Fangirl [팬걸]: a female fan who is obsessive about a particular subject.
Visiting Korea is on every fangirl’s bucket list, and it surely did not miss mine.
After almost two years of saving, enduring excruciating labour, and with a dose of luck, I finally managed to plan my own trip to Korea.
Well, it’s not solely my trip. If anything, it was my sister’s wish to visit Korea about five years ago. I still have her doodle on the wall near my bed, where she wrote in Hangeul : “Korea, I’m coming!”, and her wish became my promise to her, to us.
Now, I’ll be lying if I said I didn’t think about the trip every single day until it truly happened. I will also be lying if I said that it wasn’t nerve wrecking: Between trying to organize the perfect trip, falling sick at least twice a month, and convincing my parents that everything will be alright … Well, I think you got the gist.
Since I can’t cover every detail in one article, I will make a series about my experience in Korea, which will be single-themed. This way, it will help you focus on every detail separately, and you can patch up the pieces according to your liking later.
Today, I’m going to share with you the basics to start planning your trip to Korea.
Notify your parents
First of all, before you even think about heading to the airport, you need parental permission.
Now, I’m speaking not only for those of you with strict parents, but also for those whose parents cannot accept the idea of you flying from Africa all the way to Asia because it’s far away and they’re worried sick about you.
If I had a dollar for every time my parents tried to make me cancel the trip, I will probably secure enough money to buy me an extra plane ticket. But luckily for me, I spent the past year preparing them for my departure, and when the time came, they knew that I had to go for all the right reasons, even if they didn’t perceive it at first.
Set your budget
Next, you need to figure out your budget. I advise you to start saving as early as possible, because trust me, no amount of money seems to be enough.
Your first expenses before even thinking of setting foot in Korea include the plane ticket, insurance, and accommodation. When you secure the necessary amount for these expenses, whatever is left of your savings will decide how long your trip would last and how much your daily budget would be.
Book your plane ticket & buy insurance
To book your plane ticket, you need to start searching early, and mostly be patient. If I gave up everytime I saw the prices crazily rise, I would’ve probably spent summer writing a second fanfiction about me going to Korea.
First, you have to pick the airline companies you’re considering. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in the ticket hunting: both Nelly & I were keeping an eye on three airlines, before deciding that Qatar Airways was our winning pick.
We eventually managed to land a pretty great offer, for which we almost went mad trying to reserve it until we actually paid for the tickets. Ultimately, we saved enough money from the plane ticket’s initial budget (we paid 9K MAD instead of the original 13K MAD).
On this occasion, I’m going to share a tip that we didn’t know about, and that could’ve spared us the trouble: if you subscribe to an airline’s newsletter, you will get notified of their best deals by email!
As for travel insurance, I personally purchased one for 700 MAD at Saham Assistance , but you can ask one from your bank which can cost you up to 400 MAD.
Convert your money
Since we’re talking about money, we shouldn’t forget about currency: Dollar (dollar) is your best paypal, but if you happen to have some spare Euro from a previous trip, make sure to take it with you because it will definitely come handy!
Now, to change your local currency, your best bet is Bank Al-Maghrib, Al Barid Bank, or if you’re a patient fighter, an honorary visit to your city’s local currency offices is in order until you find the best exchange offer. Once you’ve claimed your new currency, make sure to keep the receipt.
Book your accommodation
Generally, once you have purchased your plane ticket and secured your budget, booking an accommodation is the next move.
You can either book a hotel room or an apartment; but if you want to save up, staying in a guesthouse is the wisest choice. Luckily, Korea’s guesthouse system is so neat that I guarantee it will solve all of your housing problems. Through Booking.com,we managed to make a reservation for 130 MAD per night per person, and it was the best deal we could find.
Remember, before you book your room:
- Read the description carefully to discover the benefits that come with the place.
- Pay attention to the location (the closer it is to a subway station, the better), and check the surroundings of the area (although Korea is generally safe).
- Make sure that the owner won’t charge your credit card upon booking.
- Make sure that you can cancel at least a week before your arrival, just in case you find a better deal elsewhere.
Once all of the major points of your trip are settled, you can focus on planning what you actually want to do once the heat wave outside Incheon Airport hits you in the face.
Check your documents
As a reminder, make sure to print and/or keep a copy of all your paperwork. That includes:
- Your e-ticket.
- Your insurance papers.
- Your currency exchange receipt.
- Your hostel reservation.
- Your passport.
Scan a copy of the above and send them in an e-mail to yourself, and keep the documents saved on your phone. Also, there is no harm in having a paper copy of your passport saved within your luggage (don’t keep the copy with your passport though, it kind of defeats the purpose).
That’s all for today! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and stay tuned for more Hallyu gems. Until I see you next time, thank you for reading me.