Travel Guide: How to Plan for Japan Without a Travel Agency
Planning a trip requires a lot of research. Without a travel agency, you will be the planner of your travel logistics. It can be well worth the effort when considering you have the flexibility of where to stay, what to see, what to do, and what you will eat on your trip.
Here is a guide to help you get started on planning your next Japan trip:
1. Research your cost of travel: The cost of your trip will add up. Calculating your cost of your trip will help determine if your trip is feasible, whether you saved enough money or need to save more for the trip. Consider your expense on flights, lodging, public transportation, food, attractions and other travel expenses.
2. Determine your time of travel: You may want to see the cherry blossoms bloom in the Spring season or see the snow on top of Mt. Fuji in the Winter season or enjoy the Obon festival in the Fall. The time of year you decide to travel will factor into how much your flight will cost.
3. Choose your type of lodging: Hostels, capsules, Airbnbs, Hotels, and Ryokans have their range of costs.
Hostels may have an available bed you rent per night and you may be sharing a bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen with other guests. Capsules are hotels you rent a pod-like space small enough to fit a bed and share a public bathroom. Typically, hostels and capsule are under $50 per night.
Hotels refers to Western style hotels that offer a bed and bathroom for rent per night. Business hotels are considered more budget friendly with simple accommodations and are available by Japanese hotel chains. Hotels range from $60 - $500 per night.
Ryokans refers to traditional Japanese style inns that offer tatamis floors and futons available to rent per night. Local cuisine is often included as part of the stay. Some luxury ryokans offer hot spring baths too. Ryokans range from $100-$400 per night.
Airbnb costs varies depending on the listings available.
4. Decide on your public transportation: If you are planning on staying only in Tokyo, then the Japan Rail, the Tokyo Metro or the Toei Subway are affordable sufficient public transportation. If you are traveling to multiple cities for long distances, consider a Japan Rail Pass. J.R. Pass eligible holders can save money for traveling compared to buying a ticket from the J.R. stations.
5. Determine your daily food spending: Have an idea of how much you plan to spend each meal per day. This will help determine your daily food spending that will add up by the end of your trip.
Meals in Japan can be affordable if you are flexible. You can easily spend under $5 for a meal at a convenience store, such as Lawson or 7-Eleven. Or you can spend $5-$15 a meal at a local chain restaurant, including sushi-conveyor belts. You can also easily find meal sets for $10 and above throughout Japan. Or you can indulge in kaiseki meal (Japanese multi-courses) or Michelin starred restaurants until your stomach is content.
Check out our food blog series Japan Eats for more details of various food shops.
6. Find local attractions and things to do: Japan amusement parks and certain shrines charge admission fees. Plan your itinerary ahead of time. You'll want to find out the entrance fee for each attraction prior to visiting. And make sure you prepare a budget of how much you will shop. You may not be able to resist when you see all the amazing shops available in Japan.
See our blog series Japan Attraction for more details of various destinations.
7. Consider other travel expenses: Mifi is a portable wifi device that will make traveling information convenient. Whether it is finding the best sushi-conveyor belt or using Google Maps to walk to Harajuku, a Mifi is a worthwhile device to rent.
These steps have helped plan our Japan trip of 2016. For more information, here is a list of resources that can help organize a successful trip: