The Dream Day Guide to Japan Travel (part three): What to pack (and not pack)!
Packing is hard for me! I just never know what might come up, okay? And I tend to take far too many clothes and accessories because I want to always wear the perfect outfit. I can’t advise you too much on minimal clothing packing. However, I can give you some pointers on other things you might need along the way.
WHAT TO PACK
First (and most important), if there is any chance that you are going to get your period on this trip, PACK TAMPONS (or your Diva Cup, sponge, whatever you use). The feminine hygiene product selection is pretty dismal in Japan. The options are maxi pads and disposable underwear. I’ve heard that tampons exist somewhere, but I’ve never encountered them. And buying these products is a semi-embarrassing experience in which the cashier will double wrap them so no one in the outside world will know your sordid secret. All in all, it’s a very retro approach to menstruation. Trust me on this one. I’ve had my period not once, not twice, but THREE times in Japan. #blessed
Gel inserts for your shoes. You are going to walk SO MUCH. Your shoe choice (and the inserts inside them) will allow you to do this without hitting a wall of pain halfway through the day. It goes without saying that this is not a good time to break in brand new shoes.
Coin purse. The U.S. is one of the only countries that primarily uses paper money. In Japan you will often receive most of your change from a purchase in coins. It’s easy to lose this and it’s super annoying to dig around your bag every time you’re buying a metro ticket.
A power bank for your phone. You are going to take thousands of photos. You’ll be google mapping all over the place. And of course you will need to humble brag about your trip on social media. Your phone battery is going to drain fast. Throwing a power bank in your bag allows you to charge on the go (and never stress about your phone dying).
Any medications (prescription or otherwise) and supplements that you take regularly. You don’t want to waste your time trying to get an emergency refill. And buying over the counter medication in Japan can be confusing if you don’t have advanced Japanese comprehension. If you do get sick on your trip, don’t panic! It’s happened to me, too. Some googling will help you identify the medication you need to buy.
Travel first aid kit and travel sewing kit. I bring both of these items on every trip I take. There’s nothing worse than needing a bandaid or losing a button when you’re on the road. Who wants to make a detour to the drug store?
IT’S OKAY TO FORGET THESE THINGS:
Contact lens solution. Colored contacts are big industry in Japan and you can even buy them at the drug store. With so many people wearing contacts, solutions and cases are plentiful. I bought Hello Kitty saline solution on my last trip!
Shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Every hotel I have encountered (no matter how unfancy or rural) has had all of these items available in the bathroom. Of course, if you have particular needs in any of these categories, bring some along . For example, I have a ton of very long, coarse hair, so I need a really rich conditioner or it turns into a tangled nightmare.
Toothbrush and toothpaste. Every hotel offers disposable toothbrushes and adorable tiny tubes of toothpaste. I’m not a huge fan of the disposable toothbrushes because it seems wasteful AND the bristles tend to fall off in my mouth (gross), but they are there for you to use. So don’t panic if you have forgotten yours! Most hotels also offer disposable razors.
Umbrella. Everyone in Japan uses these awesome clear umbrellas that cost about $5 and are available every where. They are nicer than any affordable umbrella I’ve bought here in the States. I’ve even seen posts on Reddit asking strangers to bring back an umbrella for them. I bought a super cute Rilakkuma version at Lawson’s on my last trip.
Snacks. There is amazing cheap food every where. There are so many options that you won’t even be able to try all of the treats out there. Every time I bring snacks and Clif bars along on my trip, I don’t eat any of them.
Slippers. Every hotel and ryokan (traditional japanese rooming house) will give you a pair of slippers to wear while you’re there. And most will also have special slippers to change into when you enter the bathroom. You may want to bring a robe, however, if you’re staying in a place with a communal bathroom.
Have questions or other packing suggestions? Slide into our comments section!