We passionately believe in the life-changing power of the teach & volunteer abroad experience.
TravelBud believes in and has experienced the transformative power of immersive travel; it opens our minds to new perspectives, pushes us beyond our comfort zones and returns us home as more understanding, constructive global citizens. We want to impart this life-changing experience to others.
MEET THE TEAM
We’re a crazy bunch of hard working and committed travelers helping you get the best out of your experience abroad. We’re all collectively invested in the growth and sustainability of TravelBud and value respect, support and understanding within our team.
- Accredited TEFL/TESOL Certification
- 10 week Project Management Short Course through the University of Cape Town.
Lauren is recently returned from a 9 month teaching stint in Thailand which she actually organized through TravelBud!
An avid scrabbler and die hard 2-minute-noodle (instant ramen) aficionado, Lauren is also one of our enrollments coordinators.
Like her team mates, she’s responsible for inspiring and guiding would-be teachers & volunteers to the right program for them. She’ll be answering all your questions and sharing her experience of teaching abroad to give each participant a first-hand peek into what their life will be like once they sign up.
While teaching in Bangkok and Chonburi she also learned a lot. Aside from memorizing the list of ASEAN member states, their flags and national animals, teaching abroad taught her a lot about herself:
“It taught me to be on my own, to travel on my own, to eat on my own, to work on my own and be happy and confident in that. No matter how many friends you make out there, you’re always going to have to navigate certain situations alone. That was a valuable experience to have, but in the same breath, it taught me that I can connect with anyone. Some of my best friends from my time abroad are people I never would have expected to connect with.”
Aside from exploring the immense beauty that Thailand has to offer, Lauren has also been privileged enough to visit Laos, Vietnam, the UAE and Ireland. Next up, she hopes to ramp up her fitness levels and tackle hiking the Inca trail.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Motion Picture Medium from AFDA The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and live performance
- Studying towards an Honours degree in Integrated Organisational Communications through the University of South Africa
Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Lydia joined the TravelBud team as an enrollments coordinator, helping our many applicants work out the best teach or volunteer abroad plans for themselves.
She’s super passionate about her job too!
“Ultimately as an enrolments coordinator I am a brand ambassador for the company. Everyone in our department has had first-hand experience and an extensive understanding of what it entails to embark on a teach abroad program as we have all worked abroad ourselves.”
Before joining the TravelBud team, she had the good fortune of working as an English teacher in China for 3 years.
“I can confidently say that it was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. Assimilating into a culture and mindset so different from my experience as a Capetonian was extremely challenging. I immersed myself in the language, cuisine and social scene. I established the most wonderful relationships not only with my students but their parents too. School life was fast paced but inspired and i made friends that i will have for life.”
When she’s not busy helping make teach and volunteer abroad dreams come true, she’s keeping herself read up on everything from social justice to international relations to cinema, fashion and hair care. Lydia’s interests are anything if not diverse!
Lydia’s done a lot of Asian travel, particularly in Japan and China where she recounts her most memorable travel experience as the quirky Hello Kitty theme park in Anji, China! Next up for her would probably be Havana, Cuba.
“I can just imagine myself wearing a long floral dress, sipping on a mojito and flirting with some cute Cuban guy in a vintage Cadillac car.”
Kim Le Roux
- Accredited TEFL/TESOL Certification
- Bachelor of Technology (BTech) in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town
- National Diploma in Event Management from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town
Kim is another Cape Town local who’s joined the enrollments team to help change lives through teaching and volunteering abroad where she’s the first port of call for anyone interested in embarking on these mind-broadening adventures.
When she’s not answering your questions and helping you plot out the perfect teach abroad trip, she’s walking her rescue pup on the beach, volunteering of her time for those less fortunate and celebrating her passion for good food.
“I love food, not necessarily cooking it but definitely eating it (although I have a bit of an obsession with buying cookbooks). I enjoy tasting menus of 3 courses or more because there is nothing better than nibbling on all sorts of bits of food whilst sipping on good wine on a chilly Autumn day.”
Kim lived in Joenju, South Korea, working as an English teacher at two public schools and one boarding school in Wanju prior to joining the TravelBud team.
“Travelling and teaching abroad has taught me that I’m able to adapt to living outside of my established norm and to be happy doing it. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to travel, eat, go to the movies etc alone and to enjoy doing it alone. Packing up my life in a suitcase has made me realise I can live simpler, without the clutter and that there is more value in collecting experiences and connecting with people as opposed to collecting tangible things.”
Having explored South Africa extensively as well as China, the Philippines, the UK, US, Bahamas and Italy, she definitely counts the latter as her favourite, because, well you guessed it, it’s arguably the food capital of the world! Next up for Kim, it’s a toss up between India, Egypt or Argentina. When you chat to her on the phone, please help her decide!
Another Cape Town local and TravelBud alumni joining the team, Philippa taught English in Thailand for 18 months in Trang in the South of the country.
As an enrollments coordinator, she'll be encouraging you to make the leap she did and teach overseas as well as guiding you to ensure you have chosen the best program to suit your needs.
