Even though the list of things to pack was quite extensive, there is also an extensive list of things NOT to pack for Japan – or any holiday, really. And some aren’t as obvious as you’d think! I’m sure everyone would like to have some of the same luxuries they have at home; but really, do you want to weigh yourself down even more? If you’re traveling across the country (generally via the train) you’ll have to drag your bags around everywhere. It becomes quite a task!
If you’re worried about your luggage weight, purposely wear your bulkier clothes while traveling on the plane. That over-sized coat won’t easily fit into your suitcase, but it’ll surely be fine sitting on your lap or in the overhead locker for the time being. Just don’t forget it!
1 | Don’t go crazy shopping before your trip
Everyone wants to bring new clothes with them on holiday, instead of their old ‘scruffy’ stuff. But try not to go overboard and bring your entire new wardrobe with you. On a recent one week cruise, where I’d never been on a cruise before, I packed so many ‘maybe’ outfits as I wasn’t sure what to wear on board. I bought 6 new dresses (really, I already set myself up to fail) and ended up wearing jeans the entire time with a different shirt everyday. No one in Tokyo is going to know if the shirt you’re wearing is brand new or 10 years old. Besides… you’ll probably end up buying some great new fashions while you’re over there!
2 | Hair ‘products’
And by hair products, I mean a giant can of hair spray, curling irons, straighteners and thousands of clips, bobby pins and hair bands. Your hair doesn’t need to look salon perfect in every photo; simply throwing it up in a pony tail works perfectly well – and is MUCH more practical. Bring two or three hair bands and a small handful of clips if you simply need it to stay in place.
3 | Don’t bring a library
Everyone wants something to read on holiday, and up to a certain degree, I agree that it’s a good idea. However, in Japan, unless you’ve planned nothing but soaking up the countryside or fresh beach air, then everything you’re going to do and see will be quite fast paced. The city life is very full on and doesn’t leave much time for reading – plus when you get back to your hotel at night, you’ll be too tired to turn the page. Don’t bring a handful of books with you; they take up so much suit case space and are quite heavy. Instead, opt for bringing just one old copy of something (just in case it gets misplaced) or purchase an eReader, which you can download thousands of books on to. Now, guide books are a similar story…
4 | Guide books
While I definitely suggest taking a phrasebook with you – and only if you’re uncomfortable with the language – a guide book is not strictly necessary. Try to bring only one guide book, one that contains plenty of actual helpful information (not a book entitled ‘The Photographic Guide To Japan’) . If you’ve done your research before leaving home, you won’t have any issues. That, and when you arrive, there are multiple places (like the airport) where you can get brochures and flyers that include things to do and see, discount vouchers and tips on getting around.
5 | Expensive items
Stuff may not get stolen, but forgetfulness can play a huge role. Leave your highly priced jewellery, Jimmy Choo shoes and brand new Rolex at home. It’s crazy what can go missing – I once left shoes at the hotel I was staying at in Nerima. I didn’t even realize until I was half way home on the plane! Thank goodness they were only old sneakers. And on that note…
6 | Fancy clothes
Don’t bring all your good stuff – such as; button up shirts, black slacks, high heels and business outfits… unless, of course, you’re on a business trip and staying in a 5-star resort. But generally speaking while traveling around Japan, you’ll be hiking and getting plenty of exercise while sight seeing. It’s best to dress in practical, comfortable clothing.
7 | Bathroom items
Even when you’re staying for a significant amount of time, start off with only a small amount of the basics (like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, etc). It’s easy to over-pack on this kind of stuff, but it’s easier to take a starter amount and pick up refills along the way. Another ‘bathroom item’ is your towel – unless you’re in a cheap hostel, your accommodation will come with a complimentary towel that you can use for the duration of your stay. You wouldn’t need to pack your own unless you intend to visit the beach. In that case, I recommend a microfibre travel towel. They are relatively cheap, absorb in seconds and are very light weight, making them super easy to pack and carry with you. Another tip; don’t pack your entire beauty routine. Only pack the real essentials, girls! Nail polish and perfume are not one of them.
