Korea & Japan: Must do's before your trip

Visiting Korea and Japan has always been a dream of ours. As you’ve probably noticed from some of our posts and videos, we’re in love with each country’s cuisine, music, culture and rich traditions. Did we mention that Nabol is also half Korean? (Only like a million times!) Both countries have very lovely similarities and unique differences, which not only contribute to making the trip more interesting but translate to how you need to prepare yourself and your budget for the trip.

In this post, we share with you everything we did to get ready for this awesome trip.
  • 1. Book your tickets early, and preferably offseason. When visiting two countries, it might be cheaper to get a round-trip to one of the countries vs. one-way flights. Then, you can book low-cost flights between countries. Do your research. Get the best deal and also consider direct flights to save time. You might be able to get a good deal if you are leaving a city like Chicago.
  • 2. Narrow down your main cities per country. We decided to visit 3 cities in Japan and 3 in Korea, but that will depend on what you want to see. Research in-country flights, transportation and how many days you should stay in each city. 
  • 3. Write a list of places to visit. Before you go to Instagram and Youtube, write a list of places to visit based on interests. That way you’ll know your priorities and it will be easier to narrow them down based on the number of days you’re going.
  • 4. Download/Print a map and highlight the places you want to visit. This was helpful when planning the areas of the city we were going to focus on per day. Also, be realistic about the number of things you can do in one day. 
  • 5. Have goals. Not a schedule. Do not plan every minute of your trip. It will only add to the stress. Write down general goals for each day and give yourself enough time to enjoy them. Also, leave some room to wander around unexpected places. 
  • 6. Airbnb vs. hotels. Compare prices and look for ideal areas where you can stay. Airbnb might not always be the cheaper or more convenient option. Also, after a 14 hour+ flight, you might prefer a conveniently located hotel – at least for the first night or so.
  • 7. Get all the addresses in-language. Print them. While it’s helpful to have the addresses in English, you need the names of the locations and addresses in Korean or Japanese. Print them and take them with you. That way, if you get lost or need to grab a taxi, you can just point to the address. (Change the language preference on Google Maps and enter your destination in English. It will give you the address and name of the location in the native language.) 
  • 8. Make a budget for each country. Korea tends to be cheaper than Japan, particularly when it comes to transportation and food. Calculate your expenses accordingly. 
  • 9. Request foreign currency at the bank. Not every bank have foreign currency at hand. Request it a few weeks in advance so you can take spending money with you. Japan and Korea are still very much cash societies, and you won’t be able to use your card everywhere.
  • 10. Pocket WiFi vs Prepaid Sim Card. Google Maps is incredibly useful to get around in Japan and Korea, which means you’ll need Internet access on the go. For that, you’ll need to reserve in advance a Pocket WiFi that you can pick up at the airport once you land in either country. Or you also have the option of getting a Prepaid Sim Card at a convenience store in Korea or Japan. 
  • 11. Research table and social manners. These two neighbor countries have very different table and social manners. While it is Ok to slurp your noodles in Japan, it is frowned upon in Korea. Watch a couple of YouTube videos about it.
  • 12. Learn some basic words. Please. Thank you. Where is it? Practice common phrases for each country, particularly in Japanese. Download the Google translate app too! 
  • 13. Keep your suitcase light. It is so much easier to jump from one train to another when we just have a small carry on. Choose your outfits wisely and check what the weather will be like during your trip.
  • 14. Make a checklist of your essentials. Passport. Camera. Charger. Medications. You know better than anyone what you’ll need for this trip, so make a checklist. Start gathering everything weeks in advance. That way you won’t forget a thing.
  • 15. Do what you can to stay healthy. Weeks before your trip and during your trip, take Airborne chewables and vitamins. Drink lots of water. Eat fruit and veggies. Make sure you’re at your best.

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