Philippa's passions lie in hiking, yoga, photography and in sniffing out the best and newest restaurants on the local food scene. It's something which her experience of teaching in Thailand definitely developed for her:
"It taught me to think on the spot, do what scares me, try any and every food and to be A LOT more independent and confident with who I am. It really is the best decision you can make!"
Apart from Thailand, Philippa has been lucky enough to explore a bunch of exciting places across the globe from Mozambique to the Netherlands, the UK, France, Australia, Vietnam and Malaysia. Her favourite? It's a tough call, but it's a toss up between Vietnam and France.
Where's next for Philippa? Well that's anywhere she can experience swimming in the wild with whale sharks or sea turtles.
Bio coming soon!
Sarah Van Vuuren
Bio coming soon
Bio coming soon
- Accredited TEFL/TESOL Certification
- National Diploma in Adventure Tourism Management from Tshwane University of Technology
Hailing from Tzaneen in South Africa’s far north, Peter is TravelBud’s Enrollments Manager, he’s responsible for signing applicants up to all our teach abroad programs and ensuring they’re fully prepared for the adventure ahead of them.
At work Peter has a huge passion for the life-changing experience that teaching abroad can be, something every single one of our participants can attest to! And he knows, first hand how it can grow you as a person, having taught English in Thailand for a couple of years himself. It has taught him to value his time, work hard and to achieve a good work/life balance.
Speaking of which, Peter has a lot of love for the outdoors and spends his free time hiking, rock climbing, trail running and swimming his way around Southern Africa. Not that he limits his sights to Africa though, he’s well traveled having explored much of Europe and Asia also but his heart still lies in Thailand:
“My favourite place in the world is definitely Tonsai Beach in Krabi in the South of Thailand – best climbing in the world!”
Where to next? Peter’s biggest travel dream is to run the Inca Trail Marathon in Peru!
- Bachelor of Commerce in Digital Marketing from the Vega School of Brand Leadership, Cape Town
Hailing from the rolling hills of South Africa’s Midlands area in KwaZulu-Natal, Ntobeko joined TravelBud’s team as our marketing intern, where he handles our social media, blog writing and general content creation. He’s the man to speak to if you’re wanting to guest-write about your teach or travel abroad experiences!
When he’s not working his magic on Instagram at the office he’s an avid football fan - that’s rest-of-the-world football to those of you in the US! He’s obsessed with Arsenal FC, so naturally, not having won much in 14 years, he spends much of his weekend mourning the woes which beset his team.
On a more upbeat note, Ntobeko has done a fair bit of travel in his life, having explored Thailand, the UK, Italy, France and Germany. His favourite place so far? That would be Rome, but coming in a close second, thanks to a few memorable nights out, would be Phuket, Thailand.
“I love connecting with different cultures and different people. I feel like growing up in South Africa, we constantly hear how diverse we are, but most of us never see or feel that diversity because we all stay in our own little bubbles with people that look like us, speak like us and think like us. So travelling gives one the opportunity to really connect with different people and get a completely different perspective on life.”
Next up on his bucket list is to take a sabbatical to travel South America, a continent he admits to not knowing much about and desperately wanting to change that fact!
- Accredited TEFL/TESOL Certification
- Studying towards a Bachelor of Education (BEd) through the University of South Africa
Saskia, TravelBud’s mother hen is responsible for the post-signup support and guidance for all our participants. Whether it’s your nerves that need calming or an invoice you need re-sent, when you sign up for a TravelBud program, it will be Saskia who’s there to help you on your way to your life-changing adventure!
Hailing from South Africa’s picturesque winelands, Saskia has herself taught English abroad before in Lop Buri and Phang Nga in Thailand and knows just how much this experience can change your life for the better:
“It taught me empathy, patience, respect and rocking social skills (especially because I tend to be quite quiet!) l went over at a very young age, which made everything a bit harder, but I’m glad I went when I did, as it shaped me into a person I wanted to become.”
Saskia has a big passion for beach life and couldn’t imagine living far from water: “I LOVE THE OCEAN, the sea, the sand, the salt, the sun, the seagulls (even though I am quite terrified of them) the thrill of surfing or even just floating in the water is everything to me.” And in her endeavours to find the best beaches, she’s been lucky enough to explore not only South East Asia and her native South Africa, but also countries farther afield like the US, Japan, Australia, India and Italy.
Where to next? South America is next on Saskia’s list, she wants to go anywhere and everywhere from the beaches of Santa Catarina in Brazil to the eerie desert hand sculpture Mano del Desierto in Chile!
- 120-Hour Accredited TEFL/TESOL certification
- 1 year Certificate in Industrial and Organisational Psychology through the University of South Africa
- Studying towards Bachelors in Education degree through the University of South Africa
A Cape Town local, Lucy grew up in Mitchell’s Plain and has spent time in Kanchanaburi, Thailand teaching English and so brings with her a wealth of knowledge in her role as support facilitator.
In this role she helps participants who have signed up for one of our awesome teach or volunteer abroad programs with all the pre-departure and post-departure support they’ll need. This will be everything from advice on what to pack to which documents to organize and how to have them legalized in order to teach abroad. She’s also an excellent shoulder to cry on for anyone experiencing the growing pains of life abroad.
