24 Before 24: Go Trampolining

20140618-151809.jpgI’m doing 24 fun or new things before I turn 24. You can see the rest of my list here.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Dylan and I made quite the trek out to one of Busan’s many beaches, Dadaepo. The draw was the Dadaepo Sunset Fountain of Dreams (believe it or not that’s its real, official name), a water fountain show with multicoloured lights and water spray patterns, choreographed to music of all kinds. We’d been excited about theshow, but we hadn’t anticipated just how much we would love the beach itself.

DSC_3167It was absolutely stunning – when we looked to our right, it was all soft sand stretching as far as the eye could see, and on our left, green trees and big rocks curving around the coast. As is typical with these kinds of things, the photos don’t quite do it justice.

DSC_3211We arrived in the late afternoon and did the coastal walk (Korea is home to so many beautiful coastal walks that they’ve become one of our favourite pastimes) to the place where the walkway ended. From there we scampered over some rocks and dodged some creepy insects, ending up on a big rock listening to lovely music and talking as the sun started setting. It was a pretty blissful afternoon. The fountain was just icing on the cake!

DSC_3259But my favourite part of the day had to be the discovery of a free outdoor trampoline and the subsequent jumping around on it like a maniac until I had cramps from laughing so hard and my legs were too weak to catch me on the big bounces (resulting in quite a few painless tumbles & giggles). On the way from the bus stop to the beach, right on the main road, there was a little outdoor arcade, fairly run-down and with no employees. It was just open to the elements and to the public, and when we walked by there were just a few people in the batting cage. Everyone was utterly uninterested in the perfectly decent trampoline sitting unused right alongside them!

TrampolineAfter a brief moment of looking around flabbergasted that it was free and that nobody was going to stop us, we climbed up the little ladder and onto the bouncy castle of our dreams. For me, it was one of those awesome moments in life where you get exactly what you want without having known that it was what you wanted. When I put “go trampolining” on my 24 Before 24 list, I’d pictured visiting one of the indoor trampoline rooms that are so common here in Korea. It never occurred to me that it would end up being an absolutely perfect moment – spontaneous, outdoors, with views of the fountain and the trees, full of giddy joy and hysterical laughter – and one that I was lucky enough to share with such a great friend. I know it sounds so cliché, but it made me feel like a kid again. Free and happy.

Trampoline2

It was also an excellent reminder to stay open to new experiences and to doing things just because they’re insanely fun. If I hadn’t decided (totally arbitrarily) to put trampolining on my list this year, I might have walked right by that arcade without a second thought. I think we all get so used to doing things a certain way and going through the motions of our routines, but I want to remember to keep trying to incorporate joy and fun and impracticality into my life as much as I can. It’s really worth it.

Resources for Planning Your Backpacking Trip Through Europe

Resources1It’s I’ve learned a lot about booking hostels, navigating new cities, making friends, and packing. I’m happy to say that I’m a much better traveller than I was one year ago today. My travel knowledge has come from a lot of trial and error, a lot of great information from fellow travellers and friends, and most of all, a lot of awesome resources. I’m very Type A and a planner by nature, and I love nothing more than falling down rabbit holes on the internet while researching various things. My Google Docs spreadsheet for Europe had no less than eleven different sheets!

I wanted to share some of my favourite websites and articles to inspire you and help you plan an adventure of your own.

Inspiration For Your Trip

DSC_0036_7Almost Fearless:

Adventurous Kate:

General Travel Tips

Legal Nomads: World Travel Resources – an incredibly helpful, very comprehensive guide to world travel.

Rick Steves: His travel tips section is full of great, very useful information.

Yes and Yes: There are tons of awesome posts in her travel category including 18 super-helpful travel tips.

The Savvy Backpacker: Lots of great articles and resources for planning a budget backpacking trip.

Nomadic Matt: How to Legally Stay in Europe for More Than 90 Days (a very helpful article about visas and permitted lengths of stay).

Packing for Europe & Travelling Light

DSC_0149One Bag: The absolute ultimate light packing guide. It has tips on why packing light is a smart choice, a universal light packing list with detailed, and in-depth explanations of why each item on the list is helpful or important. I lost hours to this website.

One Bag One World: Forums and tips on travelling light. I love the old website, but the new one is good too. You can find the new one here.

Her Packing List: Awesome packing lists, backpack and product reviews and resources.

PB Fingers: What To Pack To Europe (aimed at women, for summer travel)

Rick Steves: A light packing list and tips on packing smart and travelling light.

Never Ending Voyage: How to travel long-term with carry-on luggage, and their complete, updated packing list.

Favourites

Ulmon Apps: The ultimate travel app for most major cities. It lets you navigate in real time even without an internet connection, lists all major attractions within the app and sometimes even has integration with the local subway system so you can see which metro stop to get off at for wherever you’re going. I absolutely adore these apps and they are my #1 recommended travel tip. Plus, somehow they’re free.

Hostel World: I love this website and never used anything else to read reviews of hostels and book my accomodations.

Blogsy: A blogging app for iPad, perfect for blogging while travelling.

Oanda Currency: An awesome currency converter app that you can use even when you have no internet connection.

