TravelBud - Teach English Abroad

TravelBud

About

At TravelBud everyone you deal with is someone who has taught or volunteered abroad before. We all passionately believe in the life-changing power of the teach & volunteer abroad experience, both for those we place and for the students who gain new mentors from around the world. We carefully select each program to ensure it both makes a beneficial impact on the community it's based in and is a rewarding and life-changing cultural experience for the teachers & volunteers too.

Something we're extremely proud of is our comprehensive support system. Whether it's before departure or once you're overseas there is always someone just an email or phone-call away to answer any question you might have no matter how small - we've always got your back. And it doesn't end there, we've kept in touch with many of our alumni for years after they return back to life at home. When you sign on with TravelBud you'll become part of our global family for life!

Website
Founded
2013
Headquarters

Office SG101B1, Great Westerford
Corner Dean St & Main Rd
Rondebosch
Cape Town
7700
South Africa

Teach English in Thailand: 7 Spots Left for Our Next Intake

Enjoy a 120 hour in-class TESOL course, done in Thailand, a weeklong action-packed orientation and guaranteed job placement at carefully vetted schools. Experience Thai New Year with your fellow participants and work for 5-6 months before getting time off to travel!

Next Intakes:

- April 1st - Popular Thai New Year intake: 7 spots left
- Apil 29th - 10 spots left
- May 27th & many more beyond

Reviews

Default avatar
Mitch
10/10

My journey started back in 2016 when I embarked on an in class TEFL course in Hua Hin, Thailand. As I am sure you know I went through a wonderful company called TravelBud, who looking back were excellent in everything. From clarifying everything needed and all costs onvolved to setting me up exactly in Thailand with appropriate agencies to assist me in finding a job.

TravelBud were great in such a way where they fortunately provided me with all the information on what to expect and how life would be in Thailand. I really was amazed and taken back by their professional service and guidance throughout the entire process. When I arrived in Thailand with some of my fellow friends where we were picked up from the airprort and taken to our hotel which were all included in the fee, this was great as chaotic Bangkok was quite the place to walk into first time being abroad. So having some professional guidance and assistance was excellent.

Everything was made clear and even before leaving my home country TravelBud provided me with a packing list as well as necessities to take abroad which came in very handy throughout my time in Thailand. I think for me what is the best part was that TravelBud are always eager to give advice and suport no matter what the situation is even if you have finished your course with them and it has been months later.

Their expertise and knowledge about living abroad especially in Asia is outstanding and I highly recommened going through them if you are wanting to work and teach abroad.

Response from TravelBud

Thanks so much for the glowing review Mitch! It's great to see how positive your experience is, even after all these years and how fondly you look back on how you started your journey with us.

The whole team remembers you and we're thrilled to be part of your journey from day one. Keep up the awesome work, we know you've made a great difference to the lives of your students!

Yes, I recommend this program
Mindy
10/10

I have had such an incredible experience with TravelBud and in Myanmar. The TravelBud team has been nothing but supportive and kind during the whole process. From the moment I signed up to present day while I am still teaching. Every question I had was answered and I was fully ready to go with all documents on the day of my flight. I had a little complication when arriving to the airport about a return flight but I messaged Saskia and she immediately responded and the issue was taken care of within 20 minutes. When I arrived in Yangon I was picked up at the airport and taken straight to my accommodation, the orientation did not start for a couple days but the placement coordinator still came to show me around and help with exchanging money and getting a SIM card. We had an orientation week to start the training which was incredible because we got to get a glimpse of what life would be like living in Yangon. The accommodation during the training was more than expected and in a really great area, the neighbors were extremely friendly and always saying hello. I still get emails from Saskia checking in and making sure things are going well. Fortunately, everything is going so well that I don't have any concerns to report back to her but its nice to know that she is always there for support. Living in Yangon provides so many opportunities to meet new people and explore an array of different cultural aspects. I couldn't have asked for a better placement, Myanmar is truly an amazing country.

Yes, I recommend this program
Joe
1/10

The overall cost of the program is not worth what you pay, especially if you are not doing the TESOL/TEFL course. Although all the pre-departure guidance is nice, the orientation week with the partner of TravelBud was very unnecessary and had unexpected costs and also left me with more questions than answers by the end of the week. My name and contact information were only passed from one person to the next (Travelbud to the partner to an Agent). The placement process offers no option and threatens to send you to the bottom of a list and would require a long time to find a new placement if you didn't like and accept the position offered to you. No background check was done on my school, as very little information could be provided to me before I accepted the position.

I recommend finding a job yourself and doing the research on the school and organization first and do it alone. You'll find better teaching positions with higher pay and it will save you money and frustration!