Outside of the office Lucy is a passionate foodie, music enthusiast, photographer, dancer and writer. This is one woman with a lot of talent and heaps of wisdom, something which her travels around Thailand and South Korea helped develop.
“Travelling abroad teaches you resilience, how to be resourceful. It teaches you patience, to become mindful. It teaches you a way of navigating through life which is different to what you're used to. It teaches you to deal with different kinds of people, personalities and belief systems.”
Lucy’s not done yet and plans to mix volunteering and community upliftment into her future travel plans - who knows, maybe even TravelBud’s Volunteer in Panama program may be on the cards for her!
- Accredited TEFL/TESOL certification
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Social Dynamics from Stellenbosch University
A natural born leader, Stu is TravelBud’s Managing Director and one with a difference! He describes his most important focus as “keeping the unique enthusiastic and caring company culture alive as we grow together”. Something which is close to the hearts of every team member.
Stu has been with TravelBud from day one, the moment he finished university two of his closest friends, the Kelly brothers invited him to join them on a new venture: TravelBud! From humble beginnings where he was responsible for everything from accounting to marketing and blogging he’s grown a dream team which is taking the business to new heights.
Travel has touched Stu’s life deeply as he explored Europe independently while living and working in the UK as a sports coach after he finished high school. It’s taught him that truly exciting and life-changing adventures only happen when you step outside your comfort zone; and not a day goes by when he doesn’t challenge the team to do the same!
So where is his favourite destination? None other than our best-seller, Thailand! And, if he can ever find the time to take a sabbatical from steering the TravelBud ship he’d like to spend his time off volunteering and living in Malawi or Kenya for a bit.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Media Production from the University of Cape Town
- Postgraduate Degree in Enterprise Management from the University of Cape Town
Tristan is TravelBud’s Systems Manager and with 12 years of experience in the field is responsible for the bright and shiny Travelbud website you see before you. He also comes up with all the clever tech to make sure you get the exact info you need when visiting TravelBud.
Hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, when he’s not engulfed by a matrix-like strings of code he’ll be found plucking the strings of his guitar – a skill he taught himself online through a website called justinguitar.com!
He is well traveled having visited places as varied as Australia, Patagonia, Mozambique, the US and Greece and values the way travel constantly challenges him to see things differently:
“I love the sense of perspective it brings when you’re outside your comfort zone.
Of all the places he’s been, he loved Patagonia the best. Next up he hopes to hike in Iceland or try his hand at snowboarding in Austria!
- Accredited TEFL/TESOL certification
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Brand Communication from the AAA School of Advertising in Cape Town
Liam is TravelBud’s co-founder and is the visionary driving force behind our team. He’s from Cape Town, South Africa but finds himself exploring the world and living in a variety of places, most recently Hua Hin, Thailand.
Having taught in Thailand himself, he returned with a newfound appreciation for educators and a vision for supplying better prepared and more passionate teachers to Asia to have the same amazing experiences he did.
Liam says living in Asia taught him not to sweat the small things in life and to have more compassion and patience – this is something he’s instilled in every aspect of life at TravelBud.
A keen videographer, Liam is most often found behind the lense of his camera or nose down behind his laptop editing the next epic video he’s shot. Well, that’s when he’s not discovering the next big underground hip hop scene in Myanmar, Korea or back home in SA – this is one guy who’s passionate about his music!
Travel is also something which runs in Liam’s blood, by the age of 19 he’d been to 25 countries and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down! Currently sitting at the 35 country mark, he dreams of buying a character-filled 4×4 and exploring every last corner of Africa.
Nick heads up TravelBud’s marketing efforts in Cape Town, South Africa and has had a long history in the travel industry working in student travel and even a big multinational online travel agency. Having changed careers a few times in his life he’s lived in the UK and spent a great deal of time traveling the world from the US to Europe, Africa and most recently South East Asia.
As you’d have guessed, he’s super passionate about travel and his best travel memories include his recent trip to Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea to meet face-to-face with some of TravelBud’s teachers. His most life-changing trip was to the Philippines in 2015:
“I just loved the country, everything about it changed the way I lived, the laid-back attitude to life taught me to smile more, appreciate the small things and collect experiences rather than things.”
Where’s next for Nick? Well, he’s always wanted to explore the ancient ruins of Bagan in Myanmar!
When he’s not blogging for TravelBud Nick will be in the kitchen whipping up something exciting or out on the beach with his two adorable rescue dogs.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Philosophy and Law from the University of Cape Town
- Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Cape Town
- Master of Laws (LLM) from King's College London
Luke is a director at TravelBud and practices as an advocate at the Cape Bar Society of Advocates in Cape Town, South Africa.
Luke brings strategic business advice and guidance to TravelBud, as well as a dose of enthusiasm for the love of travel.
What makes us different to other teach and volunteer abroad companies?
We’re not a recruitment company who just finds you a job and we do not receive any commission from any of the schools in our network.
What is immersive travel?
Immersive travel is travel for the purpose of experiencing day-to-day life in the local communities through which we journey, from their traditions, language and food to their unique perspectives which bring meaning to life.