There are a bunch of ways to save money when flying: book on a certain day at a certain time, use reward points, pick a less popular time to fly, and so on. Another big way to save on airfare is to book with a low-cost budget airline.
Not too long ago, I started looking into flying with a low-cost airline. Let me tell you, it can be amazzzing (because of the whole saving $$ thing) or terrible due to…well, lots of things (bad customer service, non-existent leg room, etc).
Spirit is the most well-known budget airline in the U.S., for both good and bad. Spirit has had public relations chaos and dealt with a notable bout of hate from people who have flown on the airline. Never fear! There is a way to fly Spirit airlines and have it not suck (for the most part…).
Spirit has routes running all over America, the Caribbean, and Central America. When you first see their pricing, you’ll be blown away. The fares are very low when compared to other airlines. You’ll think you scored some massively awesome deal. You did! Sort of.
In an effort to provide the lowest of low airfare prices, Spirit cuts out everything you would normally expect when flying. The mission is simple: get you from point A to point B. If you want the traditional amenities you’ve been accustomed to when flying, you’ll have to pay up with additional fees.
Peanuts? That costs extra. Picking your seats? Costs extra. Reclining your seats? Hahaha, nope.
When I flew with Spirit on a trip from San Diego to Houston, the base fare for the flight only cost $61. Adding in some fees, I ended up having to pay $113 total. Still a way better deal than the other airlines, and the experience of flying with them was mostly okay.
Spirit charges additional fees on everything you can probably think of. It really is a bare bones flight. Be aware of how you will be flight (how many bags, how big, etc) when booking so you can add on anything extra at the time of booking rather than paying more for it later on.
There is no free carry-on. You are allowed one personal item per person. For my flight from San Diego to Houston, I paid an additional $35 to bring one carry-on bag with me on the flight.
BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS
Spirit doesn’t give out peanuts or even a small complimentary drink. For a person like me who orders ginger ale and sips it as I look out the window pretending to be in one of those cool alcohol commercials, it can be a bummer not to get anything.
Think ahead and bring some snacks and an empty water bottle with you to the airport. Fill up the water bottle after you get through security.
If you buy a snack and soda on the flight, it’s going to run you around $5-15. Although apparently Sprit’s on board alcoholic beverages are cheaper than other airlines. Maybe that’s something to be excited about? 🙂 (I wouldn’t know, not much of a drinker).
Seat selection. On default, Spirit will pick your seat for you. Not something that’s ideal if you’re flying with someone else or in a group and want to stay together.
Customer selected seats range from $1-50. The big front seats, which have more leg room and no middle seat, cost between $12-199.
On my flight from San Diego to Houston, I opted to let Spirit choose the seat for me. It would have cost $10 if I had wanted to pick a standard seat of my own and $50 if I had wanted one of the big front seats.
If you book over the phone or online (a.k.a. they way almost everyone books flights nowadays) you will be subject to a “passenger usage fee” which ranges from $8.99 to $17.99. I got charged $17.99. The fee is waived if you go directly to the airport and book at the clerk counter. So if you happen to live close to the airport, book there.
Getting your boarding pass from the clerk desk costs $10, so either print at home or at one of the airport kiosks (the kiosks are free!).
I remember another blogger mentioning how Spirit felt like a “greyhound bus in the air” because of how not great the flight was. Many people have mentioned how Spirit’s flights are frequently late on arrival.
My experience flying Spirit was positive and I didn’t have any problems. The seat was a little tight, given that I’m 6’2 and Spirit puts their seats closer together but it wasn’t too bad. I had snacks I brought on the flight and kept myself entertained with a book and my flight arrived on time.
Have you ever flown with Spirit or another low-cost budget airline? What has your experience been like?
I just got back from San Diego, after being there for four days attending FinCon, a conference for the money media community. Everything about FinCon was awesome: the people, informative sessions, Ally Bank cookies, and the experience of being around people who understand you and geniunely want to help.
This was my first time attending the conference. FinCon has always really intrigued me. I’ve been wanting to go ever since hearing about the 2014 conference. It’s safe to say I’ve been mulling on the decision to go for quite some time. Before I even started this personal finance blog!
