Flights From Home Office Manager, Ciara, Shares Her Pre-Departure Tips For Travel To Japan
When Japan announced that they were reopening to individual tourism, my partner and I were able to snag cheap flights for dates after Thanksgiving! Here are a few tips and good things to know about what it takes to travel to Japan as a US tourist right now.
Buy your rail pass in advance. We knew we’d be taking the Shinkansen, Japan’s high-speed trains, all over Japan for our 12-day trip. There are calculators you can use to see if the different passes would be worth it for you. If you are staying in one central spot it might not be necessary for your trip. If you do decide it’s worth it to you, we bought our 14-day national pass through JR’s official website. Buying them online gives you the option to have the vouchers sent straight to you. Once you receive the vouchers via mail, make sure to pack them with you to redeem at the train station. You can also buy them in person at the station in Japan if you’d like!
Book your stays & activities early. We found that Airbnb had plenty of affordable options. If you’re planning a trip for the Spring or Summer time I would suggest looking into stays as early as you can. Look closely at your bookings, sometimes Airbnb’s can have really good cancellation policies if you end up needing to change your itinerary around. If you do end up booking a rail pass check out the listing descriptions to see how far away you are from the nearest station. It can be worth a few more dollars a night to be closer to a station! As far as activities go, learn from our mistakes! We knew we wanted to visit Tokyo Disney but waited too long to book tickets and reservations ended up selling out for our trip dates. We booked a day at DisneySea through Klook.com, but we had to rearrange our itinerary to accommodate the booking.
Set time aside to fill out Japan entry forms. United Airlines emailed us a week or so before the trip to let us know we had to register with Japan’s entry system. My partner and I both had to create an account to fill out forms for customs declarations, immigration clearance, and for by-passing quarantine. There is a queue for reviewing your documents after they upload. It was approved quickly for us but doesn’t hurt to get it in well before your trip. Everything is automated super well, so you don’t have to wait for updates. They email you along the way to let you know when things have properly uploaded or have been reviewed.
Leave room in your bag for souvenirs! Japan has awesome snacks, gifts & clothes that you’ll want to bring back to with you. We luckily got flights that give us 2 free checked bags each. Even though we’re only bringing carry-ons, I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up taking a checked bag or two with us when we return to the states. 👀
Last thoughts. Some people opt for getting “Pocket WiFi” hotspots to carry around with them while they’re out and about (which you can order for pick up at the airport). We’ve found that Airbnbs often offer them to guests. Or if you’re ever in a pinch it’s easy to stop by a convenience store and use their free wifi. Get pumped! Japan is one of the coolest countries in the world to visit. Bring some comfy shoes and get ready to eat, walk, and shop til you drop. Send us a message if you’re planning a trip to Japan and have any questions!