COVID-19: Update from the TravelBud team

The information below was last updated on February 9th 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 [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, second 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 for May

Thailand continues to be open with two week quarantines in place and no restrictions on nationalities entering the country.

The second outbreak of COVID, which surfaced in mid-December, appears to now be largely under control, and cases have fallen sharply, prompting the country to reopen. Every province with the exception of one – Samuk Sakon – is open again and the vast majority of schools are doing face-to-face teaching.

Teachers are arriving on Non-B visas with placements in hand, but now they can also arrive on tourist visas and switch over to the Non-B and work permit when in Thailand, enabling more flexibility shorter timelines from sign up to arrival.

INTAKES

May 31 Intake: Going forward as planned as a normal TESOL course. Participants would arrive on the tourist visa.

Our March 29 and May 3 intakes have switched over to TESOL Extra with four weeks online and two weeks in Hua Hin for those taking the TESOL course.

For those arriving in April, they may fall into three groups:

  • School contract in hand and Non-B prior to arrival
  • School contract in hand but arriving on a tourist visa and switching over
  • No confirmed placement before arrival and come over on a tourist visa, and placement once in country

There is still a 14 day quarantine in place but there is talk and encouragement from 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.

Thailand’s vaccination campaign hasn’t even gotten off the ground yet. A nationwide vaccination campaign likely won’t roll out for several more months.

VIETNAM

Strong Outlook for Teachers and High Teacher Demand with Fast Placement

Vietnam is dealing with new, relatively small outbreaks of COVID in the far north and a smaller one in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

Despite the low number of infections, the government has been very aggressive in its anti-COVID actions, including closing schools in Hanoi and HCMC. Moreover, in the north, they have now instituted a 21 day quarantine for people coming into Hanoi. There is also talk of the quarantine being extended in HCMC but this is not yet official.

The good news is that many of our schools are supporting some or all of the cost of quarantine.

Demand for teachers in Vietnam is strong and we are able to handle a large amount of placements. We have our first batch of teachers arriving at the beginning of March.

The rollout of a vaccination campaign in Vietnam is slow going and it is not clear if the government will be open to travelers with vaccinations bypassing quarantine regulations.

There is 14 day quarantine requirement that participants may need to shoulder that is approximately USD 1,300.

INTAKES

We have made the tough decision to change our May 3 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.

Participants have the option to move forward with the May 3 TESOL Extra or push back to a later intake date.

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:

  • May 31, 2021
  • July 26, 2021
  • August 23, 2021
  • November 29, 2021

SOUTH KOREA

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

South Korea is open as usual.

Cases are relatively low and there is face-to-face learning throughout the country. The Korean government is still not allowing entry to people from the UK and South Africa due to the variant of COVID that was discovered in both countries. It is expected, but not yet definitive, that UK teachers will be allowed to enter soon. For now, contracts are on hold and some have been cancelled, meaning that we’ve had to find new schools for some UK and SA participants.

All foreign international arrivals now required to provide a negative PCR COVID test no older than 48-hours prior to boarding their flight to Korea.

To date, it has been difficult to run in-country TESOL courses in Korea due to restrictions on quarantine, the “no cost quarantine, which is a huge advantage to teachers”, and the current impossibility of visa trips to neighboring countries.

The good news is that schools are allowed to operate online or with a limited number of in-class students. We have also placed close to 100 teachers in South Korea in the past 12 months so despite the difficulties during this COVID pandemic, Korea has remained a great option for new teachers.

INTAKES

We’ve made the tough decision to switch April 26th In-class TESOL course to “Online TESOL and Placement” due to the quarantine.Applicants will have the option to move forward with their current timeline or push back to a later intake date.

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

The military in Myanmar took control in a coup nearly one week ago. They have shut down the internet and phone networks (except for sporadic internet access), and major protests are taking place of up to 1 million people.

COVID cases are declining, the one piece of good news, but the country remains closed to foreign travelers probably until at least the middle of the year.

We are monitoring things closely, and are in touch with all of our teachers and staff. There is no danger to our teachers and staff but just to play it safe, we’ve strongly urged them not to participate in any protests and to refrain from political speech online.

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 is battling a rise in COVID cases that has led the government to extend its border closure through mid-March. We will keep you updated on how things progress there.

Whilst there is uncertainty regarding borders reopening, schools are likely to be slower to proceed with hiring until more clarity is given.

They are also likely to switch focus to hiring for later in the year (middle of the year onwards) rather than planning around participants arriving in the first half due to the uncertainty over arrivals.

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 to the end 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 2021/2022 intakes are currently open for applications.

COSTA RICA

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

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.

Costa Rica is open to all nationalities and we have successfully been running TESOL courses and placement there with safety measures in place.

The majority of schools are currently holding their classes online as a precaution and are considering April as a timeframe for reverting back to face to face lessons.

Teachers are continuing to train and teach but the majority are doing so online whilst in-class lessons are not taking place. New teachers will need to be very flexible with placements and expect to teach online initially after the course whilst going through the process to secure an academy position.

INTAKES

All 2021/2022 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

29 March 2021 - TESOL Extra
3 May 2021 - TESOL Extra
31 May 2021
28 June 2021
27 September 2021
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
28 June 2021

2022

6 June 2022
27 June 2022

Teach English in Vietnam

2021

31 May 2021 - TESOL Extra
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 April 2021 - Online TESOL and Placement
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

10 May 2021
28 June 2021
22 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?

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

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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