I would like to make a post about how I feel about Japan being my first destination to travel solo and why I decided to go it alone. I have already made a few posts about solo travel and Japan but this will mostly serve as an update and my current feelings on it.
I feel prepared.
Most of the work behind the scenes is now complete and all that there is left to do is top up my prepaid debit cards with pounds (GBP). I’ve chosen the Revolut Card and a Monzo Card to bring with me because I can load them up with pounds and they automatically exchange to Japanese Yen during a transaction or cash withdrawal at a decent exchange rate, far better than converting here in the UK. Another main advantage is that they have no fees, unlike my UK bank card which is referred to as a debit card from Hell (TSB in this case). I applied for both and will use Monzo as a backup because the Revolut Card has better exchange rates, however, they have only a free £200 withdrawal limit (2% for withdrawals after this amount) per calendar month. Monzo is a free all-rounder and you’ll only need to top it up with £100 to get the card. I’ll be sure to give a full review of these cards once I use them in Japan.
The itinerary is now set and I have made some minor changes in my last itinerary and this one. For example, when I arrive in Japan, I decided to stay closer to Tokyo in a city called Kamakura instead of Nagoya which is a lot further away. This is because Kamakura is known to be more laid-back and less intense than staying in Tokyo itself, allowing me to find my bearings and acclimatise to the country easier before I move on to the Japanese Alps. If I go straight to Nagoya, I’ll be more knackered for when I arrive and I’ll need to backtrack my route if I were to go to Kanazawa because Nagoya to Kanazawa is on the same line from Kanazawa to Kyoto (my next destination). Also going from Kamakura to Kanazawa will take me into the heart of the Japanese Alps, which can also give an opportunity to visit Matsumoto and Nagano en route to Kanazawa. I may have some last-minute decisions when I arrive so I hope to keep my plans flexible and reserving hostels with free cancellation instead of booking them certainly does help.
Planning my budget, for me, is essential before I go to Japan. The reservations I’ve made on Booking.com has given me a rough estimate of my accommodation costs subject to the exchange rate (please don’t make it any worse, Brexit). Transport is sorted thanks to receiving my Japan Rail Pass the other day too but I’m increasing the budget for this if I want to go to places which aren’t on the JR network., so this means that 2 out of the 3 major costs are now accounted for. Food is the last major cost and I believe that this is going to be the most unpredictable; there will be some days where I’ll probably have cheap convenience store food and other times I may splurge on a good meal at a restaurant. So far, I’ve made the food budget equivalent to my accommodation budget which averages £18.50 (<2600 JPY) a day so I hope I’m able to get by on this.
What will I bring to Japan? This will be in a separate post which I hope to publish a week or so before I leave, but I am currently debating on which rucksack to bring. I have a 45L and a 66L and not a rucksack size in between. From what I have read, between 50-60L is an ideal size, and I feel like the 45L rucksack is too small and the 66L is too large. I am leaning more towards the 66L because it is of better quality and I’ll be able to stuff my daysack (also another debate between an 18L and a 28L lol) in there too. I’m not going full-on minimalist just yet, as I first want to understand how much I really need and what I’m able to leave behind for next time.
I feel that the journey has started since booking the flights and getting inspired through numerous blog posts. It really is a great feeling to have planned it all by myself and strange that I never even looked into a travel agent or tour operator. My experience in Vietnam and Cambodia taught me the logistics of planning a trip and I am thankful to have had this opportunity so that I am able to do it on my own. There are lots of things I am looking forward to and hopefully, there will be many stories to take back with me.
Well, there you have it. Only 17 days to go with more updates to come until departure. Again, thanks for following my journey from the start as I remember confirming my plans to travel solo back in August.
Until next time,