TravelBud - Teach English Abroad

TravelBud

About

At TravelBud we have all taught abroad before and have walked the very path that lies ahead for you. We all passionately believe in the life-changing power of the teach abroad experience, both for those we place and for the students who gain new mentors from around the world.

We provide the most all-inclusive and holistic programs when it comes to teaching abroad, which include guaranteed placements at vetted schools, in-depth cultural orientations, 24/7 in-country support, TEFL certification courses tailored specifically to the country you'll be teaching in, and so much more.

Something we're extremely proud of is our comprehensive support system. There is always someone just an email or phone-call away to answer any question you might have, no matter how big or small - we've always got your back through the incredible journey of growth and adventure that teaching abroad provides!

Website
travelbud.com
Founded
2013

Reviews

Default avatar
Gemma
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Nightmare Experience - Avoid!

It's taken 5 months since escaping the South Korea placement for me to be able to write this review. I'd rather forget about this awful experience but I feel I owe it to anyone considering this option.

Your first call with Travel Bud will be great with them promising to honour your preferences and to support you through your whole experience. I was quite nervous about working at a Hagwon considering all the horror stories you see online (which are all 100% valid) and Travel Bud reassured me that I would be supported. I'd taught for 7 years at this point and had previously lived in China, so naively I assumed I would be fine on this 'programme' and I was optimistic.

After you've paid your first deposit to Travel Bud, you'll be passed onto another company which they paint as their close partner but I found out that there are a number of companies including Travel Bud who pass on their clients to this other company. The other company seems to be completely overwhelmed and you are treated as such. In total, on this 'Travel Bud programme' you'll work with 4 different companies being passed on and passed on with seemingly no communication between them.

I was told to keep communication with Travel Bud because the only way problems arise is if you don't keep open communication. One of the companies that you are passed onto after the 2nd company is completely hostile and they are the ones responsible for where you're actually placed, your contract, and your preferences. Turned out the preferences couldn't be honoured at all. I felt stuck at this point because I'd already invested money into the programme and had quit my job, so I continued and hoped things would get better.

Travel Bud had assured me it would be simple to have my fiancé and I placed together in the same school and apartment. In reality, we were placed a 20 minute subway ride away in different schools and apartments with conflicting schedules. We agreed to this in the end under pressure and for the reasons I mentioned above. However, it got worse and my school told me they'd be moving me to a different campus and division once my quarantine was over, a 50 minute bus ride away from my fiancé. I got in contact with Travel Bud and the other companies but Travel Bud didn't reply. I had no choice in the matter and was sent away. I never received my quarantine food box from the government with essentials, I informed Travel Bud, again nothing. At the school, they told me to sign a new contract now that I was in Korea. Massive red flag, I'd already agreed and signed a contract prior to leaving the UK. Again I contacted Travel Bud, and they didn't step in. I was made to sign the new contract.

Travel Bud claims they have a trusted network of schools but they are not the company that places the clients. My school was awful, there was bullying, emotional abuse, gaslighting, and all the teachers were under chronic stress. The previous teacher had done a midnight run after her health became so bad she kept fainting in the classroom. One had to be put on an IV drip because of the stress. My fiancé was placed in a school that hadn't had a foreign teacher in 2 years. My friend was placed in a school which had been reported by two previous teachers and she was still sent there.

I soon realised that I was on my own and Travel Bud appeared to have no say in what happens to their clients. Even now and then I'd get a random message from Travel Bud saying things like you're quiet, must be living your best life! which just rubbed salt in the wound. In fact, I had never been so unwell in my life.

Thankfully, the school gave teachers 5 days off for winter holidays so I was able to organise an escape without alerting anyone. I returned to the UK with terrible physical and mental health. I went out to Korea a confident and excited young person and came back with PTSD, involuntary gagging and sickness, disordered eating, chronic abdominal pain, panic attacks, tinnitus, and a foot injury. Only now after 5 months back home am I able to write about my awful experience. I stayed for the 5 months because the children I taught had such chronically stressful lives at the age of 5 years old that I felt like I wanted them to have at least some respite from it all in my classroom.

