Seoul Station

As we were planning our trip to Korea for October 2017, one of my worries was what we were going to do with our luggage the day we were flying out. Our flight wasn’t until 8 pm, but of course we had to be out of our AirBnB before lunch. I was so relieved when my husband told me that we could check our bags in with Korea Air at Seoul Station.

Honestly, the options for travelers at this station are so convenient. On Friday we were moving from our apartment in Seoul to Suwon, but first were having lunch with a friend. It was Seoul Station to the rescue again with the Baggage Service.

On the B2 level of the station, the Baggage Service allows you to store your bags for hours or days. Cost is based on the size of your bags and how long you are storing them. We stored all of our bags (seven total) for several hours for about $40 that Friday. Then on Monday, we stored our carry-on bags while we did some sightseeing before our flight. We loved this service.

Also on the B2 level of Seoul Station,  you can check-in for Korea Air flights and check your bags. Once checked in, you also go through immigration there, which makes the process once you are at the airport much shorter.

These services made our transitions so much easier.

 

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AirBnB: Korea Style

Eleven years ago, my family went to Korea for the first time to pick up our son. In October 2017, we finally made it back to Korea for a return trip. Many things have changed since our first trip 11 years ago, one being options on where to stay. The first time we visited Korea we stayed at our agency’s guest house. Once we booked our trip this year, we decided to use AirBnB to book accommodations and we weren’t disappointed. We spent four days at an apartment in Seoul and finished with three days at an apartment in Suwon. While you may not stay in the exact same AirBnB’s that we did, I thought I would share some general tips that we learned through our two AirBnB experiences.

Location, Location, Location
We chose the apartments we did based on their location, each one near a subway station. In Seoul, we found an apartment that was two blocks from Seoul Station. This was ideal for a couple of reasons. First, the express train from the airport arrives at Seoul Station in about 45 minutes. (This was another new things since 2006; the airport train didn’t exist then. It was so convenient!) That meant that we could easily walk to the apartment with our luggage. Second, everyplace we wanted to see was within two or three subway stops of our apartment. We will definitely rent in the Seoul Station area again. Our apartment in Suwon was only two blocks from the Suwon City Hall station, making it a convenient walk with luggage as well. Next time, we might choose something closer to Suwon station, since the shuttles to area attractions leave from near that station.

Communication
We had a mixed experience when it came to communication with our AirBnB hosts. The man who offered the apartment in Seoul was wonderful! He sent a PDF with detailed directions on how to get to the apartment from Seoul Station. We had no problem finding it. Then once in the room, he had a house manual that explained how things worked in the apartment. We had trouble getting the air conditioner to work, and he even came over and helped us. Our Suwon host was very responsive once we were at the apartment (we had a plumbing problem while there), but we didn’t feel that we got all of the information we needed when it came to finding the apartment from the subway station. We ended up grabbing a taxi to get there, which was not necessary but we just didn’t know where to go from the station. Bless the soul of that taxi driver, who drove us the two blocks between the station and apartment! Our Suwon apartment also didn’t have a house manual so it took longer to connect to the wi-fi and get other things in the apartment working.

Size
Our apartment in Seoul was listed as sleeping five to six people. It has a bed in the main living area, plus a sleeping loft with two beds. While there are only three of us in the family, we loved having the extra space. We each had our beds so no one was cramped, and there was plenty of space to have our luggage open but out of the way. The Suwon apartment was listed as sleeping four, but honestly we were cramped in this one. It was a studio apartment with one bed and two chairs that reclined into beds. Now I would opt for bigger.

Cultural Differences
A couple of cultural differences that you might want to consider. Bath towels in Korea considerably smaller than those in the US. They are somewhere between the size of a US hand towel and a bath towel. So, if you are really attached to large bath towels, you might want to take your own. Also wash clothes weren’t provided. We adjusted to the towel size, but next time we’ll take our own wash clothes.

Our apartment in Seoul was older so you had to turn on the hot water and let us heat up before taking a shower or washing dishes. This wasn’t a problem; it was just something you had to plan for.

While it took us 11 years to make a return trip to Korea, we hope to go again next year. And we will definitely do AirBnB again for our accommodations. They were convenient, cheaper than hotels, and it was cool to live like the natives for a few days.

 

 

 

Cool Travel Ideas No. 1–Plan a Scavenger Hunt

So our son continues to ask WHEN we’re going to visit Korea. While we’d planned to travel this past April, unemployment derailed our plans and our travel companions wouldn’t have been able to join us even if we’d gone since they’d had to evacuate Japan after the earthquake. Our whole family longs to travel, but we know that God’s plans are better than ours and that when we do go, his timing will mean it’s the perfect time.

Recent travel of friends got me to thinking about how different our next trip to Korea will be, considering we’ll be traveling with a young child (yes, we are assuming that he’ll still be “young” when our trip occurs) instead of just being a couple for most of the trip. So while we wait, I’ve decided to collect travel ideas from families who have recently traveled with young children.

The first idea comes from a family whose blog I follow (http://ourlittletongginator.blogspot.com/). This family ahs recently traveled to China to meet and bring home their second daughter. As Tonggu Mom prepared for the trip, she’s shared plans, ideas, and tips, some which I think are marvelous and ones I hadn’t thought of.

Plan a Scavenger Hunt. Tonggu Mom created a list of inexpensive or free things her daughter could look for and collect during the trip. I LOVE this idea! What a perfect way to keep a young child engage and interested in the trip. Here are some things that she included on her list and things her friends suggested, although I’ve adjusted them for Korea.

  • plastic pilot wings from the airline
  •  ticket stub from any form of transportation within Korea
  • a Korean coin
  • souvenir from the Hwaesong Fortress
  • a photograph of the our family at one of the palaces dressed in hanbok
  • count and note the number of steps climbed to get to the N. Seoul Tower
  • paper menus from two different restaurants
  • a business card from our adoption agency
  • a note and autograph from a Korean person
  • something that displays the Korean flag
  • photo of the strangest things he sees being sold by a street vendor
  • photo of the most normal thing he sees being sold by a street vendor
  • photos of U.S. franchises with signs written in hangul
  • wrapper from or photo of the most “unusual” variation of the brand he recognizes (like a U.S. cookie or potato chip in an “interesting” flavor)
  • rubbing from a Korean landmark
  • a photo of our son’s favorite band in an ad or billboard

You could even take a small (8 x 8, maybe) scrapbook with slide-in pages and begin to put together a memento book with these treasures. In fact, if you’re really on top it, you and your child could put the pages together, decorated with titles/paper/stickers/etc., before the trip, and begin to fill in the items as they collected. I know, it sounds ambitious but knowing me if the scrapbook isn’t made before, it might not get made.

I’ll probably add to this list and adjust it as I find new information. In the meantime, I’d love to hear some of your ideas. What types of things would you have a child collect while on a trip to Korea?