Solo Travel

DSC_0164_2Twenty-Something Travel: The Introvert’s Guide to Travel, and a good reason to travel solo.

Refinery 29: I Travel to Feel Lonely…On Purpose – a really great, fresh perspective on solo travel.

Legal Nomads: The Solo Female Travel Experience, and the same topic, revisited with helpful tips.

Fluent in 3 Months: Is Long-Term Solo Travel Lonely?

A Little Adrift: Yes, Sometimes Travel Is Lonely.

The Ramble: Awesome advice if you’re worried about getting lonely while travelling.

European Destinations

Italy:

Paris:

Croatia: 15 Things To Do in Dubrovnik

***

Taking myself on a trip through Europe is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I was able to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, meet some awesome people, and most of all gain lots of confidence for both travelling and living the life I want to live. I’d recommend it to anyone. You don’t need a travel partner, you don’t need to be ready, everything is figureoutable, you can do this. It’s almost a year later but the experiences I had on my trip are still giving back to me in ways I never could have predicted.

This is a very incomplete list of resources, of course. I’ll try to add more as I remember them or as questions come up. If you have any specific questions about my trip, check out my FAQs, my posts on tips for travelling through Europe and for doing it solo, or send me an email at stephanie @ lifeinlimbo.org.

Thanks for reading. Good luck and have fun on your trip!

My Review of the LL Bean Quickload Travel Pack for Her Packing List

HPL2As I’ve written before, I absolutely love my backpack. It’s comfortable and sturdy, it folds open like a suitcase, the straps stow away, and it’s carry-on sized. I did a lot of research before buying the bag I was going to use while backpacking through Europe (you can see the funny/crazy/thorough spreadsheet I made here) and this is the bag that came out on top. It’s now been to almost 10 countries with me and has been a great little travel companion!

Last week I wrote a more in-depth review of my bag over at Her Packing List, so if you’re interested in more details you can check it out here! If you’re interested in buying the LL Bean Quickload Travel pack, you can find it here.

HPL3It’s one of my 24 before 24 goals to write articles for 7 websites besides my own. This is the first, and I’m proud of it.

Also, I should mention: I’m not associated with LL Bean in any way (I wish!), and this is not a sponsored post. I just love this bag and want to share the information with the world.

Seoul, Korea

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It was a four-day weekend here in Korea, in honour of Children's Day and Buddha's Birthday, and I spent it in Seoul with friends. After our trip to Tokyo (a vibrant, colourful blur) I was a bit tired and was sorely tempted to stay home, watch TV and decompress. Fortunately I didn't, and those three days away were exactly the kind of break I needed.

Since I'm living in Korea for a year, I knew I'd probably be going back to Seoul a few more times and that took the pressure off. There was no rushing around trying to get everything checked off the bucket list. There was no agonizing over where to go and how much time to spend there. There was no real stress of any kind, except for the last mad dash to the train station and boarding the train back to Busan with two minutes to spare.

Instead, there were long talks about life on the sundrenched four hour train ride there and back. There was meandering down the streets of bustling shopping districts eating street food and ice cream. There was delicious food – Korean and Mexican in the same day. There was an afternoon spent roaming the grounds of a gorgeous palace. There was a full day spent with a girl I met while travelling alone through Madrid so many months ago. She showed us around her favourite parts of Seoul, took us for some of the best Korean food I've ever had, and happily, we got along as well as we had in Spain during the few days we spent together then.

And there was more! I had my birth chart read by a local tarot card reader. We hid from the rain in a cafe bordering the stream that cuts through downtown Seoul and drank hot sweet tea. I had iced mochaccinos every morning and soju mixed with Sprite in plastic cups every night. We wandered around the university district enjoying its lively energy, watching people boxing and others playing music side-by-side in the little park in the middle of it all. There were so many times we laughed until we cried.

I came home feeling recharged, not drained. I felt (and still feel!) blissed out and happy, alive and connected. It reminded me of how incredibly lucky I am to have this opportunity to live and work in another country, and to explore and experience such amazing parts of the world. It also reminded me not to take any of it for granted. Life is good.

Favourites:

  • Juno Guesthouse: While the facilities were nothing to write home about, it was in a quiet area and very close to a subway stop on one of the major train lines. But most of all, it had an absolutely incredible welcoming committee: a beautiful little Korean Jindo dog that brightened our day every time we left or came back to the hostel.
  • Vatos Urban Tacos: This restaurant in Itaewon made us feel immediately like we weren't in Korea anymore. Not that there's anything wrong with Korea, but it just made us feel transported to somewhere completely different. Amazing margaritas, perfect tacos, delicious salsa, some queso dip – we were in heaven.
  • Ssamziegil (in Insadong): We all agreed that walking through this shopping area (shown in the fifth picture from the top) felt like walking through Etsy brought to life. There were tons of stores selling adorable handmade or unique things like jewelry, stationery, and soaps.
  • Gwanghwamun Square: A gorgeous, open plaza leading to the gates of the Gyeongbokgung palace (another of our favourites). It's right in the middle of Seoul, framed by mountains behind, and is positively gorgeous.