Travel

Traveling with a Toddler to JAPAN

November 22, 2016

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

 

At 3 months old, my daughter was able to travel to the U.S.

(Hooray for her first Disneyland and California Adventure!)

At 10 months old, she was able to travel to Hong Kong.

(Disneyland Part 2!)

And a couple of weeks ago, at 22 months old, our little globetrotter visited… JAPAN!

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I am truly grateful for this opportunity to be able to take my kid exploring places starting at a young age. I know she probably won’t remember her first two trips but the photos and stories of the wonderful memories we built will remain forever. 🙂 

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Going back to our recent Japan adventure, how do I even begin to rave?

We LOVED THE WEATHER, LOVED THE CLEANLINESS, LOVED THE POLITE PEOPLE, and absolutely LOVED THE FOOD!

One week was not enough for such a lovely trip and we have my parents to thank for it. It was their birthday week and they wanted to spend it with their precious grand daughter. We couldn’t have afforded a trip this year because of all the new home expenses and business expenses. So, thank you Daddy and Mommy, for sponsoring this trip! Yay! 🙂

Anyhow, our weeklong adventure began in Taipei for a short stop over before we landed at Kansai International Airport. Our first destination was Osaka where we stayed in a cozy and super clean AirBnB apartment.

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Absolutely loved our AirBnb apartment that had a crib, stroller, baby potty seat, and high chair!

We gained weight in Osaka, explored Kyoto and Nara, and then went back to Osaka for more food. [I’ll be sharing my itinerary in a while.] It was generally a gastronomic trip, as Osaka, Japan’s second city, is known as the “nation’s kitchen”.

My foodie family was delighted as eighty percent (80%) of our itinerary was spent eating and shopping while only twenty percent (20%) for sightseeing. Delicious treats surprised us in every corner of the colorful city and no one’s complaining!

Sharing with you guys below our baby-friendly itinerary for six days. Please note that it is laid back, not an adventurous one, because of the tot.

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Again, our activities involved mainly eating and shopping. We also preferred not to visit Universal Studios since all the tours there are in Japanese, plus there’s one in Singapore and we’re not big Harry Potter fans anyway. My old self would have complete details including the directions and stations etc. but thanks to Google Maps and smart phones, there’s no need to list them down anymore!

For me, it’s always best to travel DIY. I was never a fan of packaged tours. It’s not the same for all. Choose a traveling style that suits your needs and preferences. Maybe when we get older and we’re traveling as retirees, packaged tours are more convenient. In the mean time, I’d like to keep doing DIY and inserting spontaneity in our trips.

So we go a little more detailed now. All mothers know that TRAVELING WITH A TODDLER IS NOT EASY. Some can do it, some can’t. No matter how much of a supermom you are, traveling with your kid will always be challenging. Just remember, vacations must be stress free. You can do this, mommy! The first step is not to overthink. Be always prepared, but also try to just go with the flow. I left a couple of important things back home but didn’t panic. Find a solution to a dilemma calmly and always make your child feel secure and happy. Babies can sense anxiety so keep your composure.

 

 

Sharing with you some TIPS WHEN TRAVELING WITH A TODDLER IN JAPAN:

  1. Bring Toys and Books in your diaper bag.

From the plane ride to train rides and walking around, your toddler will surely get bored once in a while. So make sure you have her favorite little toys and books to keep him/her entertained. Bring your snacks in little containers too!

  1. Lightweight strollers and lightweight baby carriers are lifesavers!

Don’t worry about the trouble of having to bring these “bulky” items with you. They will save your arms, hips, and legs. During the flight, the plane will take care of the strollers so no need to worry.

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  1. Don’t use those pretty passport holders you bought before your trip.

They may look pretty but they can be inconvenient, as you will be asked to take them off at the immigration. Use a medium sized pouch with zipper instead, which can fit all of your passports, a pen, and those landing forms. This will be faster for you and less hassle especially when you’re holding a kid.

  1. Don’t be afraid to look for the elevator and use it.

With the exception of a couple of small subway stations, Japan has an elevator everywhere! Next to disabled and old people, parents with children are prioritized. Besides, pushing of strollers (with baby in it) in escalators is prohibited and totally unsafe!

  1. Bring antihistamine and other anti allergy medicine for everyone in the family.

Because this is a gastronomic trip and it involves a lot of seafood and strange looking shellfish, it’s always safe to bring anti allergy meds. We also loved ordering food from restaurants and menus we don’t understand, so, go figure. You’ll never know when allergies can attack and you don’t want to ruin your trip.

  1. Autumn cold is understated.

I’m sure that weather forecast is accurate and when the weather app says 15 degrees, it’s really 15 degrees. But because of the wind and other factors, it always feels three degrees colder than the actual temperature. So bring more layers and warmer clothing especially for your kid. Bring a hat and beanie to protect his/her head. You’ll be fine indoors. But walking around outdoors at night (which is what we usually do) is a different story. Brrr!

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  1. When it rains it pours.

In Japan, when it rains, it rains the whole day nonstop. We were lucky to have experienced only one rainy day in our weeklong stay. Don’t worry, there are umbrellas for sale everywhere. Family Mart and 7-11 will have those cute clear disposable umbrellas. Wish I took them home but they were too bulky. I suggest you buy the plastic covers for strollers. Very useful!