I urge you to reconsider this option if you are thinking about doing so. For a time I was even afraid to write a review because of the potential backlash but I have a right to voice my horrendous experience with this company.

Response from TravelBud

Hi Gemma

Our entire team has taken the time to thoroughly read through your review and to understand not only your concerns, but see how we can use this as an opportunity to address them and make improvements to our program.

As with your partner Tom, we would like to reiterate that we take this seriously and that while hundreds of teachers have had positive experiences with our program, we value feedback and do not take these negative experiences lightly.

We are incredibly saddened and deeply sorry to hear that your time in South Korea was not the experience that you had hoped it would be.

We ask respectfully that we are given the opportunity to respond to your points from our perspective, as you have been given the chance to do.

Overall, we would like to make it clear that there are certain elements of the experience that are in our control and that we are investigating, and then there are elements that simply cannot be considered the responsibility of a single organization, such as government efficacy and cultural norms pertaining to another country.

Our goal as an institution is to offer support and guidance within the realm of what we can control and to navigate the logistical elements of moving to another country, but we do feel it would be deemed unreasonable to place blame squarely at the door of TravelBud for elements of an experience that has innumerable factors across cultures and individuals.

Teaching abroad offers a unique opportunity to embrace a very different culture from one's own and openness and adaptability are qualities that make for teachers that thrive in new environments and under the pressures of moving abroad.

Having all taught abroad before, we can truly understand that the experience has challenges and it’s not all Instagrammable views - there are days when you miss your family and home and when adapting to new cultures can feel overwhelming. In most cases, however, the good outweighs the bad and the challenges. I’m sorry to hear that this was not the case in your experience teaching in South Korea.

The first point we would like to address is the idea of multiple, disconnected companies. The work that goes into each applicant for the entire journey prior to departure, upon arrival and throughout your time is extensive. As such, we have taken the various aspects of the process and divided it between ourselves and our closely aligned partners with whom we have worked for years, to ensure that those with expertise specific to a particular process are handling that specific aspect.

That being said, we are transparent about the fact that TravelBud is your main point of contact throughout your journey, regardless of what stage you are in. We ask that our applicants reach out to us first and foremost in the event of any feedback, be it positive or negative.

You mentioned that you reached out to us several times with no response, but we have the correspondence of the numerous emails between yourself and our support team. There is no correspondence that indicates that you were looking to leave and we had to hear from another teacher at your school that you had left Korea. It is very difficult to assist teachers if we do not have open and honest communication with our team to be able to best assist.

We have looked into the hostility mentioned by the staff member at one of our partner companies and I can assure you that that particular staff member has been let go. We are looking into ways to ensure that the level of communication across the board is at a standard that TravelBud is happy with.

We do need to acknowledge that while we have dealt with that particular staff member and that we do apologise for their conduct, teachers also need to understand that the Korean staff can come off very direct as a result of direct translations from Korean and cultural differences in their means of communication.

In terms of placements within the same proximity, I understand that you feel that it was not close enough. There are a number of moving parts that need to align in order to place teachers in the same school. Under normal circumstances, it can be challenging to take on couples, but we are one of the few companies willing to do so and we, unfortunately, cannot overlook the extenuating circumstances and challenges posed during the world pandemic. In light of that, we did our best to ensure you were as close as physically possible at the time.

We are working on the following plans that are as a result of your feedback:
- A clear and transparent infographic to showcase our connections with our entire team and their process responsibilities
- Management of expectations regarding what is feasible in the teaching landscape when it comes to placing couples
- Broadening the scope of understanding the means of communication across cultures

I will be reaching out to you and Tom personally via email to hopefully open a dialogue to address some of your points and see how we can navigate this process together in order to improve.

