COVID-19: Update from the TravelBud team

The information below was last updated on June 21st 2021. We will update this page as frequently as possible.

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“There is no education like adversity.” – Benjamin Disraeli 

TravelBud has been monitoring developments around COVID-19 closely. We are in regular contact with our in-country teams on the ground in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, South Korea, Japan and Costa Rica.

We would like to share some important information about what we are doing to support the global effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 while also doing our best to minimize disruption to the programs we offer.

Before we do so we would like to extend our sincerest thanks to those who have sent messages of support during this difficult time. As a small company we truly value your understanding and continued support. Together we will overcome the challenges that we face today.

Program Updates and Intake statuses

It is difficult to predict how long containment measures will be in place globally, or what further restrictions may be imposed.

In what follows we do our best to answer what we believe are likely to be the most common questions. We also have FAQs further down the page. If you don’t see an answer to your question you can contact us at info@travelbud.com or via the contact details in the sidebar and we will respond to your inquiry as quickly as possible.

What is the current status of programs?

Across nearly all of our program countries, second/third waves of COVID-19 outbreaks are coming under greater control, and we are starting to see things open up. We’ve updated the conditions and short-term outlook for each of our main program countries:

THAILAND

Strong Future Outlook, Ease of Travel, Quick Placement and High Demand for Teachers

COVID numbers in Thailand hover around 2,000 per day. Millions are being vaccinated each week as part of the country’s ambitious plan to vaccinate 70% of the population by year’s end.

The country is currently experiencing strong teacher demand. Schools in Bangkok started online from June 14 and in much of the rest of the country they have either started teaching in-person already, or will start in-person from July 1.

The quarantine is still 14 days nationwide, but new plans are announced each week for shorter quarantines or no quarantines in Pattaya, Phuket and elsewhere, as part of regional efforts to spur international tourism. We expect that within 1-2 months, Thailand will go back to seven days of quarantine for vaccinated travelers as was the policy up until last month, when the quarantine length, after being reduced from 14 to 7 days, was raised to 14 days again due to fears about the Delta variant.

School demand for teachers remains healthy.

There have been positive developments for Visa documentation processing namely a reduction in the number of steps to complete the documentation. Going forward, visa paperwork will only take approximately three weeks to process. Given the likelihood of much shorter quarantines, especially for vaccinated travelers, we plan to initiate a scaled down version of our summer teach program.

INTAKES

The September 27th intake has officially been changed to the TESOL Extra. The reason for this is that we have run into some challenges transferring tourist visas to Non-b work visas once the participant is in Thailand. The inability to do that makes it difficult to hold full TESOL courses in country due to the fact that, even with the shorter quarantine times, participants still can’t arrive at the same time. Instead, the plan is to do what we have been doing to-date and have participants arrive and start their TESOL Extra once they finish quarantine and only after they have a confirmed placement (pre-placement). Our TESOL Extra Program has recently won us the GoAbroad Innovation Award as an adaptation to COVID, to keep our participants safe and adhere to guidelines, while still allowing a high quality opportunity for teachers to travel to Thailand, get certified and be placed in one of our vetted partner schools. 

For those looking to travel as soon as possible, we have opportunities to do so prior to September and you can speak to your co-ordinator about what is required for this option.

VIETNAM

Strong Outlook for Teachers and High Teacher Demand with Fast Placement

Vietnam in in Partial Lockdown and Quarantine Extended.

There’s been a recent spike in COVID cases in Vietnam that, while small, has the government an edge, and as such, they’ve instituted a partial lockdown and all schools have closed or gone online.

The quarantine period has also been extended from 14 days to 28 days. School demand for teachers is still high and some schools are paying for the entire quarantine hotel costs. We are focusing our placement efforts with those schools that are paying or supporting part of the quarantine costs.

Participant interest in Vietnam continues to be strong despite the longer quarantine period. We expect the quarantine period to be reduced at some point for vaccinated travelers as more evidence mounts that they are safe to let in the country with a reduced or no quarantine.

INTAKES

We have made the tough decision to change our August 23rd TESOL course to be TESOL Extra, which would include four weeks online and one week in class in HCMC. The reason for this decision is that it is nearly impossible to bring everyone to Vietnam at the same time due to differing timelines for visa paperwork, schedules for relief flights, etc.

We strongly encourage participants to move forward with the TESOL Extra as we are not overly confident about doing full in-class TESOL courses in Vietnam for the next few intake dates.

