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
Tom
2/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Promise everything, deliver nothing

I went with Travelbud to teach in South Korea with my fiancée. As we were going out there as a couple, we wanted to be in the same area (walking distance to each others schools). In the initial calls we were told it would be easy to get us into the same school, and worst case scenario it would be two different schools in the same area very close by. After we'd been promised this, we were passed along to another organisation, one of TravelBud's in-country partner. TravelBud's in-country partner didn't seem completely aware of what we'd agreed to with Travelbud, so we were a little concerned that the two organizations weren't working as closely together as we would have liked. Still, we kept going with the process. We were passed along to another organization later down the line, who were the "team on the ground" in South Korea, and a nightmare to deal with. We eventually got our placements in two different districts of a large city, which meant we were a 25 min subway journey away from each other, a far greater distance than we had agreed to in the beginning. On top of this, my contract was 14:00-22:00 and my fiancees was 09:00-18:00, meaning we could only really see each other at weekends. Having both left our jobs in the UK, and only a few weeks left before we were supposed to fly to Korea, we thought this was our best option. We'd previously turned down an interview at a notoriously corrupt hagwon which seemingly caused huge concern with TravelBud's in-country partners, despite being promised we'd have plenty of options to choose from.

Once contracts were finalized, TravelBud's in-country partners were incredibly rude and unaccommodating, demanding that my fiancee and I fly out to Korea a week apart, despite our contracts starting on the same day. After a week at her new job, my fiancee was moved to another campus, which was a 50 minute bus journey away from me, which really defeated the purpose of moving to Korea together and going through what we thought was a supportive organisation. We asked Travelbud and TravelBud's in-country partner for help negotiating with my fiancees school as we didn't want to be even further apart. They did absolutely nothing to help, presumably their duty of care ends the moment they get paid.

Travelbud also claims to only use vetted schools. A friend of hours was placed in a school who coincidentally another friend of ours worked in a few years ago after being placed there by Travelbud. This friend complained to Travelbud who ensured her that they wouldn't be working with the school anymore. Low and behold, more empty promises. My placement hadn't had a foreign teacher from a recruiter for at least the past 2 years, and considering how often management changes in hagwons, I'm not sure how this can be considered "vetted". Our contact at Travelbud even told us that the first 3 months would be awful, which turned out to be the only truthful thing we heard from the organisation.

Just know that if you sign up through TB or TravelBud's in-country partners, you're getting passed around to recruiters and no one really has a duty of care. They'll promise as much as they can over skype calls, and when it comes down to actually supporting you in Korea, you'll get nothing.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I was quite surprised to leave my school at 22:00 and see a 13 year old girl had jumped 10 stories to her death at a nearby hagwon. It left a lasting impression and is sadly quite telling of the phenomenal pressure that Korea students are under.
Response from TravelBud

Tom, we’re so sorry to hear that you did not have a positive experience.

We pride ourselves on our attentiveness and empathy when our teachers undergo the teaching journey abroad, as our staff have all previously done so themselves and we understand first hand that it can be difficult to adapt in a new country. We are always open to feedback, positive or negative, as it will help us strive to improve upon specific areas and allow us an understanding of how to streamline our service to be the best in the industry. So thank you for taking the time to give us honest feedback and know that we are taking it very seriously.

We have a long-running and successful partnership with our team on the ground and while we are technically different organizations, we strive to keep our values the same to ensure a smooth process, while each of our teams focuses on areas that they are best placed to, in order to break up the varying stages and allow each applicant the best service by the best placed team member to do so at all the many points of the journey. There are some complex and intricate laws that require a Korean in-country team that we need to adhere to, but we prioritise being in constant communication with each applicant ourselves, even while our partners are in communication with the applicant for their specific role in the process.

While we communicate regularly and aim for shared responsibility of each applicant, we understand and acknowledge that in this instance it may not have been as smooth as we would have strived for and will endeavour to change practices to make sure that this does not happen again.

We encourage an open-door policy during the multiple Skype check-ins with your assigned support coordinator and we were under the impression that you were reassured after the many calls and check-ins that are part of our in-country support process.

Placing couples together is something that we are generally very successful in due to the partnership school network. Unfortunately due to the many changes and challenges to the teaching landscape as a result of the pandemic, it was not as feasible as usual. We have since started setting realistic expectations for couples in light of this.

We take our vetting procedures very seriously and pride ourselves on the quality of schools we work with. While each experience is personal and may differ, we can confirm that we have recent positive feedback from the latest teacher and that the school still meets all of our strict requirements.