I wasn’t supposed to have gone to FinCon16. For the past several months, I’ve been living abroad in Thailand teaching English in a school near Bangkok. It’s been a great, eye-opening experience. Living abroad always has challenges and moments of shock. A particular moment of shock occurred when I tried to sign up for FinCon back in March, only to realize scheduling conflicts would prevent me from going.
The Thai school semester ends on September 30 this year. FinCon16 was taking place September 21-24. Naturally, I felt dumpy about scheduling conflicts that would prevent me from going *cue Daniel Powter’s Bad Day*.
Everything changed when, near the end of August, three weeks before the conference, I got notified I was one of the winners of the FinCon Scholarship and got approved to leave my school early. I crammed my final examination proctoring, took a 21.5-hour airline journey and was suddenly in San Diego.
Wednesday | FinCon16
The first day of FinCon16, a half day focused on getting checked-in and some pre-event buzz. After getting off my plane at 2:30pm, I immediately went to the hotel when check-in opened at 3:00pm.
I loved the badges! They were colorful and your name is displayed prominently on them, so it was easy to immediately know someone’s name upon seeing them (or to refresh your memory if you happened to forget…shhh, don’t tell anyone).
There were a bunch of cool pins you could get in addition to your badge and t-shirt. There were 1st year pins for FinCon first-timers and all the way up to 6-year pins for FinCon veterans.
The people checking me in asked me what my plan was (cause you know…the whole ‘Rebel With A Plan’ thing). Quite a few people asked me this, with a sly smile.
A pre-event happy hour took place after check-in. Through fumbling to find out where it was, I met Debra, a travel blogger at Traveling Well For Less. We walked around, trying to find it, and met Cait Flanders, a blogger who did a 2-year shopping ban and is currently on a road trip around the U.S.!
At the happy hour, on a mission to get food (rather than the free drinks), I made my way to the dessert table and met Colin Jones, from Blackjack Apprenticeship. The dude is a card-counting extraordinaire!
After the happy hour, The Road to Financial Wellness took place. I volunteered with registration and got to meet a bunch of people. Volunteering was a great thing to do to meet a lot of people! Everyone had funny reactions when I prompted them to write down what financial wellness meant to them. One person said financial wellness meant they could have a llama farm!
Thursday | FinCon16
The first official day of FinCon16. I went to two sessions. The first was an informative one on email list building, presented by Chris from Money Peach. He grew his list by 10,000 subscribers in 10 months. The session was filled with lots of useful information and was probably my favorite session of FinCon16.
The second session I attended was Write So Well They Can’t Ignore You, led by the legendary Paula Pant from Afford Anything. Paula was really good about showing ways you could inject more personality into your writing.
After the two sessions and the provided lunch, I went back to my room to take a nap. Originally intended for an hour, I ended up sleeping six hours and missing TradeKing’s party that night. I thought I had beaten jet lag but it proved itself otherwise. Zzzz.
The first session I attended was a Pinterest masterclass on how different online influencers are utilizing Pinterest. The next session was Blog to Brand, which talked about leveraging a blog and influence to become a thought leader. I really liked hearing the humble beginning from the speakers. One of the speaker’s first freelance writing jobs was a post on pimple popping that she got paid $10 for. *Drake’s voice: started from the bottom, now we here*
During lunch, I took part in a very impactful discussion about encouraging diversity in personal finance. This discussion was another highlight of FinCon16 for me. The financial industry can’t afford to just be old, stale, and pale!
The big event for Friday was Ignite! An evening discussion filled with a diverse set of 5-minute submitted talks. My favorites of the night were: 5 Things I Learned About Business and Money from Professional Card Counting, I Spent All My Money On A Trip Around The World, and How Rihanna Taught Me To Embrace My Inner Rachet.
There was an afterparty where everyone got free entry into the dance club. Who knew money nerds could get down so well?!?
Saturday | FinCon16
Last day of FinCon16. The best part of this day was meeting some more of my favorite bloggers. I got to meet the Debt Free Guys and Stefanie O’Connell, who is so nice and funny.
I attended a session on freelance writing led by Holly Johnson from Club Thrifty. The session was informative but also really amusing because Holly is so lovingly blunt and to the point. There were lots of giggles during the session.
The roundtable discussions dropped a whole bunch of topics into one room. There were tables for each different topic. I met Ms. Frugal Woods and heard her talk about how she started her blog and cultivating the community around it. She talked about how, back when she started the blog while working full-time, she would get up and do blog work from 6am-8am every day before work.