8 | Just in case’s
You don’t need 10 pairs of pants for a 10 day holiday (4, at most). You don’t need to bring shorts with you in the middle of Winter ‘just in case’. Don’t make your entire wardrobe a ‘just in case’ scenario, because you won’t need them, and they’ll take up too much precious space. Clothing takes up the bulk of your luggage.
9 | Don’t pack things you can buy there
Here I’m not talking about toiletries, and this is more as a money saver, as opposed to a space saver. Items like tea bags, tweezers, painkillers, lip balm. If you’ve got these things prior, then great! But don’t buy them specially for the trip. You may not use them.
10 | Souvenirs
Select all your souvenirs wisely. Oh, it’s great that you got your whole family a matching collection of Mickey Mouse mugs from Tokyo Disneyland, but getting them home in one piece (and as heavy as they are together) is the troubling part.
11 | Gadgets
This applies to you if you’ve ever packed the following; coffee makers, nightlights, shoe horns, hotel-door alarm systems, portable DVD players, book lights, toothbrush sanitizers or electronic language translators – never to actually take it out with you. What is “necessary” varies for different people. Ask yourself; will you really need your ocean-sound machine to get to sleep each night before you stuff it in your bursting suitcase?
12 | Alcohol
Is your holiday going to be one big piss up? Yeah, don’t bring it there with you.
13 | Computer or laptop
This is hard for someone addicted to Facebook and likes updating their status daily – “SAW MT FUJI TODAY!!!” But it takes up so much space and goes hand in hand with valuable items. Unless you’re a businessman, leave it at home (or bring your tablet for a good alternative). Wifi isn’t as common in Japan, at least free wifi isn’t, so there’s not much point in having your comp. Your hotel will have a small computer lounge you can use anyway. Or head to the various internet café’s out there!
14 | Shoes
Do not over pack on shoes, for goodness sake, don’t bring all 6 pairs of your different coloured but otherwise identical boots because they look so cute but the purple ones look better with certain outfits…
Okay. Just, don’t bring lots of shoes. If going in warm weather; one pair sneakers, one pair flats and one pair sandals. If going in cold weather; one pair sneakers, one pair boots and one pair flats – if it’s snowing or you’re hiking, bring appropriate snow shoes or hiking boots. Otherwise, you’re entirely covered by just bringing along 3 pairs of shoes. If you are really that worried, make sure all your shoes are black. Black goes with everything.
15 | Snacks
You can buy snacks anywhere and you really, truly do not need to bring all your favourite goodies with you. Or any food for that matter. It’ll go off or may get confiscated.
16 | Camera equipment
I love good photography, but extra camera equipment is big and heavy. Unless you are a professional photographer and the point of the trip is for photography, you will probably just use your point and shoot or your good regular lens camera. Don’t bring 3 different sized tripods, the camera zoom lens or the external flash. It is unlikely that these will be indispensable items.
17 | Travel pillow
Maybe you’ll need it if you have neck problems or intend to travel long distances every two days. But just for the plane trip over, or the few train rides, it’s really not necessary. And unlike clothing, it can’t be bunched or rolled up to squeeze into your suitcase.
18 | Extra heavy clothing
Make layering your best friend. Even in winter, it’s a great idea to wear a couple of long sleeve shirts, a wind breaker and a decent coat, then to pack 3 different extra bulky snow jackets.
19 | Sporting equipment
This shouldn’t even need mentioning, but if you’re traveling with kids, it may end up being something you’ll take regardless. You don’t need your tennis rackets or a football/soccer ball. It’s silly to bother with items such as these, when you’ll be unlikely to use them.
20 | Bathing suit
If you are staying nowhere near the beach or somewhere without a swimming pool, this is simply another version of ‘just in case’. If swimming is just completely out of the question, your best bikini will have to be kept in the drawer. Alternatively, if the option of swimming does suddenly become available, togs are easy and cheap to purchase. Plus, they’ll always the fun souvenir togs you bought overseas!
For other items that you should be sure NOT to take with you (that I imagine you wouldn’t!): Banned on board: 10 surprising items not allowed in your hand baggage
There you have it! Any items that you would suggest leaving at home?