The following is a guest post written by the fabulous Katie Joy from Powerful Mothers. When Katie and I first began talking online, we quickly realized that we had a lot of the same passions and travel styles! I’m so excited to share her guest post about teaching online and house sitting around the world with kids!
Katie Joy is a single mother entrepreneur who enjoys traveling off-the-beaten-track with her two young boys to explore and interpret the world.
She has taught English online, lived overseas and house sat numerous times all whilst supporting her children on her own. She believes that if she can do it, then anyone can!
Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you from and what do you do?
Hi, my name is Katie Joy and I am from Australia. I think the most interesting thing about me is that I’m a single mum of two kids who were just four and six years old when I first started traveling, working online, and house sitting!
I actually got started in a professional overseas aid role (much like the Peace Corps in the US) where travel, medical, insurance, and living allowances are paid as well as having in-country support. I found this quite hard with two kids as you can imagine! But that’s another story.
How did your online teaching and house sitting adventure begin?
When my contract ended, I really loved living in Bali. I simply wasn’t ready to come home. I found myself in a position where I had to earn money online or I would need to return home.
At the time I had built an e-commerce store, an online marketplace but nothing was giving me the stable income I needed to support my children.
I used to teach English 20 years ago in my backpacking days and when the internet wasn’t really around, so initially I was shocked to discover that I could do it now from the comfort of anywhere!
Walk us through how you started teaching online.
I saw an advertisement in the Bali local newspaper for expats.
This company was called First Future and to be honest, I never taught a class with them. Their process was confusing and I didn’t get allocated a class. In hindsight, it may have been confusing because it was my first encounter with the online English teaching concept.
I do believe it is a smart move to read blogs like this to help you.
Keyword Search ‘Online English Teacher’ in Job Directories
After that my eyes were opened to the possibilities so I searched on websites like seek.com.au and careerone.com.au with keywords such as “online English teacher”. I soon found a job teaching with DaDaABC and was 80% booked within a month.
DaDa is a widely-recognized company where you teach English to students in China. Lesson plans are provided and the platform is highly-regarded like VIPKID.
I scheduled all the peak hours from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Beijing time Monday to Friday, with the weekend off to travel with my kids. Later I changed to a Sunday to Thursday schedule so I could have Friday and Saturday nights off!
Teaching English Online at Dada [1-1 ratio]
Dada has a one-teacher to one-student ratio. It is great because you can build a relationship with your students. Dada is also great because they pay a standby rate of half your normal wage if you don’t have classes.
This gave me a sense of security because I knew I would get at least half of my salary from all the open time slots I selected. The downside, however, was that there is only a 2 min gap between classes. That barely gave me enough time to use the bathroom, let alone check on my kids.
But as with everything, once you start….more opportunities arise.
I was getting paid about US$17 hour and saw a role that offered $24 at UUABC. This company had a five-minute break between classes, so I applied.
Getting Paid More Teaching English Online at UUABC [1-4 ratio]
Since I had recent online experience from Dada, I was offered a position at UUABC with a base pay of $22 plus bonuses of $1 for full-attendance, $1 for after-class reports, $1 for punctuality.
They can pay more because you have more kids in the class. It’s a one-teacher to four-children ratio.
So it was pretty much US$25 hour which was a major pay increase. What REALLY enticed me was a US$15 standby rate. That was almost my whole teaching salary at Dada. I took the plunge and literally opened up every time slot I could!
Did I care? Nope, not at all because I had my ‘security’ and was still getting paid US$15 hour.
It was an epic time for traveling when I was literally getting paid for nothing and it lasted about 4-6 months.
I knew it wouldn’t last forever so I started looking for any type of remote work I could do.
Job Directories Keyword Search “Work From Home” or “Remote”
You’ll be amazed at what you can manifest when you put yourself fully into it! I discovered a lot of digital jobs online and was getting regular work writing website copy for Telstra businesses and working with European brands on their websites. All these I found on Upwork or the job websites as mentioned before.
I have to admit there is something I love about teaching online. I find it really easy and it’s good fun so I kept up the teaching even though I had found other forms of online work.
Finding a Highly-Supportive Teacher Community at Whales English [1-2 ratio]
I’m not sure how, but I ended up applying for Whales English as I could tell they had a high standard of teachers. At the time, they taught on Zoom and I wanted to master this software.
They offered competitive pay because you teach two students at a time. This is probably my favorite ratio.
Their training and induction process was quite detailed and it was delivered via shared google documents. There was the most training I received from any of the companies I taught with.
The other companies teach you to use their ‘virtual classroom’ and that’s about it. Whales English guides you on how to deliver the material. They start you off with three trial lessons until you master them before you move to regular classes.
I found such a high-value teacher community here. The teachers are very passionate and professional and they provide a lot of training and advancement opportunities.
I have been asked to write content and make videos for their social media. For professional and serious English teachers who want a career, Whales English is a good move.
What about house sitting?
I have been house sitting since I can remember. In Australia I use AussieHouseSitters.com.au. Overseas I use Lovehomeswap.com which is not a house sitting website, more like a house swap except you don’t have to arrange a direct swap.
It offers a points system where you start with a given amount and accumulate points if someone stays in your home. It has more higher-end homes which are great for a luxury holiday on a budget.
