[Unfiltered; ep.5] Devon (Hours and Miles)

Welcome back to another episode of Unfiltered: Unraveling Truths About Traveling. A segment where I ask bloggers, vloggers, and the like questions about traveling in order to share with you their perspectives and opinions.

For this week, let me introduce you to:

And without further ado – I’ll give Devon the floor!


Hello WanderingTravelr readers!

My name is Devon and I am a 24 year old American currently living in Daejeon, South Korea. I teach English at a public middle school, where I have about 700 students who truly make me happy to wake up in the morning and come to work but who also challenge me in ways I never knew I could be challenged. Mostly I just love them a lot.

My hobbies include:

  • Photography
  • Volleyball
  • Studying Korean
  • Drinking too much coffee
  • And writing for my blog Hours and Miles

I originally started doing the blog as a way to share stories and pictures from my travels with my family and friends. But over time it has become a way for me to process and better understand my own experience living abroad.

I have a tendency to write essays when I’m meant to write a few sentences (as anyone who has ever read my blog before knows) and as travel is something I care deeply about, I may have done that again here. But I hope you enjoy it nonetheless! Thanks for reading! ^^


1. What has traveling taught you?

Traveling has taught me probably most important lesson that I have learned in my life; that what I understand about the world is just a drop in the ocean compared to the vast and incredibly diverse cultures, languages, and ideas that exist on this planet. Travel has taught me that there are many different equally valid ways to live life.


2. Is there something you can’t travel without?

As cliché as it is, my camera.

For me, having my camera with me is an extension of my whole travel experience. It helps me to see the beautiful things in places that you might not always see them. It helps me to look for unique perspectives at typical tourist locations and forces me to attempt to understand as much as I can about a place so that I can hope to do it justice in pictures.


3. Should I travel to a place where I can’t speak the language?

My answer to this is two fold.

First, absolutely!

It is amazing how much information and meaning can be conveyed without any words at all, so don’t let that deter you from traveling to a certain place that you really want to visit! Trust me, as someone who teaches middle schoolers in a language that most of them don’t understand, it is very possible to have fun and build relationships with almost zero words exchanged.

But I say that with the caveat that I think you should still try to learn at least a few basic phrases or words of the local language where you will be staying. I don’t say that to somehow shame people who travel with only English in their arsenal. Not at all. I only say it because I know personally how much more rewarding and memorable it can make your travel experience.

People will immediately be more open, more willing to help, and more willing to understand if you can show them that you put at least a little effort into taking that burden of communication off of them. It also has the added benefit of putting you continuously in the mindset that you are a guest in the country. The language, the culture, and the country are not yours and as such it’s really important to maintain a kind of humble respect for where ever you’re staying.

Coffee in Peru
Photo courtesy of Devon (Hours and Miles)

4. What do you do to stay healthy when you travel?

This is a great question. Because as someone who can just look at food and manage to get sick from it, I have built up a list of foods I avoid while traveling.

If you’re someone with a strong stomach and a functional digestive system, first of all congratulations, I wouldn’t know that that’s like, then please ignore this and eat absolutely everything you can get your hands on. Food and culture are so intertwined that food is often the best and easiest way to experience another country while traveling.

But for those of us with more sensitive stomachs I recommend staying away from:

  • Street meat. Yes, that is intentionally broad.
  • Foods that sit outside at a stall before they’re served.
  • Dairy, if the country doesn’t always refrigerate dairy products. I learned this the hard way in Peru.
  • Fruits that you didn’t peel yourself. Fruits that don’t have a skin to peel.
  • And do your research about the country before you drink water from the tap.

5. Tips for traveling to Korea

I’ve lived in Korea for almost 2 years now which doesn’t make me an expert by any means. These tips will, of course, barely scratch the surface but I hope they might be helpful for anyone considering Korea as a future travel destination. Which you totally should, Korea is awesome!

  1. Enjoy Seoul for what it is and all the incredible things it has to offer. But also make sure to get out of Seoul at least once. All of the other major cities in the country have their own distinct personalities that will give you a different perspective of the country. And apart from major cities there are also a lot of smaller traditional villages around that can give you a taste of what Korea was like in the past.
  2. Learn to read Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. I know, I know it sounds daunting. But trust me it is incredibly simple and can be memorized in probably less than an hour and read easily in a few days. The transportation system in Korea is pretty easy to navigate as it is but if you can even just read the alphabet, without knowing what a single word means, then you pretty much have access to the entire country.
  3. Try all the food. Korean food and Korean culture are inseparable. At lot of the traditional meals end up being more like an experience rather than just a quick meal to eat.  
Patbingsu in Korea
Photo courtesy of Devon (Hours and Miles)

6. Where is one place that you have traveled to that you would love to travel to again? Why?

Japan.

I’ve been to Japan twice but it still doesn’t feel like enough.

The food, the fashion, the history, the people, the vibe. So far everything that I’ve seen I’ve loved. Korea has this kind of shiny excitement woven throughout the many differences between itself and the west. But Japan, despite all its differences and uniqueness that make is such an exciting place to visit, something about it is cozy. It feels familiar somehow. I’m sure that anyone who has visited there will tell you, there is just something about Japan.

A photo of Japan
Photo courtesy of Devon (Hours and Miles)

7. Why did you start traveling? What made you fall in love with it?

I have been traveling with my family since I was little, but first traveled on my own in high school.

I was lucky enough to visit France, Italy, England, and Scotland while I was in high school and studied abroad in Peru when I was a sophomore in college.

But what made me fall in love, truly in love, with travel was actually the English teaching job that I started during my junior year of college. Through that job I had the incredible privilege to teach and eventually become very close friends with people from all over the world.

I think it is because of how much I love those friends that I have been able to see the places I travel as someone else’s home rather than just a tourist sight to be checked off a list. Singapore wasn’t just the fancy shopping and beautiful gardens. It was the complicated cultural climate and my friend’s feelings about what it means to be Singaporean and Chinese. Japan wasn’t just amazing food and quirky toys; it was the place that shaped my friends into the people they are today.

I really believe that I fell in love with travel because I first fell in love with a lot people from all over the world.


8. Do you ever feel burnt out when you travel? If yes, then how do you deal with it?

I definitely have experienced being burned out by travel before.

Living in Korea it’s reallllllly easy to think that every single vacation I get from work I should jet off to Thailand or Japan or Malaysia. But that kind of underlying expectation can sometimes take the fun out of it.

Last year I went to Japan twice, Hong Kong, America, and Singapore and I didn’t feel burnt out once. But in each place I had a person to visit and a reason for going.

When this summer rolled around I didn’t really have the same reason to go anywhere. And so when I thought about what to do or where to go it just felt forced. It made me tired before I’d even started planning anything.

So I just didn’t go anywhere. I stayed in Daejeon, took a few day trips to the beach, and played a lot of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at home. And it was amazing.

I think one of the keys to making sure you don’t get burnt out is to never travel just for the sake of doing it. Travel with the intention to learn something, have a new experience, or see someone you love who’s usually far away. Because in those situations, I find, the exhaustion of that comes with travel is never completely overwhelming.


Thank you Devon for being a part of this blog segment and taking the time to answer these questions!


You can find Devon at her blog

Hours and Miles


Interested in reading more? Check out segments from previous guests on Unfiltered!