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Traveling like a normal activity, The fever of living for a month

As time goes by, the number of people traveling continues to rise and there are  many ways to enjoy traveling. A new traveling trend these days is “living for a month”, in which people stay in one place for a long time and enjoy their travel as usual. As pursuits of happiness and composure are being created, regardless of gender and age, people travel to new homes in Korea and abroad. Let’s find out what ‘Living for a month’ is, how it has become trendy, some examples, problems, and prospects of ‘living for a month.'
 

What is ‘Living for a month’?

‘Living for a month’ means experience of life at certain locations for a month or a certain period of time. It’s a kind of long-term travel in which the border between travel and daily life disappears.  ‘Living for a month’ has become the latest trend. The advantage of living for a month is that you can stay in the same place for a long time and be part of the atmosphere and lifestyle of that place. It broke away from the traditional short trip style in which travelers leave during the peak season and make a superficial survey of several tourist attractions within a short period of time. ‘Living for a month’ travelers prefer to take a journey in which they can feel themselves to be one with local life as if they are residing in the region instead of doing long-term travel of visiting well-known tourist spots and the city’s famous downtown. The trend is moving from a busy trip in a short time to a laid-back and relaxing trip.

According to Timon’s findings, from January to February 2019, the number of customers who went on a 'living for a month' trip increased in all categories, including families, individuals, and the rest. Compared with January and February 2018, the number of 'living for a month' family travelers increased by 112%, and that of individual travelers also grew by 143%. The data showed that the largest period was ’26-31 days' (48%), followed by ‘20~25 days' (27%), and ‘32~37 days' (12%). In Korea, people have made 'live for a month' trips to Jeju Island, Gangneung, Tongyeong, Namhae and so on but most people went to Jeju Island. There are nearly 140,000 members of the cyber cafe ‘Living for a month in Jeju Island’ that shares information and reviews about housing for 'live for a month' travelers. According to data from 2019 ‘Interpark Tour’, Bangkok took first place for tourist spots for 'live for a month' travelers in 2019, the Philippines ranked number two, and Vietnam ranked number three. The majority of 'live for a month' travel was dominated by Jeju Island, but beyond domestic travel, the trend has expanded to overseas.

'Live for a month' travelers fall into three categories by age group: family units with young children who make up the largest part of the market, individual tourists in their 20s and 30s, and people over 50. Young married couples with young children often plan a 'living for a month' trip to give their children great memories. The economically weaker ones like individual tourists in their 20s and 30s continue to live for a month by doing unpaid part-time work at guest houses in exchange for shared or free accommodations. The older generations over 50 tend to mainly book 'living for a month' package tour offered by the hotel industry. They want to enjoy the beautiful sights of Jeju Island to the full for a long time and commune with nature, but often live for a month in a hotel because they tend to avoid exhausting labor and the environment of country life. A few years ago ‘living for a month’ was considered to be a thing of some people, in particular housewives or people in higher-income brackets. However, TV programs such as Three meals a day and Hyori’s Homestay was the fuel that started ‘living for a month’ becoming a common travel trend among various classes and generations.

 

The background of living for a month

The background of living for a month can be explained in three ways. First is the background of expansion of extended leave. ‘Long-term vacations’ have recently become popular with local companies. The abbreviation of ‘Work and Life Balance’, or maintaining a work-life balance, holds a place in the hearts of the younger generation. In addition, people can take long-term annual leave more easily than in the past, and the diversification of employee welfare between companies has also helped ‘living for a month’ to draw keen attention. The employee welfare includes that the situation in which employees with more than five years of employment can earn one month of vacation time. For example, Kim Woo-hyun (43), a team leader at a local finance company, told the Seoul Economic Daily that lived in San Rafael, a country village in the state of Bulacan in the Philippines for 25 days from March 15 to April 8, 2018. His company introduced the ‘long-term vacation’ system at the beginning of 2018 so that employees could get enough rest for three or four weeks or have time for self-improvement. Team leader Kim said he had been suffering from herniated cervical and lumbar discs for a long time, but his acquaintance recommended a ‘Health-healing’ trip so he chose the countryside in the Philippines as a long-term vacation destination. He added that after spending about one month without stress in the fresh air, the symptoms of his discs showed a marked improvement. Also, he mentioned that as he returned to work after replenishing his energy which had run out while living in society, he felt that his working ability had gone up. Companies that place a higher value on experience than on material possessions are adding to their employees' personal values by thinking that happiness accumulates though a variety of experiences and that exploring oneself is more important than grandiose goals, such as promotions. This makes ‘living for a month’ flourish.