The last events of FinCon16 included The Plutus Awards, which had a hilarious entrepreneur rap along with FinConner’s reading mean comments about themselves, similar to Jimmy Kimmel’s mean tweets segment.
I loved everything about FinCon16. I’m so glad I was able to attend the conference for the first time. Everyone at the conference was so amazingly nice and helpful. It’s comforting to be in a community where people are gracious, helpful, and humorous.
Connecting with people at FinCon happened in so many different ways. Walking down the hallways, being in the expo hall, volunteering at booths, sitting in a corner stuffing my face with Ally Bank cookies…
Connecting was happening everywhere.
My blog name, Rebel With A Plan, was a good conversation starter. During the conference, I was asked numerous times what exactly my ‘plan’ was. Some people even made jokes with it. When I met J Money, while holding a cluster of Jolly Ranchers, he called me ‘Rebel with…Jolly Ranchers’.
Whenever I was holding something, people would say it.
Rebel with a…drink
Rebel with a…cookie
Rebel with a…bag
It was funny but also reminded me about how I’ve never really shared the reasoning of my blog name. It isn’t a name you would usually think of when it comes to a personal finance blog. I don’t have the word budget, millennial, frugal, thrifty, money, rich, or any of the other words many personal finance blogs have. I’ll explain the reason behind the name soon, in a future post!
It wouldn’t be a complete post without including the costs for the conference, right? 🙂
FinCon16 Basic Pass: $0 (I was one of the winners of the scholarship!)
Accommodation: $344.22 (couch surfed for one day and stayed at a nearby motel for the next three nights)
Food: $113.73 (This includes some of the food I got while at the airport)
Flight: $351 (The added cost of flying from Thailand to San Diego, CA then to Texas vs. just going Thailand to Texas)
250 business cards from Vistaprint cost $17.26. Uber rides totaled $72.19. They were higher than I anticipated due to my jet lag. Everyday afternoon I would have to ride back to my room to take a nap because I was so tired. Hopefully next year this won’t be an issue!
Before attending FinCon16, people would always say fantastic things about the conference and all the nice, inspiring, and helpful people who attended it. I wondered if it really lived up to the hype. YES.IT.DID. times 50x.
It’s so wonderfully infectious to be around people who are so passionate and helpful with what they do. I’m still in awe that I even had the opportunity to be able to attend. THANK YOU SO MUCH Philip Taylor for awarding me the scholarship!
I can’t wait to attend next year! FinCon17 tickets went on sale right after FinCon16 and I bought my ticket immediately. FinCon17 is going to be in Dallas, TX! My home state! Ahh, I’m so excited.
Tickets for FinCon17 are currently on sale through Monday, October 3 and at the lowest price they’re ever going to be ($189 for the basic pass). Book now to save big. You won’t regret it! 🙂
Minimalism is becoming kind of…dare I say it…trendy. People are embracing it and have become interested in decluttering, simple living, and making space for what matters to them. I used to never really give the idea of minimalism much thought until several people started labeling me as one.
At 17 years old I got a job at a restaurant cleaning tables. Like many teenagers, I thought about all the things I wanted to buy: movies, video games, books, clothes, concerts, and lots of drive-through junk food (my past obsession with Taco Bell knew no boundaries).
Being an almost graduated senior at the time, a few looks at college tuition prices made me keep my savings account mostly untouched. Every two weeks when I got my paycheck from the minimum-wage job, I would keep the majority of it in my bank account and give myself a small allowance for food.
I watched as all the other seniors continued to spend their money on mindless things. It was always a running joke to publicly say how little each of them had in their bank accounts. I would laugh nervously alongside them and purposely downplay how much I had in my account.
Many of the people in my class, whether they had jobs or not, had gotten cars back in sophomore or junior year. Their parents footing the bill. I didn’t get my first until midway through senior year after I had saved $2,300 to purchase a used Ford Focus with 131K miles.
I loved and valued the little red car so much. When I went off to college, I packed everything I needed into the backseat and drove to campus. Big U-Haul trailers surrounded me at every turn. It was puzzling to see people carrying several boxes out of trailers and into dorm rooms (the rooms were so tiny, how did they fit it all in??)
