Getting ready to travel again

Travel isn’t possible at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you should just forget about it. Aside from the more obvious trip research and planning activities, there are some other travel preparations you can do right now. When travel is possible again, you’ll be ready to go.

Check your passport

Do you know when your passport expires? This year, next year, or another time? Now is a good time to take a look at your passport so that you aren’t caught out and have to renew it in a rush before you travel again.

If it’s some time away in the future, put a reminder in your calendar to renew it. Allow enough time before expiry to get the renewal done, which can be a lengthy process for some countries.

Look at your luggage

Take a look at your current luggage and think about whether it still works for you. Perhaps it’s a bit worn or needs a repair. If it can be repaired, you can look at doing that when repair services become available. If you decide to replace it, you’ll have plenty of time to research new luggage. If you have been decluttering in lockdown, the old luggage may be useful for taking excess stuff to the charity shop.

Practice packing less

Overpacking and carrying too much luggage can be a downer on any trip. In Japan, where many hotel rooms are small, having large luggage can be a real nuisance. I have seen people unpacking large clamshell suitcases in hotel corridors, because they couldn’t fully open them inside their room. Smaller, lighter luggage is easier to manage there.

Learning how to pack less will save you time and effort when travelling. There are lots of packing lists and guides out there, but I find videos really helpful. Here are a couple specifically on packing for Japan:

Find a better credit card for travel

Credit cards are useful for travel, but sometimes the foreign exchange fees and conversion rates add unwelcome costs. Take some time to look for a better deal, checking all relevant costs. A card that advertises itself as having no transaction fees may offer a poor conversion rate instead.

While credit card offerings vary from country to country, one that is available in many countries is Transferwise’s Mastercard. It offers competitive rates between many currencies, with low fees. One product that should be treated with caution is the currency card, often promoted by travel agents or airline frequent flyer programmes. While they look convenient with the ability to exchange multiple currencies when it suits the user, they often have loading and usage fees that all add up, plus they generally have poor conversion rates.

Sometimes we overlook these really practical things when we’re planning travel, because there are more exciting things to do. While you’re having some travel downtime, this is a great opportunity to look at these and improve your future travel experience.

Do you have any questions about travelling around Japan? Please feel free to contact me.