How to Combine Online Classes with World Travel

March 16, 2021

Step 1: Take Classes Online

Of course! But there are two types of online classes you could take:

Online College Classes

You’re all too familiar with taking college classes online by now! Taking them from the beaches of South America will surely make them more bearable!

Enroll in a semester of entirely online classes, or enroll in a few over the summer break.

If you’re currently enrolled at a university, the easiest way to do this is to enroll in classes that are offered by your university, that way there will be no disruption to your studies. You’ll just be studying online as you have been for the past year because of COVID-19. 

If you’re a high school graduate looking to earn college credits during their gap year before enrolling in university, you can enroll in credit-bearing online classes through a university that allows non-degree seeking students to take classes a la carte. Or you can take classes through an alternative college credit provider.

Whoever you are, if you’re planning to combine online classes with world travel, you’ll want to make sure that the classes you’re taking meet a few criteria:

1. They’re asynchronous

Asynchronous college classes don’t require you to be online at specific times to attend lectures and group discussions. This is a crucial aspect of the classes that you’re going to take traveling with you. If you have to be online at a specific time in a certain time zone then you’re going to be very restricted in where you’re able to travel to. 9am Pacific is midnight in Bali!

2. They’re self-paced

Self-paced college classes allow you to progress through the course material at your own pace, with no fixed deadlines for completion of assignments and other coursework. It’s useful to have this flexibility if you’re taking college classes while traveling the world because you never quite know what life is going to throw at you on the road.

If you’re already enrolled as a student at a university, and the online classes available to you aren’t asynchronous and self-paced, then you may want to take classes through an alternative college-credit provider which better suits your ambitions of traveling the world while studying online. These classes are usually much cheaper than classes through universities. They range from $59 to $700 per class, and are widely accepted as college credit at universities throughout the US.

Related: Which online classes you can take while traveling the world

Non-credit bearing classes

As an undergraduate student, it may be hard to believe that there are classes out there other than college classes!

Many participants of our programs have taken non-credit bearing classes while traveling the world with us. They’ve found classes on an online course platform such as skillshare, or they’ve learnt a digital skill that they can use to freelance online with.

A question you need to ask yourself when taking this route:

Am I truly committed to completing this course?

It’s harder to stay productive as an online student if you’re traveling the world while learning, so it’s important that you have a lot of motivation to complete the course. We’ve seen that some participants on our programs that have taken this route end up not completing their studies because they don’t have that extra motivation of earning credits or paying a lot of money for the course, which is the case if you’re taking college classes.

Step 2: Travel

As easy as that ;). 

There’s actually no reason why you can’t take online classes from some of the most exotic places in the world. We can't believe more people don't do it!

Maybe you were already dreaming about this over the past year while you were taking online classes from your childhood bedroom at your parents home instead of on campus surrounded by your friends.

Before picking a location to study online from there’s a few basic things to consider.

1. Time zones

If you have to attend classes live, then you will need to be living in a time zone that is similar to the one that your university is in. Unless you’re happy to be awake in the middle of the night!

If your university is in the US, then studying online from Latin America keeps you in a similar time zone. You can use to compare the time in different cities in the world so you know how disruptive living in a different time zone might be.

Of course, if your classes are asynchronous then you can live wherever you want!

2. Budget

There are many places in the world that you can live a full and awe-inspiring life for less than you spend living on campus at home. In fact, we’re sure that traveling while taking online classes is the cheapest way to study abroad by a long way. But you still need to think about what budget you have, and this will largely define where in the world you will be able to live.

If your budget is less than $1,000 per month then you will have to stick mainly to Asia. You can live in Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, and India comfortably for less than $1,000 per month. There are some places in Eastern Europe that you can live in on this budget too. Istanbul and Budapest being a couple that you might consider.

If you can stretch to $1,500 per month, your choice of locations increases dramatically. Most of Latin America can be lived in for less than that. This means places like Costa Rica, Colombia, and Peru could be your home while you study online. There are also many countries in Europe  that fit into this budget. Lisbon, Valencia, Madrid, Prague, even Berlin can all be lived in for this price if you know how to find amazing deals on accommodation and go at the right time of year.

If you can afford $2,000 a month, the world is your oyster!

3. Style of Travel

There’s a specific approach to traveling that means that you can combine it with studying online. Without taking the right approach, you’ll find it super hard to stay on track with your studies, since you will be surrounded by the most beautiful places (and maybe people), exciting experiences, and interesting cultures you can dream of. So there will be plenty of reasons not to study!

To stay on track, we suggest:

1. You don’t stay in hostels

A hostel is a type of low budget accommodation that is used by travelers all over the world. They’re specifically designed as social hubs to help travelers meet each other. The rooms at a hostel are usually shared between 6 - 10 people, dormitory style, with bunk beds. 

Hostels are an amazing way to meet fellow travelers if you’re traveling solo, and the dormitory rooms keep costs super low. But they aren’t ideal if you’re studying online while traveling. 

Firstly, the amount of other travelers all under one roof means that there’s a huge amount of distractions. This is a great thing if you’re just a backpacker. But if you’ve got a full course load of college classes to take it’s going to be very hard to keep on track when your roommates are going out partying every night, and off on adventures every day. The hostel crowd are usually only there to have as much fun and exciting experiences as they can squeeze in. There’s no room in their schedule to study 3 - 6 hours a day, and you will probably end up getting serious FOMO if you manage to stick to your studies.

Secondly, hostels are a terrible environment to be productive. Sharing a room with 6 - 10 other people means you will probably struggle to get a good night’s sleep. And there definitely won’t be a desk for you to study from. There’s unlikely to be anywhere in the hostel that you can be alone and focus on your classes. Internet speeds in hostels are also often an issue, since the wifi is going to be shared between everyone at the hostel, which can be a lot of people!

Better to stay in your own place, with your own private room. And visit hostels to make friends and go on adventures in your down time. Many have bars that are open to people that aren’t staying there, and have tours that anyone can join too, so you can still enjoy all the great things a hostel has to offer while having your own space to be productive too.

2. You stay for at least a month in each location

The most important reason to stay for a month in each location is the huge discounts you can get on accommodation when you do so. If you’re not staying in hostels, booking a private room or apartment on a nightly basis is going to be prohibitively expensive in most parts of the world, at least if you want to travel for less than it costs to live on campus back at home. 

But in many parts of the world, the monthly price you can pay for a place can be discounted by up to 30% on Airbnb, and up to 70% if you use other methods to find accommodation. This means that you can have your own place at a price similar to what you’d be paying to stay in a hostel sharing a room with 6 - 10 other people!

The second reason to stay for at least a month is that it allows you to settle into a routine that balances your studies with enjoying and experience the place that you’re living in. Most travelers don’t even stay a week in each place they visit, cramming in everything there is to do in as little time as possible. If you try to travel on the same schedule, you won’t have any time to study. Plus you won’t really experience the place you’re living in the way that’s most rewarding. You won’t learn what it’s like to live there as a local. You won’t understand the culture. 

Staying for at least a month still allows you to tick all the boxes that other travelers do, just spread out over a longer period of time. Plus you’ll gain a more intimate understanding of the culture that you’re living in. And most importantly you will have time to complete all your classes!

Of course this is just scratching the surface of everything you need to think about when combining online classes with world travel. If you’re interested in learning exactly how we’ve been helping online students take their classes while traveling since 2016, you should check out the Edumadic Academy.