 The second background concept is the change of parental values. Parental values which only lay stress on study have begun to change a little bit to anticipation encouraging their children to be well-informed through participation in a variety of activities. Since about 2010, it has come into vogue that big city families want to experience a new kind of life in less populated areas like Jeju Island. Also ‘living for a month abroad’ which takes children abroad to learn English had been booming for quite a while. For example, the Summer English Camp in Guam runs for four weeks from Aug. 4 to Aug. 31, with local private schools in Guam.  There are two types of English camp: ‘Camp alone’  in which only students participate and ‘With mom’ in which parents and children participate together. Moreover, the number of people participating in ‘living for a month’  with their children, not just for training purpose, continues to increase. Instead of life that is satisfied and forced by mothers, parents tend to try to find activities that parents and children are happy doing together. Kim Nam-jo, a tourism professor at Hanyang University, said “the parental values which don’t dwell on systematic education have changed, and the social atmosphere that freely admits learning experience and a change in the educational system contribute to ‘living for a month’ waves." As he said, there is also a phenomenon in which parents do not want to travel only on vacation.

 The last background fact is the reaching after happiness. Current college students have a higher demand for ‘living for a month’ than other people because they can freely apply for a leave of absence and have a longer vacation. This is because college students want a journey that gives them an open mind by leaving the city and having an opportunity to reflect on themselves in a strange place. So, ‘living for a month’ is considered a romance and gives energy to college students. Shin Hye-won, a business administration student at Dankook University, said in an interview with LG Challenger, the overseas visiting program for college students, that she lived for a month in the city of Chiang Mai in Thailand from August 24 to September 22, 2018. She had a lot of worries about credit, relationship, the future and so on, so she needed time to pay attention only to herself. Therefore, she immediately applied for a leave of absence and lived in Chiang Mai for a month. In particular, she said that she had to choose a place where prices were low because the economic considerations are not negligible for college students, and they have to pay thier living expenses of rent, food, and transportation for a month. So she thought that Chiang Mai is most appropriate for her. She also explained that it was recommended to ask local people about famous local restaurants and attractions directly because local people know well about cheap and full restaurants and hidden attractions, of course. In addition, famous places on the Internet, where many Koreans visit, are high-priced. Lastly, she said, “Living for a month doesn’t mean anyone gives you a license or recognize you, but it’s a big change in your life that you have a memory which you can recall through troubled times.” After living for a month in Thailand, she was able to focus more on herself without hesitating and to do what she wanted to do compared to the past when she used to put herself down in comparison with others. In this way, we can see that college students choose a place to live for a month with consideration for economic factors and there is a move to pursue true happiness by living a month and experiencing many things.

 

With the revitalization of living for a month, the features and market for services related to living for a month are also diversifying.

