making sure we do month stays, find the perfect Airbnb and try to stay away from anything touristy. We really like to embrace ourselves in the local culture. Airbnb is a great way to do that because often you stay in local communities. We are often found eating at local food stalls or at local pubs. Enthralled in historical sites and local traditions.

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What time is it blog time! It’s Sunday at 8pm that means another blog has launched this time about teaching in Vietnam. Shared is a photo from the crazy and exciting party from Vietnam winning the Suzuki cup. Vietnam was such a great country! I loved all the street goods, sites and Huda beers. Craft beers and western food. Hear about it all in my blog! Link in bio! Subscribe to get an update every time one launches. Have you been to Vietnam what was your experience? What did you go? What did you eat? Comment below. #vietnam #love #food #travel #football #discovertheglobe #simplyadventure #abmtravelbug #flashesofdelight #wheretofindme #mytinyatlas #travelinbetween #passionpassport #traveldeeper #letsgoeverywhere #lifewelltraveled #lonelyplanet #finditliveit #sheisnotlost #girlslovetravel #sharetravelpics #girlsborntotravel #sidewalkerdaily #justgoshoot #exploremore

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There are pros and cons to everything, right? Tell us your top three as an online teacher…

Pros:

  1. Freedom to travel almost wherever we want.
  2. Working less hours, but making a liveable wage. 
  3. Connecting with our students and having fun with them daily.

Cons:

  1. For Americans, we must pay a self-employment tax. For not being in the USA for 365 days you can apply for an exemption on federal but not self-employment. The self-employment tax is rather high as well at about 18% I believe.
  2. Not being able to travel wherever we want. We can only travel to places that we can find excellent wifi. This means stable connection and connected to the router with speeds of at least download 10 and upload 4. Which limits a lot of places.
  3. Sometimes I wish I was able to have more contact with the students and their family. For example, contacting them on Wechat or visiting them if we were to travel to China. At their school, they have constant contact with their teachers on Wechat. So it is hard when sometimes they do not understand why they can not have our information. The company we work for just simply doesn’t allow that.

What do you wish you knew before embarking on an online English teaching career path?

Global events and politics affecting our work, lifestyle and or students.

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Hello Everyone: Another post is finally done! Trying to get caught up before leaving to Georgetown, Malaysia. 7 more to go! This one will tell you all the ins and outs of teaching and traveling on the Island of Phuket, Thailand. As well as the best time to go. Please like this post and comment. Go to my blog, link in bio and take a look. Comment about your experiences in Phuket as well. Don’t for get to subscribe and share. It means the world to me all your support! Look for your guide to Bangkok tomorrow! #onlineteacher #digitalnomad #nomad #food #travel #life #world #traveltheworld #travelguides #patong #Banglaroad #phiphi #krabi #phuket #thailand #adventures #couples #adventuretogether #explore #exploretheworld #sheisnotlost #photography #blog #blogger #travelguide #wearetravelgirls #girlsborntotravel

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What’s next for Vanessa? Continue doing what you’re doing, traveling and teaching online? 

We plan to travel and teach online as long as humanly possible. Right now we have a good list of where we plan to be in the next two years. 

Which include: Ireland, Serbia, Bulgaria, Italy, Slovenia, Bosnia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Austria, Romania, Germany, Turkey, Albania, Greece, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. As long as nothing changes we hope to see as much of the world as we can while working. We love our students and the connections we have built with them.

How can inspired wannabe online English teachers follow your travels and teaching updates?

Our travel updates and teaching experiences can be followed on the Food Travel Life blog, or check us out on Instagram @foodtravellife88.