Putting together your traveling classroom can be a nerve-racking task. It can be difficult to find the most packable things. After nearly two years as a full-time traveling teacher, I think I’ve found some pretty useful supplies that every portable classroom should have.
This list includes gadgets to ensure you have the strongest wifi, a portable background, visual teaching aids, the best computers for teaching English online, and the best bags for comfort and style. These are the best teaching supplies for the portable classroom.
The Best Teaching Supplies for the Portable Classroom
I often get asked the same thing by teachers who are thinking about taking their online teaching job on the road. Most are concerned about internet connectivity, good lighting, and the right supplies.
My portable classroom has evolved quite a bit since we first set out with our online teaching jobs. I learned pretty quickly that the best way to combat neck and back pain from hours of sitting is to make your web camera eye level so you’re not looking down. It made a world of difference when I found a laptop stand. That’s the first supply you’ll find on this list.
You’ll also find the best visual aids like flashcards and puppets. Plus, I’ve included some gadgets to make sure you’ve always got a strong internet connection. I’ve done a lot of searching and tested quite a few products and come to the conclusion that these are some of the best teaching supplies out there.
Level up your portable classroom with these 10 essential items that I also use:
Best Supplies for Comfort and Lighting
As mentioned above, this Portable Laptop Stand is first on my list. It made a world of difference in my portable classroom.
When I started teaching English online in 2016, I used an 11″ laptop so the screen was much lower than my face. Before the stand came into my life, I would use whatever I could find in our accommodation from books to bowls and random boxes.
This stand puts the camera at eye level and tilts the keyboard so it’s easier to type. If I were to teach my classes with my laptop flat on the table, my students would have a front-row seat to all my boogers. Gross!
I have since upgraded to a laptop with a 13″ screen but I still use this laptop stand! Sasha and I both have been using it since 2017. I love that it comes with its own little bag for easy storage and transport.
Click here to see all the details.
Next up on this list is a travel lamp so you can light up your beautiful face and avoid unflattering shadows. It’s also a lifesaver when the power goes out or when you’re teaching at night and has saved me a few times during power outages in Mexico.
My first travel lamp was just like this Foldable LED Desk Lamp. It folds to the size of an iPhone for easy storage in your bag. Lightweight but sturdy, it doesn’t weigh you down. You can easily charge it with a computer or power bank with the included micro USB cable.
Click here to check the current price.
This rechargeable, foldable LED desk lamp looks super convenient for travel. It’s waterproof so you could also use it for running or cycling outdoors.
This aesthetically pleasing, portable desk lamp also seems like a solid option and reminds me of old-school flip phones.
Best Online Teaching Supplies for Connectivity
When we were traveling in Guatemala, we booked a two-week stay in a really nice Airbnb outside Antigua. The host sent us screenshots of really fast WiFi speeds so we booked it, only to arrive and learn that they were actually some of the slowest we had seen.
It wasn’t malicious. The host assumed the speed in our unit was the same as his other one, wrongfully so. He immediately set out to fix it and installed a fiber optic connection for us, but in the meantime, I had to connect directly to the modem so I could get through my classes.
I used this Retractable Ethernet Cable and it worked like a charm. I always keep it with me in case of a similar situation. You should definitely have it in your arsenal.
Check it out on Amazon.
You might have to get an Ethernet Adapter in order to use the above ethernet cable. My laptop doesn’t have an ethernet port, as many of the smaller travel-friendly laptops don’t have one. This is the one that I use for my laptop and it works just fine.
Click here to read all about it.
Sometimes you can’t be in the same room as the modem depending on the way your Airbnb is set up. Things like walls and stairways weaken the signal.
A WiFi range extender helps in these situations. It gives the signal a boost making it stronger no matter where you are in the house. You’ll be able to enjoy fast, strong connections in rooms that previously suffered from Wi-Fi dead spots. Learn more here.
Best Visual Aids For the Online Classroom
Having a visual aid is so helpful in the classroom.
