Ask anybody, I’m one of those people who enjoys travel planning, and end up packing each day with things to do.
I would want to sight-see, eat lunch at a place I checked out on Yelp, then go see a live music performances in a consecutive four hours of activity. I would constantly check my watch to see what’s next on my itinerary.
If this sounds familiar, raise your hand.
I mean, I try not to plan every single second of the trip, but I just get so excited that I want to do everything with every second of travel.
But if you’re anything like me, then doing activity one day after another can get overwhelming very quickly. This is especially true in the case of me planning several outings in the same day.
You do things up to the point where it doesn’t feel like vacation any more.
… Not only that…
When you travel with other people (like my boyfriend), things are not going to be on schedule all the time.
The bus is late. There is traffic. The event is longer than expected. Someone has a sudden emergency. The weather is doing its own thing. It goes on.
I’ve planned and planned trips around the world, and we have missed so many of those heavily planned days because it simply doesn’t always work out.
How to Save Yourself
In situations like these, it is important to realize that everything will be okay. There’s nothing that needs to be done while your on vacation.
First. Don’t be like me. Don’t pack everything you want to do in all seven days of vacation. Leave a day or two free to just do anything that catches your fancy, spontaneity is half the fun. If you’re not a spontaneous person, then at least leave several of your mornings or nights free to kick back and relax.
Second. Realize that you stressing out makes it less enjoyable for everyone else. Nobody likes being rushed. Plan with plenty of time to spare in between to get ready. If you can’t relax and chill, group travel probably not for you.
Third. Always be ready for your plan to fail. Have one or two thing that you have to do (like going to a Queen + Adam Lambert concert),and plan for that.
Fourth.Wander around. You’ll definitely find something worthy of spending time to do.
Isn’t it the plan to spend time relaxing and pampering yourself anyway?
Thanks for reading, here are some posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge you might like!
Whether you’re an avid manga reader, or lover of Japanese culture, or just fascinated about Japanese technology, there is always something mystifying and beautiful about Japan that draws millions of tourists in the past decade.
Today, I’m thrilled to share one of my three favorite cultures encountered while traveling: Japan. This is a three part series response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge, so please check out the rest of my responses!
The Ultimate Guide to Traveling Japan for Beginners
Who is this Guide For?
This guide is for anyone and everyone to peruse. Though, I am writing it specifically for:
People who have general knowledge of Japan and want to catch a glimpse of the magnificent country in 3 weeks.
People who like cool technology and want to see it in person.
People who like anime, but want to know what real life Japanese culture is like.
People who like adventures, because really is one big adventure.
When to Go
The timing of going to Japan is very important as it could change your itinerary completely. Japan is a very versatile country. On top of a million reasons to visit the country, here some highlights of seasonal activities in Japan.
Winter for the hot springs and skiing/snowboarding.
Spring for the famous and beautiful Cherry Blossoms.
Summer for the fireworks and climbing Mt. Fuji.
Autumn for the beautiful foliage amidst Japanese culture.
Japanese Festivals (Matsuri) occur year round, entailing large parades, floats, food, traditional clothing, and costumes. Each shrine has its own local festival, so you will encounter one unique to the location you are visit.
Japan is mostly accessible by plane, where tickets are typically quite expensive to buy, unless you could find the cheap off season ticket deal. Throughout the year, there are various Japan flight deals from theflightdeal.com, as little as $600 for a roundtrip ticket!
Once you’re in the country, there are railway systems everywhere. Tokyo Metro is the subway system of Tokyo, taking you anywhere you need with in 30 minutes. Be mindful of the time though, because unlike NYC subways, this one is not open 24/7. These are much more economical than taking a taxi, as those could run you a hundred dollars. We had to take the taxi on hour first night in Japan because our flight had arrived too late and the metro had closed.
If you want to catch a good glimpse of Japan in a short amount of time, I highly recommend purchasing the Japan Rail (JR) Pass, which was by far the most expensive thing we bought (about $200/pass). However, it is entirely worth it to ride a bullet train (on my bucket list) and cruise through the country within hours. They also have an option for regional passes, which are more economical.
Luckily, through Couchsurfing, we met our good friend Keisuke, who had a car and showed us around Yokohama for a couple of days.
