One of the most amazing things about international teaching is the ability to travel. Most families budget specifically just for travel. When Jamie and I moved overseas, we saved about $5000 a year by not having to pay for gasoline. Additionally, house payments, health insurance, and utility costs were suddenly zero.
With more disposable income and now living overseas, it became our goal to travel as much as possible. Our first winter break overseas, we spent 3 weeks touring Thailand (Bangkok, Chang Mai, and Koh Chang). Our Christmas dinner was some delicious Thai food on a beach restaurant that just about caught our mouth on fire. We woke up at 3:30 am to Skype our parents as we tried to find the best wifi signal. I’m sure many international school families have similar stories.
We go home about every other winter break, especially when our calendar allows for 3 weeks. One particular trip, we spent 3 weeks traveling to southeast China, Laos, and Thailand. The highlight of the China portion of the trip was a 10 hours of hiking to Tiger Leaping Gorge. I spent Christmas that year in a small hostel in Dali sick as a dog from food poisoning from a “pizza” at a local restaurant. That cheese sure did taste funny at the time, but the carolers staying at the hostel sound nice out of my bedroom window. Our 2nd week was spent in Laos after a 36 hour bus ride from China into Laos. It was a sleeper bus, so it wasn’t too bad. Interesting, it was freezing in China, hot in Laos, and our third week of the vacation was spent in business clothes interviewing for jobs in Bangkok, Thailand. Certainly a trip of a lifetime.
I keep saying that phrase, but the longer I’m overseas, I realize these trips aren’t trips of a lifetime, they are your life!
This winter break, we had scheduled a trip for Germany to check out the Christmas markets and all Germany has to offer over the holidays. Due to Jamie expecting on December 6, that trip has now been cancelled for bigger and better things with the birth our our 2nd son.
My coworkers have trips planned to just about all corners of the globe and the diversity of my students means that their holidays will be well traveled as well. Many teachers go home to visit family over the holidays, but a good many do take time to travel somewhere interesting. Many in the Middle East either head to beaches of southeast Asia or the snowy wonderlands of Europe for winter break.
Like any teacher, winter break is a time for family, friends, and resting from a hectic fall semester of school. Unlike most teachers, international school teachers have the opportunity to make their winter breaks into something of which even Santa Clause would be jealous.