I knew my living situation would shift ever so often so I made the choice to pair down all of my stuff. I didn’t have the time or money to cart around a bunch of things. An actual mattress and bed frame? Nah, a sleeping bag would work. A dresser and night stand? I just got something foldable instead.
I made sure everything was small and easily transportable. Throughout college I rarely ever slept on an actual bed. Mattresses were too expensive and a hassle to move.
Whenever people came into my room/apartment, a sudden look of shock would wash over their face. People didn’t understand why I didn’t have decorated walls or furniture. Only a few boxes and small printed out pieces of paper along with my sleeping bag occupied the space. I was content with it and didn’t think much of it besides the fact that it made moving a whole lot easier and cheaper.
“Wow, you have so little stuff. You must be a minimalist!” was repeated over and over in varying ways.
All of my childhood and high school relics along with other stuff were kept in a few different boxes. They’ve been in those boxes since 2012, only be opened from time to time when I look through the stuff.
The habit of paring down to the essentials has stuck with me. For the past five years I’ve been an unintentional minimalist, decluttering, focusing on the stuff I’ve wanted to keep, and being intentional with what I’ve had in my possession.
It’s been pleasantly great. Whenever I’ve moved, I haven’t had to worry about getting moving trucks or needing help with moving. All about just packing things in the car!
This made my move overseas to Thailand a lot less stressful. The boxes got stacked and put up. With a backpack and one checked bag, I departed off to from Texas to The Land of Smiles (what Thailand is known for).
Despite unknowingly practicing minimalism for the past several years, I don’t know if I would label myself as one (curse you millennial non-labeling tendency!)
I place value in what I purchase. My belongings are kept to the essentials. I have a simplified wardrobe and practice the simplicity of wearing a “uniform” (simple gray/maroon t-shirt with dark jeans).
However, I also like purchasing things. Books, lenses for my camera, taking online courses through Skillshare, paying extra for convenience every now and then.
Am I really a minimalist? I’m not sure.
How do you interpret the minimalism movement? Do you consider yourself part of it?
I’ve been in Thailand for over four months now! Things have been going great and I’ve gotten into a good routine with lesson planning, work, and taking trips on some of the weekends. Thailand has really grown on me.
A big thing getting used to has been not being able to take hot showers (whaaa?). During the first month when I was traveling around Thailand and doing my ATI course, I stayed in hotels and hostels where hot water for showers was a typical thing. Every one of the showers had small hot water heaters hookd up to the side of the shower. My apartment doesn’t have that. Hot showers aren’t a typical thing here.
Learning about money management definitely wasn’t something I was expecting as I started working here. When you’re making a small salary and still want to satisfy your travel bug, you have to get good with your money!
It’s interesting to see the different ways all of the teachers talk about and manage their money. Saving 50% of your salary is a big thing in the personal finance world. At my school, some of the foreign English teachers try to do just that.
At the start of every month, when I get paid, I put half my salary in an envelope and try not to touch it. The rest of my salary is mine to spend. It works kind of like Paula Pant’s Afford Anything Anti-Budget. I just pull my savings off the top and spend the rest. For the first two paychecks so far, I’ve been able to save slightly more than half my salary.
Land of smiles
They don’t call Thailand the “land of smiles” for nothing. People can be very friendly here! The clerks at the bank and 7-eleven smile when assisting you, thai teachers smile at you in the hallway. It goes a long way.
Now everything wasn’t always so rosy. The first two to three months were a difficult transition. Everything smoothed out as time went on, though. Culture shock is always something to content with when traveling. Especially when you start living and working in another country.
Taking shoes off
I’ve gotten used to taking my shoes off. At my school, I have to take off my shoes before entering the kindergarten classrooms. It’s also customary to take shoes off when entering temples, some tourist attractions, message and spa parlors, and other places.
In Thailand, the head is regarded as the most important part of the body, because it is where the spirit resides. The feet are the furthest away from the head so they are the lowest part of the body spiritually. Feet are not to be pointed directly at buddha relics, and other important and spiritual things.
I’ve even started taking my shoes off at the door of my own apartment!
7-elevens and message places everywhere
There are 7-elevens every two to three blocks. It’s crazy. I thought at first how was it possible to have so many. Wouldn’t it cause trouble for each establishment since there are so many? Nope! Every one of them regularly gets people coming through the sliding beeping doors.
