We all have a friend who is always trying to do everything, go everywhere, and be everything for everybody. Mine sent me a copy of her summer calendar, and it was so busy that it made my head hurt. We are all ready for some new adventures, but there is no way she will do all those activities, eat, sleep, and actually enjoy them. So, how do you create a Post-Pandemic itinerary when traveling to Korea? How do you decide which festivals, celebrations, and local events in Korea are worth your time and money when you want to do everything?
What Does Post-Pandemic Korea Mean?
In general terms, it means the pandemic is over, and now South Korea, like the rest of the world, will have to live with the disease in its endemic phase. We will all have to learn to live with it (and its’ mutations) as a constant threat to our health. According to the experts, many of us will consider it more a nuisance than a mortal danger with proper preventive behaviors and additional boosters.
Sadly, that does not mean we are entirely safe and can resume life as before. In fact, that may never be the case. We may have to live with masks, social distancing, vaccine boosters, and working from home indefinitely. So in light of this “new normal,” should we continue to shelter in place as Korea begins to open up again?
Nope. Not at all.
But we should re-evaluate what’s important to us and create an itinerary in post-pandemic Korea that will fuel us IF (note big if) we were to shut down again in the future.
Create an Itinerary in Post-Pandemic Korea
Set Realistic Goals
There was no way my overambitious friend would be able to do all the things that she had highlighted on that calendar. You have to start by being intentional. I told her as much, and she replied that she would try anyway. Then I suggested she choose 2-3 things per week that spoke to her heart, soul, or passions. I asked her about some of the events. She couldn’t explain what half of the events were about and didn’t seem to care. She said she’d sleep when she returned to the states – next year.
Although that is a response, it’s not a good one. No one can catch up on that much sleep. And without adequate sleep, we cannot think properly, make mistakes, and have more accidents; our memory is impaired. It’s not a great way to attack life or create a summer itinerary. So with the pandemic ending, how do you decide which events, festivals, celebrations, and local events in Korea are worth your time and money?
Identify Your Why
Factors to Consider
Are you going to take pictures, update your IG, listen to some music, or are you in need of a change of scenery? Or, perhaps you are attending so you can participate, hang out with friends, try new foods, or discover a local artist? How much will it costs, how will you get there, where will you stay, etc?
This has become more relevant to me because I live in a trendy area of Daegu. There were so many, scratch that, too many people here. Going out is a huge energy drain and I have to plan if I don’t want to get stuck in a crowd. So it would help if you kept that in mind – Korea is crowded. Everyone is also considering attending the same events, so it’s more important than ever to be a little discerning.
Here are a few other things to consider before creating your Itinerary Post-Pandemic Korea this summer.
To create an itinerary in post-pandemic Korea, we must remember we still need to take precautions. Even though restrictions have been lessened, we still live with the infection. This logic will immediately narrow down some choices because some events won’t be as fun if you have to social distance or wear a mask (events with more than 50 attendees).
JOMO is the joy of missing out. Don’t try to do it all. I used to try to do it all. Put as much stuff in the duffel bag as possible. After a while, you can’t tell one church, restaurant, or attraction from the next. Choose quality over quantity while realizing intention is essential. Consider what you’re gaining and not what you are losing.
There are a lot of cars in this tiny country of 50 million people. This can make a 50km trip MUCH longer than expected. Unfortunately, you cannot get around this because the roads in Korea, although modern, are still rural outside the major cities. If you’ve ever been stuck across town during a local festival, imagine what it’s like being stuck on the highway.
Luckily, Korea has excellent public transportation. You can go by bus or train to get anywhere in the peninsula. And once you arrive, you can always call a taxi- if you are lucky.
I will never forget the Lantern Festival of 2016 when we couldn’t get on the subway, call a taxi, or get on a bus – they were all packed. We had to walk from Durya Park to downtown Daegu. It took hours. And don’t get me started on parking, which is another issue that can create a problem at festival venues.
Language Barrier/ Group Tours
I have attended a few festivals thinking there would be English documentation or some form of translation. There wasn’t. And as you’d expect, we were often left confused and ignorant of what was going on. Although, sometimes it’s just as much fun to make up our dialogue, too.
You can sometimes avoid this by joining a group tour as long as there is a tour guide with cultural knowledge who speaks both languages. However, note the difference between tour guide and tour operator. A tour guide generally offers information, while a tour operator like Hana Tours, only provides transportation.
There are many cultural opportunities here in Korea, but some aren’t worth the time or the money. They were created expressly to separate foreigners from their money. The hard part is knowing how to tell the difference. I think a big clue might lie in its’ theme, marketing materials, and the intended audience.
I initially planned to attend the tulip festival in Taean until I realized we had a lovely celebration of the beautiful Dutch flower at Songhae Ecological Park. I like tulips, but not enough to devote an 8-hr drive (rt) & expense to see them in Taean. Did you know it takes approximately 5 hours to drive from the DMZ to Busan? If I’m driving 4-hrs, I’m probably going to Seoul, but that’s me. And it’s for the entire weekend – HELLO. When I go to Taean, it will be for a Stacey-style adventure.
Also, you may want to skip it if you’ve already done it before and opt for a new experience. This brings me to my next point.
Does it Speak to Your Heart, Soul, or Passion?
If so, add it to your itinerary. However, if it’s not something you are genuinely interested in, do something else. Have you watched people who don’t want to be where they are? Good grief. I never want to look like that. And that includes the free stuff too. The pandemic has taught me to put a high value on my time. It doesn’t go into the duffelbag if it’s not on my bucket list.
Learning Opportunity/ Growth
And finally, I didn’t learn to make sourdough like millions of other people during the pandemic. However, I picked up a few new skills: candlemaking, mindfulness, and sewing. I walked a lot. And found I loved historical fiction novels. I watched travel shows and connected both with why I loved to travel so much.
As a result, I promised myself that I’d carry that newfound energy & attitude into my actual travels. That didn’t mean I wouldn’t have fun when I travel. But I would slow down and be more physically active while learning something about the history, food & wine, fashion, design, architecture, or local politics before returning home.
Let me know if this resonates with you. What would you do if you thought the world could shut down again?