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2 Ways to Travel by Working Abroad: Au Pair and Teaching

Ashleigh and her boyfriend.
Ashleigh and her boyfriend, at Volcan Licancabur by San Pedro de Atacama.

Ready to be inspired? Read on for the story of Ashleigh Kate Kinder, who has concrete tips on how to create and fund your adventures abroad.

Take it away, Ashleigh!

When you’re teaching abroad, the possibilities for adventure are endless.

In two short years while living in Chile, I’ve been lucky enough to hold monkeys in the Amazon, ride a boat under one of the highest waterfalls in the world, sunbathe on the beaches of Rio, play with penguins in Patagonia, dance the tango in Buenos Aires, ski the Andes Mountains, and so much more.

Fortunately, a teacher who speaks English has an infinite number of job opportunities worldwide. The only decision to make is where to go!

Outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
Outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

Before graduating from the College of Education at Penn State in 2007, I knew I didn’t want to move home to substitute teach or find a job in the same school district for the next 30 years. I loved to travel but didn’t want the hassle of finding living arrangements or the stresses of being alone in a foreign country. So a great alternative to teaching was to be an Au Pair: a nanny.

I looked on and found an amazing American/Greek family living in the Central European country of Luxembourg. For 11 months I took care of their 3 trilingual children, took German classes, and traveled to 20 countries.

It was sometimes hard to cover travel expenses, but since my insurance, classes, and room and board were covered, I made sure to put enough aside for train rides to Zurich or flights to Sweden. I strongly recommend this type of experience if you want a good transition into working abroad.

Celebrating Thanksgiving with Chilean Kindergarteners.
Celebrating Thanksgiving with Chilean Kindergarteners.

When my time was coming to a close there, I started researching teaching jobs in South America to improve my Spanish. I felt like I was ready to have my own classroom and put my degree to use. I used, which has a huge database of schools that are hiring and teacher profiles.

Knowing that Chile is both economically stable and safe made it an easy choice to accept a job at the Antofagasta International School in the Atacama Desert.

I was hired as a Pre-Kindergarten teacher, with 16 students learning English for the first time. We had such great success together that I decided to continue with them to Kindergarten this past year.

Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia: at a penguin nesting site.
Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia: at a penguin nesting site.

It has been an amazing transformation watching them become bilingual, especially knowing that I’ve been their only source of learning English. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

To make it more personal, I’ve tried to integrate activities that are related to my home in New York. For example, we did Spanish/English Pen Pals with my nephew’s class, had a Thanksgiving celebration, and even won a contest from my local zoo in Syracuse to name a Chilean penguin that was recently born.

Last week I watched my Kindergarteners receive their diplomas, hoped that I’ve prepared them for First Grade and ruined my eye makeup with an embarrassing amount of crying. But now my bags are packed, it’s time to say goodbye and be on my way once again.

Before a Chilean Independence Day dance.
Before a Chilean Independence Day dance.

It’s never easy closing these life-changing chapters of your life, especially knowing that you may never see the same faces again. But the next adventure can be right around the corner and it’s all worth while.

If you’re thinking that it’s outside of your means or guts to do something like this, reconsider. Working abroad is much more economical than constant vacations and you have so much more to gain by immersing yourself in a culture. Just open your mind and a map. Good luck!

Awesome, Ashleigh! Readers, any comments, questions, or thoughts?

With Penn State friends at the Incan Ruins of Macchu Pichu, Peru!
With Penn State friends at the Incan Ruins of Macchu Pichu, Peru!


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Thursday 31st of May 2012

This is great advice! I also used! My first host family lived in Guatemala, and now I'm currently an au pair in Germany. I've spent 6 months with each family and have gotten to see so much of the world. Overall I would say that being an au pair is very challenging, but it can also be extremely rewarding, and different families are looking for different things (some need childcare, others want tutors, and some would like a personal assistant, for example). My next step is to attend graduate school for linguistics, but I hope to travel again and become qualified to teach! Sounds like Ashleigh found a really great way to do it!

Will - Gap Daemon

Wednesday 28th of September 2011

I'd love to teach in Chile! Was looking into it for similar reasons - to improve Spanish etc. South or Central America is definitely next on my list.


Tuesday 6th of September 2011

This is exactly what I want to do... Au pair and then teaching English! Awesome!

Tim Bray

Monday 9th of May 2011

The TIE Online is a great ( I landed my first overseas job with it (Izmir, Turkey). It comes in handy for finding out information about schools ahead of the job fair season; it is especially helpful after the job fair season, when schools are trying to locate teachers to fill in the gaps they couldn't cover during the normal job fair.


Monday 10th of January 2011

Ashleigh, congrats to you for leading such a fulfilling and fun life! I worked as an au pair in Istanbul for 6 months and they were some of the best times of my life! It's hard to go back to a "normal" life after such amazing experiences.

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