It’s time for Part 2! Are you excited, because I know I sure am! This blog post is the reason why I got out of bed this morning. Haha. And I just made myself sound like a sad sad person, but to explain, I finished my contract full time work last Friday, and doing volunteer work toward that project before my trip. Plus it’s been very rainy here, which turns me into a zombie. Thus, getting up was a little hard, until I remembered that I would be writing this post for you guys, and publishing it today!
As some of you will know, I have been toying with the idea of travel blogging while I’m away on my trip this May. By this point, I know for sure that I will be writing a series of posts, although I am still figuring out how they will be set up and such. Some time last night, while mulling this all over, I realized that some of you might not be interested only in the trip itself, but also the days leading up to it. I know that before I started traveling (especially traveling on my own), that I did a lot of research regarding packing, and other such preparations. Now, I want to hopefully be “that person” who wrote “that article” which helped someone prepare for and plan out their trip! This is the second installment in the series, and if you’re interested in reading Part 1, you can do so here! If you want to read Part 2 now, please read on!
– Money –
This is where research becomes important again! It’s very important to know what currency you’ll be dealing in, in this different country that you’re visiting. And even if you were to travel within Canada, for example, each province has different taxing percentages, and it’d be good to be aware of what those are if you want to do your budgeting properly. If you were in fact visiting another province in Canada, or a number of other provinces, I would suggest checking out a site like CalculConversion for example! I know that a number of my readers are from the U.S., but I know nothing about how taxation works down there, regarding shopping and such, so I won’t pretend to be an expert on that, haha.
But, back to traveling outside of Canada or America! Do see what currency they use, check the conversion rates, and check whether your debit and/or credit cards would be accepted there! Some countries are more likely to use cash, rather than cards, like Japan for example. If I’d known this prior to traveling there last time, I would have bought more Japanese Yen before leaving Canada! I paid quite a bit of money just for ATM fees, because many places will not accept any cards whatsoever. This time around, I bought plenty of Yen to last me a while, as well as Won for my week in Korea. The rest of my money I will have to withdraw over there, though, because I don’t want to be walking around with too much cash, and I don’t feel comfortable leaving cash in a hotel room or Airbnb apartment/house, or hostel. You might think me paranoid, but I just like to be careful! I travel in order to enjoy myself and make good experiences. And getting robbed is not my idea of a good time, haha.
I like to save as much money as possible, so I kept an eye on how the Japanese Yen and the Canadian Dollar were doing over the course of a few weeks, and when the Yen dipped, I ordered my money! Now this isn’t a necessary thing for you to do, and don’t stress if you’re thinking of it as being another thing you think you need to worry about. As a fairly-newly-graduated student, I’m just thrifty, that’s all! Another thing that I did this time around (which is another you don’t really have to worry about, but I recommend looking into) was checking where the ATM that’s closest to our Airbnb is. Since, as I mentioned, Japan is very cash-based, it was very important for us to see where the nearest ATM was, ahead of time, so that we don’t waste precious time wandering around and looking for one while we’re there. The last thing you want to be doing while you’re on any sort of trip, is lose time that you could be spending doing other things, by looking for things you could have researched in advance! Google Maps is your friend!
– Language –
If you’re going to a place in the world where English isn’t the main spoken language, and especially if you’re going somewhere that doesn’t use the Latin writing system (you can check this map out for reference), I highly recommend that you either learn some basic words and what they sound and look like. Or if you’ll have internet access, you could also download some helpful apps (but I’ll get more into that in Part 4).
What my parents and I have been doing is study basic phrases with the use of Pimsluer, and my dad and I (who have both studied Japanese before, him more than me) have been brushing up on our written Japanese. There are 3 ways to write in Japanese: hiragana (most basic), katakana (used for foreign words), and kaji (the complex, fancy characters). I’d never advanced to learning the last two, so have been trying to re-learn my hiragana as well as possible. Hiragana is quite common on signs and stuff, so I thought it’d be a good idea. Tokyo, however, has the names of train stations and such, written in English anyway! But some signs are Japanese only, and since we will not be staying with my friend who is fluent in speaking, and all ways of writing, we wanted to be at least a little prepared. Since this won’t be a super long trip, and I’ll never be on my own, I’m mainly focusing on knowing the basics, such as “hello,” “thank you,” etc. I will also be brushing up a bit on language used in convenience stores, because if you buy a bento, for example, they will sometimes ask you if you want it heated up, and it’s good to know when they ask that, and how to respond. The last thing I want is for me to be that foreigner who stares at them blankly, haha!
As for when I’ll be in Seoul, South Korea, from May 22nd to the 28th, I only need to brush up on common phrases and such. I have not forgotten the Korean writing system (hangul), since learning it some years ago (thankfully!) and will be alright in that sense. I will also be traveling with friends who have been to Seoul multiple times! We do know that we will be trying to find some tourist spots that they hadn’t found, or hadn’t had time for before, and I will therefore be brushing up on the words used for asking and receiving directions!
– BONUS: Buying Plane Tickets –
I realized that I should have probably included this section in Part 1, but had assumed (wrongly) that most people know how to buy plane tickets! It is pretty straightforward if you have an airline that you prefer to use (and they fly to your selected destination), and if you don’t care too much about how much you spend. But as I mentioned above, I am thrifty, and I try to get the best deal possible!
I, therefore, kept an eye on prices with the use of Google Flights (because it lists every single airline) for a few weeks, watching patterns, and checking which dates would cost me the least. It all ended up working out quite well in the end, so it was definitely worth it. If I had used my usual airline only (like last time), it would have cost me hundreds more, but this time around, I decided to get a flight with a layover in Chicago, through my travel agent. When buying tickets to Romania, I used FlightHub, because their prices were pretty good, and my agent specializes in flights to Asia, and that worked out okay as well, except that the two airlines I used, don’t seem to communicate too well.
There was no issue with my luggage, but simply the fact that I was not given tickets to both flights on the way to Romania, or the way back. So I had to track people down and get my transfer tickets that way. It was especially interesting when the office which handles these things at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam had closed before I landed, and didn’t open again until the morning. I’d spent hours walking that airport, talking to numerous staff people before even finding said office….but that’s a story for another day! And I don’t want to scare you guys off from flying places! I do recommend that if it’s your first time flying alone, you get a direct flight if possible! And even if you have a layover or two, what happened to me is not the norm, and before I get sued, it was also not FlightHub’s fault!
My How I Prepare for a Trip Abroad Series:
AND THUS ENDS PART 2 OF MY TRAVEL PREP SERIES! I HOPE THAT YOU HAVE FOUND THIS HELPFUL, AND IF NOT, THAT YOU WILL LEAVE ME FEEDBACK ON HOW TO IMPROVE THESE POSTS! IF YOU ENJOYED READING THIS TRAVEL PREP POST, PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR PART 3! THIS POST WAS IN NO WAY SPONSORED, AND ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN. ALL IMAGES NOT TAKEN BY ME ARE BY PUSHEEN.COM, OR FOUND THROUGH GOOGLE.