Biking is a great way to explore the streets of Japan, especially while exploring architecture in the rural areas. Imagine riding around Kyoto on a beautiful afternoon by beautiful temples in the Autumn. /sigh
Useful Things to Bring
If you’re traveling with backpack, check out my comprehensive guide to what to pack! However, I just want to reiterate the importance of bringing:
Smartphone, with pre-installed:
Walking down the streets of Tokyo, there are minimal amounts of English in writing or speaking. We heavily relied on our translation apps, including when we interacted with our Couchsurf friend.
Generally, accommodations in Japan are cheaper than the United States, but only by a smidge.
For those who aren’t familiar with this site, it is a fantastic accommodation option for travelers to stay with hosts (though still like a hotel, because all bedding and linen are provided). We used Airbnb throughout our travel in Japan. Without knowing language or pricing in Japan, Airbnb provided us an authentic, cheap, and no nonsense stay with our hosts. Do get $40 off your first stay with Airbnb through our referral link here!
Sleeping in a Japanese Capsule Hotel is exactly as it sounds, and has always been on my bucket list. I finally had my chance! Surprisingly, it not as cheap as you would expect, pricing around $30 to $50 per capsule. It features exciting amenities of a tiny door with blinds, a tiny TV, and a tiny desk to eat on!
Have you slept in a manga book store before? It’s actually quite common in Japan! The pads in our private cubby makes a great bed for tired souls. This was our chance to take a break from wandering, and sit, read manga, cruise the internet, and sleep.
Where to Go
Tokyo is the capital of Japan. One of the the most populated urban areas in the world, and a giant hub for technology, business, travel, culture, foods, weirdness, and much more. Tokyo is made up of several large districts with its own character.
Akihabara– electronic, anime, video games center.
Shibuya– temples, culture, foods. Don’t forget to check out the Shibuya Crossing (just a really busy pedestrian crossing that looks like a giant ant colony collision from above)
Do visit the Kyoto-Osaka-Nara for the rich, authentic culture and traditions. The temples are beautiful and palaces magnanimous.
We were touched by the remnants of the Hiroshima bombing during World War II. Such a sad history for such a beautiful city. We were taken through a heart throbbing journey of recovery. History class lecture is nothing like being in the city itself.
Things to Do
Check out the Tokyo Tower! It’s essentially a version of the Eiffel Tower, except it’s 13 meter taller!
Explore Culture and Temples
Asakusa Temples – this area features a variety of beautiful temples. Traditional foods and souvenir items are bountiful here as well!
Explore strange, but cool things in Japan
Cup Noodle Museum – We made our own cup noodles!!! I’ve been a huge fan of Ramen since my youth. Now, I finally made my own unique label and packaging (and eating it!), standing in front of the wall of ramen– feels amazing.
Robot Restaurant – possibly the craziest dinner show I’ve ever been to. Our tickets were $40/person (includes dinner and drinks). No regrets, because this gave me just the experience of Japan that I expected. See my post on our adventures at the Robot Restaurant here!
Using the Toilet is an adventure in itself. No English to indicate whether or not there’s going to be water splashed up my butt. Awesome.
Feed your nerdy interests:
Ghibli Museum (anime fan) – Upon going to Japan, I knew I had to visit Studio Ghibli. I’m a huge fan of the animated films and their soundtracks. The studio is as amazing as I imagined!! Don’t forget to order your tickets early, as they are booked out veryyyy far back. <3 Let me know when you go!
Manga Kissa – Rows on rows on rows of manga! *drools*
Pokemon Center – My favorite starter Pokemon, Torchick!
Hop on the Hogwarts Express at Harry Potter World!!!
Feed your love for cute things:
What to Eat
Great Tea Kit Kats – 258 yens ($2.30 dollars), whereas in the US could run up to $6/bag. If you’ve never heard of this, it may sound a little weird to you, but they are so delicious.
Sushi – What’s Japan without Sushi? Even though we’re vegetarian, there were awesome options for us on the Sushi belt!
Soba Noodles, Ramen, and Tempura
Dango (Sweet Japanese Dumplings)- if you’ve seen Clannad, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Onigiri (Rice balls) – sold across all 7/11, possibly one of my favorite Japanese foods, it is so delicious. A perfect snack with all the ingredients I love.
