Posted on 2 Comments

How I Saved Money To Travel

How I Saved Money To Travel

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 at 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 a 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.

Splitting Bills

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.

Limit Shopping

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.

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.*  

Dorm Room

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 and while I lived abroad.

What are some money-saving tips or apps you have used to travel? I would love to read your comments down below.

If you like this post don’t forget to like, subscribe and share with your family and friends.

Related stories:

Posted on Leave a comment

Christmas Alone Abroad

Christmas Alone Abroad - Hankuk University

How I Survived My First Christmas in Seoul

What was I going to do?  I was going to be alone for Christmas.  I had been alone before during the Christmas holiday.  My last year of obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree at California State University Northridge.  Which was poetic in a way because it was also the last time I lived in a dormitory.  But I was in familiar surroundings.  I could go to a diner and order a take-out meal.

Now, I was in another country where the custom didn’t include families getting together and enjoying a meal and the restaurants were reserved only for couples.  I should mention that in South Korea they don’t celebrate Christmas as a family holiday; it’s considered a couples holiday.  Family holidays are held during Chuseok and Seollal (Chinese New Year).

Now don’t get me wrong my family is not the “Brady Bunch”.  But we do get together every holiday.  Usually, we meet at my uncle’s house.  The way it has worked for the last twenty years is the men cook the meat.  We have roast beef, turkey, and a rotisserie chicken.  While my aunts and cousins, the only ones who can cook, the ones that you get excited just seeing, not because it’s been a month or two since you’ve last seen them, but because of the dishes they’re holding in their hands, cook the side dishes.  

I always eat more side dishes than meat, our side dishes consist of potato salad, mac & cheese, red beans and rice, cornbread dressing, collard greens, sweet potato pie, chocolate chip cookies and pound cake.  Pound cake that’s so good a frequent topic revolves around how it needs to be sold at the nearby supermarket.

Before we can eat my uncle says a short prayer.  He blesses the cooks and all the family being able to come together another year.  Then we all get in an unorganized line and overload food onto our plates that later will put us into a food coma.  I know this tradition.  I’m used to this tradition.  But, what do you do when you’re thousands of miles away and you know that’s what’s happening without you?  How do you stay positive without your normal yuletide cheer?

My first Christmas in South Korea was a little lonely and freezing.  I’m a California girl through and through.  I was experiencing a cold winter for the first time and I couldn’t get my toes to stay warm.  It sucked!  My only saving grace was the floor heater always needed to stay on so that the pipes didn’t freeze and I was able to stay warm inside.

It was only when I went outside that I wished I had purchased a floor-length coat and insulated rain boots.  Yet every day I had to go outside to pick-up food because I didn’t have a stove top or a microwave in my dorm room.

I walked around outside and enjoyed the fresh snow that had layered the ground around the campus.  It was beautiful.  It was also too quiet, mostly I saw a whole lot of couples, holding hands while balancing boxes of chocolates.  Their cozy, snuggling left me feeling a little homesick for the first time and also wishing that I had someone to snuggle.

I went to a nearby cafe, it was warm and they had free wi-fi.  I watched inspirational podcasts like I would do any other weekend.  Broadening my mind with words of wisdom and encouragement I made an early New Year’s resolution.  I needed to make new friends and gather an extended family with whom I could begin new traditions.

If you want to continue reading about my life in Seoul, South Korea check out these related posts:

If you like this post why not share it!

Posted on 2 Comments

Facebook Groups To Join For South Korea Expats

Facebook Groups To Join For South Korea Expats

Communities That Help Adjusting To Life Abroad

Do you want to read about foreigners experience while living in South Korea?  Whether you’re an English teacher, a bargain hunter, or an entrepreneur look no further than these specialized groups.

Entrepreneurs In Seoul (EIS)

The group focuses on connecting entrepreneurs to influential people in media, government, and investors.  The group has over 2,000 members and counting and most posts focus on upcoming entrepreneurial events.

LOFT: Legal Office for Foreign Teachers

This group focuses on legal issues that foreigners may encounter while working in South Korea.  Although the advice given isn’t considered “legal advice” the administrator of the group can provide contact information to a labor attorney in South Korea should you need to take legal action against an employer.

HometoHome: Housing In Seoul

This group is a place for people who are searching for housing.  You can find listings posted by other expats/landlords in South Korea.  Posts usually contain information on monthly rent, deposit (key money), location, subway/bus approximate distance, and pictures of the living quarters available.

HBC/Itaewon Information Board

Haebangchon/Itaewon information board are posts from local expats on events, restaurants, housing, and buying/selling used household items in the Haebangchon/Itaewon neighborhoods.

Korea Tourism Organization

This group is really self-explanatory.  The organization offers posts on popular tourist attractions such as music festival, restaurants, museums, and themed tours in South Korea.  Additionally, if you want to stay informed while in South Korea you can read important travel updates concerning health advisories.

KBS News English

This group is covered by the Korean Broadcasting System who is one of the national public broadcaster’s companies in South Korea.  The group provides information in English on local news, Kpop, radio, and entertainment stories occurring within South Korea.

Seoul Veggie Club

This group discusses restaurants, grocery store products and events occurring within South Korea for vegetarians and vegans.

Expat Women in Korea

A group for women who stay in Korea to ask questions and share stories.  Additionally, a feature of the group is that members are encouraged to share their blog on #blogtuesday every week.

Brothas & Sistas of South Korea

This group is for individuals who have lived or plan on living in South Korea.  The group encourages networking and updating the members on racial occurrences that occur within South Korea.

Black In Korea

This group is for expats and tourist who wish to share related events and news such as Korean pop music, Korean Dramas, teaching overseas, etc.  Additionally, there are relevant topics such as foreigner grocery stories, filing taxes abroad, and holiday meetups.

Non-Teaching Job Seekers Korea

This group is for individuals who are looking for work in South Korea and don’t want to teach English or ESL classes.  Frequent posts include modeling, construction, restaurant, and translation opportunities.

Facebook groups are a great way to interact with fellow expats and make new friends who share common interests.  These groups can be both useful and supportive in making your expat life better.

If you want to discover more resources for your trip abroad to South Korea check out:

What Facebook groups would you recommend for living abroad in South Korea? I would love to read your comments down below.

Sharing is caring.  Don’t forget to pin it!

11 Facebook Groups to Join Before You move to Korea-2