Lucy Alexander
(Screenshot: Lucy Alexander/ Instagram)

Lucy Alexandra Spencer works for wealthy European and American households, travelling with families for weeks or even months at a time. Her unique career as a travelling teacher has allowed her to see the world while providing personalised education to her students.

The Journey to Becoming a Travelling Teacher

Spencer's background includes working with children at all levels, including primary school pupils with learning disabilities. Seven years ago, driven by a desire to see the world, Spencer embarked on her first travelling teaching job. Since then, she has spent roughly two years travelling, including eight months in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.

Last year alone, Spencer spent sixteen weeks in Oman, France, Switzerland, and Portugal. She mentioned that it is common for families to cover all her travel, accommodation, food, and excursion expenses. Spencer's students typically spend about four hours a day in her classes, where one hour of private tutoring is equivalent to three hours of traditional schooling. She collaborates with teachers at her students' home schools to ensure her lessons cover the necessary subjects and helps prepare students for upcoming exams.

"It's not about me imparting knowledge; it's about being a facilitator to make them curious and ask questions about things they're experiencing — spotting differences, spotting similarities," Spencer told CNBC Travel.

Adapting to New Cultures

Spencer's teaching approach adapts to the cultural context of her students. For example, after working with a family in Oman who had never been to an Arabic nation before, she incorporated lessons about local food, laws, and culture. "It's demanding on your teaching skills because you've got to really understand the family and their cultural beliefs, and how you can make those little humans that you're working with into better versions, even than their parents," Spencer added.

Balancing Work and Personal Business

Recently, Spencer reduced her travelling work hours to focus on her private tutoring business, Education Boutique. This platform connects families needing a travelling teacher with one of the 30,000 teachers available. Now, Spencer accepts jobs abroad for up to four weeks at a time, allowing her to balance travel and her business commitments.

Requirements and How to Become a Travelling Teacher

To become a travelling teacher, applicants must meet the same qualifications required for traditional teaching roles, which include educational experience and a relevant teaching licence. This can be obtained through a bachelor's degree, teaching experience, passing several exams, or applying for certification. However, travelling teachers must be adaptable and culturally sensitive, as the roles differ significantly from traditional teaching positions.

Salary Expectations

According to the UK government, as of 2023, qualified teachers earn a minimum salary of £30,000 annually. In the United States, Zip Recruiter reported that the average annual salary for a travelling teacher was $55,106, equivalent to around £42,300 as of 2024. Employing a travelling teacher in the UK costs families around £8,000 per month, comparable to private school tuition fees. Some educators charge up to £10,000 per month, especially for specialised lessons in music and foreign languages. Teaching assistants travelling with families earn about £2,500 a month.

How to Get Started

  1. Obtain Necessary Qualifications: Ensure you have a bachelor's degree, relevant teaching experience, and a valid teaching licence.
  2. Gain Experience: Work with children at various levels, including those with special needs, to broaden your teaching skills.
  3. Network and Market Yourself: Join platforms like Education Boutique or other agencies that connect travelling teachers with families.
  4. Adaptability: Be prepared to adjust your teaching methods to suit different cultural contexts and family needs.
  5. Continuous Learning: Stay updated with educational trends and techniques to provide the best possible education to your students.

Lucy Alexandra Spencer's career illustrates the unique opportunities and challenges of being a travelling teacher. By combining a passion for education with a love of travel, she has created a fulfilling and lucrative career that allows her to explore the world while making a difference in her students' lives.