Preparing For Travel to Seoul, South Korea
I am not from a family that has ever taken yearly vacations. It’s something that I have only read about in magazines and books. In fact, the first time I ever got on a plane, flying longer than two hours, was a year after my mother passed away. My sisters and I decided to go to Jamaica for a week instead of staying home surrounded by memories.
We looked at it, as a way to get away from our normal day-to-day routine. However, that was decided on a whim, after my sisters and I took a family portrait. We were feeling the loss of our mother, the emotions that come and go, as time passes after you’ve lost someone you really loved. We saw a travel agency poster that displayed a beach with crystal clear water and a beach chair. That was all we needed, it was just what we needed in that moment.
So, when I decided I wanted to travel to South Korea I started doing a lot of research. I knew that I didn’t want to teach English as a lot of other expats. I will discuss more on the reasons for that in another post, but what could I do? I asked family and friends for any advice. Everyone I knew traveled for vacations, military assignments or taught English. I needed new friends who wanted to live the nomadic lifestyle. I would join a new Facebook group later, but for now, I needed another plan.
The only other option I could come up with was what I wanted to do while I attended University. I wanted to study abroad for a semester. While attending school full-time, I, like a lot of other students had to work part-time to pay my bills so I never got the chance to study abroad.
However, I had already graduated and obtained my Bachelor’s Degree. The thought of obtaining my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing sounded appealing, but the application process didn’t. I discovered through the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles, a lot of Universities in South Korea offer a foreign language program with housing.
Here are 5 strategies I used to save money to travel abroad.
I reduced the monthly cost of paying the cable, water, gas, etc., by living with family. Additionally, I incorporated the same method when I went out with friends. Although I didn’t go out often, when I did go out, I went out with the understanding of splitting all costs. If there are good friends they will understand your goals, if they don’t well…
Pay Off Credit Card Bills
I paid more than the minimum amount required. This allowed me to pay off my credit card debt faster. An added bonuses while I lived abroad I had one less bill to pay every month.
I am not saying that I didn’t shop, I believe in retail therapy. Only, that I didn’t have the latest purse or brand name shoes and that retail therapy can turn into window shopping.
How I Saved Money Living In South Korea
Monthly Food Budget
While I attended school in South Korea I rarely went to restaurants during the weekday. Mostly, I would eat at the school’s cafeteria which had really affordable options if you like Korean food. Since I really like Korean food I could save money every day and I had more money to spend on the weekends. Additionally, because I ate at the cafeteria I didn’t have to buy many of the kitchen appliances necessary to cook.
Lastly, even though I lived alone, I invested in an electric kettle and I bought a large box of instant coffee and a family size Yoplait yogurt. *Tip – Costco cards that are purchased in the United States also work in South Korea.*
There are several different options you can choose when looking for housing. Whether it’s a hostel, goshiwon, officetel or apartment, all of these have their pros and cons. It’s really your preference on what you choose.
I choose to stay in a dorm room for three reasons. The first reasons were because of the proximity to the school. I was able to save money on transportation costs because I could walk to class. Secondly, I initially didn’t know my way around South Korea without the use of several different mobile apps. Because it’s was a University campus there were a lot of fast food restaurants, a grocery store and plenty of retail shops within walking distance. Lastly, I didn’t have to worry about furniture, a private bathroom or a washing machine because it was all included in my dorm room fees.
These are some of the ways I saved money to travel to Seoul, South Korea.
What are some money-saving tips or apps you have used to travel?