Teaching Traveling: Want to learn how to travel the world for very little money through work exchanges? Read this interview with teacher Kelly McKimson-Rhodes!
Kelly, tell us a bit about your background.
Kelly: I’m in my tenth year of teaching high school English in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. I live in downtown Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood. My husband and mother are also educators in Chicago, so I am surrounded by inspiring teachers constantly. Teaching, in some form, has always been my passion, and when I realized I could unite this with my growing interest in world travel, I haven’t looked back! I’ve used teaching and/or volunteering to completely fund my travels for four summers, and many of my other travels have been related to teaching. I’ve taught English in Madrid, worked on an organic garden in the mountains of Eastern Spain, backpacked through Europe, and most recently had the opportunity to teach yoga abroad on the beach in Jamaica.
TT: Amazing! Tell us more about your travels.
K: Most of my travel experiences have stemmed from teaching English in some way; however, my most recent teaching trip centered on my yoga practice. After years of practicing yoga, I decided to make a commitment to my practice, and I completed a 200 hour teacher training in December 2013. I began teaching a weekly vinyasa yoga class in the community where I teach high school English. I also offered classes to teachers in my building, and I quickly noticed how much I enjoyed spreading my love of yoga, especially amongst those who were new to the experience, those who had trouble financing classes, and those who struggled to fit yoga into their busy schedules. My five dollar Wednesday evening yoga class at the Chicago Ridge Park District remains one of the highlights of my work week.
I began researching ways to teach yoga abroad and came across several companies that offer teaching vacations for fitness professionals. I ended up taking a placement in Jamaica (where we had our wedding two years before!) teaching yoga twice daily to resort guests. Waking up to teach a morning yoga class on the beaches of Montego Bay with eager tourists ready to experience yoga was simply amazing! I enjoyed getting to practice in such a picturesque location while meeting people from all over the world and even helping the Jamaican staff learn a few poses.
TT: That is so cool. How did you find these work exchanges?
K: Like most of my teaching travel experiences, I found this opportunity through extensive internet research. There are some yoga teaching opportunities abroad at retreats and other resorts that I found through help exchange websites, but many were looking for teachers to commit to longer than I was available. Fit Bodies, Inc., the company I worked with, allows you to choose which resort and which weeks you are available. Their website is user friendly and offers plenty of resort reviews from other instructors. Fitness instructors pay a portion of the travel expenses, but the cost is heavily discounted and includes one guest; some of the resorts allow up to two children included in the price, as well. The cost of our trip ended up being a fraction of what we would’ve paid if I had not been a guest instructor.