Like the stores back in the states, the ones here have a variety of prepackaged food/meal items. Although, the selection is different for the stores here in Thailand. There are a bunch of rice and noodle dishes for 37 baht ($1.06 USD). There’s “toasties” as well!
Message places can be found on every few blocks as well. Hour long messages can be done for around 200-300 baht ($5.70-8.55 USD). So inexpensive!
I try to make a habit of going somewhere every weekend. It doesn’t have to be big or in some far off tropical beach, just something. Thailand is so so so beautiful and diverse. I love the different shaped mountains, Jurassic Park vibe from looking at them (yeah, haha) , beautiful beaches, and diverse atmospheres.
Three big trips I’ve taken since I started work: Chiang Mai, Ko Kret+park, and Koh Chang.
It’s commonly said how “everyone loves Chiang Mai”. While maybe not everyone loves it, it is a pretty neat place. Being in northern Thailand, the weather is a lot more compliant to visitors than the hot and polluted atmosphere of Bangkok (Bangkok is still a great place though!).
Chiang Mai is considered the digital nomad capital of the world. It offers a low cost of living, good internet speeds, and plenty of attractions and laid-back culture.
Ko Kret & Chaloem Kanchanaphisek Park
Just outside of Bangkok’s bustling and chaotic nature lies Ko Kret, a small artificial island that resulted from a canal being dug to provide an easier route along the Chao Phraya River. Ko Kret is known for its laid-back peaceful rural atmosphere and pottery.
The island doesn’t have any official paved roads, just a narrow concrete path circling the small island. There is a nice weekend market here that makes it perfect for a weekend day trip. I went on an early Saturday.
I rented a bike for 40 baht and spent the next three hours riding around the island, making multiple stops along the way.
After Ko Kret, I went to Chaloem Kanchanaphisek Park. Stunning views in this place!
This has been the best trip by far (sorry Chiang Mai). There was an five-day weekend due to Thai Lent holiday. Me and eight other teachers from my school went to Ko Chang for the holiday.
Ko Chang is Thailand’s second biggest island, after Phuket. It’s notable because it’s one of the Thai islands that remains not too negatively affected by tourism. I got to the island by taking a five-hour bus from Bangkok to Trat then a ferry to the island.
Everyday, us teachers took to the beach and every night we took to the clubs. The white sand beaches were seemingly endless. The mountains and cliffs gave a very Jurassic Park vibe. Seeing them was so spectacular and something only my eyes could catch (the camera images did come close though 🙂 ).
It’s a great feeling to be around fun and spirited people. That’s what I got while in Ko Chang.
All in all, Thailand has been great so far. Midterms at school have just been completed after a 2-3 week process. Now back to the daily routine!
What trips are you dreaming up or planning to take?
Whew! I’m nearly two months into my teaching job in Thailand (nearly three months in Thailand overall) and things have been great. I like my students, I like the lessons I get to teach, and it’s been an overall positive experience so far.
I wanted to give a review of ATI’s Special Thai Project. I took part in the April 2016 3-week 120 hour course provided by American TESOL Institute’s Special Thai Project. The course was so helpful and make me glad I decided to take an onsite course rather than doing it online.
REAL & WORTHWHILE
Those are the first two things I would say about ATI’s Special Thai Project. When I first starting looking into the program, I was concerned to the legitimacy of it. ATI has a dozen different websites and their social media profiles look like they’re run by a spam robot.
Despite initial concern, American TESOL Institute and it’s Special Thai Project program is real and legit.
COURSE & COSTS
The course I took was the 3-week 120 hour TESOL course in Bangkok. Accommodation was provided for at JL Bangkok Hotel. Class took place from 9am to 4:45pm with an hour for lunch and two 15 minute breaks. Teaching practice days (during 3rd week of course) had slightly different hours.
The cost for the program is frequently advertised as “1590 USD/1142 GBP – -1390 USD/998″ GBP. ATI usually offers a discount of $200 USD, so the course cost me $1190 USD.
A thing to keep in mind is you will not be getting your first paycheck until around two months after your arrival.
I arrived to Thailand on Thursday, March 31. I didn’t receive my first paycheck until May 31. I arrived on the 31st, did the course April 4-22, had a free week, then started my teaching job on May 2.
