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1. Pack Light

I’m always an advocate of packing light and carrying on if possible on any given trip. Tokyo is one those places in the world where this is especially important. Space is very limited, everywhere. The rooms are very small with just enough space to move around. If you are traveling as a couple and both have a large suitcase, you may be shocked to find that they may not quite fit in the room. Some of the western styles of hotels may be larger but you’ll also pay a higher price just for space. If you’re taking public transit from the airport, you’ll have to get your luggage on and off the subway platforms. Elevators aren’t always accessible, and you won’t want to be lugging around a 50-pound bag up and down the stairs.

2. Have a Data Plan

You will need it for everything, not just to update your Facebook status. Yes, you could get by without it, but I do not recommend it. Google Maps will help you navigate the streets and the subway saving you a lot of time and tons of money. Many signs are in English, but not all of them. Google Translate will translate whatever you need by snapping a photo. Unless you speak Japanese you’ll want this free app. You can also speak into the app and translate from English to Japanese and vice versa. Not as many people speak English here as much as other parts of the world. I highly recommend T-Mobile service for travel lovers due to the unlimited data and texting that is included at no extra charge while roaming in 140+ countries. I use it myself for my own cell phone service and have never had any issues. The free unlimited data is at 2G speeds while roaming, which is a little slow, but it gets the job done. You can learn more about each country’s service coverage by clicking here.

3. Take Public Transport

Tokyo has a world-class transit system that will take you anywhere you need to go. Taxis are very expensive in Tokyo. A 30-minute ride from the airport can cost you about $250. This is obviously not where you want to splurge on your trip. Most of the taxi drivers will not be able to speak to you in English anyway, and you’ll become frustrated pretty quickly. Uber is available in Tokyo, so you can enter your pickup and drop-off locations through the app, but they are just as expensive or more. I suggest using public transport for the bulk of your transit and saving the taxis or Uber for the short trips home after a long day of sightseeing. Keep a card from the hotel on you with the location written in Japanese for an easy translation of your destination. If you decide to rent a car, you’ll need navigation and you’ll also need to be comfortable to drive on the left side of the road. Using Google Maps is your best way to navigate this large, bustling city.

4. Be Prepared To Walk

However you decide to get around, you need to be prepared to walk A LOT! I took public transport on my recent trip and I walked between 4 and 9 miles every day. There is much to see and do, so be ready! Wear flat shoes that will last all day. You may consider packing some Dr. Scholl’s Rub Relief Strips or at the very least some band-aids to prevent blisters. Once you get a blister it’s very difficult to recover while continuing to walk around, so prevention is the best way to go.

5. Always Have Cash

Many places only accept cash so you’ll want to be prepared by having some Japanese Yen when you arrive. The best way is to exchange your local currency for Yen through Travelex and have it delivered to you for free. This will help you save time and avoid high commission fees. I recommend using this same service when you get home from your trip if you have traveled home with foreign bills. Coins are not accepted for exchange so be sure to spend them. There is no tipping in Japan so be prepared to carry around all that extra change by bringing a coin purse. Use what you can during your trip and then put the rest towards your last meal at the airport on your way back home. Ask the waitress to apply the change to your bill and you can put the rest on your card to avoid coming home with random coins that you’ll never use. Since tipping is not accepted in Japan, you’ll have a little extra money to spend on Tokyo’s amazing bucket list activities.

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