Travel bug: background and helpful hints

Since living in South Korea we (Chris and I) have tried to make the most of each of our holidays by exploring as much of Asia as we possibly can in the limited amount of vacation days we have (18 days a year excluding weekends and public holidays). The days are divided into two periods- 8 days in the summer, and 10 days in the winter and have to be taken during the schools vacation dates.

In our first holiday, which was in August of 2010, we traveled to China. For our second holiday, which was in January/February of 2011, (where we were given an extra two weeks for re-signing our contracts) we went to Thailand and Vietnam. For our third holiday, which was in August of this year, we went to the Philippines. And now, for our last holiday, before leaving Korea to move back to S.A, we plan on traveling to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia, for 4 days, 4 days and 10 days respectively.

For me personally, one of the best parts about going on holiday, is planning the holiday. I can spend days upon days trawling the internet reading different travel sites, looking for the best flight prices, and reading hotel reviews.

I always try to make sure that I’m getting the biggest bang for my buck, and don’t have regrets at the end of the holiday because I didn’t know about a ‘must see’ sight or destination. Because of this I thought I’d do a little travel feature on each of the destinations we've been to since living in Korea, and share with you what we got up too. So if your interested keep and eye out for my travel posts:)
In the meantime, here are a few tips I apply to every holiday.

  • Come up with a budget first. There is no point in planning a fabulous vacation and then realizing you can't afford it
  • Always check hotel reviews out before setting your heart on one, I've found that a lot of hotels websites and pictures are extremely misleading. I love tripadvisor when it comes to honest reviews. Obviously some people out there are a little anal, so take some things with a pinch of salt. Trip advisor also has an option to view pictures of the hotel taken by guests during their stay- so you can get a better idea of whats actually being offered
  • Take time looking for the cheapest flight- it can really save you a fortune.
  • If your going without a tour/guide do your homework, there just isn't enough time during the trip and you will find you miss out on a lot of stuff otherwise.
  • Prioritize whats important to you. For me personally, cleanliness and privacy are very important. Staying in a hostel with 15 other people, while perhaps cheap and more of an adventure, is not really in my comfort zone, so its something I tend to avoid. Where at the same time as saying that, I'd rather stay in a friendly and clean 3 star hotel or guest house then spend a huge amount of money on a 5star hotel when I could be spending it on other things during the holiday. There isn't a right or wrong answer when it comes to accommodation at the end of the day, just make sure its something you're happy and comfortable with.
  • Lastly, look at a calendar when booking your dates to see if there are any public holidays you can tack onto your vacation to make it last as long as possible. Using the korean New Year public holidays and weekends in 2012 will add an extra 8 days to our trip.