Below are our set guidelines when partnering with a school:

- The placement team meets with the school and does due diligence in terms of checking the school name and reputation and searching local networks of ex-pat teachers for previous teacher feedback on the school
- The placement team has potentially worked previously with the specific school or another branch of the school, and no significant issues have been raised by teachers
- When adding a new school to the network, the new school would have to get a referral from an existing school
- We have worked previously with the school and teachers have previously completed their contracts without any major issues
- Throughout the contract, we check in multiple times with the teacher and ask for feedback on the school and work environment. If major issues are raised, the placement team reevaluates the school for suitability
- We send a final email at the end of each contract, in which teachers are specifically asked, "Would you recommend future teachers to come teach at this school?” If the answer is NO, we ask them to please explain why and request a phone interview to discuss their feedback in more detail
- Schools are reevaluated if any negative feedback is given, and action will be taken if the issues raised were of a serious and/or persistent nature

Once again, thank you for your time and feedback. We will be reaching out to you privately to continue the conversation.

Default avatar
Judi
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

For Kim

Going to a new country is always difficult but exciting at the same time. I learned to adapt and always have a flexable mindset. ESL teacher is my occupation and there has been many obstacles in this position but I hope to talk to xploreasia more about how I can improve my teaching. I do feel homesick such as how I miss the food I usually eat and my stuff back in the states. But I do love to travel around Korea and it has been an amazing experience so far to meet new people and travel too while working here.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I had sundae which is pork blood sausage and i was unfamiliar!
Default avatar
Calan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica - GoOverseas Experience

This was my first time traveling internationally and it was, without a doubt, a life changing experience. With the help from the staff of GoOverseas and XploreAmericas, the transition into living overseas was smooth, organized, and supported every step of the way. I am a solo traveler, but being a part of this program gave me a sense of community from the very beginning of my journey. During the first month in the program, I had the opportunity to go on adventurous, yet affordable excursions, find work, and build a support system made of friendships that I will have for a lifetime. Although I wish my work pay was a little higher, I now have a job that allows me to travel internationally, and nothing is more exhilarating than the sense of freedom you receive from that. My job allows me to create my own work schedule and I can work as much or as little as I desire. I have never been happier.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Hormigas Culonas: Large leaf cutter ants, roasted and salted. In Bogotá, Colombia.
Default avatar
Ursula
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Travelbud Review

My experience with Travelbud, and Kim especially, was an overall positive one. They were available to answer all my questions from day one and made this process a very easy one. It could have been more daunting than it was, but they made it very simple and put my mind (as well as my mother's) at ease, especially as a first-time solo traveller going overseas. I was kept in constant communication from the day I applied to the day that I flew to South Korea. The follow up was excellent and they come highly recommended.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Learn basic Korean. It will really benefit you so much.
Default avatar
Sara
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing Experience

Before reaching out to TravelBud, I was struggling to find a teaching job in Thailand on my own. What I didn't realize was that most schools only hire through agencies, making it incredibly difficult to apply to jobs without going through a company. I had only an English Bachelor's degree and an online TESOL certification behind me, making it impossible to find a job on my own. I found TravelBud after several weeks of unsuccessful job searching. Kim was incredibly helpful in guiding me along my journey- her bubbly personality and demeanor helped me to feel at ease and comfortable with the program and the people who would help me get to Thailand. I was prepared to research and complete all of the stressful documents and other hoops before my trip, but TravelBud guided me through the process smoothly and with the least amount of stress possible. The process was very quick as well- I contacted TravelBud in July, received my placement details in late August, and was in Thailand in early October. I have been in Thailand for two months now and I am incredibly grateful that I followed through with this experience. I have learned so much not only about solo traveling and Thai culture, but also about myself. Had it not been for TravelBud, my experience would have been completely different and definitely far more stressful.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
My first two weeks in Thailand felt like a dream. Due to the pandemic, I stayed in Phuket for a week as an alternative to quarantine. TravelBud passed me along to XploreAsia, so after Phuket I stayed in Hua Hin for a weeklong orientation. I fell in love with Thailand immediately in those first two weeks- I made many friends and had many fun experiences. When I got to my placement in a very rural area of Thailand, I felt incredibly lonely for nearly a month. I asked to be placed in a rural area for my own growth purposes and knew that I wanted a slower pace and to feel like I was in Thailand. Asking for this, I knew that loneliness and homesickness would be a factor, but the seclusion hit me much harder than I expected and nearly broke me. To combat this, I began to meditate every day- each morning before school or when I woke in the morning and at times when I felt very low. I took many walks in nature and explored- I took to wandering around my town in the early mornings, listening to meditation music or uplifting podcasts while I soaked in the architecture and life around me. Recently there have been a few long weekends so I have taken advantage of those by traveling to nearby towns, booking a cheap but cute hotel for a night or two. It's not been easy and it wouldn't be fair to claim that it has been, but I knew this would be a challenge when I chose it. I chose to move to a country entirely different from my own for the growth experience and my, have I received it! Though there have been some hard times, I am incredibly grateful that I stuck it out past my lowest points. I am much stronger for it and I now have a wealth of beautiful stories and experiences to share.

Jobs

Programs

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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.