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Travel Makes a Better Educator: “This Roaming Teacher” in the World

Chandra in Santiago, Chile.
Chandra in Santiago, Chile.

Teaching Traveling: Sometimes I encounter someone so inspiring online that I beg them to do a Teaching Traveling interview. This is what happened when I saw the ideas of Chandra, known on Instagram as @ThisRoamingTeacher.

Chandra’s posts on teaching and travel are thoughtful, helpful, and insightful, and always give me new ideas for my own middle school class.

Chandra, tell us a bit about your background. 

Chandra: Hi! I am originally from the United States. I am a southern girl with a severe travel itch. During undergraduate school, I had a professor that talked about her experiences teaching abroad. That is when it clicked for me that I could use my job to see the world.

At first, I worked in various districts around the United States. Then, I took the leap into international schools. I have not lived in one city for longer than four years since I began teaching in 2001, so I truly am This Roaming Teacher.

With fresh coconut water in Trindad.
With fresh coconut water in Trindad.

TT: Indeed you are! Tell us about a powerful learning experience from your travels.

C: Living in Beijing made me more conscious of the environmental cost of consumerism. The factories that make the items that end up in many big box stores in North America are located in Northern China.

Living with the pollution from those factories was a life-altering experience. Days in which we could see blue skies were very, very rare. I had two air filters in my apartment. I carried a mask in my purse at all times. My school frequently had inside recess for students because the ever-present smog was too thick for outside play.

There were lots of days in which the smog was so thick you could not see street signs or buildings that were fifteen in front of you. I lived there for two years. I will never forget that experience.

​Finding in shade in Abu Dhabi.
​Finding in shade in Abu Dhabi.

TT: Absolutely. Now, how do you find your travel opportunities? 

C: I am not very picky about where I go. So, I literally will use a site like Skyscanner to see what deals they are offering from my home city. Also, I like to combine learning and traveling. Language schools or cooking schools in specific locations will give me a reason to travel. I am lucky to have friends that live around the world now, so I like to visit them too.

TT: I 100% agree on those tips! So, how did you find the money to fund your travel? 

C: I find teaching jobs in a location. I use that as the jumping spot for my travel. Whether the location is domestic or international, there is always something notable to see. I value traveling, so I make allowances for it in my budget.

Looking around in Beijing.
Looking around in Beijing, China.

TT: Brilliant! Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful, interesting, or funny.

C: I am a slow traveler. I like to meander through side streets. I love stumbling upon local parks to sit and people watch. I allow myself a certain amount of time to take pictures and then I just relax into the experience.

I have been really lucky to have some diverse travel experiences. I have biked through rice fields in Thailand. I barbecued with friends on dune near the Saudi Arabian border. I did the Electric Slide on the Great Wall of China. I paraded with two samba schools in Rio de Janeiro.

TT: Love it! How have your travels impacted you as a teacher, and how have your travels impacted you as a person?

Travel has greatly widened my perspective. I see myself more and more as a member of a global community. I have learned new languages, danced to new rhythms, savored new flavors. All of that allows me to plant seeds into the minds of my students that I hope will flower into fresh ideas.

I believe that teachers should be continuously learning. When I purposely put myself in a situation in which I am a novice, I connect to my students learning new skills in my class. My empathy for students wrestling with new concepts deepens.

Travel Makes a Better Educator: "This Roaming Teacher" in the World.
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TT: So perfectly explained. What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching? 

I would say take the leap and go. My first teaching job in 2001 was outside of my home state. I knew only one person in that city. I told myself that if I was unhappy in a year, I could go back home.

There are regional job fairs that happen throughout the United States for people interested in domestic moves. For those looking for international moves, I suggest Teach Away, TieOnline, Search Associates, or International School Services.

TT: Thanks so much, Chandra! Readers, what questions or comments do you have? 


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Eric Toohey

Tuesday 10th of July 2018

I had the great pleasure to be be a grade-level teaching partner with Chandra last year. She brought incredible insight and unique perspectives to our team discussions. I considered her insights incredible because she shared them with tremendously calm conviction. Likewise, I considered Chandra's perspectives unique because thry are truly genuine.

I begged Chandra to continue teaching with me at my next assignment - because she inspires students. I am still hoping we will cross paths, again, one day.


Tuesday 10th of July 2018

What a lovely note! Thanks for taking the time to post it, Eric!

Sheila Wilson

Wednesday 14th of March 2018

what a wonderful interview i love the topic keep up the good work neicy lovve you


Tuesday 6th of March 2018

Congratulations Chandra! You offered me the opportunity to pursue individual study when I needed it the most! Your teaching ethics are still incorporated in my work today!

Camille Bayless

Sunday 25th of February 2018

You go girl! I am retired at 72. I would have so enjoyed doing this when younger and teaching! What a wonderful awesome experience!!!!


Sunday 25th of February 2018

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Camille! There have actually been some fascinating interviews with retired teachers about their travels after retirement: . Wishing you the best of luck!


Sunday 25th of February 2018

I appreciate the recognition, Lillie! Your blog is a great resource.


Sunday 25th of February 2018

Thanks, and keep up the great work, Chandra! The students are lucky to have you as a teacher!

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