Last Minute Preparation for a Trip to Japan


Photo Credits: adesigna on Flickr

As I sit here writing this post, our upcoming Asian adventure is only a day away. So with a mix of panic and excitement I’m trying to work through a list of last minute things to do before we fly.

Here are some of my tips on how to make last minute travel preparation a little less stressful.

Tip 1: Don’t wait till the last minute

Man rushing with luggage

Photo Credits: Michał Sacharewicz on Flickr

Now this first tip may sound a little strange. I thought these were last minutes tips? Well, the honest truth is, the best way to prepare for the last minute trip rush is to make sure you don’t have many things to prepare for.

The day before your trip you’ll be nervous enough without having to worry about what you haven’t done yet or what you may have forgotten. That means, if there is something that can be done days or even weeks before your trip, don’t put it off till the last minute. Do everything you can to take care of things early so they don’t pile up and stress you out just before you fly.

Here are a few things you should take can take care of a few days or weeks before you fly:

  • Have mostly everything packed – My wife has had the majority of our clothing packed months before our trip. Chances are you have a bunch of clothing that you’ll want to wear on your trip that you won’t notice if you take them out of your regular rotation. Pack these clothes away in your luggage and add to them as the days get closer. If you’ve done it right, you should only have your toiletries to pack on the day of your trip.

    As an added bonus, you’ll get to check the weight of your suitcase as you go along. There are few things worse that finding out you’re 5kgs overweight just as you’re heading out the door.

  • Finalize and print your itinerary – Take some time to put together your complete itinerary and confirm any accommodations a few weeks before you fly. If something has changed you’ll appreciate the extra time to re-book or shuffle your schedule around.
  • Switch to online bill payments – If you’re going to be traveling for some time, you’ll want to switch to online billing and payments. The more things you can do over the Internet the better.
  • Photocopy your passport and credit cards – You may as well get this done ahead of time. Leave a copy at home and pack a copy for yourself. Be sure to photocopy both sides of you credit card so that you have any security numbers or telephone numbers you may need in case you lose your card.

    Important! Make sure you repack these items after you’re done making copies of them. I almost just left on our trip with our Passports still sitting in my scanner!

  • Get your Meishi (Japanese calling cards) printed – If you didn’t know already, business cards are a big thing in Japan. If you’re going to want to hand some out (and I really recommend you do), make sure you have them printed and delivered well before your trip.

    Some guide books recommend getting this done in Japan or asking your Hotel concierge about it, but you’ll probably get better results if you do it yourself. I’ll be traveling with a personal calling card as well as an I Heart Japan business card. Both will have English on one side and Japanese on the other.

Tip 2: Make a list

Check list

Photo Credits: zenobia_joy on Flickr

With so many things on your mind during the day before your trip, you’re very likely to forget something important. To help avoid this, start making up a list of last minute things to take care of. If you’re like me, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night with another “last minute” detail you forgot to write down on your list.

On the day before you leave, start working through this list and check off the things you’ve done. You’ll still leave the house feeling like you’ve forgotten something, but at least you’ll know that you’ve accomplished all the last minute tasks you needed to take care of.

Here are a few of the things you may want to put on your last minute check list:

  • Pack your cables and chargers – Chances are you’ll be flying with a whole bunch of technology. Make sure you have you cell phone, camera, laptop and eBook reader chargers and cords. Airports will really hammer you if you have to buy cables and chargers there. Also, make sure you’re equipment will work on the Japanese power system.

    The Japanese use a two pin system at 100 Volts. The good news is, most of your equipment will work. The bad news is, you may have to take a converter to adapt any 3 prong plugs to be able to plug into a 2 prong outlet. Here’s an inexpensive adapter from our store that you’ll definitely want to pack.

  • Copy your files over – If you’re going to be doing any work while traveling or have important travel documents, make sure you copy them over to your laptop. Another option is to copy them over to a file backup system like DropBox. Make a list of the files you must have and then check them off as you move them over.
  • Travel guides – Travel guides are a great tool, but they’re pretty heavy. If you’re concerned about weight, you can either cut out the sections of the guide that you’ll be using or, if you have an eBook reader, buy the digital versions of your guide. That will save a ton of weight.
  • Prep your wallet – Chances are you’re not going to need to travel with your Subway Club Card in your wallet. Thin down you wallet by taking out everything you won’t need. Credit and Debit cards along with a drivers license or photo ID are probably all your going to need. In Japan you’re going to be carrying a lot of cash and change, so make sure your wallet is up to the task.
  • Change your cell phone message – It’s likely that your cell phone won’t work in Japan, so be sure to change your cell phone massage to inform people how to get a hold of you while you’re gone.
  • Update your credit card with your travel info – Your credit card company is going to want to know that you’re traveling so that they don’t accidentally block your account.

Tip 3: Know your Airport exit strategy

Photo Credits: oriolsalvador on Flickr

When you touch down in Japan you’ll probably be dazed and confused. Being surrounded by a new language and in a completely foreign country can make anyone feel a little bewildered. For that reason, you’ll want your instructions on how you’re getting from the airport to your accommodations well worked out ahead of time. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself paying hundreds of dollars to take a taxi ride into the city.

Before you leave, take a look at the airport’s website that you’re going to be flying in to. If you’re flying into Tokyo, you’ll want the Narita Airport. Osaka will be the Kansai Airport. Find out where buses or trains depart for the city center and which level you need to be on to catch them.

If you find yourself getting confused, look for an Information booth. It’s almost a guarantee that they will speak English and be able to help you find the departure method you need.

Also, if you’re going to be buying a Japanese cell phone, you may want to do it while you’re in the airport. There are plenty of cell phone kiosks around and it’s likely they will also be able to help you in English.

What are your tips?

If you have any last minute preparation tips, we’d love to hear them! Or, if you have any last minute disaster stories, we’d love to hear those as well :P

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