Expansion of living for a month

The first example of expansion is the TV program ‘Village.’ The KBS entertainment program ‘Village’, which started to air on Nov. 30, 2018 and ended in January 2019, brought up a subject of conversation about a fusion of travel and living through celebrity families living in Slovenia, Helsinki, and Bali for a month. Specifically, Cho Jung-chi, Jeong-in, and their daughter Cho-eun experienced living abroad for a limited time in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Before departure, Cho Jung-chi and Jeong-in felt sorry at the appearance of ordinary parents who were tired of raising their children and are pressed for work and life. After they arrived in Slovenia, they gave viewers good energy and happiness with a smile that’s never been the same. Sitting at an outdoor table in a restaurant and enjoying meals, viewers could vicariously feel the ease of getting used to local life. The program also included striking super high-definition video of the small European town of Ljubljana, from the central market to the open-air café on the riverside. So, it made viewers feel healing and shaped fantasies about living for a month. According to Jautour Cooperation, inquiries about travel sites introduced by broadcasting have risen by 13% since the show aired.

The second example of expansion is the book ‘Living, learning, playing in Saipan with a child for a month’.

From three years ago, Kim So-ra (41) has lived in Saipan for a month every winter since her son was in the first year of middle school. She published a book in March 2018, based on her experiences in Saipan, called “Living, learning, playing in Saipan with a child for a month.” Because it is her value to focus on life experiences rather than study, her son has developed interest in swimming at the beach after school despite  attending  a local private school. So he got a scuba diving certificate. Kim said “Instead of private tutoring, I saved money for a year” and “Is this not the age of always living in the same place? I believed that doing various things and getting insight is worth much more than anything in a child’s life.” As more and more people decide to take extended trips with their children, we can also find more books for parents who have a dream to live for a month including JiHyeong’s Vancouver Picture Trip, and Living in London and Paris for a Month with Children in bookstores.

The last example of expansion is the accommodation platform ‘Minda.’ For ‘living for a month’ trips. Free tour services that offer accommodation and local tour services rather than travel agencies that mainly offer package tours are leading the market. Among them, ‘Minda’ is the nation’s largest app, reserving Korean style private rental room service around the world, which allows users to book tours and local activities, along with room reservations. On July 2, 2019, Minda started ‘living for a month’ service that taps into 1,300 Korean style private rental room service in 170 cities around the world. It also recommends 2,400 tours and activities registered on the app to help people who are interested in living for a month. ‘Living for a month’ service of Minda, when users select and request options such as desired location, budget, room type and so on, specialized travel planners suggest detailed plans and estimates as custom plan options. The Korean style private rental room service of Minda has become popular in terms of its advantages in being an easier way to get travel information in Korean and information about luxury lodges just like hotels. Minda is expected to lower the threshold of living abroad for a month by offering various travel packages, such as performance tickets, transportation passes, sim cards, pocket Wi-Fi, traveler’s insurance, at a maximum 50% discount. Minda CEO Kim Yoon-hee said that during the past three years, the number of people living abroad for a month has increased nearly 200%, while the data use by Minda also showed a 290% increase in stays of 15 nights or more. She also explained that people who actually move a dream that they had in the past into action are growing. She went on to say, “If there’s anyone who hesitates, it’s because of costs and fear. The Korean style private rental room service will lower the barrier to entry of living for a month. I will continue to strive to make a service that can help more travelers’ dreams come true.”

 

With the fever of living for a month, various broadcasting programs and accommodation platforms related to living for a month are being developed, but concerns about it cannot be ignored.

Concerns about living for a month

 Fraud related to living for a month is a significant concern for travelers. With the ‘living in Jeju Island for a month’ craze, cases of consumers with long-term property damages are rising rapidly. According to the Korea Consumer Agency on Jan. 11, 2019, the number of losses about ‘living in Jeju Island for a month’ reached 48 in the 3 years and 9 months from January 2015 to Sept. 30, 2018. The number of cases of Lease Termination was 28, the highest, including 19 cases of refusal or delay of deposit refund and 9 cases of charging excessive fees. Here are some real-life examples. In December 2018, Mr. B booked a 17-day stay in Jeju Island, but requested a retraction for personal reasons in April, three months before it was to  be used. Under Consumer Dispute Resolution System, if the contract is canceled two months ahead, the relevant company must return the total amount, but they deducted 50% of the deposit and refunded only penalty fees to Mr. B. In another case, Mr. Kim (27) get arrested in May 2018 on charges of pocketing 1 million won of 2.8 million won received as payment in advance from tourists wanting to lease accommodations to live for a month. Mr. Kim actions were revealed after renting two townhouses in Gujwa-eup, Jeju Island, he placed illegal advertisements on websites without registering with the lodging industry. A total of 43 people suffered a loss of 79 million won in damages with this case town house fraud. Jeju Eastern Police station, which investigated the case, confirmed the victim and the amount of of damage and arrested the accused Mr. Kim on charges of fraud on Aug, 2018.

