What do you do when life gets boring? Go halfway around the world!
That’s right, this spring, I’m going on a 10 day vacation to Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo, Japan.
Originally, my friend and I had planned to go to Oktoberfest in Munich in the fall, but due to conflicting schedules, it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Plus, I’ve already been to Germany so I wasn’t that excited. I’ll never say no to an international trip, but I would much prefer to experience some place new!
When we realized our Munich trip wasn’t possible, we made a list of everywhere we wanted to go. Asia, South America, and Africa are the only places I haven’t been, so I wanted to cross one off the list. My friend has NEVER been abroad, so this will definitely be a treat for both of us!
We originally wanted to do China, South Korea, and Japan, but that is just WAY too much to do in 10 days. I’m sure I theoretically could have begged for more time off, but I’m already using my remaining 5 days of vacation and taking 2 days unpaid (plus weekends) so I didn’t want my paycheck to be dismal. I’ve gotta fund this somehow!
We booked our flights last week…
Not bad! The 5:50am flight time may look unfortunate, but we plan on staying up all night so we are EXTRA exhausted for the long haul from California to Seoul. I’m most excited about the final flight. Isn’t it crazy that we can depart Tokyo at 12:30 am on Monday but arrive at 5:45 Sunday evening? Time zones are insane!
If you’ve traveled with me before, you’re well aware of my infamous itineraries. I LOVE planning, so I always create a spreadsheet with activities and restaurants planned down to the hour. In the past, this has always left me a little frustrated when unforeseen circumstances ruin the plans (and my day!) So for this trip…. I’m planning the bare minimum. Of course we are scheduling flights and hostels, but everything else will be left up to chance.
We’ve discussed what activities we want to do and we are totally on the same page – eat amazing street food, hike Mt. Fuji, and drink…. a lot. My friend Ellen from high school studied abroad in Seoul and said clubs there stay open all night and it’s common not to leave until 5 or 6am. I CAN’T WAIT!
The only downside to this trip is the cost. My frugal nature hates when I spend any money whatsoever, but it is a bit easier to do when it is something I’m passionate about. Several of my coworkers expressed their concern that I was “blowing” my money. One memorable quote was, “Wow, that’s a different life.” I just view it as people having different priorities. Some of my friends drop hundreds per month on dining out and expensive clothes and concert tickets. I prefer to save up for the big things like traveling and throwing Hanukkah parties for my friends. I like to spend on experiences, not things.
It goes without saying that I realize I am incredibly lucky to be able to travel to these places. Without my parents help, I wouldn’t have been able to travel everywhere I did while in school. This will be my first 100% self-funded trip and the feeling of independence is surreal! Immediately after I booked my ticket, I remember feeling a wave of gratitude. Not only do I have the money, time, and freedom from responsibilities to travel, but I have an American passport that lets me go virtually anywhere without having to bother with a visa application. I can only imagine how many obstacles a traveler from somewhere like Kenya must face. Nevertheless an actual refugee from Syria! There are millions of people who spend years trying to leave their country and I can book a flight on a whim in under 5 minutes. It’s unreal.
I think the best way to sum it up is through a quote I heard a fellow student say on study abroad in Amman. We were discussing what would happen if we got caught up in trouble while traveling in Palestine. He said, “Don’t worry! There’s nothing the American dollar and an American passport can’t fix.”