Over the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of using the Chickadee app as a prospective traveler to South Korea. You may not have thought to use the app in the planning stage, but I have found it to be an extremely valuable component to my preparation. I was able to ask questions about travel, communication, and accommodation from people who are actually in Korea and can give me real time answers. Often when I was planning on my own, I would find articles that were a few months to a few years old. With the way the world has changed so rapidly with COVID-19, it was hard to find updated information on how to best navigate and stay in the country. That’s where Chickadee could really shine. By having boots on the ground, they allow for the most accurate information. Here’s how the app works and my thoughts on the whole experience.
The streamlined, simple, and easy-to-use set-up was very appealing to me. The last thing I want to do when travelling, or planning, is have a bunch of extra features to sort through. Chickadee’s layout is clean-cut and clear.
On the home page, you see the dates for your activation. I really appreciate that this is the home screen, as many times I forget when a subscription ends and that is the last thing I would want to do with a service that I’m relying on for help in a foreign country!
Next, you have the “My team” page. You are assigned three team members, each with expertise that can help make your trip as smooth as possible. Each member has a picture and a little blurb about how long they’ve been in the area and what languages they speak. This brief introduction put my introverted self at ease. I definitely get nervous when talking to strangers and this makes it feel more personal. There are two ways to communicate with your team, and though I never used the call option, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so when travelling. They’re extremely responsive in the chat and I have full confidence this team would have my back in Korea.
The next tab “Profile” allows you to access settings, such as password, preferred language, and wallet. I love how everything is stated simply and that the app includes only the most important options. I often get weighed down in some apps because of too many selections. This design is extremely easy to navigate.
My favorite part of this app is the “My requests” section, found under “Profile.” This is the section where all the answers to your questions go in an organized and easy to access fashion. Instead of scrolling through the chat to find that one delivery service Hailey suggested to me, I can just go to my requests and find the folder labeled “Food Delivery Apps.” Inside, I’d find detailed information on this specific request.
The information was delivered in an easy to understand way, and the headers made it simple to differentiate between options. Again, this app has perfected keeping things streamlined which is exactly what you need when travelling.
I was excited to give Chickadee a go! I’ve been planning my trip to South Korea for a while now. I’ve never been to the country before and thus I’m not sure how accurate some information I receive on the internet is. I really had come to a standstill as far as what information I could actually get myself. Chickadee was the next step I needed to plan with confidence.
Here are the points I lacked solid information on:
● Best Travel Options
● Current COVID-19 Restrictions
● How to Use My Phone
● Apps to Download
● Local Churches
● Accommodation Recommendations
Most of my communication was with my team member, Hailey. I first asked Hailey how to get from Incheon International Airport to Itaewon. She told me directions from the terminal itself to the train station, and gave me an approximate travel time as well. Hailey also mentioned I could take a cab, and listed the fee which excluded tolls (I didn’t even think about toll fees!). With her boots on the ground, she was able to warn me that the regular airport bus system was out of commission until further notice due to COVID-19. I was so thankful to have that information in advance, as several websites had talked about this bus when travelling and if Hailey hadn’t given me the heads up, I would have included it in my travel plans. She also recommended downloading Kakao Map, as Google Maps wouldn’t give me driving or walking navigation. It was forethought like this that astounded me about my team. They would suggest something I didn’t even think of. And something like a proper navigation app is crucial. Chickadee really knows their stuff and spared me some first time traveller woes.
I next discussed currency exchange, and was given several options as well as information on credit card usage. We also discussed how to get a SIM card for my phone. Hailey sent over a pdf with detailed information and step-by-step guides on where to locate and how to purchase these. Getting my phone working and money in my hands is something I’d want to do ASAP.
After that, I needed to know of some accommodations near the airport. I’m not sure what time my flight would be coming in but I do know I would have been through many hours of travel. Unfortunately, I’m not someone who can sleep on planes, so I’m bound to be running on fumes when I land in South Korea. Though pure adrenaline can wake anyone up, I don’t think I’d be down for a long car ride to my hotel.
Hailey informed me that if I travelled to South Korea at present, I’d have to quarantine upon landing. I’m hoping by the time I go, these policies will not be in place, however, because I don’t plan to let COVID-19 ruin my dreams of travel, I decided to plan my trip with this in mind. I asked Hailey about accommodations in the Itaewon area, figuring I’d be rested enough to travel there after hunkering down for ten to fourteen days in quarantine.
I was mostly curious about the difference between hostels and hotels in the area. Chickadee spared no expense in detail. They sent me a six page pdf consisting of fourteen different accommodations. I was shocked at the level of detail and care that went into this file. They gave me a brief, yet vibrant, description of each location and below provided the necessary information as far as website and address. It was such a handy guide to have as I discussed possible stays with my friend, Lauren, who is travelling with me.
One of the accommodations listed that I found very promising was the Grid Inn Hotel. In the description Chickadee sent over, it was noted that this included a view of Namsan Mountain and Tower. No landmark screams South Korea more to me than this. To be able to view this from the hotel would be an added bonus. Upon looking at their website, Grid Inn Hotel was highly affordable and had amazing ratings. I doubt I would have been able to find this spot on my own, as there are hundreds of hotels to sort through. This saved me so much time!
Lauren and I also want to visit a Christian church while we are in Korea. We both enjoy going to church on Sunday and thought it would be a cool experience to go to a Korean service. However, we had no idea how to locate a church, and get some description about it, let alone get their service information. Here, Chickadee shines. Because their team members speak Korean, they completely bridged the gap for us. Hailey sent over a pdf with five different churches listed, including denomination and history.
Seoul Union Church caught my eye first on the list. It is the oldest international, Protestant church in Korea, dating back to 1885. They hold services in English and have a thriving international community of congregants. This would be a unique experience to meet with other English speakers in Korea and those who share my faith. This also seems to be a smaller congregation, which would likely allow us to fellowship with more people.
Another church I’d like to visit if we are there for more than one Sunday is Yonsei Central Baptist Church. This is a mega church with many members. I grew up in a huge church like this back in Orlando, but now I go to a smaller one like Seoul Union Church. This would be a cool experience to go to a church this size in another country.
I also look forward to hearing someone preach in Korean again. Lauren and I once visited a Korean service in Orlando. It was awesome to be able to test out our Korean understanding. We didn’t understand much, but we sure did enjoy it! We were able to sing along with some of the slower Korean songs, thanks to the lyrics on the screen.
I wonder what Korean church culture is like. I had a friend visit a church during her trip to Korea and she said it's quite different from American worship services. I’m excited to make this a part of my experience in the country.
Overall, my experience with the Chickadee app surpassed my expectations. The level of detail with which I was able to plan my trip would have been an impossibility without them. I cannot wait to use this service once I actually get to Korea, as I have no doubts they would be with me every step of the way to help with any needs that pop up. I feel so much more confident now that I have Chickadee to back me up!