Next, living for a month without objects of conspicuous consumption is other concern. “Many people are caught in a rat trap and are worn out. In this life, most people feel something is wrong and try to live for a month to experience a leisurely life-style”, said Lee Yeon-hee, CEO of Lazymama, an accommodation firm of living on Jeju Island for a month. However, she was concernedabout the tendency to blindly imitating others who live for a month without thinking specific aims, reasons, and preparation. She often saw people who were disappointed and returned home having only romantic ideas because they could not turn their backs upon the conveniences and speed of city life. Actually, in July 2018, Kim Soo-young detailed her experiences in Havana, Cuba on her blog. She tried to live there for a month without preparing in advance, but the city environment was so bad that she came back after only two weeks. First, she said Cuba was developed only for tourist attractions, other cities were very old, and there were not many people who had cell phones. Finally, the market of Cuba had only industrial products made in Cuba because of U.S. economic sanctions, but even the sort of industrial products was so much fewer and poor quality. So she roughed it for about two weeks in Havana. ‘Living for a month’ is not just travel, but rather living, which shows that preparations adapted to local areas, instead of a conservative life style, are needed.

 

The prospect of living for a month

 Jeong Lan-soo, a professor of tourism at Hanyang University referred to the prospect of prolonged travel. “Only when travelers prolong their stay, the demand of consumption is created, and only when consumption is created,  industries are formed”, he said. He also added, “Accommodation, living, and community, these three factors should be perfect when staying at travel spots. Accommodations is the most fundamental element of staying, and in the case of living, even if traveler break from the rigours of daily life, they will feel uncomfortable if things related transportation or cultural life are basically poor.” The place most people are looking for living for a month is Chiang Mai and Bangkok because the prices remains relatively low and there is a lot to see, eat, and enjoy. In addition, large and small places to visit such as Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, and Pai which are as densely populated as Chiang Mai. In this way, Chiang Mai has a well-developed tourism infrastructure. In the flow of trends, persistent efforts are also underway to attract stay type tourists in all parts of the country. In response, the government signed a business agreement with Korea Tourism Organization for the organic connection of tour programs for each country within the provinces. In particular, the city of Yeosu, Jeollanam-do Province, has been running a ‘live in Yeosu for a month’ program since April 29, 2019 in order to promote the beautiful Yeosu region throughout the country and revitalize population inflow. Participants can freely choose their residency from 7 to 30 days. You draw up a planning application and can apply by e-mail or fax from the Yeosu City website. Experience reviews should also be posted and submitted. Actually, Noh Dae-seok, a reporter who experienced ‘living in Yeosu for a month’ program, said, “It was good that the Tourism Division of Yeosu City sent a guidebook, with information such as a tourist attraction,s a map, good restaurants in advance, and paid a lot of attention to conveniences of travel like booking accommodation and applying for a tour experience program. Therefore, as stay type tourism like ‘living for a month’ is developing, it is necessary to develop various features to attract travelers so that a consumption boom for the growth of the community can occur.

 

For travelers, the trend of Living Somewhere whether home or abroad for a month, is spreading like wildfire. This is because people want to enjoy the local space and time while traveling locally rather than having a special experience. With more factors related to living for a month, Korea is also making efforts to attract tourists living for a month. It seems that a new culture of travel will be established where people stay in various places for long periods and refresh their mind by breaking out of their boring routines.


석수연  ssy827@naver.com

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