Warm Regards,
Tristan Owen
CEO

Default avatar
Cassidy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great and Helpful Program and Coordinators

I am so glad I found this program! They helped me to finally move abroad and become an English teacher! They helped guide me through the process and matched me with the program I did once I arrived to Costa Rica. The help Saskia provided was amazing, through and I always felt like I had someone in my corner who was looking out for me. She is responsive, helpful and genuinely wanted to help make my transition and time in Costa Rica the best they could be! I think the program is great because they have so many resources and programs all over the world so you really have a lot of options for where you want to go! I also love that after my first year teaching, I have the support of the program for a lifetime in many different countries all over the world!!

Pros
  • Placement with a program that gives you the TESOL/TEFL.
  • Support even after you have been placed.
Default avatar
Harry
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching Abroad

This has been the single greatest experience of my life and Thailand has become a home from home for me. Everyday is different and an extraordinary experience, as I immerse myself in this wonderful culture and living a dream come true, as it is all I could've hoped for a more and I can't believe where I am or what I am doing most days. I was welcomed in by the community and can't see myself leaving anytime soon, as I have found somewhere I feel I belong and I am so grateful and feel so blessed with what I have each day and some days have had their challenges, but they have all been learning and growing lessons and my time here has given me some of the most incredible and unforgettable memories I'll cherish for the rest of my life.

Pros
  • language exchange
  • personal growth and discovery
  • the fulfilling position as a teacher
Cons
  • miss-communication and misunderstandings with language barriers
  • covid-19 restrictions
  • no breaks and intense teaching schedule
Default avatar
Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Grateful for TravelBud!

My partner and I came to Thailand to teach together. TravelBud made getting to Thailand a bit easier. They set us up with a teaching agency in Thailand, and they were available nearly 24/7 to answer any questions we had along the way. Special shout-out to Kim, for always checking in on us and supporting us form a whole other country! We wouldn’t be in Thailand if it wasn’t for TravelBud. We love living in Thailand and we’re moving from right outside Bangkok to the heart of Krabi. Additionally, the network of friends that we’ve made across the country is incredible. Anywhere we travel there are friends we can meet up with and adventure with. There’s a bit of everything in Thailand - beaches, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, canyons, busy cities, farms, and many beautiful temples all throughout. TravelBud’s staff are friendly and helpful and we definitely will be teaching through a TravelBud program again in the future!!

What would you improve about this program?
I think visa assistance is something most international companies can improve upon. Specifically for Thailand as the entry process is extensive and tricky. The agency we were placed with in Thailand were supposed to offer more visa support but they didn’t, so we’re actually grateful that TravelBud was able to answer a lot of our questions that our agency couldn’t.
Default avatar
Jayla
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Rise South Korea Review

Travel Bud was very helpful but as of now I’m a bit underwhelmed with the Daejeon experience. However, I love how safe it is and my job is pretty stable.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Ask more questions! Make sure you know what is expected!

Jobs

Programs

Displaying 10 - 10 of 10

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I've known for a few years now that I wanted to be a teacher, but I've also had this urge to travel and have adventures. I chose this programme because it allowed me to do both!

From doing a lot of research, I found out that Korea was a very safe country, the job opportunities and salary were very desirable and so I decided to apply.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My programme provider helped me with collecting the right documents, ensuring that all my documents were not only filled out but were able to highlight my best qualities too.

They helped and supported me alongside the whole process, including my move and continue to do so. The fact they've helped me so much is really reassuring as I know I can rely on them come what may.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Ask them every single question you have, it is better to ask and have the answers than to be filled with unnecessary anxieties. Please, when coming to Korea, do your research, both on the culture and customs, but also the weather. The weather in Korea goes quickly from one extreme to the other and you really do need appropriate clothing for a very, very hot and humid summer and an incredibly cold winter.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Every school is different here in Korea. But for me, I work Mon-Wed-Fri 1:30 pm-10 pm and Tue-Thur 1:30 pm-9 pm. I teach ages 7-16 English. I generally work from textbooks so I don't have to plan a full lesson, although honestly, I would prefer to do my own lessons.