How can this program be improved?
The program could be improved if the cost was lowered substantially for the life long membership and bank of contacts. You should inform the participants about the role of the agent once getting into Thailand because no questions are answered for sure until you contact them. If participants are not getting TESOL certification then TravelBud should not offer an orientation week because it was not helpful and it is a very very unnecessary expense. TravelBud should stop advertising the ideal teaching experience that offers plenty of free time to travel because these experiences vary depending on the school. Require the partner to actually do background checks on all schools before offering placements at the school. Require contracts and or plenty of details from the schools that the partner puts participants in contact with.
Response from TravelBud

Hi Joe,

Thanks for taking the time to leave us a review. You emailed us with similar concerns and allegations the same day as you posted this review and we responded immediately upon reading it, informing you that we take these allegations very seriously indeed; we and our partners pride ourselves on the level of service we provide, it is the very foundation of each of our organizations. In that mail, we also informed you that we'd need some time to investigate each of the points you raised as they were broad, touching on pretty much every single aspect of your experience in Thailand and we needed to reach a large number of people for feedback, commentary and remedial action where needed.

We do wish you'd allowed us the opportunity to investigate and take action before you'd posted this review. This is especially since this was the very first time you'd presented to us what you were unhappy about, despite multiple opportunities over the past few months where we and our partners had reached out repeatedly.

Our participants having repeated, negative experiences is not something which is sustainable for an organization such as ours or that of our partners. We, therefore, do our utmost to stay in touch and get feedback as often as possible so as to allow us to address issues, remedy them and improve the experience for all participants, those both present and future. It's through these actions and policies that we've been able to achieve such high ratings of the service we provide over the past several years. Without feedback when things don't live up to expectation, it's impossible to remedy.

It's understandable then that your mail and review came as a surprise to everyone concerned. That along with the fact that for our teachers placed in Thailand, 90% rate the experience as positive, this includes the work experience and experience with our partners. Of the participants surveyed in your intake group, 100% rated their experience with TravelBud as a positive. Granted, you had already left the group for your placement to commence when the survey was conducted so we didn't receive your feedback then. We did reach out 3 times since via email to get this and our partners have reached out repeatedly also.

With that aside, we wanted to take an opportunity to address the concerns you raised here.

Your comment that the orientation was unnecessary is concerning. During this orientation, yes, there are fun activities thrown in like a trip to a local market to help you understand how to navigate one or purchase local fresh produce. A visit to a local temple to understand the role Buddhism plays in everyday Thai society. A visit to a dog rescue shelter to help you understand the plight of street dogs so ubiquitous in Thailand. Cooking lessons to help you understand the ingredients and methods which go into local dishes. While these are fun and maybe unnecessary for anyone simply wanting to just find a job and get paid, our programs are set up to be culturally immersive experiences. We want each participant to be a responsible and informed traveler in order to make the most positive impact on those they teach.

That being said, the orientation offers a whole lot more than just these activities. There are history & culture lectures and Thai language lessons which again help you to be a more responsible traveler and resident of Thailand. Then there are sessions on the agent system in Thailand, how to organize your visa to ensure you continue to work legally in the country and sessions on adjusting to culture shock and the emotional stress of living and working in what’s usually a new culture and new field of work for most participants.

Ample opportunity is given to ask questions, whatever these may be, whether that be to the many program staff, placement staff or the team of existing teachers who work on their school break as orientation assistants. Our partners reported that you by contrast to many of the other participants asked very few questions, this obviously made it difficult to address your concerns then and there.

Your point about the placement process we feel is a little puzzling. Your preferences as listed to the placement team were as follows: Location: Big city, preferably Bangkok or outskirts 2nd, otherwise, as close to Bangkok as possible. Age group: no kindergarten, primary preferably, secondary otherwise. Other preferences: location over age, all subjects for primary, can teach Spanish or Italian.

A great deal of effort was made to match every one of your preferences, based on what was available at the time of application and the team was able to match you with a job in Bangkok, with a mix of primary and secondary level students, location was given preference to age-group. Your salary was just above the median for first-time ESL teachers as well. Probably the biggest reason for saying that you shouldn’t reject this position was that it was the best possible position available matching your preferences. Your rejection of the position would have put you at the back of the line again while other applicants received placements and the team would go back to the drawing board to find you another position which matches your preferences. Your start could have been delayed and you likely could have had to compromise on your preferences to ensure you were able to start in a timely manner and start earning a salary.

Finding a position which exactly matches all preferences is extremely rare as it’s all down to availability.

Your point about no background check being done on the school is one we take extremely seriously as it’s something our partners pride themselves on doing thoroughly. It shouldn’t be possible that a school ends up on their network which hasn’t been vetted, this hasn’t happened before to our knowledge, so we’re going to investigate this further and if this has happened, remedial action will be taken immediately.

With regards to the agent system in Thailand - this is something you’ll find across the board in the country, regardless of the organization you are placed through. Only by going to individual schools directly who don’t use regional agents will you avoid working through one. Schools generally contract local regional agents to gather candidates for teaching positions, these agents will then reach out to their network of program providers such as ours for teachers. It’s not the most efficient system, we know, but it is the way it works in Thailand. By contrast, for example, our Vietnam program is different in that there is no agent between the placement team and the school and things often happen much faster there. The placement team has years of experience in dealing with the agents and knowing which are legitimate and which to avoid. Dealing with these agents directly can be very confusing and has led to many people landing themselves either with illegal jobs or extremely poor work experiences.

