Who are TravelBud?

We’re a teach and volunteer abroad travel agency with a deep passion for the life changing experiences that happen when individuals take themselves out of their comfort zones, to give of their time to communities far removed them theirs back home.

We believe strongly in personal experience and make sure that the first person you speak to when planning your teach or volunteer abroad trip is someone who’s walked those steps before you. Our founder, program coordinators and support staff have all taught or volunteered abroad and give you honest, first-hand insight into the experience before you; we believe this sets us apart from the rest.

We believe in building strong personal relationships with all our partners and participants so that when you choose TravelBud, you join a community of like-minded individuals who share our values of honesty, passion, compassion, personal growth and a keeping a positive attitude.

TravelBud helps real people have real, life-changing experiences.

Message from the Founder

In 2011 I was given the opportunity of a lifetime: to travel the world for 12 months and document my experiences through worldexplorer.co.za. I visited 26 countries and 75 cities across 5 continents. It was during this time that I had one of the greatest experiences of my life; teaching English in Thailand. This undoubtedly led me to wanting to offer the same experience to fellow travellers around the world.

Teaching English in Thailand greatly shaped my outlook. It gave me more in 6 months than any degree would have given me. I lived in a simple house, enjoyed simple pleasures, learned from a new culture, was taught to appreciate the little things in life, I passed on knowledge to the most appreciative learners and whilst doing so was able to travel Southeast Asia with money I had earned through teaching English.

During my time in Southeast Asia I formed strong ties with the leading TESOL training and job placement company for Westerners wanting to teach English in Southeast Asia. It was this relationship that resulted in TravelBud forming.

Liam Kelly

Founder, TravelBud

Meet The Team

Peter Pittendrigh

Program Manager

Hailing from Tzaneen in South Africa’s far north, Peter is TravelBud’s Program 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!

Saskia Smuts

Support Manager

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!

Stu Brown

Managing Director

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.

Grace Martens

Program Coordinator

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!

Nick Paul

Marketing Manager

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.

Carolina Barraza

Program Development Specialist

Carolina is TravelBud’s Program Development Specialist for South America and is responsible for developing and managing new and existing teach abroad programs on the continent. She’s based in Bogotá, Colombia where she grew up also, but spent a great deal of her childhood visiting her family who live on Colombia’s tropical Caribbean coast, a region she’s thoroughly in-love with, and can help you with some amazing insider tips when visiting!

She’s relatively new to the teach abroad world having started working in the business in 2016 and joining TravelBud in 2017, but she’s already making a big impact developing some awesome South American Teach Abroad programs and being the much loved, friendly and helpful face of TravelBud on the ground for everyone who signs up.

Carolina has a massive passion for travel and has studied in Australia and Switzerland and managed to tick off tons from her bucket list while visiting the US, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, much of Europe, China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa and even the tropical Indian Ocean island of Mauritius! Out of all her destinations, which was her favourite? It was a tough call but she has to say, it’s Greece: “Something about the warmth of the people reminded me of home, and the food was out of this world!”

So what’s left for this high energy uber positive globetrotter? Anywhere she can see the world’s biggest mammals in the wild, she’s after a spot of whale-watching!

Liam Kelly

Founder

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.

Tristan Owen

Chief Technical Officer

Tristan is TravelBud’s Chief Technical Officer 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 – currently he’s working on the 3rd iteration of the website which is packed with tons of exciting features.

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 through justinguitar.com!

While he hasn’t taught abroad before, he certainly 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.

Reading Alain de Botton’s book ‘The Art of Travel’ was a defining inspiration for my travel experiences, it’s a great in-depth look at the value of traveling!’

Of all the places he’s been, he loved Patagonia the best and made an awesome video of his time there. Next up he hopes to try his hand at snowboarding in Austria!

Luke Kelly

Director

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.

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