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Teaching English Abroad: Preparing to Go Checklist

We recommend using this checklist months in advance of your departure for things to consider before traveling and teaching abroad.

Preparing Your Documents
Airline Tickets
Medical Considerations
Financial Reminders
Legal Issues
Prepare For The Classroom
What to Pack


checkboxKeep a positive mental attitude – it is the most important part of this new experience. If you can stay positive, you will have a great time regardless of temporary setbacks or disappointments you may encounter. If you do not feel mentally prepared to leave your home country, wait until you do. The results will be worth the delay.

Preparing Your Documents

checkboxObtain a passport; if you already have a passport, ensure it is valid until at least one month after your return date.
checkboxObtain the appropriate travel visa for the country in which you will be teaching.
checkboxMake copies of your documentation (i.e., passport, visas, marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.).
checkboxConsider getting an international driver’s license (quite easy to do and very worthwhile).
checkboxWrite down the contact information for your family, friends, accountant, lawyer, etc.
checkboxIf you plan to look for work once you arrive, take several copies of your credentials (diploma, certificate, degree, etc.) resumes, reference letters, and passport photos.
checkboxPhotocopy all documents including insurance particulars, record the numbers of your credit cards, traveler’s checks, passport, and airline tickets and give to a responsible family member or friend at home.
checkboxAdditional passport photos to ease the process of replacing a lost or stolen passport, or if other official documents are required once you are in your destination country.

Airline Tickets

checkboxBefore purchasing your airline ticket, follow the advice of your recruiter or school. They may have suggestions or limitations such as you can only fly out of your home country.
checkboxResearch various airlines to find the best price and best options, and purchase your tickets.
checkboxCheck your airline’s website for any flight restrictions, such as weight and size limitations, or how much luggage you will be able to take without paying a penalty.
checkboxMake sure your ticket will suit your needs after you finish the teaching contract. A flexible (open) ticket is a good idea.
checkboxBuy luggage tags and make your luggage distinctive so if all black suitcases come through, you will know easily which is yours.

Medical Considerations

checkboxVisit your dentist to have your teeth cleaned and to take any preventative steps before departure.
checkboxGet a check-up from your doctor to be aware of health information.
checkboxEnsure you have enough of your prescription medication to last for your entire time abroad.
checkboxIt is important to check the expiration date of all medications prior to departure.
checkboxMake sure you have all relevant vaccinations for your destination country; this may take up to two months.
checkboxEnsure you have health and accident insurance, and have contact information for the insurance company in the event of an emergency or needed care.
checkboxCarry spare glasses and a lens prescription.

Financial Reminders

checkboxClear any debts (i.e., parking, library, etc.).
checkboxCancel automatic withdrawals from your bank account, if applicable.
checkboxPlan ahead for filing your income tax and, where possible, legally remove yourself from the taxation system in your home country so you do not pay taxes in both countries.
checkboxVisit an accountant to get country-specific tax information.
checkboxArrange for a power of attorney or someone you trust to make bank deposits and transfers, pay credit card bills, and carry out other legal matters.
checkboxHave at least $1,500-$2,000 saved or available in credit to start your new career overseas.
checkboxPurchase traveler’s checks
checkboxMake sure you have enough money to pay for a return plane ticket.
checkboxConsolidate your loans, 401k, etc.
checkboxMake copies of your traveler’s checks and credit cards including customer service phone numbers and account numbers; keep copies in a safe place (separated from the originals), and leave a copy in the US with someone you trust.

Legal Issues

checkboxClear up any legal issues that you may be involved in.
checkboxConsider getting a criminal record check completed. This may take up to two months, however, the criminal record check must not be older than six months before your arrival date.
checkboxBecome familiar with the basic laws and customs of the country you plan to visit.
checkboxBecome familiar with Travel Safety tips to ensure you stay safe wherever you go.

Prepare For the Classroom

checkboxYou may need to start teaching as soon as you arrive in your new country. Read more about Tips for your first week of teaching in an ESL classroom.
checkboxCollect American “gifts/souvenirs” to give out to your students (often available from your local Senator).
checkboxEnsure you have appropriate ESL Teaching Resources such as lesson activities, lesson plans, classroom and teacher resources, theory and research, and additional resources.
checkboxPurchase an English dictionary, a grammar book, and supplies in case these items are not readily available.
checkboxPurchase a few educational games such as Scrabble® or children’s word association games.
checkboxCollect glossy catalogues and magazines with lots of pictures; these are hard to find in most developing countries and students love them!
checkboxFind out what is considered to be proper attire in your classroom, including shoes, as well as weather appropriate clothing for your destination country.
Teach English Abroad
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