It’s hard to know what to pack for trips, especially in foreign countries where things may be little different from back home, and weather can be unpredictable. This particular page is aimed mostly for women, for the simplest reason! We focus more on fashion and worry so much about what to wear without repeating our outfits, while men practically shove their whole wardrobe into the suitcase and just wear what they please.
The following list is meant to be versatile – adjust it for different seasons and weather, and suit it to the length of your holiday. In other words, don’t over pack.
This list is best suited for stays exceeding 12 days, and for warmer weather. Bring less for shorter holidays. For winter packing (and another list!), check out our Winter Advice page.
Other tips for packing:
- Choose a common color palette for your shirts so you can mix and match ensembles. Neutral tones? Dark colours? Bright and happy? Go with your own style, but when you pack them, make sure they would all suit each other. Or opt for patterns like stripes or spots and pair them with block colours.
- Try to bring different kinds of lengths in your shorts, like ¾. Jeans are versatile and may be worn every day with minimal washing.
- Bring only 1 set of pyjama’s – the 1 set can be washed at any time, at any location.
- Dresses can be versatile for nights out or dressed down for a casual stroll around town. Probably best not to bring dresses in the winter months though, as winter in Japan can be windy, bitterly cold and, depending on your location, snowy!
- It’s recommended that shoes should be broken into already, so you aren’t coping with blisters after exploring all day. In regards to the “choose 3” rule for shoes, be reasonable – you probably don’t need to bring boots in summer or sandals in winter.
- Severely reduce the number of cardigans or jumpers you bring if you aren’t travelling in the cooler months; otherwise it’s just a waste of space.
- The opposite to shoes; it’s best to buy new socks before a holiday.
- You probably only need a week’s worth of knickers. Underwear can be washed any time. Bring one black bra and one skin toned bra for functionality.
- Bring only a small amount of toiletries. This, in particular, can take up a lot of space. You can pick up refills along the way if need be. The facial wipes are for hand/face washing on trains, etc. and are an optional extra.
- Try not to bring expensive sunnies, as the risk of damaging or losing them can be high. You’ll likely need them in whatever season you go.
- A camera case with a lead is better, because you’ll be able to attach it to your wrist or belt loop at all times. Make sure you have a big SD card, or multiple SD cards, or you can’t take lots of photos!
- Bring your passport everywhere with you. In Japan, you can often get discounts if you are a foreign passport holder, but also, you don’t want to leave it at your accommodation in case it gets stolen. Don’t forget your other forms of identification.
- Don’t forget a phrasebook if your Japanese isn’t up to scratch.
- Keep all maps, tickets and itineraries in a safe place with easy access, like a travel wallet.
- Ladies (and even gents), avoid bringing a backpack. Many sites recommend it as a travel necessity, but I personally cannot stand them. You can’t see if someone is trying to reach into it, you can’t access it quickly (like if you want to get your camera out) and it’s a bulky, annoying thing to carry. My personal opinion on this matter is to bring a cross body handbag, that easily fits your camera and wallet inside.
Tip: Obviously, you don’t need to buy a cross body purse as expensive as that. But you get the idea.
- Keep luggage tags on everything.
- The plastic zip lock bags can be used for any number of things; to hold receipts, wet make up brushes, currency, snacks, etc.
- Don’t over pack make up – keep it to a minimal number of “must-haves”. Scrap unneeded things; perfumes, various eyeshadows, several mascaras.
(unless you really, really want to)
- Avoid wearing singlets and tank tops if you are visiting culturally significant places like temples or shrines.
Now, how to pack the essentials! First thing you need to do is some research! When are you going; what will the weather be like? Then gather the necessities; the tank tops, the sweaters, the socks and the jeans. Add the accessories and voila! You got yourself packed!
The best advice I can give you is to choose a common colour palette and focus on that for the entirety of the trip. Blacks, browns, whites and beige all work well together and can be mismatched in any way needed. If you want a bit more colour, pick one pop colour to focus on, one that will also go with everything else.
We always think we should pack light, and then end up over packing while somehow never having anything good to wear. But it’s easy to do, if you remain focused on only the necessities. Don’t be a ‘just in case’ person; for instance, don’t bring a pair of shorts if you are going in the middle of winter, just in case. The likelihood of the shorts being used is minimal to zero. It’s now just a waste of space and one extra thing to remember to take home with you.
Now, as long as you aren’t fussy with outfits, you can make 26 outfits using only four bottoms and four tops (plus any number of leggings and accessories you want!).
Remember to pack for the right season! Bring thermals and warm jackets for winter; shorts and t-shirts for summer. Don’t pack what you don’t need just because it looks fashionable. Even simple items can be dressed up. But while you’re in Japan, what you wear just falls to the back of your mind, with so many other amazing things to focus on.
Have you got any packing or outfit tips of your own?