As for advertising the worst-case scenario for teaching in Thailand, I’m sure you can understand the issue with that. What we advertise is the typical experience, some teachers will go on to earn more than we advertise (such as yourself earning more than the advertised 32,000 Thai Baht or $1000 per month), some will go on to have more time off, less teaching hours, a better location or more benefits than advertised. Wherever the experience is likely to be poorer than average we will either not take on the applicant or we will advise from the outset what it will be like to set clear expectations - this is usually the case with, for example, those with heavy accents or no bachelor’s degrees.

If we take a look at prior feedback reports, we see the following which matches with our advertising material: Around three-quarters of participants report having plenty of opportunities to travel. 85% of participants felt very prepared for their teaching experience by the orientation and, where applicable, TESOL course. The 20 hours of teaching time per week your position requires is around average, the extra lesson-planning time outside of those is also very normal for Thailand or any school around the developing world for that matter. The pay you receive is just above the average salary for an ESL teacher, particularly a first-time ESL teacher in Thailand. There certainly are higher paying jobs out there in Thailand, these almost universally will go to experienced ESL teachers.

This all being said, your review has given us some insight into some areas we can improve on and we all agree with you here on these:

1: We can look at how we can better communicate that this experience will not be a walk in the park and will require hard work. Working as a teacher in a developing country comes with challenges and requires a flexible attitude if one is to enjoy it. This job is as much about an opportunity to travel in a new part of the world as it is about hard work and giving back to the community in which you operate. We’ll look for opportunities to improve our communication in this regard from written content to details shared by our enrollments staff telephonically.

2: We can also make it even more clear that we are not simply a recruitment service, that our services are focussed on preparing participants to have the best cultural experience possible, to be responsible travelers and residents in Thailand and to be impactful teachers. For those simply wanting to find a job without any external preparation or support and for those confident enough to do everything themselves 100% effectively and wanting to spend as little as possible in outlay, we’ll make it more clear that this program is not for them. We don’t think we’re doing anyone any favors by signing someone up to our program if this is what their requirements are.

Joe, thanks again for communicating to us your frustrations. Your email goes into greater detail than you did on this review and we’ve communicated your feedback to the various parties concerned. The placement manager in Thailand, Paang, will be reaching out to you to go through each of your placement concerns in more detail and Saskia, our support manager will be reaching out to you to go over your service concerns.

It’s unfortunate that you waited several months to give us this feedback but we’re hoping to find something which can be done to help ease your experience and make it more comfortable for you wherever reasonable and possible but we will chat with you more about this.

Looking forward to helping you out,

The TravelBud team.

No, I don't recommend this program
Tim
8/10

TravelBud were very helpful in guidance and assistance for every detail major and minor (e.g. when it came to pre departure), putting your mind at ease knowing you were in safe hands.

Once in Thailand they provide 24 hour assistance of help if ever required. Very nice and friendly staff communicating with made it all the easier to ask questions whether big or small.

The three weeks TESOL course in Hua Hin via TravelBud's in-country partners was a memorable experience, where upon completion the placements team take into account your preferences and try to place you as best they can to the area you have requested. I was lucky enough to get mine in Krabi where I am teaching at a secondary school in Krabi Town.

I am loving the school, the kids are great fun to teach and the fellow teachers are very friendly and welcoming which has made my experience very memorable and all the more enjoyable!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Jacqueline
9/10

I am absolutely loving my experience in Thailand. Saskia Smuts is my advisor, and she is absolutely amazing. She is always there to answer my emails, almost immediately. In addition, she continually checks in with me to make sure that everything is going smoothly. I feel such a sense of comfort to reach out to her with any conflicts I face, be it professional or personal. I am extremely grateful for her support. She has absolutely gone above and beyond the call of duty, and has make this experience that much smoother and effortless. I am very grateful that I was put in contact with you, and i have a sense of security knowing if anything begin to stress me out that I have her to lean on. I have grown so much from this experience. I have made friends with both foreign teachers in the same boat as me, as well as with some of the Thai teachers. I am looking forward to the remainder of the year I am here, and getting the feeling that I will be doing this far longer then I had originally expected.

How can this program be improved?
The price of the program is a little expensive, because of the additional prices that TravelBud's partner demands especially because I found they included very little in that price. They ask for payment directly to them, but that payment does not include transportation, living accommodations, bank fees, or anything. Considering that I was a placement only, and thus not having to pay for the TESOL course, I found the prices they demanded quite extreme for the services they offered. I have received much more assistance from my TravelBud representative, Saskia Smuts, then I have from the partner organization staff.
Response from TravelBud

Hey Jacqueline!

Thanks so much for the glowing review! It's great to hear that Saskia was able to provide you with such a great experience.

Regarding the extra fees you paid to our in-country partners, Saskia will reach out to you today to get clarification on what extra you had to pay in Thailand. Something doesn't sound quite right there and we suspect there may be some miscommunication which has happened and we'd like to fix it ASAP.

Yes, I recommend this program