Alphabet Flashcards are great for teaching letters and phonics to young learners. They help reinforce your students’ learning with a visual aid.
Hand puppets are the perfect tool for teaching students how to have a dialogue and helping shy students come out of their shells.
These Zoo Friend Hand Puppets are and will make any classroom more fun! Show your student how to ask and answer questions or use them to help bring shy students out of their shells. They also don’t take up much space in your suitcase.
Having a Lightweight Dry-Erase Board and Markers in your portable classroom is a huge lifesaver. You can use it to give rewards, draw photos of things your student can’t visualize, and break down sentence structure. I could never leave home without my whiteboard. Sometimes it’s the only teaching supply you need.
A world wall map is a great background that you can easily fold up and take with you wherever you go! Your classroom will always be consistent no matter how often you’re moving to a new place and you can use it to show your students where you are in the world.
I have a special coupon code you can use for the above map. Enter the code RACHEL964 at checkout to receive 5% off!
Adjustable Command Strips Hooks are what I use to hang up my map if I cant’ stick it into the wall using the grommets in the corners. I love the Command Strips because they don’t ruin the paint job in your current accommodation. These command strips hold up to 12 lbs. They’re perfect for hanging your portable classroom background. Click here to learn more.
Best Computers and Headsets for the Traveling Teacher
The best computer is really a matter of opinion based on which operating system you prefer.
I personally use and love the Lenovo Yoga 730 2-in-1 Laptop. It’s built to handle lots of different programs. It’s small, light, and perfect for taking on the road. The touchscreen option makes writing in class so much easier.
Click here to learn more.
If you’re a fan of Apple products, the MacBook Air is a favorite for many traveling teachers. MacBooks are powerful machines that can handle your online teaching classes and many other programs from games to video editing.
It’s light and easy to pack making it perfect for travel. Apple products are durable and stand the test of time. Sasha used the same MacBook for 6 years before he bought a new one! See all the specs here.
If your travels are anything like ours, you’ll need a headset with a noise-canceling mic. We travel in noisy places a lot. There’s always a construction site, lots of dogs barking, or a street vendor advertising their product.
Having a noise-canceling mic keep your students from hearing what’s going on around you makes for a much smoother class. It also reduces the possibility of complaints.
I recently started using the Logitech H540 Headset and I’m loving it so far. This headset has a mute button so you don’t have to worry about your students hearing you when you don’t want them to.
Click here to read all the specs.
Best Bags For the Traveling Teacher
Whether you prefer to travel carry-on only or if you need a separate bag for your computer and teaching supplies, the following choices should give you some good ideas.
This is the backpack I use and I absolutely love it! It’s so spacious and very comfortable to wear. I used to use a shoulder sling bag and this one is so much better. It’s water-resistant, anti-theft, with a USB charging port and combination lock.
But if you prefer a shoulder strap bag, this one comes highly recommended.
And if you’re more of a carry-on traveler, the Osprey Porter 46 Travel Backpack has just enough space for everything you need. Osprey bags are super durable and definitely the best bang for your buck. The 40L size meets most carry-on regulations for most airlines (always check before you book).
Whether you’re a weekend traveler or you travel full-time, you’ll definitely want to have the best travel-friendly teaching supplies to make your portable classroom fun and engaging. When we first started teaching while traveling full-time, we didn’t have many of these tools and life was a struggle.
Everything on this list has made life so much better and taken both my and Sasha’s classrooms to the next level. The portable laptop stand has cured my neck and back pain and provides a pleasant view for the student (no more boogie sightings!).
Having a portable, foldable desk lamp makes it easier for students to see me which is especially great because it’s usually dark outside when I’m teaching.
The visual aids make class more fun and interesting for both the student and me. The computers I recommended are small, lightweight, and easy to pack into any of the bags I listed.
I hope this list has given you a few ideas for your portable classroom. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
Is there a teaching tool that you never leave home without! Drop it in the comments so I can add it to the list!
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