Monday, 4 October 2010

My three travel tips

So Chris in South Korea tagged me to share my three best travel tips. He shared his own here. Among his tips were to use Koreas super useful tourist help line, packing light, and getting it on in the love motels. Blogger David S Wills, the artist formerly known as... a different k-blog... added his own very worthwhile pointers, and now here are mine:

1. Preparedness: Zippers, layers and liquids. You want to spend all day stomping around your destination; you don't want to get stuck running around, looking for an extra layer, or get laid up with a headache from too much sun/not enough liquids. Carry a day-trip sized backpack or tie a few extra layers around your waist: unless you're traveling Korea in the summer, the temperature in these parts drops at night. A lot. If you travel a lot, invest in some mountain gear brands: they're pricier than your average sweater, but north face, napa, Columbia sports and the like have sweaters that pack way small, are light as a normal shirt, but warm as a spring jacket, especially when layered. A few layers of those (with zippers so you can adjust them, instead of having an all-or-nothing pullover) a bit of wool, and you'll be ready for anything. Doing the same with a raincoat isn't a bad idea during the summer, if this summer is any indication of summers to come. Also on the preparedness train, make sure you have your head covered, and a water bottle or canteen at your belt. Nothing derails a day trip as quick as a dehydration or exposure headache.

Tying your stuff around your waist ain't sexy... but you'll be ready to roll.

2. Buddy up. Everything is more fun when it's shared. That's one of the reasons I started blogging: sharing my experiences with my readers makes them more enjoyable to me. But nothing enhances a travel experience more than sharing it with am actual person. When I'm with someone I'm braver, more adventurous, and more fun, than when I travel alone.

3. Leave the devices home. Your mp3 player puts you in a sound bubble and shuts out the rest of the world. The mobile devices, even the phone, can work as tethers, holding you back from truly experiencing the places you go.  Why listen to the same old music on your player, when a tour bus in the parking lot is bopping with something you've never even imagined before.  Shut the devices off and be present where you are. The most perfect moments I've had as a traveler were the ones where I even put away the camera, and just turned on my five senses --developing a sense for which glorious moments photograph well, and which glorious moments don't, will help you get the most out of your travel memories.  This is especially important when you're traveling with someone: I've been accused by wifeoseyo, essentially, of "blogging" while we were out together, instead of attending to her, my actual travel partner.  Don't be that tool.

Not that it isn't sometimes good to have a camera along, of course. (Notice that wifeoseyo is following all of my preparedness tips in the above photo.)

Two bonus points for free: this one's similar enough to one of David's points I don't feel the need to repeat it in my "real" three tips, but:

Follow your nose. A lot of great things can happen if you loosen expectations, and listen for restaurants, paths and menu items to call your name. Sticking too rigidly to a timetable leads to mechanical travel experiences, while wandering off the map might lead to a totally unique travel experience. The safety flip-side of following your nose is trusting your instincts, but as you become a more experienced traveler you'll get better at reading people and situations.

Finally, remember that if something goes as planned, it's a great travel experience; if things go wrong, it's a great story for later. If that's your approach to traveling, you'll always come away with something memorable and worthwhile.

I tag my well-traveled friends Tamie, Melissa, and Eat Your Kimchi's Simon & Martina.


Simon said...

Damn! I was hoping we'd avoid getting tagged. Ok, we'll start working on this, but videos take for freaking ever to make, and we've got a few in queue. But this will be done sooner or later!

Foreigner Joy said...

Hmph! not tagged.

~But good advice.

Gibbering Madness said...

My three travel tips would be:

Travel alone. You are free to do what you want and you'll meet MANY more people.

Plan nothing. Be spontaneous and ready for anything.

Fling yourself fully into potentially lethal situations. Life is its sweetest when you have death barking at your heels.

Roboseyo said...

memo to everyone: Joy wants to be tagged.

조안나 said...

I really like the no mp3 player rule. The only device I have with me is my camera. I actually really hate noise being put in my ears. I only use it when I need to drown out other more unpleasant noises, usually on the subway. While traveling and on weekends, the mp3 player is a no show. Even on long bus trips unless I'm listening to Korean language podcasts. I like to look out the window and listen to what's going on around me...

davidswills said...

Thanks for the link!

Foreigner Joy said...

Yeeee! Suddenly I feel like I'm in 5th grade again.

Foreigner Joy said...

- Carry those tiny tissue packs.
- Comfortable shoes.
- Have no fear. Talk to people.

Gomushin Girl said...

Ok, I understand not wanting to close yourself off from the world . . . but sometimes when you're traveling you really DON'T want to indulge every curious person who wants to know what you're doing in the deep countryside. Sometimes that dude across the way is seriously skeevy, and you really need a way to easily communicate that you are NOT interested in a conversation. Hell, a little music or a few podcasts to kill the time can make all the difference when you're sitting on a bus for six hours. I know we like to imagine that somebody cool and hip is going to sit down next to us and strike up a friendship, but man, mp3's will save the day when it turns out to be an old dude who really just wants to loudly snore away the next four hours of his life.
Also, Re: No planning. Yeah, you feel like a cool kid when you end up in a grand adventure. On the other hand, you also feel like an idiot when you find out you've missed the last bus out, or it's three hours until the next train, or you can't get back home for two days and in the meantime you're going to be fired for missing work. You don't have to plan out every second of your trip. But having some vague idea of schedules and places to sleep and the rest isn't being boring and uncool, it's being smart and not having to walk around without an umbrella in the cold rain looking for a motel or 24 hour sauna at 2 am. Feel free to discard your plans if something better comes up, but going with no plans is silly.

Roboseyo said...

OK, GG, you're definitely right about knowing bus and train schedules: that would just be dumb.

However, re: devices... burying the nose in a book will serve the same effect, and if being approached by an unwelcome "friend" trying to practice their English, I answer them in french. Regardless, as far as being approached by strangers, Korea's WAY better than other countries in Asia: usually in Korea it's a friendly and curious person; in most other Asian countries I've traveled it's a toat trying to sell postcards, bicycle tours, or lame souvenirs. I'll take a soju-smelling old guy anytime... but then, I'm a pretty tall dude.

Gomushin Girl said...

That's all well and good when your second language is French, but mine's Korean, as a white chick I can't get away with pretending that I only speak Japanese (the only other language I speak well enough to sort of fake) ~ what's a girl to do?

Gomushin Girl said...

I guess the thing is that a lot of the travel tips I'm seeing lately are very male-oriented. As a woman, as nice as it would be to skip off without a plan or entertain anybody who wants to talk with me . . . yeah, that's not always cool. I'm not saying I never wander off for a meandering, planless day of adventure or chat up random people I might meet. I do, and all the time. But I want to be prepared for those times when I want to escape from people, or when there's no people around to escape from.
p.s. LOVE Joy's tips!

Roboseyo said...

Gomushin Girl: I suppose it's not surprising the tips from three male bloggers are male... I know your own rain-apparel-based blog is mostly defunct, but if you send three tips for female travelers in Korea to my roboseyo address, I'd be happy to post them here. You can even include code for embedded photos or videos.


and if you don't know any other languages than English and Korean, there's always gibberish, or pig latin.

Gomushin Girl said...

The thing is, I don't believe there should be some kind of special list for women - because of necessity, it's going to focus on how women need to protect themselves while traveling, things they have to do differently than dudes. I'd rather just have the menfolk reflect a little on male privledge before declaring that an essential part of travel is traveling alone, talking to everybody, and being totally 100% free of plans and reservations and that it is totally cool to hop on the back of a motorbike with some random dude or get plastered with these fun dudes you met in a bar and see where the adventure takes you.