Fun Culture Facts
Walking and eating is frowned upon. We ate our home-cooked meal out of a grocery bag on the sidewalk.
Tokyo Metro rush hour in Japan is BAD, even comparable to NYC rush hour subway. The trains are so cramped! The best way to step into the cart is by facing the other direction and stepping in, so that no awkward looks pass as you shove yourself into the crowd. Very professional.
While there is an endless amount of things I could write about Japan, I would love to hear any questions, stories, and comments you all have! I would happy to write more or clarify, and especially to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!
This is a bilingual blog post. Please scroll down to read in English!
Thưa ba mẹ,
Ba mẹ mới nghe cái quyết định cuộc sống mới nhất của con, va không hài lòng.
Trước khi ba mẹ nghĩ đây la ngu xuẫn và ngừng đọc, xin hãy nghe con nối xong. Con hiểu sụ lo láng của ba mẹ.
Tư khi con con nhỏ, ba mẹ luôn ỏ ben cạnh con. Ba mẹ đả nui lón con suốt 23 năm nay. Ba mẹ ỏ ben cạnh con trong lúc con mới biết đi và té, lúc con thành cong va thất bại. Ba mẹ lầm quá giò đễ cung cấp cho su khỏe mạnh, học hành, va co hội không giới hạn cua con.
Bỏi vi vạy, ba mẹ muốn con đi cái con đường an toàn nhất trong cuộc đời.
Từ lúc nhỏ, ba me lúc nào cung phải đóng vai trò người xấu, cực liệt phản đối nhửng gì con muốn làm. Chỉ là muốn con đi con đường đúng. Ba mẹ sợ những gì không chác chắn. Không biết con có một kế hoạch hay không. Không biết con có an toàn không. Không biết ba mẹ có nên ngan cảng con ve những “quyết định nguy hiểm đó không”.
Ba mẹ còn có thể làm gì? Ngoại trừ nói “Không!” đến những gì con muốn?
Bây giờ, con đã nói với ba mẹ, ba mẹ nghe nhu con đi trên một cái roller coaster mà không có đeo dây an toàn. Điều mà một người ngu xuẩn cũng thấy được đó là một cái ý ngu ngốc. Vì vậy, ba mẹ lập tức không cho.
Nhưng đợi một chút.
Nếu con có thể có một chút thời gian để cho ba mẹ xem… để giúp ba mẹ nhìn từ quan điểm của con…
Con đã trưởng thành.
Mặc du con đã đủ tuổi để tự quyết định, nhưng con vẫn cồn muốn nói với ba mẹ mọi thứ.
Đó là vì con tôn trọng ba mẹ và muốn hỏi ý kiến của ba mẹ. Con rất vui khi chia sẻ tin tức mới với ba mẹ. Con muốn ba mẹ là một phần của cuộc đời con.
Nếu con theo một con đường an toàn không trở ngại trong cuộc đời, thì con sẽ học được gì? Con sẽ hiểu và cảm kích được gì? Mặt khác, nếu con không nói với ba mẹ? Điều gì sẽ xảy ra nếu thay vì con nối với ba mẹ, con làm những điều con muốn trong bí mật?
Bởi vì con đã chọn con đường của con, con đã trưởng thành, trở nên hợp lý hơn, cảm kích cược song hơn, thể hiện sự đánh giá cao trong bạn bè, trải qua những khó khăn thực sự mà con sẽ không có nếu con đã theo con đường mà ba mẹ đã chọn cho con.
Con đã tiến bộ về sự giao tiếp và sự quyết định của con.
Hay nhất là, con đã trở nên khôn ngoan hơn và sáng suốt. Con đã phát triển vượt ra ngoài cái, “kiếm được nhiều tiền.” Con luôn nghĩ đến cách làm tốt một cách đọc đáo. Để tạo ra một thế giới tốt đẹp hơn và cuộc sống tốt đẹp hơn. Đây không phải là những gì ba mẹ muốn cho con hây sao?
Người ta nối, không ai có thể biết làm ba mẹ là thế nào trước khi họ có con. Và đó là lý do con rất cảm ơn ba mẹ ỏ bên cạnh con. Ba mẹ đã làm rất tốt!
Con cũng biết là những ai theo nhửng đâm mê của họ thì sẽ hạnh phúc.
