A peaceful trip without any hassle guarantees great memories. Earlier this month, I went on a trip to Hokkaido, the northernmost region of Japan, marking my first time travelling to this gorgeous country.
In this article, I will share some of the Japan travel hacks, tips, and some must-have essentials that enhanced my travel. Hopefully, they will help smoothen your future trip to Japan as well!
Also read: 14 Common Culture Shocks Foreigners Have About Japan
Useful Japan travel hacks and tips you should know
1. Learn basic Japanese words and phrases
There are many English-speaking tour guides available in most parts of Japan. Nevertheless, solo backpackers or travellers who are not following a tour may find it difficult to communicate with the locals if they don’t speak Japanese. Before (or even during) your trip to Japan, learn some basic Japanese phrases so you can understand the locals more effectively!
Well, you can learn to say simple phrases such as “Arigatou” which means thank you; or “Koniciwa” and “Konbanwa” which means hello and good evening respectively. Learning and understanding basic Japanese sentences will help smoothen the communication between you and the locals in Japan, as well as prevent misunderstanding.
2. Get the Jetpac eSIM service for internet and more
Whether you’re a frequent traveller or you’re planning to visit Japan for the first time, having enough data to browse the internet is a must. Being in a foreign country, a stable internet connection helps you stay in touch with loved ones, access online translation tools, and upload your stunning vacation photos.
During my trip to Japan, I had the opportunity to try out Jetpac’s eSIM service. It covers over 50 destinations worldwide with just one eSIM. This is also my first time using a digital SIM and to my surprise, activating and then using it was a breeze. It provides an instant and automatic connection to data roaming upon landing at your destination.
What I liked most was not having to worry about losing my SIM card or looking for a physical SIM card locally, and you can still utilise Jetpac seamlessly even if you are connected to another telecommunications network. Take note that not every mobile phone supports eSIM functionality, so I recommend checking your phone’s eSIM compatibility in advance before getting one for yourself.
Acquiring Jetpac’s eSIM is certainly one of the Japan travel hacks that enhanced my trip to Hokkaido. For instance, I could use translation apps which rely on an internet connection whenever necessary to help with understanding what the locals were saying, translating Japanese menus, and more.
Additionally, I could also upload Instagram stories immediately and share with my friends all the lovely sceneries, delicious food, as well as exciting activities that I did. Not to mention video calling my loved ones as well as contacting my tour agency and travel mates when I needed assistance. All these were made easy with Jetpac.
Additionally, with Jetpac eSIM, you can enjoy the exclusive privilege of airport lounge access for flight delays, which covers up to six individuals, including yourself. This perk is only available with Jetpac’s eSIM! Moreover, you can also download the Circles.life application on your phone to track your data usage and check your bill. This way, you can avoid overspending and Jetpac’s bill transparency also allows you to have a better grasp of what you’re spending on. Although Jetpac is for everyone, and you don’t necessarily need to be on the app to use it.
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3. Pack light, but also appropriately
I didn’t know the significance of packing light during a trip until I visited Japan. Because it’s autumn season when I visited, I brought a lot of thick clothes and put them all into one luggage. And of course, I purchased quite a few things to bring home as souvenirs.
During my last day in Japan where I took the train to New Chitose Airport, I noticed that there were no escalators or lifts to the platform. As you might have guessed — I had to carry my backpack and luggage all the way up the stairs by myself. It was quite an unexpected and painful workout for me. That’s when I realised how crucial it is to pack light and efficiently!
Naturally, it’s important to check the season and weather in Japan in time for your trip. If you’re visiting Japan in the autumn season, do remember to bring a windproof jacket and warm clothing. Particularly in places like Wakkanai, Rishiri Island, and Rebun Island, the wind is so strong, and it will be really cold at night.
4. Experience wearing traditional kimonos and yukatas
There’s no better place to see what you look like in a traditional kimono or yukata than in Japan itself. Because have you really been to Japan if you haven’t taken pictures in a kimono at the famous attractions? You can find kimono rental services almost everywhere in Japan, where a sensei will be there to dress you up in this elegant traditional Japanese garment. In Wakkanai, Hokkaido, I had the opportunity to wear a lovely kimono with the help of the Wakkanai Omotenashi Kimono Team.
Besides, some hotels, like the Otaru Kourakuen hotel that I stayed in, had many yukatas for males and females which you can rent at an affordable price.
5. Bring enough cash (Japanese Yen)
In most parts of Japan, cash is still a widely used mode of payment, so I recommend bringing enough Japanese yen. While some restaurants and shops accept credit cards, many local eateries and street vendors still operate on a cash-only basis. Many vending machines also require you to use coins for transactions.
Moreover, it’s always good to prepare more cash, in case you have an eye on something you want to purchase. Personally, I spent a lot on Hokkaido’s dairy products, biscuits, as well as adorable keychains!
6. Check this list of travel essentials
One of the most essential Japan travel hacks is to bring a universal adapter and power banks during your trip. They are very helpful when you need to charge your electronic devices. It’s a universal fact that Japan, especially Hokkaido, is scenic and spectacular, so you would want your phone to have enough battery most of the time to take pretty pictures! I also recommend bringing a large backpack. It helped me a lot with storing my personal items and souvenirs.
While packing towels and pyjamas are often considered essential when you travel to most countries, you can actually save space and leave them behind when you visit Japan. Based on my personal experience, almost all hotels in Japan provide towels and pyjamas. Super cool and convenient, right?
Furthermore, I have another handy Japan travel hack to share with you — make sure to bring a notebook or a few postcards! During my trip to Hokkaido, I discovered that many places offer commemorative stamps. You can find these commemorative stamps in train stations, rest areas, hotels, and even on ferries. Stamp your notebook or postcards with these mementoes, give them to your loved ones as presents, or keep them as a meaningful souvenir!
7. Bring medication for motion sickness
I love travelling. But flying? Not so much. That’s because I tend to suffer from airsickness when flying on a plane, even on short, domestic flights. If you share this experience, remember to take the necessary medication before your flight to avoid any discomfort like nausea, headache, and vomiting.
8. Have your translation app ready at all times
It goes without saying that this is the most essential information out of these Japan travel hacks and tips. A language expert or not, it’s always useful to have a translation application ready with you at all times. Once again, thanks to Jetpac’s eSIM service, I was able to use translation applications such as Google Translate and DeepL without worry. These two apps require an internet connection when you use them, and Jetpac’s eSIM with smooth data provided great help.
With the help of the translation apps, I could easily comprehend what the waiter was talking about, as well as product information, since many goods in Japan only have Japanese descriptions.
Also read: Autumn Season in Japan: 15 Things to Do & Places to Visit
So there you go, a list of Japan travel hacks and tips that benefited my trip and hopefully will be able to help you, too. Safe trip and have fun during your future adventures to this world-renowned travel destination!
Get yourself a Jetpac eSIM and travel peacefully across the 50 most popular countries worldwide.
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