While ATI does provide accommodation during course, there are the other fees you have to think about. The costs below, in US dollars, include daily living costs, trips to Pataya, Krabi Town, Island touring, and Chiang Mai, and my deposit for my apartment once I got my placement (the school doesn’t cover this).
$515 | Flight (one-way, Texas>>>Thailand)
$1190 | ATI: Special Thai Project 3-week TESOL Bangkok course
$1400 | (2) Two months of expenses
$475 | Apartment deposit (I paid 16,500 baht for apartment deposit. 11,000 baht will be refunded to me upon moving out)
$650 | Flight home (one-way)(this is something I’m just over estimating but still planning for)
$4,230 | TOTAL
Yeah, seeing that number can be a tough to swallow, read on below to find out more about it. Course and experience so far has still been super worth it!
One of the biggest benefits of taking the course is the guaranteed job placement. Upon completion of the course, you are guaranteed a job placement with 30,000 baht per month salary and free accommodation/monthly housing stipend.
It’s important to note: you do not become TESOL certified until you complete the course AND the one semester of teaching.
You don’t find out your job placement right away. It’s usually during the 2nd week of the 3-week course that you find out where you will be placed. This is usually due to ATI working out placement deals with schools based on number of students in course and finding schools to place you in.
The number of students in each course is usually around 25-30. My course had 11 students in it, a lower than normal amount. six of us got placed at a school near Bangkok, three got placed in Khon Kaen, one in Rayong, and one decided to opt out of placement and find a job himself.
The teaching jobs will be standard 40-ish hours a week and involve 20-25 hours of classroom teaching. Here’s what my schedule looks like:
Job placements can include being placed in more urban areas (my placement) or more rural areas. Most of the people in my course were happy with their placements. Even if they weren’t immediately happy with their new living and job situation, the experience quickly grew on them.
What happens when you don’t like your placement or want to opt-out? A few options.
The first one is speaking with the person who is overseeing the placement process. For my case, it was Pak. She handled the placement process and getting us set up in our apartments and explaining the visa process. Talk with the person and see if there are any other areas you can be placed.
Another option, if you finish the course and don’t like where you are placed, you may opt-out of it, pay $500 to get your TESOL certification and work on finding a job on your own.
A third option is to opt-out of the placement, abandon your TESOL certification and either go back home or go about looking for a job yourself. You don’t need a TESOL/TEFL certification to teach English abroad, it just helps a lot in getting jobs and getting a better pay rate.
Participating in ATI’s Special Thai Project was worth the investment. I’m really glad I decided to do an onsite TESOL training course rather than an online one. A big positive to doing the course was the teaching practice and networking.
As part of the course, you get lesson planning and real in-classroom teaching practice. I was able to do four days of teaching practice: two days at an elementary school teaching Grade 5 and Grade 2, one day at a preschool teaching K2, and one day at a 7-11 college teaching 15-16 year old teenagers.
Our course’s teaching instructor, June, gave all of us feedback and advice after each day. Thai classrooms often have anywhere from 30-50 students in them. The teaching practice helped develop classroom management, confidence, resourcefulness, and ways of teaching different age groups.
It was so awesome getting to practice and learn before going and doing the real deal later on at my teaching job!
Networking and socializing with the other course participants was another plus. Discovering Thailand was easier and more fun when around other people starting out like you.
Having Pak from ATI, made apartment finding and signing easier as well. For my placement, I am provided with a monthly housing stipend instead of accommodation. Pak assisted me and the other five with finding apartments, talking to the landlords (who didn’t speak much English), and negotiating leases with the landlord based on our semester teaching contract.
I put together a list of frequently asked questions you may have. Feel free to reach out if you have any other others!
What are the requirements to teach English abroad?
bachelors degree (in any major, it doesn’t have to be education)
native english speaker
What’s difference between TEFL/TESOL/CELTA?
TEFL and TESOL are basically the same thing. Having either one of them will better help you for a job teaching English.
TEFL: Teaching English as a Foreign Language
TESOL: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
CELTA: Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA is a more intensive and formal certification for people who are really planning some serious long-term teaching)
Why ATI and the Special Thai Project program?
A big benefit? Guaranteed job placement with a known monthly salary of 30,000 baht. Finding a job, especially for first-timers, is overwhelming. Researching, setting up countless interviews, and trying to see if the school is even real…
ATI takes some of the stress and confusion out of moving abroad to teach English. Getting to be around a group of fun and diverse people was great. The people who worked with ATI, the teaching instructor and placement coordinator were helpful in providing assistance with visa things, Thai culture, accommodation, and more.
