And here is Part 3 of my travel prep series, in which I discuss how I get ready for my trips abroad in the hopes that it will help some of you prepare for future trips of your own! In this post I will be discussing food and transportation, and don’t forget to read Part 1 and Part 2 so that you don’t miss all of the other important steps which I discussed there! If you have already read parts 1 and 2, or would just like to jump right in part 3 anyway, please read on!
– Food –
The next topic of discussion is food! We all need to eat in order to survive, and some of us live to eat! When visiting Japan the last time, we took it day by day, getting the food we felt like eating, when we felt like eating it. I was able to experience foods ranging from the corner store variety (photo on the far left, and corner store food in Japan is delicious!) to very traditional meals from little hidden restaurants in the city (photo on the far right).
This time around, however, it will mostly be my parents and I, and we cannot rely on the experience of my friend who lives in Tokyo (like I did last time). We will also be staying in a different area (Minato, first of the images below) than I did last time (Ikegami, second of the images below), so I would not even be able to use the knowledge I gained about the different restaurants in and around Ikegami. So, I took to Google Maps again! I was not kidding when I said that Google Maps is your friend, in Part 2!
By finding where the nearest ATM was, I had also by default found where the nearest 7-Eleven is to us! I also found two Family Mart corner stores which are just a short walk away! Since I know that the food is so good, and since it is quite convenient to just pick up a bento, onigiri, or another snack like that before catching the train, we will make very good use of all of the corner stores around us. Through Google Maps, I also found out that we have no less than THREE restaurants right in front of the apartment building where we will be staying, and since Google Maps also shows the interiors of some places, I was able to have a peek into two of them! They’re quite neat, and I hope that we will be able to eat at one of those at least once!
Also, a very important thing which Melanie reminded me to talk about (thank you!) is food etiquette! If you don’t want locals frowning at you, or simply seeing you as the “rude foreigner” or the “ignorant foreigner,” it’s very important to look into the food etiquette for the country you’re visiting. In Japan, for example it is considered a “no no” to stick your chopsticks into your food, because it resembles incense sticks burning at a funeral. It is also encouraged to slurp your food if you find it delicious, as it is considered a compliment to the chef!
Also, for those of you with allergies, I suggest that you study up on the words for the things which cause allergic reactions in you, in the language of the place you are visiting. It’s best to avoid having to deal with a bad allergic reaction when you’re out in the world trying to have a great time!
– Transportation –
Google Maps was useful once more when I had to figure out where our nearest stations were, and how to get to come key locations from our apartment! Again, the same thing applies to transportation as it does to money, and food (for me at least). I’d rather at least get a general idea of where everything is, especially since I’m not fluent in the language spoken within the country I’m visiting. Rather than wandering around with a map in my hands, confused out of my mind, I like to orient myself beforehand. Some of you may not like to go about it that way, and that’s totally fine! Some people find the “wandering around lost” while looking for whatever it is that they’re looking for to be part of the adventure. It’s true that you can also stumble across stores, restaurants, and other things in that way, that you might not have thought to look for beforehand. I also want to mention that Google Maps is really awesome for calculating how much the fare would cost from point A to point B, which is also great when you’re trying to decide between taking a taxi or the train!
In Tokyo, we will be using the trains, and maybe buses and the monorail, all of which I used last time. I therefore knew that we have to get a Suica or Pasmo card when we arrive at our first train station. These are cards which you can load with money, using machines which can be found at all train stations, and then just use to pay for your fare (for trains, as well as some buses). It’s much easier to use these cards, than to buy a ticket every time, because you have to calculate how much each ticket would cost, based on where you’re going. I don’t want to bother with that, so we’ll be getting those cards.
Local trains and buses were not the only thing that I had to look into for this trip however, because we are planning on traveling outside of Tokyo! My parents and I therefore looked into getting JR Rail Passes. I had to research who the authorized sellers were, and then look through all of their websites to find the best price for us. JR Rail Passes are great for those who want to travel outside of Tokyo multiple times. Since we are planning on going to Kyoto, Nara, and Hakone (by Mount Fuji) and all of those trips require the use of a Shinkansen (bullet train), we saved a lot of money buy purchasing the JR Passes in stead! Not all Shinkansen trains are included in the deal with the JR Pass though, so be sure to look into that before purchasing your pass! The pass also allows you to take JR trails in the cities without paying the fare for them, so there are savings there as well.
As for my preparations regarding transportation in Korea, I am going to be completely lazy and let my friends take the reigns on that one because they have been there multiple times, and know what they’re doing! The next time that I go there, I will likely be the one taking charge and showing someone else “the way!” The same applies to food, since I did not mention this in the section about food above. We will figure it out as a group, whereas I am in a sense responsible for my parents while we are in Japan!
My How I Prepare for a Trip Abroad Series:
AND THUS ENDS PART 3 OF MY TRAVEL PREP SERIES! I HOPE THAT YOU HAVE FOUND THIS HELPFUL, AND IF NOT, THAT YOU WILL LEAVE ME FEEDBACK ON HOW TO IMPROVE THESE POSTS! IF YOU ENJOYED READING THIS TRAVEL PREP POST, PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR PART 4!