I get a 50-minute break halfway through my day. My school does not provide lunches for me, although we do sometimes go out for meals and get deliveries together.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was just being able to survive here in Korea, like know where the supermarkets were, finding friends and getting around. But I've been very lucky in that Gongju has a small but wonderful ex-pat community who are so willing to help you and also have drinks with you after work.

Another fear, however, was how I'd be perceived here. I am a plus-sized girl with piercings and tattoos. Koreans are generally very slim and petite and they are all very uniformed in how they dress and present themselves; tattoos and fatness are things that have a bad stigma attached to them. Although I have had some comments and I do struggle to find clothes, my experience has overall been ok.

What other tips can you give to potential travelers?

Here are some helpful tips for coming to Korea.

1. Please bring clothing for all weathers; the summers are horribly humid and hot, but the winters are freezing.

2. Set up a bank account ASAP; having a card makes life easier.

3. Daiso is a shop that will sell all the home things you will ever need and it's cheap.

4. Learn the language, even if it's just the basics.

5. Learn the culture and history of Korea; it's incredibly important when addressing people and going into buildings.

6. If you are plus-sized, bring your own clothes; you will struggle to buy clothes especially if you are over a UK size 14.

7. That also goes to shoes; if you are over a UK size 5, you will struggle buying shoes.

8. You might find it nice to have some food you're familiar with, so bring packets of herbs/spices, etc., as you'll struggle to find it, especially if you're in a smaller city.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Nooru

Job Title
Enrolments Coordinator
Nooru is one of our enrolments coordinator's here at TravelBud. Her role is to advise and facilitate individuals who have a zest for travel to explore one of our amazing teaching and volunteer programs worldwide. Nooru recently traveled through Europe and returned with a refreshed sense of respect for different cultures.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Tough one. I firmly believe that a 'holiday' doesn't end when you return back home, back to everyday life, but rather remains with you for a lifetime in the form of memories, pictures, videos, tags snaps and posts.

My favourite travel memory consists of a group of things I have experienced; when looking back, the ones that stand out the most is definitely eating one of the local delicacies in Saudi Arabia, only to find out that I was actually eating camel liver, getting to see Mickey and Minnie at Disneyland Paris and surviving the Tower of Terror, being thrown sideways while riding the dunes in Dubai, meeting the locals in Turkey and breaking language barriers in Spain.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have learnt that sharing my own travel experiences can help our applicants who have maybe never independently traveled before be more open to different possibilities; giving of yourself can mean so much to the next person.

I have grown and developed to be more open in sharing my love for travel with those who may be able to fall in love the same way.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

How they never believed that they could take on a new job, a new country with no friends or family beside them or without the comforts of the Western World and how they survived the challenges and bumps and came out even stronger believing in themselves and how they will continue to grow and develop because of their experience abroad.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Our wildlife conservation program in South Africa. I have been on the program before and would return in a heartbeat; once you've been bitten by the South African Big 5 it will forever remain close to your heart.

I have learnt so much about the Big 5 and conservation in general while on this program, but more so I have learnt to go beyond my comfort zone. Never in my wildest dreams did i think I would survive one month in the middle of the South African bush so close to nature, which was truly an amazing experience.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Our company is unique because we are a group of like minded individuals who have either taught aboard or volunteered aboard before. We are able to relieve our experiences with our applicants each and every day and ease any anxieties they might be feeling, knowing that they have a team behind them every step of the way.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The biggest success factor at TravelBud is having a team so passionate about what the organisation does, having people who care about people and making sure that the hard work you put in never goes unnoticed.

Also, for ensuring the success of a company, one needs to trust that self-belief and hard work will earn you success.