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How To: Make Friends in Korea

Have you seen my last article? You can check it out here. As always, a large portion of your questions can be answered by going to my list of resources page here, or the contact page here. There are article-specific resources at the bottom of the page.

I love and advocate for solo travel, especially by millennials when at all possible, though one does have to recognize the unique barriers to entry that millennials, however, the hardest part of traveling alone is building a support system and a life that has meaningful relationships in it. Once the excitement wears off, being in Korea can be really tough if you don't make friends. Luckily for you, through trial error, I've learned some (almost) foolproof ways to make new friends while you are in Korea. While a few of these tips are generalizable, some of them are Korea-specific. Just remember if you're feeling really lonely, reach out to someone! You'll be surprised how compassionate people are, especially in your time …

All About My $300 Flight From the U.S. to Busan, South Korea

If what you read here tickles your pickle, you can read my last post here. You can also check out the new Ultimate Resources List here.

   So you want a cheap flight, huh? Don't we all. Let me tell you just how to do just that if I must.
Flights to your destination often end up being the largest expense for your trip and international flights? More likely than not going to cost you big time. I just booked my flight last week and I am happy with how I chose to do it with some help from my mother, of course. I understand that booking somewhat last minute isn't everyone's cup of tea, but there was a method to my madness! Anything for a deal. Be sure to check out the "Resources" section at the bottom of this post for some more information.

Set an Alert and Look at The Trends

The major key to finding the best cheap flight is to set an alert on travel sites for the dates you are looking for and let them do some of the heavy liftings. Sites like Kayak, Google Flights, and Skyscanner all allow you to get emailed alerts about when flight prices go down. These websites all have something in common- they search all over the internet to find the cheapest flight. Better than going straight your favorite airline's site, be sure to use a website that really finds the cheapest flight. When using these sites, especially Skyscanner, be sure to open them in an incognito tab, so that the website can't keep track of what deals you've already seen via your browser's cookies. When you don't do this, everytime you visit, the website may bury the lower deals you may have already seen in favor for more expensive options because they get a larger percentage or a higher flat rate. Sometimes, flying in a day or two before your suggested arrival date gives you a cheaper flight, and moving into your dorm or apartment a few days early, or even staying in a hotel for a couple days still allows you to save a couple of hundred dollars.

A Little Travel Before the Travel?

Another reason why my flight is so cheap is that I am not flying out of my home airport, but rather an airport about 4 hours away instead, which is a very busy and popular airport. In my experiences, the larger the airport, not in size but traffic, the cheaper the ticket. I'm not exactly sure on why this is, but it's likely because there are simply more options of airlines, available gates/planes, and flight times to choose from. Please, note that this is my personal experience and can be considered a tendency at most, but I would definitely consider looking at airports farther than the one closest to you. That being said, please don't assume you have to drive 6 hours to the nearest busy airport when sometimes your cheapest ticket is right there at home! Simply put, there may be more options available out of a larger airport, so consider clicking that "nearby airports" search when flying out of your home country.

China Eastern (Hear Me Out)

China Eastern has some of the worst reviews I've ever seen short of Spirit Airlines. They apparently don't always show the safety video pre-flight, have super outdated planes, and not nearly enough leg space among other common complaints. Despite these ails, China Eastern is the cheapest way to get from the United States to Busan I could find anywhere. China Eastern doesn't fly out of all airports all over the world, but most international airports have an airline that flies out that port that is similar in the low-cost, low-rated airline, which seems to be your best bet. You just need to do your research and put your comfort behind your wallet for quite a few hours. 

Consider a Long Layover

In general, the longer or more frequent the layover, the cheaper the flight. I have two layovers, one in Shanghai, China for 4 hours, and one in Qingdao, China for 14 hours. While I will be staying overnight in a hotel in Qingdao, I have still saved several hundred dollars on my flight because of exchange rates and prices of hotels, plus I will get see a whole other country, if only for a night. With overnight or long layovers, be sure to check if the layover airport is sleeping-friendly (check some of the resources below), or if you have to get a hotel to sleep, check their visa information. For China, if you have an American passport, among other countries, and you have a confirmed flight leaving from China within a certain time period, you may be able to participate in China's 24-hour, 72-hour, or 144-hour visa-free transit. You can find more information from Forbes on the visa-free transit here and the official consulate information below. 

Be Patient

Remeber how planning this trip was supposed to be fun? Yeah, sometimes it's really really not. No matter how many horrified looks you get from family and friends when you let them know that you haven't yet booked your flight, you can do this! I can never guarantee anything, but I will say this: two of my friends that have regularly studied abroad since enrolling in college have found their best flights and accommodations the night before they needed to leave. While I do not even remotely recommend waiting until the day before you need to leave to find a flight, those two saved thousands, which they later got to spend traveling within their new continent freely. 

I absolutely did have a bit of luck in finding my flight from the U.S. to Busan, South Korea for around $300, however, I do think that with a bit of skill, and clicking your heels together thrice, everyone can find a deal on a great flight as well.

Happy Flying
Thumbnail Photo by Eva Darron on Unsplash

* Disclaimer: As usual, I am not affiliated with any company or website listed here. I purchased a ticket from China Eastern with my own money and am not being paid for any opinions here, just expressing my own experiences.



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