How I Made 2k By Going on Holidays
Two years ago I actually made $2000 ‘after’ my 3 week holiday! I rented my entire home out on Airbnb while I stayed for free in a luxury house swap in Bali and since the cost of living is so much less than Australia. I made money!
Tips for Traveling with Kids as a Single Parent Breadwinner
Cluster Sightseeing Near Your Accommodation
When traveling as a single parent breadwinner, I have to cluster sightseeing activities near the accommodation so I can get back in time to teach my classes (which usually start around 6 pm if I’m traveling in southeast Asia). This means I have to plan what we want to see and book the accommodation accordingly.
To teach online and travel, you have to set out earlier in the day and get back relatively early. You would miss some fun things at night, but that’s why you schedule some nights off.
Alternatively, if I didn’t have kids I would book most of my classes on Saturday and Sunday. That way you could bulk teach on those days and travel the other five!
Everything is a trade-off and you need to find what works for you. For us, we have weekends off and have to get back early at night. It’s ok because we get to see the world as a family, my kids still attend a school and it has united us.
Kids Don’t Fight (it’s too Exciting!)
Another positive thing about traveling with kids is that they rarely fight because everything is so exciting! They are far to busy being stimulated by new foods, tastes, sights, experiences to quarrel.
I do the whole travel with kids thing slowly. I prefer to make a base and send them to school so I can get a break. I can’t deal with home education, arrgh!
When they are at school or kindy I can do freelance work and on weekends or during breaks we go off for 2-14 day holidays in the surrounding countries.
Teaching English, Single, Young Kids = Madness
This is slightly crazy but you do what ya gotta do right? Teaching English online as the only adult in the house can get crazy (especially sometimes when we are in one hotel room).
When they were little it was pretty hard because I had to be organized and have food ready as I worked straight from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm!
Sometimes they would play up and I would refresh my screen which gave me a 2-3 second window to throw a pillow at them and say get to bed, then return smiling quaintly at my students as if nothing had happened.
Other times they were sick and I would just them snuggle up to me. At times I would introduce them to my online students (which was probably not allowed) but my student always loved it! I always felt if it enriched the experience for my students it was of more value.
When the youngest reached about six and a half it was easier. Ipad’s with headphones were also a priceless investment as it kept them entertained while I was teaching.
Eventually, they understood what I was doing and gave me space to be a teacher without disturbing me.
House Sitting with Kids Teaches Respect
House sitting with kids was also great fun. It requires you to have manageable kids and opens new opportunities for education.
You need to explain about respecting another person’s property and really drill it in. Kids are usually pretty messy creatures and they need a heightened awareness of mess when house sitting.
Kids are also the best pet sitters! It makes my life much easier when they can take the dog for a walk or feed the animals. As a traveling family, we don’t have any of our own pets so it gives them the experience of caring for animals without all the responsibility that comes with ownership.
I honestly think house sitting with kids (from about four years and up) is wonderful.
What’s been your most memorable teaching online, traveling and house sitting with kids experience?
My Craziest Online Teaching Travel Experience with Kids
My most memorable experience would be starting my English class in a taxi because we were stuck in traffic in Kuala Lumpur! Then it disconnected as we went in the elevator to our penthouse apartment.
Another time I squatted in a kid’s playground because the Hard Rock Hotel kids club shut early and my class had already started! Luckily I had my laptop fully charged and a USB light that kept my face well lit!
My Happiest Online Teaching Travel Experience with Kids
Working three hours a day and living like a well-off person has been the happiest part of teaching online and traveling with kids.
I just loved working a few hours a day and living in Bali with a high quality of life and proximity to amazing nature. We could go to the movies every week (and get popcorn and soda), eat out every day, and have a gym membership at a gorgeous resort including access to all facilities.
I could afford putting my kids in sports five times a week, getting free private hospital care, and visiting high-end clubs and venues (note: I didn’t purchase more than a coffee and fries for the kids at these stunning but pricey places), not to mention traveling every weekend and staying in hotels.
If you are savvy you can have a great life. Much better than the daily grind.
What advice would you have for parents who want to start traveling this way with a family?
I say just do it. You can see that things don’t always work out as planned but you find a way to solve it. I do recommend having a floating balance of at least 5K in the bank. This will give you security as a parent.
Get good travel insurance because you WILL use it for your kids. They will get some weird skin infection or something and you can take them for free to a doctor and get all medical expenses covered.
Do get all the vaccinations at home first if you can. You don’t want to risk the vaccine being out of stock when you arrive at your destination.
I suggest starting your online income prior to leaving your home country to give you security and comfort. Even if you start a few days a week, you’ll be comfortable with the type of work your doing and if you need more money you can just increase your hours.
Stay in one place longer. It’s so much less stressful if you know you have good internet for teaching and don’t have to pack up and move. Even when I’m doing fast travel with my kids I will stay a minimum of three nights in one place.
Have a light portable laptop for teaching that you can carry in a backpack! You never know where you might end of when it’s time to teach your class so it’s best to be ready!
Where can people learn more about you and your travel lifestyle?
I wish you all the best in your teaching, traveling and house sitting adventures! Feel free to visit me at Powerful Mothers if you’re interested in my travel perspective as a single working mother.
Katie Joy is a single mother entrepreneur who enjoys traveling off-the-beaten-track with her two young boys to explore and interpret the world. She has taught English online, lived overseas and house sat numerous times all whilst supporting her children on her own. She believes that if she can do it, then anyone can!