  1. Use your coins!

Coins have great worth in Japan and I am amazed at how much they really value even the smallest form of currency. I remember one time I dropped a couple of 50JPY coins at a convenience store inside the freezer (yeah clumsy me) and the sales lady was so concerned she really tried to dig and look for them if I already told her it’s okay to leave them. They also offer to take your coin purse and count your coins for you. Oh and some stores have this “black hole” on their cash registers where you can just literally dump all of your coins and the machine counts it automatically. Cool! Anyway, my point is don’t be ashamed to use your coins. And when it’s time to leave, use them at the airport Duty Free shops. You can’t have them exchanged back home.

  1. POCKET WIFI IS LIFE.

I seriously don’t think we would have survived our trip without the help of the Internet. No kidding! Google and Google Maps, Hyperdia, AirBnb and Airline apps, Viber for communicating with one another in case we got lost… Don’t skimp on this one. Reserve and rent one from online or at the airport. Although, I believe most AirBnb apartments already have pocket wifi devices that you can bring with you. If ever you’ll be renting, choose the ones with unlimited bandwidth. Price is not far from the ones with limit. Oh, and don’t forget those power banks! Your Internet is useless if you run out of batt! P.S. Some parents use Youtube videos of their child’s favorite cartoon to cure a tantrum! *wink* 

10. Bring your nursing cover.

So this forgetful momma left her nursing cover in Manila. Ugh. Please don’t forget to pack yours! Good thing I had scarves to use. Anyway, I was quite surprised that I did not see a lot of breastfeeding moms in Japan. In fact, I don’t think I saw a single breastfeeding mom at all! But their nursing rooms are everywhere and they are so nice and clean, plus their toilets are almost always baby-friendly! I really wonder why I didn’t see any breastfeeding mom. At times I would get conscious, thinking that breastfeeding in public might be frowned upon in Japan (I forgot to research about that), but I’m glad I never got any discourteous stares or rude remarks. Everyone was polite as I breastfed bubba in restaurants, at the mall, in the subway… So have the same courtesy of using a nursing cover too.

There you have it! There’s so much more in my head but I just picked out the most significant ones. Hopefully, these ten simple tips could be of help to you in your amazing journeys ahead. 🙂

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Most people are saying that travelling to Japan is cheaper than how we thought it was, that’s why so many tourists flock there now. NOT TRUE! It’s still generally more expensive in Japan especially when you convert to peso. Street food is usually priced at 500-1000Yen per serving (that’s P250-P500). Restaurant food is priced at 2000Yen and up per meal (that’s P1000 and up per meal). Pretty pricey when you think about it, right? BUT more than the price, it’s actually more about the quality and VALUE FOR MONEY. Japanese food is so good and fresh and Japanese products are of high quality, you would not mind paying for such amount.

“Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.” ~ Matthew Karsten

So save up, plan your trip, and pack your bags! Japan is such a BEAUTIFUL country worth visiting! I plan to go back again and again if time and budget permits. There’s just so much to see, so much to do, and so much to EAT. 🙂

Stay tuned for PART 2 of our Japan adventure! I’ll be sharing our photo diary, what to eat, and what to buy including my shopping haul! Woohoo! Exciting! 🙂

By the way, please check out the hashtags #JETSETBORJ #ANDIEVENTURES and #KONNICHIWABBY on Instagram!

Arigatou Gozaimasu ありがとうございますfor reading this rather lengthy post!

 

 

Will always dream of traveling the world,

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  • Whaaaat? P250-P500 for street food?! I’ve been saving up for a future trip to Japan… but now I think I’d have to postpone and go to Hong Kong instead. 250-500 is helluva expensive for a street food! If that is the price for street food, I can’t imagine the price of bottled water/ tissues/ and other necessities. Oh my goodness.

    On a different note, I think I should give kudos to you, for travelling with a toddler. It must have been another level of difficult. I can’t imagine it. Before reading this post, I didn’t even thought it was possible! Everyone I know refrain from travelling when they have 0-4 years old.

    PS. Your little miss jet setter is adorable!

    GGmemochou

    • Hello Gretchen!

      Thank you for taking time to read my blog and I’m glad you find it informative. 🙂

      Oh gosh I’m sorry I didn’t mean to discourage you. I just needed to correct those people who have been saying that traveling to Japan is cheap. That’s wrong information. BUT like I said in my post, all Japanese products have GREAT VALUE FOR MONEY. The street food are priced as such BUT they are of restaurant quality already compared to our street food here. Sometimes we eat street food for lunch and dinner there. Samples are several pieces of real octopus balls (Takoyaki), giant seafood on stick, delicious mini pancakes, etc. Of course they are not rice meals so still not as filling. Watch out for my upcoming photo diary so you’ll have an idea.

      Yes, it really takes a lot of guts to travel with a toddler but we”ll never know until we try. I’m thankful my daughter is such a trooper and never gave us a hard time. Maybe no long haul flights first til she turns 5 or 6. We’ll stick to Asia for now. 🙂

      Aww thank you I’m a proud stage mom sometimes. Haha!

      Have a great day! 🙂

      Cheers,
      Abby

  • I already graduated traveling with the toddler. Now my daughter is 16 years old. I remember those days that you need to bring everything…one suitcase full of her stuffs. Anyway, everything is fun especially when you travel with your love ones!

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