Margaret Ulrich is a freelance writer living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  Along with teaching English abroad through LanguageCorps, pool hopping, and fried tarantula eating, she records her not-so-mundane life on her blog

With my time teaching English abroad coming to a close, and my departure flight for the US booked, I looked around my dear little city of Phnom Penh and realized I needed a vacation before heading back to the chaos-free streets of my homeland.


I found that planning a vacation while living abroad was a bit trickier than I expected.

Raise your hand if you’ve had that same issue. Come on, raise them high. Yeah, it’s frustrating. We’ve all been there, waiting in line for the 10:30 am bus, it’s already 11:15, you’ve checked your watch a dozen times, and you know you won’t make your connecting bus at the border if you don’t leave now!

I can’t help you much there, other than to say you probably should have taken the 7 am to be on the safe side —I know it’s hard with a hangover—but I can give some tips from my trip to help you on your next vacation to a full moon party or something less, well, crazy.

1. Make a budget

It’s impossible to find bus/plane tickets, guesthouses, places to eat, or things to do when you don’t have a clue about how much you want to can spend.

Once you’ve got your magic number you can factor in:

-Modes of transportation i.e. bus, train, plane, mule

-Crossing borders

Cost of visa if you need it—be sure to find that out in advance because                           some countries (Vietnam) require you to have it before arrival

-How many nights do you want to stay?

-Type of trip—active outdoors, beach lounging, city traipsing, artistic tour, etc.

2. Finding the perfect crash-pad

Now that you know where you’re going, you’ll need to find a place to rest your head at night. This can be especially difficult in developing countries because the majority of places don’t have websites. There are plenty of travel websites, though, to help you with price, ratings, and availability.


-Lonelyplanet guide

-iPad ap for trips

My friend and I found an ecolodge in Kep that had great reviews on Tripadvisor and, after our stay, we definitely agreed. The price was within our budget—it included breakfast, which was great—and we had excellent service the entire week.

3. Research activities in the area

Sometimes when you find the perfect place in a town with a famous waterfall, that waterfall might be the only thing to do there. If that’s the case, your five-day vacation plan might be a bit on the lengthy side.

Check out towns nearby and whether or not they’re accessible for day trips or if you’ll need to book another hotel in advance. If you haven’t chucked your lonelyplanet guide yet, it sometimes seems pointless when you live somewhere to keep it, then thumb through that to get some ideas for activities.

It’s easy to settle into life as an expat and lose that exhilarating desire to travel, but don’t forget about why you made the move in the first place. Be adventurous, take a vacation, and hopefully this guide will make it headache free.


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