Pack List & Essentials for the Traveling Teacher
Supplies, Props & Essentials for digital nomad teachers
I’ve always prided myself as being a light packer. Taking off for my first big 12-month long trip with nothing but a small carry-on only backpack and a purse. However things changed slightly when I evolved from backpacker to digital nomad teacher
This list is just for the teachers. For a Complete Packing List, check these out:
You can still see what I packed for that first big trip here
I realized that in order to both succeed at my job, while also packing minimally and mindfully, I’ve needed to tweak my packing list many times over the years to create a list that fits my minimalist needs. The items in this list all fit neatly into my carry-on backpack.
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Option 1: Map Background
I use sticky tack to stick this behind me. It serves both as an educational background and a prop. This one is actually a placemat, but the tough material makes it durable and the size fits easily in my backpack. Add a name tag: print or make your own name tag to stick behind you next to the map
Option 2: Tapestry
This is my newest option and so far I’m loving it. I will hang the tapestry up in my new location using either sticky tack or command strips (for longer stays). Boom! I have a professional, cheerful, child-friendly background– It doesn’t get any easier than this! Plus it’s very lightweight and fits easily into my backpack or suitcase.
Lighting may seem like a trivial detail, however being well-illuminated makes you instantly appear more professional to your students. Because I often don’t know what the lighting situation will be before arriving in a new airbnb or hotel, I have always travelled with some sort of portable lighting device. Nine times out of ten, I end up needing to use it.
I find myself using this cheap, packable item frequently when we have apartments with less than ideal lighting (quite a lot actually). I highly recommend a selfie light like this one; it’s small, lightweight and very bright. In addition, I have and enjoy this light to use for particularly dark environments.
Recommended computers & tablets for traveling teachers...
I currently have the 2016 13” MacBook Pro (Non-Touch Bar), I’ve been really pleased with this computer as it’s powerful, light and sleek. Because I also dabble in photography, graphic design and blogging, I wanted a computer that could handle the Adobe Suite. If you can handle it you may prefer a MacBook Air.
The biggest complaint I have with my mac: I have run into some issues due to needing a USB-C adapter for my headset, camera & ethernet. FYI When a router runs on 2.5 GHz, and I have my adapter plugged in, I will likely run into connection issues. This is solved if I am able to switch to a 5 GHz connection with the router or hotspot (you can decide in your settings while frequency to connect to). This is not an issue at all as long as I am using the ethernet internet.
Microsoft Surface Laptop
If online teaching is your only purpose for having a computer, I recommend buying something much cheaper and more portable, such as Microsoft Surface Laptop
Ipad with SIM
I recently heard a traveling teacher recommend an IPad with SIM card because if you find yourself somewhere with poor wifi or power outages you can quickly switch to SIM data. This sounds like a fabulous idea to me. Be sure to buy the unlocked version so you can buy local SIM cards as you go. If you go this route you’ll want to buy a bluetooth headset and a stand.
Did you know you can still have a wired connection on an IPad? Here’s a guide on how to hook your IPad up to an ethernet connection. You’ll need to buy a USB ethernet adapter and use a dongle; may as well get one like this so you can have some options for what you can plug into your IPad
I strongly recommend investing in a quality headset with an external microphone and noise canceling + muting capabilities. Trust me, when your teaching from places like Vietnam or Mexico you’ll want headphones that drone out the sound of loud street vendors, horns, motorbikes, or terrible karaoke. I like either the cheaper models made by Logitech or this is headset: they are cheap and work great.
A mouse simply makes teaching easier and if you use a laptop stand it helps your posture and to prevent back issues. Plus having a mouse is helpful when modeling instructions. I have and like this one.
Phone or mobile hotspot
I have used an unlocked dual SIM Moto G for the past 4 years as my smartphone and as a hotspot, and I can easily say you will not find a better travel phone (or smartphone for that matter) for under $200. It’s amazing. Moto G6 unlocked dual sim.
I personally have Google’s phone plan, Project Fi. I’ve had this for about 2 years now and it’s been amazing. It’s worked in every country I’ve been to (except Belize), on landing and often 4g speeds. We highly recommend it as the best data plan for Digital Nomads. Recently they started offering unlimited data plans for $70/month. If you’re thinking about getting the plan use this and get $20 off!
Keep it all organized:
Prop organizer: This organizer holds most of my props and flashcards
Tech Organizer: I use this to keep my cables, cords, chargers and odd & ends organized
Backpack: All my teaching supplies, computer, bluetooth keyboard/mouse is stored within my carry on backpack
*For the serious online teachers*
If you notice your laptop has a poor quality built-in camera, you may need to purchase an external webcam. I like this one.
This is personally one of my very favorite things ever. It has saved my back and neck while putting me at eye level with my students. I now feel weird without it. This is the one I use. Also, it makes it super easy to turn any space into a workspace. Do you only have a bedside table and a lawn chair–no problem? How about an ironing board and dining chair–no problem, it makes a surprisingly good desk!
This is a matter of personal preference, but you’re going to want to bring some go-to props. I prefer props that are small, versatile and can be used in multiple situations. Here are my go-to props:
Don’t think using props is worth your time/effort? Check out this post by Happy Teacher Mama: The Ultimate VIPKID Props Guide: What You Need to be Successful
Flash Cards: I use alphabet flashcards with images on the back. I find myself using the pictures equally as often as the letters. Other helpful flashcards; girl and boy images, a set of animals, a set of food. This set is hard to beat.
Reusable Index Cards: Quickly create flashcards. Erase them after class and use them again and again. I travel with these dry erase index cards.
Reusable Plastic Sleeves: Great for creating reusable reward systems or supplementary posters. I’ve been using these for years.
Finger Puppets: Small and useful for the little kids. These are cheap and easy to pack.
Reusable Stickers: I use them mostly for reward systems. I’ve been able to get SO MANY different uses out of these. I’ve taken them out of their original packaging and keep them stuck to a reusable plastic paper sleeve.
Magnetic Whiteboard & Magnetic Letters: for phonics practice and a multitude of other uses. I’ve been travelling with this one for over 3 years.
Character Cutouts: Depending on which company you work for these are useful during lessons. Homemade!
ManyCam: Download a free webcam software such as ManyCam and use it to spice up your classes without any equipment.
What am I missing, teachers? What won’t you leave home without?