So alongside my full time job, I’ve also had to plan and organise my big solo trip.
It’s extremely hard when work takes up most of your day so you have to spend a lot of time planning when is a good time to get certain tasks done. Before you can start ticking things off your to-do list, thorough research has to be done. Thank goodness for our phones and iPads/tablets. Without these, we’d be less efficient for sure. This means I can make the most of my time while I’m commuting by doing some research and preparing!
So everyone seems to always suffer from something they catch after coming back from overseas- the travel bug. Not only is a holiday one which allows you to relax and explore new places, it really allows you to grow as an individual and to learn many things you never thought you’d learn! In December last year, I travelled to the States with my younger sister where we explored California, and visited one of the most amazing cities in the world – New York.
I came back and thought, wow I took care of my 13 year old sister while on this holiday, I made my own decisions, and I had to face my fears. A holiday really does heaps to you. I guess that’s why you can never get enough of a holiday.
So I knew I had May and June all to myself- the only time I can do absolutely anything without worrying about taking any leave. So I decided, why not travel somewhere far that I most likely won’t visit again in the near future. For this reason, I had South America in mind, Machu Picchu. Research showed that flights to South America cost approximately 2- 2.5k. And then possibly another 2-3k for a tour with Intrepid. All up to be 5k at a minimum. Bare in mind we also have to add expenses on top of this! I thought hard and decided, if I ever go during another time and not close to World Cup season, it would be a lot cheaper.
Although I decided to steer away from this idea, I promised myself I will have to visit this place someday. I then started to look at places like Asia. I’ve always had a strong desire to visit China.
I’m one of those kids who grew up to watch Chinese dramas with the parents. I had always felt so inspired whenever seeing the Great Wall, and the stories behind how it came about. I love hearing stories about the Emperors and the families living behind those Kingdom walls.
As well as sight seeing, I love to take in the atmosphere around me and get to know the culture the country has to offer.
Whilst studying, I’ve helped out with a fair bit of volunteering programs however, I’ve always wanted to make a practical impact and help out in the community in a developing country. China to me, isn’t one where everyone is born and raised in a wealthy family. You’ve got the rich, the middle-class and then you’ve got the poor.
So the thought finally came to mind, as well as travelling and exploring, I can actually help the Chinese community by volunteering to teach English. Deciding on the organisation wasn’t hard because I had been encouraged to work with IVHQ because of the many great shared experiences people have had.
I then starting researching on other parts of Asia and where else would be great to visit. After quite a bit of researching on flights and what to do in each country, baring in mind time restrictions; I decided on China & Japan.
IVHQ fees are quite affordable, especially when these cover accommodation, part food and also airport transportation. Come back and check ‘my interesting finds‘ in the next few weeks as I’ll be sharing my experience as I volunteer during the 2 weeks.
With my flights, I booked with STA. So I’ll be flying from Sydney to Beijing, then Xi’an to Osaka and then Tokyo back home to Sydney. My itinerary:
– touring in Beijing for 3 days with Lead to China
– 12 hour train ride from Beijing to Xi’an
– teaching in Xi’an for 2 weeks
– flying from Xi’an to Osaka
– spend a couple days in each city; Osaka, Kyoto and then Tokyo
– lastly, spending a week in a local suburb just an hour away from Mount Fuji with a cousin of mine who has resided in Japan for over 15 years.
Before all this travelling, there’s still so much to do ! Booking flights, buying travel insurance from TID (travel insurance direct), obtaining a Visa into China and booking the Beijing tour. Along with this, there are several things which need to be prepared for the IVHQ volunteering program (paying fees, obtaining correct support such as national background crime check, medical certificate). And then making sure I’m vaccinated so I stay safe 🙂
Oh and one thing, you can’t shop without $$$ !
So when I travelled to the States, I used CBA’s travel card which I have to say was quite convenient. As a student, you don’t need t pay any loading fee on the first go, and opening the travel card is also free. But you do pay on the 2nd load. So this time, I’ve sought heaps of advice from experience travelers and found that 28 degrees owned by GE money seems to be the best credit card. I say credit card because it means you can spend however much without having to worry about digging into your savings just yet. And another awesome thing is that you don’t have to pre load money into the card before going. With the CBA Card, if I load 3k, that’s all I can use on the card. This means I have to predetermine how much I will be spending and then loading that exact amount into the card. With travel credit cards, you have a high credit limit which you don’t necessarily hit but a least you have the great threshold for spending.
Can’t wait to share with you my incredible 6 week journey. Whether travelling or not, all you people stay safe and stay healthy. Smile and be happy 🙂
Stay safe everyone,
xx The Finder