Is this only for young people?
Despite many of the people who do ATI, and other programs, being in their twenties, there were many people of many ages who participated in the course. Three of the people in my ATI course were mid-career professionals in their 40’s/50’s!
In the school I work at, there are several teachers in the English program who are in their thirties or forties.
Remember, what’s important is you have a bachelors degree and are a native English speaker.
Is the monthly salary enough to live on?
Yes. Thailand has a relatively low cost of living. My monthly salary of 30,000 baht, which is around $850 USD, is enough to live on.
Now, this isn’t a perfectly set budget obviously. Keep in mind unexpected costs like visa expense and so forth. I did the course in April, started working in May, and now it’s June. In May I didn’t save any because I hadn’t gotten my first paycheck yet and the month had several unexpected expenses: visa expenses, cleaning and moving costs (buying sheets, towels, mats, and cleaning supplies, etc for apt), having to buy three shirts for school (my school requires we wear certain colors on certain days. Purple, yellow, blue, and gray).
What is it like in Thailand? Is it good? Is it safe?
Thailand is great and very safe. I love the beautiful landscapes and personality of Thailand. Remember patience is necessary. Patience is key
“Thai time” is a popular phrase used in Thailand. It’s a funny thing that can be taxing at times. When the people at the visa office were being unhelpful and slow, when people at the embassy were being unhelpful and slow, and so on. The key is to be patient. Understand that you are in a new place and there is an adjustment period.
Why choose to teach English in Thailand?
Since you’re researching teaching English in Thailand, I’m sure you’ve read about other places to teach English. South Korea is a popular one.
So why teach in Thailand? Thailand is a good place for first-time TEFL/TESOL English teachers. You are able to get experience in lesson planning, classroom management, and learning to teach to certain age groups in a small amount of time.
Thailand is a good place to “get you feet wet” in teaching English abroad. The contracts are only for a semester (4-5 months) rather than the typical 12-month year long contract you would find in other places (like South Korea).
How much money should I bring?
I would have around $4,500 USD saved up. Keep in mind this includes the course fee of $1190-1390 USD, see the cost breakdown in the above cost section of this post.
What type of visa did you get before coming to Thailand?
I got the single-entry tourist visa. It cost $40 USD to get from my local Thai consulate office. This is the type of visa ATI will probably suggest to you and it was the most common one when coming over for the majority of people in my course.
How is the accommodation during the course?
I can only speak for the course I did, which was the 3-week TESOL course in Bangkok. Accommodation was provided at JL Bangkok Hotel. The hotel was good and clean and decent free Wi-Fi internet was provided. No breakfast provided.
Many of the students in the course didn’t completely like the Ramkhamhaeng area where JL Bangkok was located because there wasn’t much to do. Not many bars/nightlife or general things to do. They were happy with accommodation, just yearned for more to do. We often had to take taxi’s to other parts of the city.
There is a mall, internet cafes, grocery stores, and lots of other places to keep you satisfied for day-to-day stuff.
After finishing the course do I start teaching right away?
It depends on your placement. For me (and the other five placed with me), we had a week break in between finishing the course and starting our teaching job. I traveled around to different islands in the south during the break.
One woman in our program finished the course on Friday and started teaching the following Monday. Other people in our program had as much as two or three weeks off break between finishing the course and starting their teaching jobs.
Accommodation is provided, right?
Yes, sort of.
Either accommodation will be provided or you will be given a monthly housing stipend. My school gives a monthly housing stipend. The housing stipend is 5,000 baht per month.
The cheapest apartment I could find that ATI showed me was 5,500 baht. So I have to pay 500 baht per month in rent (around $14.20 USD per month), nothing big but worth mentioning since ATI often touts free accommodation.
I have a one bedroom apartment I live in by myself. Some of the other ATI members share an apartment.
How does banking work?
You don’t need to switch to an internationally recognized bank before coming, although it certainly helps. Check with your bank and set up a travel plan so you are able to use your debit card to withdraw money at Thailand ATM’s.
So far, I have not, and don’t really need to, set up a bank account in Thailand. This may be different based on your placement and paycheck distribution method (my school just gives us cash every month on payday).