The holidays, the vacation. So exciting.
But before all that happens, you have some very important things to do first.
Plan your trip, from the first day till the last. Sketch out the plan. Where you want to go, see, do, eat. Actually, the “go” and “see” is more central for your planning than the last two, as when you are already there, then you can “do” and “eat”.
So, how many days do you have? How many days can you afford? Are you able to confirm your days way in advance, because that’s when you should start looking out for airfare deals.
I planned my trips about 5 months in advance. Too early? But that’s when the airfares are at a discount. At least have a target.
So, for Japan, I started looking around at deals back in July, but only finally booked the tickets in September when my aunt could confirm her dates.
Macro then micro. Use Expedia and Zuji services for the overall, but to save on 3rd party fees, book from the airlines directly. Of course, do check first if it is more worth it to book with the airlines or with the 3rd party service provider.
Once you have booked your air tickets, it’s time for the more serious and head-scratching part. Accommodation.
Planning your accommodation is pretty much planing your entire trip’s itinerary. Once you know where you can lie your head down for a good night’s sleep, that’s where your activities will be found. Again, Zuji and the likes are good for research, and sometimes, they have quite good deals, even better than the accommodations themselves.
For myself, K’s House Kawaguchiko was initially not available to me and my people during the days I want when I went searching on Expedia and other search providers. Next resort was to book directly with them on their website.
Another way of deciding where to go/sleep, is by looking at the map, and reading reviews of the place.
Hotel Mystays Kamata was found when I was searching for accommodations near Haneda Airport. And it is very near to the airport bus bus-stop. Great for those who have to catch an early/late flight without too much rushing.
Another tip, if you have more than 3 people staying together for more than a night in one place, maybe you can try AirBnB. It’s more worth it if you are on a budget.
Reading is so important. I’m sure your teachers told you that before.
But yeah. In order to be prepared for your trip, you have to have a sense of the place and reading/researching helps a lot.
Of course, have the guts to ask also helps. Like when you are in a totally new place, try looking for the tourist information centre to get you started. There are lots of information on traveling in Japan on the web now, so you don’t really need the chunky travel guide book anymore. Free wifi can be had from convenience stores and on the Tokyo Metro and JR stations and platforms, and anywhere else that says so.
Nearly forgotten. Maps and travel insurance. You need them. Don’t really need the physical maps if you have a smart phone or tablet with you. Save your maps there. Helps a lot if you search and save the place’s location. As for travel insurance, don’t leave home without one as anything can happen during your vacation. From flight delays to getting your items stolen. Brrr… I don’t even want to think of it.
Here’s a roundup of my trip in Japan, in the order of days, destinations, lodging, and transport per person.
Days 1-5: Asakusa, Tokyo. AirBnB. Suica
Days 5-7: Tokyo, Fujikawaguchiko. K’s House Kawaguchiko. Fujikyu Highway Bus from Tokyo Station ¥1750 3hr, 2-day local sight-seeing bus ticket ¥1200.
Days 7-8: Fujikawaguchiko, Hakone. Ashinoko Ichinoyu Onsen near Togendai Station. Fujikyu local bus to Gotemba ¥1510, Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus to Togendai Station ¥2010.
Days 8-11: Hakone, Asakusa, Tokyo, Disneyland. Same apartment in Asakusa from AirBnB. Hakone Togendai to Tokyo Station ¥1900. To Disneyland, get off at JR Maihama on the Keiyo/Musashino line. Suica.
Days 11-12: Asakusa. Hotel New Tochigiya. Airport Limousine Bus to Narita Airport ¥2800.
Days 12-15: Nikko. Nikko Park Lodge. 4-day All Nikko Pass ¥4520, includes return trip from Asakusa to Tobu Nikko Station.
Days 15-18: Asakusa, Tokyo. Hotel New Tochigiya. Suica.
Days 18-19: Asakusa, Kamata. Hotel Mystays Kamata. Suica. Airport bus to Haneda Airport ¥280.
Hope these tips are useful for you! Happy planning! Happy traveling! 🙂