Many of us choose to teach in Korea for a multitude of reasons, but a common theme is the desire to travel during or after our stint. For the past two years, I’ve traveled to Taiwan, Japan, China and twice to Chicago. I’ve been saving Southeast Asia for a 6-month backpacking jaunt that will commence next week.
While having the opportunity to travel is an immense privilege and is quickly becoming a symbol of status in our generation, the work required to make this a reality doesn’t get much air (or Instagram) time. The extent of planning and preparing that takes place behind the scenes to explore long-term can be incredibly overwhelming. During my last month in Korea, I’ve been slowly ticking off unending tasks from my travel to-do list.
So, before jetting off to the backpacking excursion of your dreams (post-Korea teaching/living), remember to…
Notify your bank(s) that you’ll be traveling so your debit and credit cards don’t get denied while taking cash out at international ATMs.
…get finances in order
If you’re a teacher in Korea, make sure to take care of important money matters such as pension refund, severance pay, exit allowance and remaining renewal bonus (if applicable). You can choose to have this money go into your home or Korean bank. If choosing the latter, extend your certificate so you can access funds from your smartphone or laptop.
While you’re at this, make sure to opt for auto payments of monthly bills, loans, and subscriptions paid with your home bank. This way, you’ll avoid late fees in case you forget to manually pay them or find yourself in an area with an unreliable internet connection.
Also, notify your bank(s) that you’ll be traveling so your debit and credit cards don’t get denied while taking cash out at international ATMs.
…prep your home
Ensure you receive your security deposit, key money and pay your final electric, gas and internet bills. If you bought furniture and other home goods during your stay, make sure to sell them for extra cash before leaving. Donate leftover items to friends or to the replacement teacher. Lastly, be nice and tidy up your apartment.
…tie up loose ends
Did you get a cell phone contract and/or purchased a new phone in Korea? Pay a visit to your nearest shop the day you want service terminated. You’ll pay any cancellation or device fees at this time, too.
Travel insurance is an essential part of an extended trip.
…attend to your health
Traveling for months on end is a blast, but not so much when health issues arise. Take advantage of your Korean health insurance and get a thorough physical examination (and gyno check-up if you’re a woman) at least a month before you depart to ensure you’re in tip-top health. Also, consider visiting a travel clinic to get the vaccinations recommended before visiting SE Asia (tetanus, Hepatitis A, typhoid, and so on). Better safe than sorry, right?
…stock up on prescriptions and medications
Diarrhea, food poisoning, colds and common infections are bound to happen to any long-term traveler. Do a solid to future ill you who may or may not be on her deathbed with a bad case of the runs and stock up on medications before leaving Korea. If you’re a woman, consider packing thrush and UTI medication, along with enough contraceptives to last the duration of your trip.
…insure your trip
Travel insurance is an essential part of an extended trip. Insurance packages usually cover health and luggage. World Nomads seems to be the preferred choice for backpackers, but do your research and choose accordingly.
…research visa requirements
You don’t want to arrive in a country excited to sample the local sights and bites only to be denied entry. Nowadays, many countries offer e-visa or visa on arrivals for the sake of convenience but inform yourself before getting to your destination.
…install useful apps
Survival travel apps vary wildly depending on each traveler but some will agree google maps, maps.me, google translate and uber can be very helpful. Consider creating an offline playlist, loading your kindle with plenty of reading material and downloading movies/shows to your Netflix so you will never be bored on long bus rides.
…take some precautions
Unexpected matters always unfold during travel. Make your future life easier by scanning your passport/identification and bringing a couple copies with you. This will expedite the replacement process in case of losing or getting stolen these precious documents. If you’re a US citizen, consider registering with the SMART program. Lastly, make sure to check in regularly with a family member or friend to inform them of your whereabouts and your plans.
Now that you’ve taken the necessary or maybe overly extra precautions, have fun! And remember, embrace uncertainty and surrender to however your trip unfolds. LET IT HAPPEN!
Written and Photographed by Rocio Cadena | http://www.thisisrocio.com/