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Travel Tips: How To Avoid Long Lines And Stay Safe On Vacation ​

Travel Tips: On Long Lines And Safety On Vacation

I thought I would share my experience of learning tips and tricks for a safe and picture worthy travel experience.  I gathered these tips and tricks this weekend at the Travel and Adventure Show that was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  One of the best quotes I heard all weekend: “Travel Should Be The Next Best Trip Of Your Life” by Angel Castellanos.

Such a bold statement, usually I only think about completing a must-see checklist that I have compiled to make sure I make the most out of every trip.  So whether you’re planning a trip to South Korea, spring break or summer vacation here are the tips I learned to have a safe and hassle-free trip.


TripIt: A travel organization application

  • Forward confirmation emails from your hotel, car, and flight to the TripIT mobile application.  A master itinerary is automatically formed.
  • Access to your flight plan availability on any device.  Additionally, you can access your itinerary without internet availability.
  • The mobile app is free to download and you can store your travel documents all in one convenient place.

App In The Air: Provides real-time flight status

  • Explore airports all over the world.  Discover where your connecting flight is located within the airport.
  • Keep an all-in-one record for all of your previous flight information.
  • Keep track of changing time zones and weather while you’re traveling.

Transportation Security App: TSA Gov App

  • Check which items are allowed into the airport.
  • Request live assistance through the AskTSA social media integration.
  • Discover which airport and airlines support the TSA Precheck Clear.

The TSA precheck clear is a fairly new process that provides a personalized ticket agent that will meet you at a kiosk and scan your fingerprints.   After your fingerprints have been scanned you’re personally escorted to your flight.  For more information about this new process heck out Angel’s blog post: Clear Membership: The New Way To Beat Airport Lines.


In a previous post, I discussed what it was like to travel to South Korea with two fifty pound bags, a backpack, purse, and a large winter coat.  One tip I learned the hard way “less is more.”  Some tips that were given at the Travel & Adventure Show:

  • Be aware of carry-on weight restrictions.  Check with your airline regarding their latest rules before you pack.
  • Choose one clothing color scheme for your entire trip.  Pack clothes accordingly to the specified color scheme to maximize the number of outfit combinations.
  • Categorize shoes (Women): Choose one pair for an evening occasion, one pair for daytime walking and a pair of flats.

Crime Prevention

No one wants to experience being the victim of a crime whether at home or abroad.  Here are some tips that will help prevent criminals from targeting you as their next victim.

  • Research ground transportation before you arrive at the airport.  Get up to date information on the appropriate taxi and bus applications from the countries tourism website.
  • Be aware of the nearest U.S. embassy address and contact information. (United States Travelers Only)
  • Share travel itinerary with a close family member or friend.  Additionally, share your itinerary with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Wear an undercover security wallet or travel belt.  Additionally, don’t keep all of your money in one location (i.e. hotel safe, travel belt, backpack).
  • On the first full day of travel, hire a local guide to assist you with a personalized tour and transportation.

Travel Photos & Videos

With today’s technology, we can share photos and videos instantaneously anywhere in the world.  Here are a few helpful tips for obtaining the best Instagram moments on your next vacation.

  • Photo vs. Video.  A picture tells a screenshot of a story while a video lets your family and friends experience the excitement and magic of the moment.
  • Bring backup power supplies and phone chargers.  Pack all electronics in a personal bag in case the bag gets screened at airport security.
  • Never download your memory card directly onto your computer.  Helpful tip: take the memory card out of your camera and download your pictures in two different locations (i.e. memory stick and computer).
  • Getting around harsh lighting situations.  Helpful tip: find the light and put the person or place into the light.
  • Best time to take pictures are at sunset and sunrise.

I hope these mobile apps, packing and photo tips are helpful for your next vacation. Whether it’s a staycation or traveling abroad be safe, and stay healthy.

What are some things you research before you plan your next vacation?  Would love to hear your comments.

If you want to find more resources for a trip abroad check out my post on:

  1. Non-Teaching Jobs: South Korea
  2. Korean Convenience Store Lessons
  3. South Korea Winter Packing Tips
  4. Insadong Street Shopping & Gyejeol Bapsang Korean Buffet
  5. A Thirty-Something Korean American’s Journey To Korea

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Travel Tips

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Insadong Street Shopping & Gyejeol Bapsang Korean Buffet

Street Shopping And A Korean Buffet

I decided to meet with my two new friends whom I met on the one day trip to Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm.  We met on a Saturday, in Insadong (인사동) a little past 11:00 a.m. since we wanted to beat the afternoon lunch crowd.

In my opinion, midday is the perfect time to go to Insadong because it’s a popular tourist area.  There are so many shops to browse and buy one of a kind souvenirs that you definitely want to spend a couple of hours looking around.  There are street vendors selling everything from sikhye (Korean rice beverage) to socks.

Korean Buffet

I will talk more about that in a moment, first, we decided to go to Gyejeol Bapsang, (계절밥상) an all you can eat Korean buffet.  Before we went inside the restaurant on the upper level there were two clowns walking on stilts, making twisty animal balloons.  In the background, upbeat music played as a small crowd of children gathered waiting for a balloon.