All 2021/2022 intakes are currently open for applications including:

  • November 29, 2021
  • February 21, 2022
  • 2 May 2022

SOUTH KOREA

Temporary Setbacks for UK and SA Teachers, Still Strong Teacher Demand

We’ve seen strong demand for new teachers as schools are hiring for the start of the new school semester.

Borders are open and there are no travel restrictions for any of the seven native-speaking countries.

South Korea has experienced relative stability in new cases with numbers averaging about 400-700 per day over the past couple of months. The government is still aggressively combating the situation.

There was also a recent announcement that certain qualifying travelers who travel to Korea for the purposes of visiting family, business, academics, or public interest, and who are fully vaccinated may be exempted from mandatory quarantine on arrival from July 1st. Unfortunately, we’ve learned that this exemption WILL NOT extend to teachers.

While that’s undeniably a bit of a letdown, the good news is that the Korean government has started an ambitious vaccination program and plans to achieve herd immunity by September to November.

We are hopeful that this news, as well as the stabilizing COVID numbers and vaccination drive, will allow us to resume our in-country orientation weekends, which we have been unable to run due to the ban on gatherings in the Seoul area.

The September 27th in-class TESOL has been switched to the Online Option with Placement until the restrictions inhibiting the in-class course are eased.

We also hope this progress will enable us to start back with in-country TESOL courses from the beginning of 2022.

INTAKES

July 26, 2021 and September 27, 2021 intakes: We strongly encourage participants to move forward with the Online TESOL + Placement as we are not overly confident about the ability to do a full in-class TESOL course in July.

MYANMAR

Major Setback for the Country and Mid-Year as Soonest Expectation for Opening Borders

Myanmar’s borders are completely closed due to COVID and the coup government has tightened its grip on the country. Ousted elected party leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to be prosecuted for corruption by the military regime.

Despite these sad developments, our teachers and staff in Myanmar are completely safe and things have calmed down from the daily mass protests and deadly government crackdowns of a few months ago.

People are going back to work and school, and COVID seems to be under control.

Our language school in Yangon will start back with in-person classes from July. Once the country opens up again, we will start bringing teachers back to Myanmar as long as the environment is safe and travel advisories are not in place.

We will monitor both the security situation and the prospects for a return of English teachers closely.

INTAKES

We’ve made the tough decision to cancel our April 26 TESOL In-Country TESOL Course. The next intake will be June 28. Participants will have the option of pushing back to later intake dates or switching to a different program.

JAPAN

Still Closed with Little Hope of Teachers Starting in 2021

Japan continues to be largely closed to foreigners with just a trickle being allowed into the country and the visa document process taking much longer than normal.

It’s unclear at this time when the country is going to open up fully to teachers and tourists.

We will continue to assess things as we see what happens in regards to borders and schools working through the backlog of applicants they have waiting to come.

INTAKES

Due to the uncertainty surrounding borders reopening and long visa processing times, it would be best for new signups to prepare to move over in early 2022.

Participants also have the option to complete their TEFL/TESOL certification online with TravelBud and will have their job placements confirmed from the comfort of their home, allowing them the flexibility to head over to start their teaching adventure as soon as it’s possible and safe to do so.

We will aim to continue to support current participants in moving forward with their initial timeframes as far as the situation will allow.

All 2022 intakes are currently open for applications.

COSTA RICA

Wide Open for Travelers but with Low Teacher Demand and Schools Still Closed

With COVID case numbers in Costa Rica hovering around 2,000 per day, the country has embarked on a major campaign to vaccinate its entire population.

The border, meanwhile, is completely open with no quarantine and no vaccination requirement.

Schools are closed for in-person classes and have gone entirely online and plan to do so until the 4th quarter.

Despite these challenges, we’ve run three successful courses thus far since the end of 2020 and have our biggest course ever coming up at the end of June.

OLD

Costa Rica has a very open policy on travel. They allow travel to the country without quarantine or proof of a negative COVID test. COVID cases are declining.

INTAKES

All 2022 intakes are currently open for applications.

Next available intake dates open for applications:

The commencement dates for the programs which have spots available and which are, unless otherwise advised, proceeding as normal are set out below:

Please note: Our support team will keep all 2020/2021 accepted applicants updated with relevant information, options and updates.

