TravelBud

Program Reviews

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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.

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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.
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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
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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.
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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!
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Matshadi
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Travel to South Korea

I applied with Travelbud to go and teach English as a foreign language in South Korea right as the pandemic started at the end of 2019. So I've stayed with them and they with me literally through thick and thin! The team understood my frustrations and continued to work to find employment for me. At no point did anyone make me feel or believe I should give up or my chances of getting employment were diminishing. They continuously encouraged me to keep trying.

Kim Le Roux understood me from the beginning! When it comes to finances to me, every cent, EVERY penny COUNTS! Especially during the ups and downs of covid-19 and the financial repercussions thereof. So she's a good listener and empathetic. She made feel like she was going to help me reach my goal but without undermining my financial concerns and stayed mindful of them! I'm forever appreciative of that!

She also made herself available as much as possible especially when I was about to leave for South Korea in February of 2022. And in my first week here in South Korea in quarantine. Thank you Kim, from the bottom of my heart!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take everything in your stride. Very little is under your control so take it one step and one day at a time. It's a new country, new environment with it's own culture, and laws. It will be jarring from time to time, especially because of covid-19. But just consider those kinds of things and take it one step and one day at a time. You'll be fine!
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Sumaya
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching in Daegu South Korea

From just enquiring about the program to enquiries after coming abroad and teaching, no query has gone unanswered. The team provides extensive support even 5 months into the contract they helped me secure. Because of Covid-19 there were many set backs, such as not being allowed entry into South Korea from my home country (South Africa) which delayed my placement, to rushing my visa number so that I could make the contract start date. However, the team worked overtime to ensure that I completed all the necessary documents and I made it on time. If at any point, throughout my journey, I felt unsure, I could count on Travelbud's amazing team to clarify or help me.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-racking moment was booking my flight in time to make the start date, as I had to still complete a 14 day quarantine. The morning of my flight I made a call that was technically outside of my support teams working hours. That did not matter. They answered my call and reassured me, going through each step with me until I was confident to set out.
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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.

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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!
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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.