Being an auxiliar (or language assistant) in Europe, I have an amazing opportunity to live in Spain, experience a new culture, learn a new language (or two) and travel around Europe. But it is not easy to afford travel as an auxiliar. We don’t receive lot of money and depending on which city you’re in and your accommodations, it’s even less. So if you’re considering going to Spain or another European country to teach English, read to see how to afford travel as an auxiliar.
Disclaimer: My tips will mostly be based on my experience in Spain. But they also apply to other countries.
Choose the right program
The first thing to consider in how to afford travel as an auxiliar is which program to be apart of. In Spain, there’s the government program, BEDA, Meddeas, CIEE, UCETAM and more. The pay varies between each program. When I was searching programs, the government program paid the most. However, I did not go with the government program. I heard negative things about that program and decided against it. Some other programs pay well but have a fee to apply, a deposit, etc. You may or may not get that money back, again it varies.
You have to take in a lot when choosing which program you want to join. And of course money is one of them. Take into account what days you would be working, the amount of hours per week, etc.
Give private lessons
One of the best ways to afford travel as an auxiliar is by giving private lessons. And it doesn’t have to disrupt your schedule. My private lessons are three days a week and I strategically scheduled them on my busiest days. I’d rather have a couple busy days and enjoy other days more. The price you set for these lessons will depend on where you live, the age of the students and possibly your experience. I recommend looking online on TusClasesParticulares to see what others in your area are charging.
Tip: Don’t undervalue yourself! While of course you don’t want to rip people off, know the value in what you provide.
Tip #2: You will most likely get paid in cash. Keep that cash in a box, bag, safe, something and DO NOT TOUCH IT. Don’t count it, don’t dip into it (even if you promise to put it back). Nothing. Right before your trip, deposit some of it and keep some of it for pocket money for your travels.
Prioritize big trips over small trips
This may be a point that some auxiliars have differing opinions on. Many take advantage of every weekend to go somewhere new. To be honest, that’s what I thought I’d be doing. But when I got here, that wasn’t feasible for me. So instead of going somewhere for a weekend, I waited for longer holidays and my big Christmas break to travel. I did do a couple of 3-day weekend trips and that’s fine, but I’d recommend traveling domestically for those. Thus, although I may not have visited ten different countries this year, I was able to save my money for the destinations I really wanted to go to and not have many financial constraints while there.
If I do return to Spain again as an auxiliar, I do want to travel a bit more, but I still will wait for longer weekends/holidays to do so. Quality over quantity!
Limit going out
This point is easy for a homebody like myself. But if you are wondering how to afford travel as an auxiliar, cutting out clubs, bars, drinks, etc. may be the way to go. The prices for drinks really add up. For some people, going out and experiencing the nightlife is a vital part of their experience living abroad, and that’s okay. But know that if it is, you will likely have to cutback on your expectations for extensive travel. You can do both (travel and party), but you have to decide which is the bigger priority.
Travel more domestically
I touched on this briefly, but I think it also deserves it’s own section. You can still travel, but it doesn’t all have to mean jetting off to a new country. Train travel in Spain can be quite affordable. Plus, you can even do day trips in smaller towns on the weekends so you don’t have to pay for accommodations. And if you decide to stay the weekend, accommodations are typically cheaper in smaller towns. Save the more “exciting” (although all travel is exciting for me) for the longer holidays.
Don’t eat out
Ok, ok, I know you probably came to Spain (or another country) so excited to try all the local food. And you can. Just sparingly. I don’t need to tell you how big of an expense eating out frequently is, we all know that. But it can be hard when you’re in a new place and want to try new things or are feeling stressed and emotionally eat. Whatever the case may be, eat at home as much as you can. Shopping at grocery stores in foreign countries is so much fun and gives you a peek inside the culture. Cook some of the local dishes on your own and save eating out for special occasions, maybe once every other month.
Pick the right housing
This may factor in to what program you choose. A key reason I am able to afford travel as an auxiliar is because I am living with a host family. This was not my main reason for choosing this option, but it a benefit of doing so. If your program offers this option, it may be wise to do so. If your program doesn’t offer it or you don’t want to live with a host family, still be smart when looking for a place to live. Know that you’ll likely be sharing a space with others and it’ll also likely be small. These are sacrifices you’ll have to make if traveling is important to you.
Again, do your research on what is a good price to pay and start your search early, as soon as you arrive.