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Traveling Abroad During Holidays While Teaching English in Korea

Posted on Mon, Feb 09, 2015 @ 10:48 AM

Like every country, Korea has annual holiday weekends which could be the perfect opportunity to travel abroad. The long weekends generally fall over weekends in February, May and October. These holidays are called Solnal (Chinese New Year), Buddah's Birthday, and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). Over the years I have used these Korean holidays to take short trips to Taipei, Beijing, and Bali. I also did some  great local traveling to Jeju Island, Busan, and Dokdo Island. Traveling during these times can be really crazy and it is good to plan your itinerary and bookings well in advance. At Chungdahm,  it is not always easy to get your schedule early or know what days you get off, so be prepared to make last minute plans and decisions. You also, might need to accept that you will pay more for your flights during these times as they are extremely busy holiday periods.
English Teacher in Korea travels abroad to Fiji
 
Since Solnal (Chinese New Year) is coming up on the weekend of the February 18-22 and our branch is taking off, I have booked a last minute vacation to the Philippines! We will be flying to Cebu and enjoying 5 days of beach and sun on the islands of Cebu, Bohol and Panglao. The Philippines is a great destination to travel to from Korea as it is only a 4 hour flight from Seoul, and it is cheap. You also do not need tourist visas and if you’re trying to escape the winter cold for white sandy beaches and cocktails, the Philippines boasts some of the world's most famous beaches and scenic environments. Over the years, I have learned some good travel tips to make the most out of a short vacation and working off a budget, so that you get the most out of your money.
English Teacher in Korea travels abroad to Malaysia
 
1. Booking flights
 
Reputable sights to use for international flights are Kayak.com and Cheaptickets.com. Both these sights search for the lowest possible fares with alternative routes, layovers and time differences. If you cannot book a cheap flight on the airline's website and it says all seats are sold out it is possible there might be some available seats on these sights. Both websites have been reliable every time I have traveled and I have not run into any major problems.  Kayak also offers the option of travel insurance, which is difficult to find in Korea, especially if you cannot speak Korean. For local flights within countries, I would advise researching local carriers and booking on their websites. 
 
To make the most of your weekend, a good tip is to look for late night flights departing anytime after 12:30 a.m. This will help prolong your first and last days there so that you can get the most out of a short traveling time. By doing this, you can exit the country the night before and arrive at your destination in the early hours of the morning and also enjoy your final day fully, and then depart back to Korea in the early hours of the morning. For example,  our Philippine flight leaves Cebu at 2.30 a.m. on Monday morning and arrives back in Korea at 7.30 a.m. the same morning. This gives us the whole of Sunday to explore. 
Taiwan_011_(Custom)
 
2. Booking Accommodation
 
The next step is booking accommodation in the destination of your choice. Recommendable websites to book good deals on hotels are Agoda.com and Booking.com. For hostels, you can use hostelworld.com and hostels.com. Agoda is a great website but sometimes if you book last minute you have to pay the money upfront. On Booking.com you can choose the book now pay later option and you can pay your full  hotel price at the end of your stay. Also, you can cancel your  booking within 1 week for 0% cancellation charge and it is not so expensive if you cancel over the cancellation due date.
 
Hostels are a great alternative to cheaper hotels and a wonderful way to travel. Generally, the prices are perfect for budget travelers and you can meet a lot of awesome  travelers doing the same thing. I have met many traveling buddies from all over the world like this when I stayed in hostels in Croatia, the Fiji Islands, and Switzerland. I even made some new friends in a  hostel in Busan, Korea. One of the greatest benefits of staying in a hostel is saving a lot of money on your daily budget, so you can splurge on delicious food or exciting day-trips.
English Teacher in Korea travels abroad to Thailand
 
3. Itinerary: What will you do?
 
Short holiday trips can be extremely busy and there will be no time once you arrive to ask around what is the best things to see and eat. Of course, when your trips are longer the whole beauty of traveling is just immersing yourself in an environment and making decisions as you please. But, with shorter trips you have to plan a little as you want to minimize the amount of time you spend on transport and maximize the amount of time you spend having adventures and seeing the top things on your to-do list. A great tip is researching blogs and the top 10 best things to do in the region you will be going, beforehand. For example, I looked up some things to do in Pangloa Island and Bohol and only then did I decide on where to stay. My itinerary includes dolphin watching, island hoping and day trips around Bohol Island like to the famous Chocolate Hills and Lombok River. I always take into consideration transport and being closer to the harbor and airport. Also, I prefer to be closer to the beach so that I can enjoy sunsets and cocktails in the late afternoon.
English teacher in Korea travels abroad to Fiji
 
Some guidelines for when, what to do and see during a short trip while teaching English in Korea  are first: what type of vacation do you feel like having, second: what type of location and weather will you be going into, third: minimize your time spent on transport, and fourth: maximize your activities in the area you are going to and make the most out of that region.
Teach in Korea!

It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people.  After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email tijanahuysamen120@hotmail.com to request more information on teaching in Korea!

Tags: vacation destinations, Holidays in South Korea, travel

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