I just hit three months. Twenty-five percent of my time in Korea has passed–pretty crazy, huh?
I’ve started writing my own list of rules for traveling since coming to South Korea. Mostly these are lessons learned through poor planning and being unprepared. It’s no fun being caught in a torrential down pour in a strange city. It’s not exactly ideal to find yourself sleeping in a bus terminal because you have to wait an extra two hours for a ride home. So before you take off on your own adventures, it might help to read the advice below.
Rules of Traveling
1. Take a towel–Douglas Adams‘ is right. Seriously, there is weird gross stuff in this world and it’s helpful to have something to wipe up that goo on your seat. Also it will rain. So you should be prepared for that.
2. Carry an umbrella–It’s going to rain.
3. Pack extra clothes–This includes a jacket, shirt, socks and underwear. Also extra pants, in case it rains extra hard. It will get cold. You will get wet. Be prepared for that.
4. Take hand sanitizer and toilet paper–Remember the weird goo from earlier? (The reason for the towel.) You don’t know what’s in that goo. Sanitize. Sanitize. Sanitize. Oh yeah, and toilet paper is not always available in public restrooms in Korea (neither is soap). So sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. (I could write an entire post on bathrooms here, but I will spare you the dirty details. Just trust me when I say you must carry toilet paper and sanitizer.)
5. Carry extra cash–As long as I have enough money for the way home, I feel better about life.
6. Carry water and snacks–Yes, Korea is convenient. There are rest stops everywhere and GS Mart on every corner. But for long bus, subway, train rides, it’s nice to have water and snacks in your bag.
7. Plan ahead–I have to admit I’m pretty bad at this one. But it’s definitely a good idea to make reservations for a hotel early. It’s also a good idea to buy tickets early. I also like to have a loose outline of what I plan to do and see.
8. Know the neighborhood–Addresses aren’t very helpful in Korea. Numbers are given based on when the building was built, not on it’s location on a grid. Unless it’s a busy street, the taxi driver probably won’t know its name. Keep maps, directions, phone numbers and addresses (written in Hangul and English) in your bag. I also find carrying my Moon Guidebook pretty helpful as it has lots of good information on how to get around and where to stay as well as maps.
That’s all I’ve come up with so far. Of course, I pick up each of these “rules” as I run into some situation where I realize it would be a good idea to start carrying whatever in my bag. I’ve been pretty lucky nothing too crazy has happened, but I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting a handle on traveling solo. What do you think? Anything I missed?