I’m only sorry that I didn’t take any pictures of the food inside the restaurant, hunger took over and instead of capturing the moment I only thought about how I wished I didn’t eat breakfast.  However, I wanted to share my first experience visiting a buffet in South Korea.

The restaurant is located on the lower level of the Insadong Maru building.  Because we were so early the restaurant was not busy and we were able to pay the cashier and go inside without waiting in line.

Once inside the restaurant, we walked past beautiful glass displays of traditional Korean earthenware (옹기 or onggi) crocks.  The restaurant uses the earthenware to store different sauces for the various banchan dishes.

The restaurant is rather large and has a relaxed vibe with enough space between the tables where you don’t feel as if you are listening to your neighbor’s conversation.  The food selection is vast and plentiful.  There is a selection of meats (pork, chicken, beef (including bulgogi), and seafood, additionally there are enough vegetable dishes for vegans to sample and enjoy.

Once you’ve sampled a selection of meats, salads: I’m talking about potato salad not the green leafy vegetables, but those are there as well, rice (brown + white available), and soup (my friend recommend the corn as the best) you’re free to roam over to the dessert bar.

If you’ve ever wanted to sample Korean rice cakes or red bean ice cream without the commitment this is the place to try Korean desserts.  Otherwise, there is the usual varieties of ice cream: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, along with fresh fruit, and cookies.


We left the restaurant and decided to go window street shopping.  The shopping area was filled with young girls dressed in traditional Hanboks’ they rented from a nearby shop.  The other shops we enjoyed were the calligraphy brush store, hand-painted fans, and the music store.

Poop Cafe in Insadong, South Korea
Outside the Poop Cafe in Insadong Shopping Plaza
Poop Cafe - Insadong
Poop Cafe Menu in Insadong Shopping Plaza

Overall, I recommend visiting Insadong shopping area and while you’re there stop by Gyejeol Bapsang buffet, it’s well worth the price of admission.

Wishing everyone good health, prosperity, and happiness for the Lunar New Year!

If you want to read about other popular tourist attractions I visited in Seoul, South Korea check out my blog post on:

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Informing Friends & Family You’re Moving Abroad

Informing Friends and Family You're Moving Abroad

Bridging The Gap Between At Home & Abroad

The confusion of having to tell your family and friends that you want to move to another country is nerve-racking and requires plenty of advanced preparations.  I informed co-workers and family I intended to study at a University in South Korea I experienced a myriad of questions.  Because of the current political climate (Fall 2016) they didn’t understand why I wasn’t afraid to leave my familiar surroundings.

Unbearably, they would ask a whole host of questions.  Some of the questions I had the answers too, and some of the questions I didn’t.  I prepared myself for the usual questions when I first mentioned the plans that I enrolled in a Korean Language program in Seoul, South Korea.

Common questions included: Do you speak the language?  How, are you going to live on your own if you can’t read the directional signs or menus in restaurants?  Additional, questions included do you know anyone who lives in South Korea and where are you going to live?

For most expats or nomadic lifestylist who want to live abroad, teaching English is a viable resource.  Two programs, for example, are the EPIK and TALK program.  The program provides monthly income, housing, a group orientation (meet new friends), and assistance with completing the Visa requirements.

However, this was a question I always hated being asked; “Are you going to teach English?”   My closest friends and family members don’t understand why I would want to leave a full-time job with medical and insurance benefits.  The thought of taking time off to follow your passion for writing and traveling is a choice they believed I should live without experiencing.

When I listened to stories told by creative activist like Whoopi Goldberg, who went to live in Germany to perform improvisations.  She talks about how much her eyes were opened because of her experiences, I know that I don’t want to have any regrets as well when I reach a mature age.

Just for the record, it’s not that I don’t like kids, my families, or anyone else’s.  But, to answer the question if I ever want to teach, tutor or create lesson plans, the answer is, “No, I don’t!”  Not now, not ever.  I know my strengths and teaching is not one of them.

I believe people are called to teach, they are born with patience, love, and understanding to mold young impressionable minds into future politicians, lawyers, and doctors.  Those are the teachers that you remember years later as having changed your life.

Mrs. Lamb was that fifth-grade teacher for me, the only woman who sang an upbeat song as her introduction on the first day of school instead of writing her name on the chalkboard.  If you’re not this kind of teacher, if you’re not the kind of teacher who stopped teaching to make an announcement on anti-bullying long before bullying ever became a campaign, then you don’t need to be a teacher.  This is just my opinion and not a requirement to be a teacher although I believe that it should.

My rule of thumb has since become to inform friends and family of major life decisions after I’m absolutely sure what’s right for me.  This way, their fears, and doubts will not leave me feeling unsure about my choices.

The reaction to informing family and friends of your plans to move abroad is a process that will be different for everyone.  If you plan ahead and prepare answers to common questions not only will you alleviate fears that you’re rushing into a decision, but your discussion can go a little smoother.

Additionally, I want to share another resource I came across with researching about teaching programs (location flexible) is VIPKID.  They provide access to teach anywhere in the world as long as you meet the program’s requirements.

Lastly, I want to share resources with anyone who doesn’t want to teach English but still desires to move abroad.  Check out these two Facebook groups; Non-Teaching Job Seekers Korea & Jobs, working in Korea.

Do you have an interesting story about informing friends and family of your move abroad?  I would love to read your messages in the comments down below.

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