If you’re a teacher looking to find work abroad, you’ve likely found your options limited during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries have adopted travel restrictions, and how long you’re allowed to stay will depend on how strict those regulations are.
Despite travel restrictions all over the world, many countries still desperately need ESL and subject teachers. Although most teachers’ plans to travel abroad were put on hold in 2020, we’re now looking to the future with hopes that 2021 will be the year that everything falls into a new normal that has fewer restrictions.
There will be increased opportunities for teaching abroad in a wider variety of countries as vaccines become more widely available and the pandemic eases. The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, expressed a “great degree of confidence” that U.S. federal guidelines will be loosened by July 4.
During this time, there are several considerations to keep in mind while preparing to teach abroad:
Keep taking precautions
Until everyone is vaccinated and every variant is addressed, continue to follow CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of the virus. Even if you’re vaccinated, you still have to be careful.
- Follow your local mask rules when out and about.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in warm water after coming into contact with any public services; when washing is not possible, use hand sanitizer.
- Use wipes to sanitize surfaces that get touched frequently.
- Continue to practice social distancing; observe the standard of at least 6 feet between individuals. (The CDC is studying whether a 3-foot mandate may be as effective, but until that’s conclusive, stick to the 6-foot guidance.)
Know your travel restrictions
Each country and region has different travel guidelines, and you might pass through several on the way to your destination. Make a list before you go, and make sure you check all the boxes.
Many countries require you to submit a negative COVID-19 test within three days of arrival; some also call for various lengths of quarantine.
If you’re a U.S. citizen going to Barbados, for example, restrictions as of March 2021 called for you to submit a completed travel form online 24 hours before your departure and take a COVID-19 test (with a negative result) within 72 hours of arriving. Then you’d have to quarantine for at least five nights at an approved hotel and wear an electronic bracelet.
Cambodia requires a $2,000 deposit from foreign travelers, while Chile’s conditions include proof of COVID-19 health insurance, with a minimum level of $30,000 in coverage.
Get expert help during your transition
Experts are experts for a reason, and their perspectives can be incredibly helpful in situations of uncertainty. Ask for advice and help from travel agents, sponsoring schools or organizations, and even the consulate for your country.
Before you leave, check with your doctor and insurance carrier, and be sure you have all your required immunizations and medications. Register with your embassy, and pack copies of your passport in case yours gets lost or stolen.
Guidebooks and official websites also can help with advice and up-to-date information. Find out where any coronavirus hot spots are, and keep up with the news to track any changes.
Allot time for delays
Every stage of travel will take longer to fulfill more requirements — paperwork, checkpoints, etc., so plan accordingly. In addition to the extra time that no-contact procedures require, some other things might slow you down, including:
- Preflight paperwork and affidavits
- Extended security measures, especially if your departure or arrival country requires a “vaccine passport” to travel
- Physical testing protocols, including:
- A PCR test (polymerase chain reaction), which can determine whether you’re infected by searching for genetic material from the virus
- A rapid antigen test
- Additional tests if you plan to stay for an extended period
- Quarantine periods after you arrive
Also, be sure to check for flight availability. Many flights have been canceled during the pandemic, so be sure you’re up to date on scheduling and can be flexible if you have to change flights.
Opt for private accommodations, if possible
Staying in a private room is safer than dorm-style close quarters, so ask your hosting organization or check into local options. Seeing a floor plan (and knowing how to understand it) can be helpful to be sure you’re not in close proximity to large groups of people.
If you have to stay at a hotel or motel, be sure it’s open to foreign travelers and has top-notch sanitation and social distancing practices.
Be prepared financially
Travel costs are expected to rise industry-wide. Even when you’re on the ground, prepare for higher gasoline prices if you’re using a car. In the U.S., gas prices rose from below $2 a gallon in April to $2.68 by late February, and the increase was expected to continue. Fuel prices can be higher in many places abroad, so be prepared.
As more people start traveling, and demand increases, you can expect the price of accommodations to rise, as well.
Fill up your savings and shore up your credit beforehand to prepare for emergencies. It can help to prepay an account for a secured credit card, so you’ll have a definite cushion in case of trouble.
Also, look up the currency exchange rate at your planned destination(s), and take into account exit and entrance fees.
Remember to enjoy
Even in a pandemic climate, you’ll be surrounded by new sights, sounds, and experiences, so don’t forget to enjoy them! You won’t only be a teacher; you’ll also be soaking in plenty of knowledge about the places you visit and the people who live there. This opportunity will be even more precious in light of current limitations, so make the most of it.
If you’re ready to start searching for teaching jobs overseas, check out our job board!