COVID-19: Update from the TravelBud team

The information below was last updated on September 21st 2020. 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.

At this stage, TravelBud will only be enrolling new participants in programs which commence from January 2021.

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 [email protected] 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, this wave of COVID-19 outbreak is 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

Cases are nearly non-existent in Thailand. There have only been a few in the past three months. The government recently announced that they will begin opening the country to foreign tourists, which is very encouraging, but the initial number is limited (1200 per month), the entry requirements are high, and it appears that many Western countries, where case numbers are high, won’t qualify in this first step in relaxing restrictions.

But this is undoubtedly a positive development that bodes well for participants heading over in the future.

It is also important to note that there has been a growing protest movement against the Thai regime by university and high school students. This movement is also directly confronting the monarchy head on, something that no previous protest movements have dared to do. Also unlike previous protest movements, this new movement is peaceful and has not employed violent tactics, yet. The movement has not had any impact on our teachers, although some report that their students are echoing many of criticisms levied by the movement leaders on the current regime.

The process of allowing teachers to enter Thailand is moving forward, albeit slower than we would like. We expect the Thai government to allow the flow of teachers to pick up over time, and to see a shortening of the current timeline of 4-6 weeks for acquiring permission to enter Thailand.

In sending countries, particularly the United States, we’ve heard of longer processing times for diploma legalizations, applications for copies of diplomas from universities, and criminal background checks.

Though not official it is widely reported that the visa amnesty for foreigners currently in Thailand, which was set to expire on July 31st, will be extended in a modified version a further 1 – 2 months.

We have been in regular contact with our teacher community in Thailand to share the latest information we have on the visa amnesty and discuss options with them.

INTAKES

Due to the new visa requirements and flight and accommodation booking process, it has become challenging to host a specific 2020 program start date around which everyone can converge on Thailand.

Our support team has provided detailed information and options for those enrolled in 2020 programs which include:

  1. Defer their start date to an intake in 2021 free of charge
  2. Complete our internationally accredited online TEFL/TESOL course where a job placement will be secured for you before arriving in Thailand. Participants can join an intake and receive their 1-week cultural orientation before heading to their school to start teaching
  3. Switch to our new 160-hour hybrid TEFL/TESOL course which provides the best of both worlds – earning your 120-hour TEFL/TESOL certification from the comfort of your home while receiving an additional week of in-person training and cultural orientation in Thailand before heading to their school placements

All 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.

School Term in Thailand going forward:

Future school terms dates for Thailand do not seem to be too greatly affected by the late start to the school term. Here is the latest on school terms from now until next May 2021. Since the changes are minimal, we have not changed any of our intake dates for 2021. We may see some changes in the future but this is where things stand at the moment.

  • First Term 2020
    • 7th July – 13th November
    • School Break: 14 – 30 Nov (total 17 days)
  • Second Term 2020
    • 1st December – 9th April
    • School Break: 10 April 2021 – 16 May 2021 (Start of the first term 2021-2022 school year, total 37 days)
  • First Term 2021
    • May 17 (back to pre-COVID schedule)

VIETNAM

About four weeks ago, Vietnam suffered a second wave of COVID cases that caused the central part of the country to go into lockdown and halted efforts to gradually reopen the country to foreigners.

This second wave has thankfully been extinguished, demand for teachers is strong, and schools have been in session for months. Vietnam Airlines recently announced the resumption of some commercial flights commencing immediately. We’re optimistic that in the next month or two, and with the resumption of international flights, teachers will begin to be able to travel to teach in Vietnam.

There is a 14 day quarantine requirement but it is now possible to quarantine in a hotel.

INTAKES

September 7th, October 12th and November 16th intakes have been cancelled. All participants have received updates on the numerous options available to them and we remain in regular contact with them.

All 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.

SOUTH KOREA

Korea has also seen an uptick in cases over the past three weeks, causing all schools in the country to close or move to online learning.

While not locking down completely, the government mandated strict social distancing throughout Seoul and in parts of the country to blunt the spread. The move worked and cases have been on the decline with cases now below 100 per day.

At the beginning of last week, the government announced an easing of restrictions, which allowed schools to resume face-to-face learning. The surge in COVID cases led some schools to reconsider hiring foreigners in the short term. A handful of our participants who were slated to come over had their positions cancelled, but most schools are still actively recruiting and we have sent over more than 50 teachers since the pandemic struck.

