Sometimes running a travel blog gives the illusion that all we do is travel. For Sam and I, travel dominates a large part of our lives – it’s what we feel most alive doing, it’s what we crave. Yet for the past year we have been ‘living’ in a place. That means a job, a routine, and responsibilities. Korea has become our temporary home – we eat dolsot bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥) and kimchi bokumbap (김치 볶음밥) on a daily basis, we dance to Gangnam Style every time we hear it playing on the radio (come on, it’s catchy guys!), and we feel more comfortable wielding chopsticks than we do a knife and fork. We’ve adapted to life in Korea, but there comes a time when a new city stop giving you the same feeling as real travel.
Is every weekend filled with exploration?
After almost a year of living in this country, we still like to go out on weekends to try something new and do some filming. You’ve seen us go to mud festivals, explore Buddhist temples in random cities, play with kittens at cat cafes and pups at dog cafes, eat our fill of strange foods at the local markets, and explore the city’s back alleys as well as its main thoroughfares.
Every once in a while, however, we like to just have a lazy weekend in where we don’t take any buses or trains around the country. I’m talking about the kind of weekend where you wake up whenever you feel like it (usually when the sounds of children playing outside gets too loud), put on your comfiest sweater, and head to the local cafe just down the street for a cup of hot chocolate with your lap top in tow. The kind of weekend you’d have back at home. That’s what a lot of our weekends have looked like, especially now that winter has set in and spending more than twenty minutes outdoors is unbearable.
I’m not saying it’s been easy. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without venturing off to another country since I was 18. After averaging 2-4 international trips a year, (for the past 8 years! whoaaa), it’s kind of tough to quit cold turkey. This however, is part of the sacrifice we’ve both decided to make in order to save enough mula to fund a long, and I mean a very very long journey with no end date in sight.
Will it be worth it?
How do you keep sane when you aren’t travelling?
– Day trips and weekend trips! We live in a country small enough that it can be crossed on the bullet train in just 1.5 hours. This has allowed us to take weekend trips to Busan for some beach time, to explore tea plantations in Boseong, and bamboo forests in Damyang.
– Explore the city you’re in. Everything was new and shiny when I first moved here, and for the first few months I spent every weekend exclusively in Seoul getting to know every palace, restaurants, and back alley. I know my way around Seoul almost as well as I know my way around my hometown. But there are still new places to keep discovering – that’s the beauty of a mega-city!
– Meet new people. One of the things I most love about travel is all the new people I get to meet. I enjoy hearing people’s stories, their dreams and aspirations, where they’ve come from and where they’re going. You can get to know people where you are. Most cities in Korea have large English speaking communities that meet on a regular basis. Scour some forums; Facebook and Meetup are great places to start. And in our case, there is a huge travel blogging community based in Korea that we get to meet up with every once in a while.
– Stay at a hotel. That’s right! Book yourself a nice room in a great location, and enjoy a weekend in the city the way a tourist would. Treat yourself to a bubble bath, complimentary breakfast, try a new foreign restaurant (perhaps that Indian one that just opened?), and maybe head to the new art exhibition in town.
– Read a book set in a faraway land. Nothing can transport you to another place quicker than a really good book set in some exotic locale.
– And if all else fails, get yourself a guidebook and start planning the next adventure!
How do you deal with the “in-betweens”?
Congratulations! As I remember this is the first pic of Sam kissing Audrey 😉
I really need to work harder on keeping sane when am not travelling. Life is getting boring…
Haha, thanks. I take it we need to include more coupley shots? 😉
I know what you mean though. Life can feel a bit lackluster back home after you come back from an epic journey. Hopefully these tips help!
Tony & I have been on the road now for almost 5 months (!!!) at this point, so we’re definitely not in an in-between stage at the moment, but as we’ve been traveling rather slowly (only hit our sixth country since leaving, last week!), it’s given us time to think about what it would be to actually live in some of the places we have visited. And what we realized is that honestly, you can travel and have adventures anywhere so long as you are willing to look for them! Whenever this trip ends for us, we know we won’t be moving back to the place we were living before, so although we won’t be traveling in the same way we are now, we know that will just signal the start of a new exploration!
That’s so true! Adventures can be had anywhere. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that when you find yourself living in a place for an extended period of time (at some point you start feeling like you’ve seen it all), but there are always new experiences to be had if you’re willing to notice them.
That’s really exciting that this trip has shaped you guys so much. It’ll be interesting to see where you end up settling into a home afterwards. 😀
I do foodtrips when I am stuck in Manila. I also try to go to nearby provinces if I have enough money. I’m just lucky because some of my friends are more than willing to tag along 😀
Food trips are the best! Many of my weekends exploring Korea this year have revolved around food markets and food stands – and it has all been so affordable! What can I say, eating is kind of like a hobby… 😉
Eating is the best kind of hobby when you’re on the road or inbetween, it’s an essential part of living and my god, every time it takes you on a new path of discovery anywhere you end up.
My boyfriend and I try to live for a month in each place we travel to so we have a mix of settling in and wanting to explore everything within a set timeframe.. Seems to be just the right amount of time to discover a city.
Good luck with the knuckling down and saving, it’s a tough slog but always worth it!
A month seems to be the magical number. When we were travelling around SE Asia we were trying to spend one month exploring each country. Sometimes it was a bit fast paced (depending on how many cities we wanted to cover), but for the most part it felt like enough time to get to know a place.
Congrats for your blog! I love travel and I follow you and your posts. Congrats for the kiss too… ;p
Thank you! Glad to hear you’re enjoying reading about our travels.
Definitely agree with your points. It is quite hard to make the transfer from a nomadic life to a slow paced one. At least you still get out some! 🙂
Great tips. It can be difficult, especially when you’re in your “home city” and not living as an expat, but it’s a must to not go crazy 🙂
Great advice. My strategy is to walk in the opposite direction from where all the tourists are headed. Usually you only have to go a couple of streets away to find a local neighborhood. I do of course do the touristy things too but also try to explore other areas.
Cool blog. I actually live in Seoul, so this post hits right at home. What are some places IN Korea that you recommend? Admittedly, I haven’t looked around in your archives as much as I should, but I feel like I am running out of places to go. I’ve been here 3 years now.
We just left Europe a few months ago after living in Holland for 14 months and I know that feeling. I had visions of us jetting off to new places every weekend but besides money restrictions we ended up with a life in Rotterdam. Friends to hang out with, the city to explore. The inbetweens is what makes a life, I like that feeling of getting to know a new city as much as your home!
I don’y even know how I would handle myself in those dog/cat cafes! I would just never leave and be content to be buried in a pile of licks and fur for all my days 🙂
inspiring for the time we set in one place longer than we usually do. Our approximate so far is 1 month, but I believe this will change after few years on the road.
When I and my husband started traveling, my curiosity about cultures began to become deeper and I got more interested and paid more attention to the mundane things that I see and encounter everyday… the street vendors, the metro traffic, the old man selling chickens at the corner….stuff you see in your own backyard… then you realize there’s so much things around you that you can feel curious about, even when you are in your hometown. This is one of the things that travel has taught me… appreciate the mundane. These are the things that we take photos of when we go to other countries…
– Explore the city you’re in, i like this advice of yours….even in the city where one grew up because there’s still so much to know and see even if you grew up there. 😀
That’s so true! When you’re in a new place that’s different from home, you begin to notice all the minor details of life unfolding around you. I like watching people go about their day, setting up in the market, riding their bikes into town… 🙂
I can completely relate to this- we’ve been in London for 5 years now, and we don’t feel guilty about ‘doing nothing’ on weekends now. London, like Seoul, is super – there’s always something new to discover