Ba mẹ đã cho con cuộc sống này, bây giờ ba mẹ có thể cho phép con sống nó được không?
You just heard about my latest big life decision, and are displeased.
Before you think this is stupid and stop reading, please hear me out. I understand where you’re coming from.
Ever since I was little, you were there. You’ve raised me all these years. You’ve been there through all my toddles and tumbles, my successes and failures. You have worked overtime to make sure I am healthy, finish my education, and have unlimited opportunities.
Because of that, you want me to take the safest, smartest route in life as possible.
You’ve had to always play the bad guy, always strongly opposing the things I want to do. Just to make sure I’m taking the right path. You’re terrified of uncertainty. Not knowing if I have a plan or if I am going places with my life. Not knowing if I am safe. Not knowing if you should be stopping me from these “reckless decisions.”
What else can you do? Except to consistently say “No!” to my endless list of desires?
Now, I’ve just told you, what seems to you like going on a roller coaster without a seatbelt. What a no-brainer could see that it is a stupid idea. So you instantly say no.
If I can have a moment to show you… to help you see from my perspective…
I am mature.
I am old enough to make my own decision, but I choose to tell you everything.
It’s because I respect you and ask for your opinions. I’m excited to share my news with you. I want you to be a part of my life.
If I follow a safe unchallenged path in my life, what will I learn? What will I understand and appreciate? On the flip side, what if I didn’t tell you? What if instead of communicating, I choose to do all these in secret?
Because I have chosen my path, I have grown, become more reasonable, more appreciative, shown great judgement in friends, undergone real hardships that I would not have had if I had followed a life you chose for me.
I have developed great communication skills and decision making skills.
Best of all, I have become wiser. I have developed far beyond “making lots of money.” I’m constantly thinking of ways to be outside the box. To make a better world and a better life. Isn’t that what you’ve been waiting for?
They say you don’t know what it’s like to be a parent until you have kids. I admit that it’s true. I cannot truly know, and that’s why I am so thankful to have you by my side. You’ve done a great job!
What I do know, is that those who follow their hearts are happier.
You gave me this life, now will you give me blessing to live it?
Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!
This week’s challenge highlights some bloggers you might not know who may have some awesome tips for traveling.
First of all, I want to highlight my fellow blogging mates: Julie, Vicky, Aly, Emily, and Ben (see their links on the bottom of this post). They have been amazing, unique, and especially timely with their challenge prompts. I’m ashamed to say that they are waaaayyyy better than me in keeping up with their blogs. They have awesome travel stories to tell, and I always enjoy reading their blogs. Please check them out!!
I enjoy reading a lot of budget, authentic, solo, female, unique/strange traveling writing. There are so many different writers. So many different writing styles.. a different… texture. So much to learn. The more I read, the more I learn and apply different techniques on my blog. The more I write, the better I get at writing. I’m going to list a few of my favorite traveling blogs for you all to peruse. 😉
Two Brown Feet – This couple is currently residing in South Korea (one of my favorite countries), with tons of useful tips of the country. They write humorous anecdotes of their misadventures with meaningful lessons learned. Excellent blog to relax and read. Awesome photos too!
Drew Binsky – I want to be more like Drew! His blog is well organized, has a clear mission of helping other travelers like him. His posts are very informative, with no filter. When I read his blog, I just continue clicking links and keep reading. He doesn’t hold anything back, which is awesome!
This is Youth – Daniel’s “About” page says it all. He seems like a very laid-back, chill guy. Traveler, blogger, reader/reviewer, and enjoys hiking. He has numerous useful tips and stories.
Halfhazard Wanderer – Not your typical travel blogger as she writes other stuff too, but her blog is definitely worth checking out as it’s very kawaii (cute!) and thought provoking. She has several travel posts and aspirations to travel and write – with plans to go on a Canadian trip really soon (have fun!).
Bespoke Traveler – Possibly one of my favorite bloggers. Bespoke Traveler writes their travel stories in an immersive narration, making me feel as if I’m right there, traveling in the moment. Blah, please check them out!!! <3
One of my biggest goals in this post is to connect my readers and each travel bloggers to one another, if you haven’t met each other yet. I’m super excited to finally come up with a list. I would love to connect with each and every one of you to do a blog exchange post. 😉
Do you know any amazing bloggers? Pleeaaaase share!!
Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!