It has been our long time dream to be able to take Neela with us on an overseas trip. It was important for us to expose her to different cultures and to see the world in a wider view. With this goal in our heart, we all worked together and pitched in to set aside funds to make this a reality for us. So when it was time to go - you could imagine how excited we were for the trip!
HANGING OUT AT THE DELTA SKY CLUB LOUNGE
We had a mid morning take off which means we had to be at the airport by 7 am. The three hour wait till take off can be stressful and overstimulating for a first time, long haul flyer so we were so glad that we made the decision to spend it at the Delta’s Sky club lounge so the mini could relax and have breakfast while watching the planes take off. Dad, Mom and Aunties could also do some work while waiting for boarding time.
13 hours, 3 movies and 1 whole season of Chinese historical drama later - we finally landed at the Narita airport! TIP: Immigration lines for non-japanese citizens can be LONG. Make sure to find silent entertainment for your kids while you wait to be processed through the immigration line. You will need to fill out 2 forms, 1 of which will be handed for you right before you land at the airport
THINGS TO GET AS SOON AS YOU ARRIVE AT NARITA/HANEDA
As soon as you are processed through immigration, there are a few things you need to scoop up prior to heading to your accommodations.
Renting a pocket WiFi is a great way to stay connected during your travels without incurring roaming charges or having to buy a new SIM card. While some areas may have public WiFi spots - a lot of them are not as reliable to keep you connected while walking around the city. We rented ours prior to leaving for our trip and was ready for pick up on one of the Post Office centers in Narita.
JAPAN RAIL (JR) PASS, IC CARD
Another thing you need to pick up is your Japan Rail Pass, Suica/Pasmo card. These are passes and prepaid cards that you need in order to use the train lines within and across cities in Japan. While JR Passes need to be purchased prior to departure, you can easily pick up and load Suica or Pasmo card as soon as you land at the airport. Most kiosks should have english options.
Japan is still very much a cash-based country. Airports have international ATM machines that are easily marked. Outside the airport, you international ATMs are also available at 7-11, which luckily is everywhere in Japan. When using the international ATMs at 7-11, please note that there is at daily limit of ¥100,000 or $1000. Also be aware of the transaction fees that will apply, based on your card and bank policies.
ALCOHOL WIPES, BABY WIPES AND DRY TOWEL
One of things we were told is to carry wipes and dry towels with us at all times. While you will be able to clean and dry your hands on train station, restaurants and malls - this may not be the case everywhere else. This has saved us quite a bit, especially traveling with a young child.
USEFUL APPS LIKE GOOGLE MAPS, TRANSLATE, UBER AND TAKKUN
Ofcourse you can do this before leaving for your trip but it is very helpful to make sure that you have these applications loaded on your phone before you leave the airport. Google Maps has been very reliable. You simply input the address of your destination and it immediately works its magic. Google Translate? Not so much. Now luckily we know enough Japanese to make our way around but having the AR camera translate certain signs with unfamiliar kanji was slightly helpful. Uber and Taxi services as very expensive in Japan but when you are traveling in a group (or an exhausted kid) - it may be well worth your dollar.
That’s all for our first day in Japan. Tell us your thoughts and we hope to share more in our next Travel recap!