We remain on track with our participants in the pipeline and we fully expect that any slight weakening of demand for foreign teachers will be momentary in nature.

South Korea has established a strict quarantine process, which has been in place for several months. They have identified many COVID-19 cases amongst new arrivals. For this reason, it seems unlikely that they will ease or reduce the quarantine measures in the near future.

INTAKES

August 31 has been cancelled and participants have been recommended to move over to online TEFL/TESOL and placement.

October 26: has been cancelled and communicated to all participants along with their options.

All 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.

MYANMAR

Cases in Myanmar have increased significantly over the past two weeks (though still comparatively much less than in the West) and parts of the country, and Yangon, have gone into shutdown.

Schools have shifted to online learning and school hiring has ceased. Most of the new cases have emanated from the porous border Myanmar shares with Bangladesh. Due to the recent increase in cases, the Myanmar government has completely banned all foreigners traveling to Thailand.

We are optimistic that the lockdowns will reduce the spread of COVID and that in the next few months things will open up slowly.

INTAKES

September 28 intake has been cancelled.

We recommend that participants opt for either:

  1. The TEFL/TESOL Extra program for Myanmar.
  2. Move forward with “Placement Only” on a rolling basis once the country and schools open up (est. October timeframe). Participants may have a contract in hand when they travel or we can provide the paperwork for travel and then place them when they arrive.
  3. Defer to January 18, 2021

All 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.

JAPAN

Japan has recently had several hundred new coronavirus cases per day. Schools and businesses have continued to operate however borders remain closed.

Japan has had in place a ban on foreigners entering the country for several months already. Reopening borders is likely to happen in stages. Foreign residents of Japan and foreign students were recently allowed to reenter the country. Business travellers and those with work visas are likely to be allowed to enter next.

There is speculation that Japan will open up to countries less affected by the virus first, with other nationalities that have been severely affected by the virus being allowed to enter later.

There is no clear indication of when borders will open up on a wider basis. There has been much speculation, but it seems that it may most likely be the start of 2021 at the earliest, unless a vaccine is developed. There is a major backlog in teachers waiting to come to Japan through our partner schools and we are advising participants to look to come over for March and April 2021. This coincides with the biggest hiring time of year.

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 to the beginning of 2021 and later.

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 2021 intakes are currently open for applications.

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica has begun opening more widely to foreigners entering the country.

Most Europeans and North Americans can enter Costa Rica, with the exception of the United States, from which the Costa Rican government allows people from 14 states to enter the country currently and that number of states increases each month.

The Costa Rican economy has been hit hard by the major drop in tourism, an industry it relies heavily upon. For this reason we are expecting there to be far fewer job opportunities than usual and placements may be more challenging as a result.

Participants on the November 23 course will be starting out in Costa Rica at a great time of year for hiring. There are typically many positions available in January as that is when many language learning courses begin. We are hoping that due to this there will be positions available despite the economic issues.

INTAKES

Currently, our November 23rd intake remains open and we are hopeful this will still go ahead as planned.

All 2021 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: The 2020 intakes for those who have been accepted will still continue. Our support team will keep you posted with relevant updates.

PROGRAM

INTAKE DATES

Teach English in Thailand

2020

28 December 2020

2021

25 January 2021
29 March 2021
3 May 2021
31 May 2021
28 June 2021
27 September 2021
1 November 2021

Thailand Summer Teach

2021

7 June 2021
28 June 2021

Teach English in Vietnam

2021

22 February 2021
31 May 2021
26 July 2021
23 August 2021
29 November 2021

Teach English in South Korea

2021

25 January 2021
26 April 2021
26 July 2021
27 September 2021

Teach English in Myanmar

2021

18 January 2021
26 April 2021
28 June 2021
27 September 2021

Teach English in Japan

2021

1 March 2021
31 May 2021
30 August 2021
25 October 2021

Teach English in Costa Rica

2021

15 February 2021
10 May 2021
28 June 2021
22 November 2021

Online TEFL Course

2020

First Monday of every month.

2021

First Monday of every month.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

During this time of uncertainty we are advising all participants to choose intake dates from 2021 onwards.

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.

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.

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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