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
Grace is a program coordinator at TravelBud signing people up to our many programs and helping them get all the answers to the questions they may have about taking the plunge and going overseas for amazing teach abroad adventures. Hailing from a beautiful little, coastal town in South Africa called Hermanus, she recently returned from adventures abroad and will be based in Cape Town.
Besides travelling, Grace loves cooking, reading Oscar Wilde books, scouring vintage shops for things of another time and going wine tasting at every available opportunity. She taught in South Korea for a year, in a city just outside of Seoul, called Anseong. Living and teaching abroad taught her so many things about herself, the world and life in general making her the wise old soul she is today:
“The most poignant thing I learnt was that you can connect with people, no matter how different your culture, and that the world really is filled with genuinely good people.”
Before Korea Grace had never travelled out of Africa, but since arriving there, she’s gotten the chance to travel to Thailand, Cambodia, Israel and Ireland. She was lucky enough to tick being in Ireland during St Paddy’s day off her bucket list, but finds it a toss up between the Emerald Isle and Israel as her favourite places on Earth.
That might change soon as the list of places she still wants to go is growing daily, with Turkey next on the list!
- 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.”
Sarah Van Vuuren
Sarah grew up in South Africa’s vibey biggest city, Johannesburg, making her the first Joburger to join the TravelBud team down in sunny Cape Town!
Sarah is on our enrollments team meaning she’ll be helping you plan and book your teach, volunteer and intern abroad trips and will help you as much as she can with all your questions about your new, exciting adventure!
If you’re looking to teach abroad, she’ll be able to offer tons of first-hand insights from her experience teaching in Vietnam where she was based at a language center at Lao Cai. Her placement was in more rural Vietnam up in the hills near Sa Pa, famous for its stunning views, welcoming hill tribes and awesome hiking opportunities.
Sarah completed our TEFL/TESOL course in Thailand and taught in Vietnam for a year with her boyfriend and truly feels it changed her life:
“I learnt so much, it’s difficult to sum it up in a few sentences. All I can say is that it taught me to conquer my fears, it made me more comfortable and confident within myself. It was a massive milestone in my life as I had dreamed about travelling since I was little. It was just so amazing to be there in the present moment. I had so many valuable experiences with the locals, I gained friendships that will last forever.”
Sarah’s seen a fair bit of the world, aside from visiting Thailand and Vietnam she’s also been to Cambodia, Botswana, Zambia, and even a trip to see family living in LA. Of all the places she’s been, the most memorable experience was standing right in the middle of Cambodia’s world-famous Angkor Wat temple.
What’s next for Sarah? Well her family has planted a tree in their name at a special spot, deep in California’s redwood forests, she’d love to visit it in person. She’s also dreaming of backpacking through South America and finding a spot there to volunteer with sea turtle conservation!
A born and bred Capetonian - someone from Cape Town, if you’re not from around these parts - Nooru has joined our upbeat enrollments team where she’ll be helping prep, support and facilitate anyone wanting to explore teaching and volunteering abroad.
She has a lengthy background working in the volunteering world and was lucky enough to spend some time working at a conservation project in South Africa’s far northern Limpopo province where she got to get up-close and personal with Africa’s big 5!
For her, travel and working abroad offers a massive opportunity for personal growth:
“I always thought of myself as a very co-dependent person. Travel has taught me that I can survive on my own, I can rely on 'just me' and for that reason, I believe that so much of who we are has so much to do with where we've been.”
When she’s not helping people embark on life-changing adventures, she’s binging on Disney movies - she’s a big fan of Tinkerbell, after all, she also believes in never growing up! Nooru’s also an avid baker and can literally spend hours piping, frosting, and experimenting with different flavors.
Nooru’s travel experience is really unique compared to the rest of the TravelBud team, so if you’re looking for tips on traveling around the Middle East and Europe, she’s got you well covered! Nooru’s been to Spain, France, the Netherlands, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Her favourite place? Disneyland Paris, of course! The perfect marrying of Disney magic with all the romance that only Paris can bring.
Where’s next for Nooru? She’s got tons of travel dreams but number one on her bucket list is to find Nemo, diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia!
A Cape Town local, Gary has joined the TravelBud team as an enrollments coordinator. He’ll be using his travel and volunteering experience to encourage anyone who is interested in teaching or volunteering abroad to seize this incredible opportunity to change lives!
Gary’s traveled to the UK and also explored Thailand where he did some conservation volunteer work, documenting coral reefs and planting trees in the fight against deforestation. Back home in South Africa, Gary’s been involved in volunteer work with refurbing kindergartens and in a law and human rights project.
For Gary, volunteering provided a much-valued opportunity for reflection and a chance to practice gratitude:
“Volunteering abroad has taught me to appreciate life and not to take your blessings for granted.”
When Gary’s not volunteering his time or helping make teach or volunteer abroad dreams come true, he’s either spending time with his godson playing Fortnite or exploring his foodie side where he’s a local market aficionado. Gary’s all about balance though so as much as you’ll find him at the hottest new food truck, you’ll also see him keeping active by running (even if it sometimes ends as more of a walk) and he’s even started learning to skateboard. Got any tips for him on treating those grazes? Ouch!
Gary’s travel bucket list is wide open, so offer him some suggestions from your experiences when you chat and if you’ve been to Mexico, he’d really appreciate some pointers on making his dream volunteering opportunity come true: to work in Mexico with his self-confessed spirit animal: the sea turtle.
- 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 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!
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 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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.