PROGRAM

INTAKE DATES

Teach English in Thailand

2021

Summer Flexible Intake (8-10 weeks from enrollment)
27 September 2021 - TESOL Extra
1 November 2021
27 December 2021

2022

24 January 2022
28 March 2022
2 May 2022
30 May 2022
27 June 2022
26 September 2022
31 October 2022

Thailand Summer Teach

2021

7 June 2021 (can only go ahead if tourist visas are issued)
28 June 2021 (can only go ahead if tourist visas are issued)

2022

6 June 2022
27 June 2022

Teach English in Vietnam

2021

26 July 2021
23 August 2021
29 November 2021

2022

21 February 2022
2 May 2022
30 May 2022
25 July 2022
22 August 2022
28 November 2022

Teach English in South Korea

2021

26 July 2021
27 September 2021

2022

24 January 2022
25 April 2022
25 July 2022
26 September 2022

Teach English in Myanmar

2021

28 June 2021
27 September 2021

2022

17 January 2022
25 April 2022
27 June 2022
26 September 2022

Teach English in Japan

2021

All in-country TEFL/TESOL courses have been cancelled.
Online TEFL/TESOL courses start on the First Monday of every month.

2022

Online TEFL/TESOL courses start on the First Monday of every month.
28 February 2022 (In-country TEFL course)
30 May 2022 (In-country TEFL course)
25 July 2022 (In-country TEFL course)
24 October 2022 (In-country TEFL course)

Teach English in Costa Rica

2021

30 August 2021 (Degree holders only)
29 November 2021

2022

14 February 2022
9 May 2022
27 June 2022
21 November 2022

Online TEFL Course

2021

First Monday of every month.

2022

First Monday of every month.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be vaccinated in order to travel?

You currently do not need to be vaccinated in order to travel. You may need to present negative PCR tests within 48 hours of travel and/or complete a mandatory quarantine period upon your arrival. There is talk and encouragement from some countries, such as the Thai tourism sector, to allow entry without quarantine to vaccinated travelers, but this is just proposed at the moment and a far way off from being approved.

What is TravelBud’s advice for participants wanting to teach and travel abroad within the next 3 months?

Please review the country updates above regarding the status of our programs. Our coordinators will advise you on all the entry requirements and latest COVID updates for each country so that you may make an informed decision.

We have published these intake dates above and on each program page on our website. There is no additional fee to switch between intake dates.

What happens if I am unable to travel to my selected program country for my intake due to COVID-19?

If you are unable to head over for your intended start date due to COVID-19 you will have options such as choosing a later intake start date at no additional cost.

Can I switch to a different program to that which I originally signed up for?

Yes, provided that you meet the requirements for the program to which you want to switch, we can assist you to do so.  There may be a slight difference in the cost which we will communicate to you in advance.

Will I need to arrive two weeks prior to my intake start date if there is a mandatory 14-day self-isolation regulation in place?

No. You will still need to arrive during the three days leading up to your intake start date. Chat to your enrollments coordinator for the latest up to date information.

What happens in the event that I need to self-isolate upon arrival?

First of all, don’t panic. Our Support team and our team on the ground will guide you through the whole process, assist you with arrangements and ensure your safety and wellbeing throughout your program.
Please read these blog article on our participants quarantine experience:

How will a 14-day self-isolation period work? How will I be fed etc.?

The team on the ground will be there to ensure that you are taken care of in terms of grocery shopping, WIFI and check-ins during your 14-days of isolation. They will communicate everything with you clearly before and during your self-isolation and will be available to assist you should you require it.

Will I need to purchase a specific or special COVID-19 travel insurance policy?

You will need to purchase a travel insurance policy covering treatment and medical expenses with a minimum coverage of 100,000 USD.

What are TravelBud’s in-country team doing on the ground to assist with containment?

In response to the spread of COVID-19, our in-country teams have put in place a comprehensive plan to support teachers on the ground, keep participants on our programs safe, and advise in-bound participants on how to travel safely.

They are collecting information from a wide variety of sources, collating it and sending it out to our teacher communities in each country regularly.

They obtain relevant information from speaking to schools, embassies, and teachers in the field, monitoring local language and international news sources, and speaking to local partners, all in an effort to better understand the situation each day and keep our teachers informed and safe.

They have also set up hotlines and designated staff members in all of our countries for participants to contact directly at any time if they have any questions or concerns, or need advice.

Our in-country teams have also put in place procedures at our offices and programs to ensure participant and staff safety. This includes closely monitoring the health of each participant from the moment they arrive on our programs.

Finally, we’re reaching out to participants who are in the preparation phase of traveling to our programs and informing them on how to maintain hygiene and safety during travel.

This plan is evolving daily to meet changing circumstances and is informed by the travel regulations, restrictions, and advice of those countries who are sending and receiving our participants.

What is TravelBud’s refund policy?

TravelBud’s enrollment and final fees are non-refundable. However, we are now offering all those participants whose programs are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic the flexibility of a free date change to a later program date within 12-months from the original program date.

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