Life Love Larson: Deciding on Our Latest Travel Destination


Monday, July 29, 2019

Deciding on Our Latest Travel Destination

We travel quite a bit and the question gets asked, "How do you decide where to go?" I thought it would be fun to share the process of how we decided on the location of our next destination...Seoul, South Korea! Each trip we plan has a different process, but the general idea remains the same.

Initial Planning: My husband and I both turn 40 this year (he was May and I'm December), so we knew that this milestone would involve a trip in 2019! We both decided that a trip for just the two of us was more "us" than going with a big group or having big parties, etc.  The last two years, we have gone on long international spring break trips with our kids. This eats into my husband's time off from work and into the budget. We decided early on we would take a trip in the fall, between our birthdays, which gave enough time after the spring break trip to be ready for another one!
Location: For this 40th birthday trip, we knew we wanted to choose a destination where we wouldn't want to take our kids. Think big cities, places where we would walk a lot, places we would want to eat the food but they wouldn't, places to pop into cool bars/cafes, etc. We talked about Canada (we've both never been), many different parts of Europe including London, Ireland, and Amsterdam. We briefly spoke about a few US spots, but ultimately decided we were going to go out of the country. Once you've been bit by the international travel bug, it's hard to think otherwise! We also talked at great length about Toyko. We had tickets in the cart, ready to pull the trigger, and we sat on them for a few days, and the prices went up. So, we started considering other options. My husband was looking at Google flights daily and he came home one day and said, "How about Seoul"? We did some research and decided to just go for it! We talked about it for one day and pulled the trigger on flights the next! I love that my husband is just a do-er! We fly out in September without kids!
Cost: Of course cost is something to consider and this is personal and specific to each individual/couple/family. When we know we are celebrating something special, cost gets a little more flexible. We spent a lot on tickets to Morocco for our 15 year wedding anniversary last year, but it was a special occasion and it was fabulous and I would do it all over again! With this being our 40th birthday trip, we decided we could spend a little more on flights. In doing our research, we learned that Seoul is pretty reasonable as far as big cities go. We don't eat at fancy restaurants when we travel and we don't do any crazy shopping, so eating street food and going on food tours and eating local isn't that expensive. We will be using points to stay at a nice hotel and that cost is eliminated. We will have breakfast provided from the hotel so that expense is eliminated. There are many pieces to the cost puzzle. Seoul has an amazing transit system that we will be using to get around and that is also inexpensive! There are ways to travel far and not blow the bank!

Flexible Dates: One thing to consider is being flexible on dates. We knew we wanted to go on a trip somewhere in the fall, but we weren't strapped to any one week or any dates. This helped us decide on a location because of cost of tickets. Tickets to Seoul were cheaper than tickets to Tokyo and we were flexible on when we could leave and come back. You must also decide how long you will be gone and all these bullet points tie into that!

Time of Year: When considering where to go, we had to look at weather. We knew we wouldn't be choosing somewhere warm or beachy. Just coming off summer, we weren't interested in that. We love a beach, but we ultimately like to pound the pavement and explore together and immerse ourselves on the streets and in the culture of wherever we are headed. September is, according to our research, the best time to visit Seoul! Fall-ish temps but still a little warm. Looking at these statistics are a huge factor in deciding where to go!
Time Off/Distance: I'm a SAHM and flexible on dates, but my husband has to look at time off when planning trips. We have been to Asia, and though it's far and the flights are long, it doesn't really phase us. It will take 15 hours to get to Seoul and we will be upside down on time. Jet lag for sure. We decided we could do what we wanted to do in 8 days. We decided we would stay in Seoul the entire time (usually we move cities/hotels) to give ourselves plenty of time to explore and to have plenty of down time. We also purchased our flights knowing we would need 1-2 days of recovery on the back end before going back to work. So, getting back on a Friday allows us to recouperate! 

Childcare: We have kids. We have to have childcare when we leave. Que my retired parents who live 3 hours away who love to babysit! We will never take this for granted. A true luxury to be able to leave our kids and venture off. We have to consider how long we will be gone from our kids. We believe in traveling alone and with our kids. We do both. Adult trips are just different, and necessary. Our kids are on the older side and will be in school full time during our trip. Our kids are pretty self-sufficient and we feel comfortable leaving them. They are good kids and it's pretty much a non-issue. They know by now that mom/dad like to travel together and they are used to it! We hope they will take note and do the same thing!
Research: Do your research when deciding on a place to travel! Is it safe? Is it expensive? What is the weather like during the time of year you are going? Is there public transit or will we need a car/Uber? Is there a language barrier? Do I feel comfortable in a big city? What is there to do that excites us? Will I be willing to try new foods? We always buy a little travel guide book on the destination after we book too! It's functional and fun to have on the shelf when you're done with it!
Planning: After we decided on a time of year, we started looking at flights a few months before and purchased our tickets 3 months out. I think the misconception is that planning big trips take forever and you don't have to do it way in advance. I think this needs to be talked about! I'm not saying wait forever, but you can plan a big overseas trip in a few months time, no doubt! 

After we booked our flights, we decided on a hotel that is in a neighborhood in the city. It works with our hotel points, offers a great breakfast, has an indoor pool, fantastic rooms, and great reviews. My husband looks at the map and decides if it's a good location for picking up the transit system and walking to restaurants and bars and shopping. There are so many travel blogs and resources to look at when deciding what to do! We decided to stay all 7 nights in one hotel so we can basically unpack and relax and settle in. We will be taking a few days trips outside of the city and we will for sure be booking a food tour. Mostly we like to walk the streets and explore and meet/watch the local people and take in the culture. That is the beauty of going somewhere far away...culture and new experiences like no other! 
All kuddos goes to my husband for being the trip planner! He loves it! There is something very exciting about going somewhere new, without the recommendation from someone else! There is so much world to see...choose a spot and go for it! We've never regretted any travel, if it's a few hours away or half a world away! I always use Insta Stories on trips and will be blogging about it when we get back! Be sure to follow me on Instagram! XO

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