Lola O.

That is pretty much what I've been doing for the past few minutes. I decided to finally bucke down and figure out my vacation plans. Who knew that travel planning could/would be such a nerve wracking headache inducing process. Maybe...most likely I am just naive about these things since I've never traveled by myself before coming to Seoul. I know, I'm such a baby, but I am trying to grow up and create my own adventures. It's just turning out to be more difficult than I wanted or expected.

So here is the deal. I have July 30th to August 3rd, and August 11/12-August 29th as my vaction time. Plenty of opportunities to travel, but the problem is choosing where to go, when to go, where to stay, what to see...blah blah blah. I've been on my computer since around 9 this morning researching different places to stay, different cities/countries to visit, and I can't make up my mind. I don't want to buy a plane ticket without having a place to stay, but I kind of need to decide where to go before I can find a place to stay and book it. IDK should I just book my flight and figure out the details after?

Too be honest the biggest holdback is that I don't particularly want to travel by myself. I've never traveled by myself without having a family member meeting me at my destination. I think it would be better to travel with someone first for safety reason, and more importantly because it would be more fun exploring with someone else. Or am I wrong? I'm trying to be "brave" or whatever and just go by myself rather than not go at all, or waiting on someone to make up their mind. I don't want to the kind of person that is dependent on someone else to have fun or travel around the world. I mean we/I are not always going to have another person or safety net to rely on. You see why my head hurts so many thought in my head are swimming around.

Okay, so I for sure want to go to Jeju Island. I'm not sure if I should stay in Jeju City or Seogwipo. As I started researching it I was wondering whether I should I rent a car or not, which would mean getting my international driver's license and I have no clue about the process or how long it takes to get one. Or maybe I should just use the bus system and taxi to get around. I'm not fond of the driving in Seoul, and am worried about driving in another country. Some sites said you have to be at least 21 while others said 22...I'm 22 so can I or can't I get one? I was thinking of just getting it in case I change my mind, because it seems like a good thing to have. I was thinking of going in my  end of July break but that seems to still be peak season and I don't want a crowded vacation. So now I'm thinking that I should go August 22-August 26, which it towards the end of my vacation and a nice way to end the summer before school starts back up. Giving me 3-ish days to get myself back in school mode and relax around Seoul.

I had planned on going to Tokyo in the summer but decided it will be better to go during Chuseok for my birthday, and some friends might also join me in the trip. Either way I'm definitely going to Tokyo in September for my 23rd b-day. I am thinking of going to Busan August 20-21 if that pans out then I

I still have the July 30th-August 3rd available, and August 11/12-August 19th to go somewhere. Deciding on where to go is my biggest problem. Originally I planned on going to Okinawa, but that is the rainy season and the cost doesn't seem worth it. So some other places I'm looking into are Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei, Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, Phillipines, and other parts of Japan. I can't decide on where to go. I'm kind of leaning into either Hong Kong or Shanghai, but I'm wondering if as an American I need a visa to go to these two places. I'm wondering if I should go to one place or trying to go to both. When I looked into the visa for going to multiple places it was confusing with the whole Mainland China stuff that kept popping up.

I know I'm letting myself get overwhelmed and should just stop thinking about all the details and jump into it, but deep down I'm a planner and just booking a flight and seeing what happens is daunting to me. I look at my friends here who are doing just that, and I wish I could be that free but I'm still not. I like details, and not just the big picture. Honestly, I envy people who can just pick up and leave without worrying about what happens next. I have a friend who is a few years older than me, and I really feel inspired by her. She's traveled to alot of places on her own, and she just does her own thing, period. She reminds me  of my older sister a lot. I want to be like that. I want to stop holding myself back from seeing what is out there because I'm scared or worried about the details. I don't want to miss out an amazing experiences because I'm  worried about being on my own. I'm 22 years old, how long am I going to expect to be taken care of? I have to take care of myself? Trust myself?

I don't think this is neccessarily about being brave. I mean I already left the life I knew for this new one, if that isn't being brave then I don't know what I should do. I guess if I could do that then why is traveling on my own so terrifying to me? Coming here is all about moments like this, where I have to overcome a fear, try something new, and challenge myself to do the things I am afraid to do. I don't want to waste my time here worrying about this or that. Coming here was a lot about growing up; I wanted to let go of my family's hand and do things on my own, figure out my own way of living, and just growing into my own person. I feel like I have so much growing up to do in a lot of ways. Whether it is traveling, or just learning to trust that I can handle things on my own. That I don't need other people to figure out things for me. I've depended on my family for 22 years, and now I am depending on myself  for the most part. Even though I am the middle child I'm the baby in a lot of ways, and I've never really had to do anything on my own. I've always had someone looking out for me but not anymore. As liberating as it is being on my own, it's also terrifying, but I'm not going to let fear paralyze me from living the life I want, even if I don't have all the details worked out.

Okay, I feel better after writing this all out. I've been staring at my compute screen for like 5 hours and still nothing is concrete for my vacation plans. I know I'll be better for the experience(s) it's just the first step that's always the most difficult/daunting part. Well this is all about of my journey, I won't be roadblock that keeps me from getting to the next part. I just need to decide where that is...

So readers and fellow expats advice please!!! Where should I go/stay? What should I see/do? What tips do you have on traveling alone?

~Lola O.~
5 Responses
  1. BuckyHermit Says:

    You don't need a visa to go to Hong Kong but you need one for Shanghai. (China requires a visa except for HK and Macau.)

    Hong Kong is very English-friendly, so if you need to get away from the foreignness of Asia, that'd be a good choice.

    Macau is also a tourism destination but mostly if you're into architecture, history or gambling. It's across the water from Hong Kong and can be a good day trip. It's not as English-friendly as HK but if you know Spanish, you should be able to read a lot of the signs (since Portuguese is an official language there).

  2. HennyPenny Says:

    if you're worried about getting around, why don't you get a reservation on a tour bus? My hubby and I did that for Jeju Island. You just choose the type of tour you want and they drive you around to all your destinations for 2-3 days. We saw museums, temples, orchards, went horseback riding, ATV'ing, on a submarine ride, etc. :)

    Just depends on what type of stuff you want to do. Some are more nature oriented and take you mountain climbing and such.

    Hope you figure it all out!

  3. Asiana Says:

    Hey girl!

    Hong Kong would be a great destination beause as BuckyHermit said, it is English friendly. Make sure you have a lot of space in your luggage because you will find a lot of great buys!!!
    Thailand is a great place Pattaya (a beach resorty area) My dad goes there often and he said that the people are very friendly, it is easy to get by not knowing the language and it has great food at great prices, and also the shopping is good too!

    Good luck with your planning!

  4. Lola O. Says:

    HennyPenny: Do you have the info/website on the tour thing. I'm debating whether to do that or just do my own thing.

    Thanks for the help....I've finalized my plans:) just need to book my tickets/lodging:)

  5. HennyPenny Says:

    I'll have to ask my husband what the website is. It was a Korean website, so maybe a coworker could help you with it?

    I'll get back to you!