Getting organised for a TEFL trip is nothing short of a head wreck at times. It seems like there are a hundred and one different things to organise. I’ve broken down the most essential elements below.
For me the logistics of planning the trip is probably the scariest part. It’s the getting from point A to B which takes quite a bit of planning. My starting point is in Southwest Ireland and my destination is Southeast Asia.
The flights from London to Hanoi vary from direct to several stops in Europe and Asia. I was fortunate to find a direct flight which when you combine the 15 hour trip and the 7 hour time difference got me into Hanoi the morning that all the interns were due to arrive. This doesn’t even take into consideration bus journeys within Ireland and the flight to London. All and all I’m looking at about 30 hours travel.
✓ Passport- For obvious reasons.
✓ The infamous visa has been the bane of my life for weeks. Everything else was in place but getting a visa or even information on how to get a visa was near impossible. The ways that you can get a business visa vary. I got mine through the loose leaf process which allows you to apply via email. Looking at information that other interns got it appears that the documents needed can vary. An invitation letter from your host in Vietnam is important (and affects the price if I remember correctly!). A scan of your passport, completed application form, proof of payment and passport photos are also required.
✓ Insurance. As I’m going to Vietnam on a working visa I needed insurance to cover me in the workplace. As well as this it was very important that the insurance included motorcycles as this is a very common form of taxi over there. I got a very reasonable package for under €150 with Insure and Go Ireland. The company was upfront, the customer service was very helpful and the package was by far the most comprehensive I found for the best price. This company is also international and so is a great option for people travelling from the UK and Australia!
✓ Money Money Money. Going on holidays most people will just use their visa debit card. Visa are international and being able to use your debit card at an ATM is very convenient. Living in a different country though for an extended period of time is a different story. The charges on debit card transactions can be quite high not to mention commission fees. Many people opt for pre-paid cards that you top up in advance. You can load them up with dollars, pounds or euros before you go and use them at most ATMs abroad to withdraw local currency. The downside that I could see with this is that if you happened to lose your card your money is gone whereas with a debit or credit card you can easily cancel it straight away!
The required vaccines for Asia include chicken pox, polio, tetanus, MMR and influenza. Depending on where you’re travelling from you may already have gotten some of these. I was luckily covered for MMR and chicken pox!
The optional vaccines are a little tougher. The illnesses that they cover you from are quite frightening but the likelihood of you getting such illnesses is relatively low. I chose to get the Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines because they are water-borne illnesses commonly picked up from food and contaminated water and so seemed more likely. I also decided on the Hepatitis B vaccine purely because its long term effects can be pretty serious should you pick it up.
Vaccination prices vary from surgery to surgery. On hand in my local surgery they had the flu vaccine as well as a polio-tetanus combo so I did not have to buy these. However, the others had to be ordered. I bought my vaccinations through my local pharmacy and then paid €25 per visit to the doctors. The Hep A, B and Typhoid all cost approximately the same, around the €30 mark. It’s very important to know that two doses of Hep B must be given in order to ensure that you are covered. As well as this it is advised that you get a third shot six months down the line to cover you long-term.
The stress of organising my TEFL mainly came from the short lead time. Giving yourself enough time to organise everything will make it all a whole lot easier. It will also allow you enough time to raise funds. The initial €1,195 I spent on the trip did not include anything mentioned in this post, putting the end figure closer to €3,000.