Introverts like to recharge and relax at home, usually alone (or with their exception) so when you’re traveling and can’t go home, what are you going to miss most?
I didn’t need much beyond the basics when I travelled until I reached my early/mid twenties. I started to realize I’d regret or get anxiety after not bringing certain items with me when I travelled. My solo trip to Japan is when this really hit me so I want to share two lessons I learned as an introvert travelling across Japan and I’ll share my tips on how you can learn from my mistakes.
Lesson #1 | Determine your comfort items!
Before travelling to Japan for the first time by myself, I assumed all I needed to recharge was to rest at my accommodations… I was definitely wrong! Here are some things to consider before you take your next trip.
Comfort tip #1 | What do you do at home?
When you’re at home resting and recharging, what are you actually doing? This is important because you’ll want to find a portable way to do that activity.
For me, it was being able to access my streaming service to watch my favorite T.V. show. I had no idea how essential that part of my routine was but learning that I couldn’t access Hulu from my iPad while in Japan was a real downer. If I had known, I could’ve brought my laptop and the series on discs with me and my “at-home” time would’ve been much more relaxing.
Joe’s favorite at-home activity is primarily PC gaming. When we went to Japan in 2019, he was stuck trying to play games solely on his phone but wi-fi at our hotel was slow. Eventually I gifted him a Switch Lite for his birthday and now when we go camping or on road trips, he has more options for gaming and relaxing.
I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it just in case, that Wi-Fi is also essential. Check that your hotel or accommodation comes with an internet option (Japan has wifi rentals)! Create a back-up plan if internet service is slow and video streaming isn’t an option.
Lessons learned include finding portable options for whatever activities are part of your habits when resting at home; consider what technical aspects are needed too.
Comfort tip #2 | Get good sleep
We could debate on the comfiest way to fall asleep but at least make sure you know what you need to get a good night’s sleep. For me it’s pillows, a small travel blanket, and a little travel buddy.
- Don’t assume the hotel has good pillows: If you’re like me and need a sturdy (think Tempur-Pedic) pillow to get a good night’s sleep, don’t assume the hotel you’ve never been to has a good pillow. Fun fact about the business hotel chain APA hotels: their pillows are as thin as the squishy bathroom floor mats. Our friend’s hotel (which was crazy swanky, upscale) pillows had foam beads in them instead of cotton or feathers. Only Hotel Station Kokura and a love hotel in Kyoto had fantastic, normal pillows. A solid travel-pillow, while annoying to pack and carry, can actually be a life-saver during your trip.
- Travel-size blankets: I made my own travel size blanket from two fleece cloths with cut edges that I tied together. I especially made it travel size (large enough to lay on top of my legs) so that it’s easier to pack. This became a critical sleep-assistant in Japan when I ended up needing to use my blanket as a pillow.
- No shame in travel buddies: Sleeping with a little travel buddy helps me when I start missing my kitties while travelling (one especially likes to cuddle at night and in the morning). Plus if you pick the right one, they make great social media additions!
Lesson learned is good sleep is essential while travelling if you want to get the most out of each day so make sure you pay close attention to your own sleeping habits before going on your next trip.
Lesson #2 | Create a realistic itinerary
While planning my first trip to Japan, I had a huge bucket list of things and places I wanted to visit. My first day itinerary included going to the Imperial Palace East Gardens, Tokyo Station shops, Akihabara and Asakusa. For some, this may still sound fine but after factoring in jet lag, getting to my accommodations late and having my Air BnB host want to meet early the next day to go over things, my day didn’t go exactly as planned. Here’s a couple tips on creating realistic day-to-day itineraries.
Itinerary tip #1 | Expect the unexpected, & then embrace it!
As any experienced traveler will tell you, the unexpected journeys on a vacation can sometimes be the best part! While I still haven’t been to the Imperial Palace East Gardens, I was able to get a tour of Asakusa and lunch with locals (my hosts) were I even ended up trying unagi (eel)! I’m a picky eater but with the sauce they put on top and how crispy it was combined with the rice, it was actually delicious.
Itinerary tip #2 | Give yourself a break
During my solo trip, I had packed the rest of my itinerary so tightly that I ended up not leaving room at any point for catching up on missed destinations from being tired or it being closed (maybe they’re closed Mondays, etc.). So pro tip is leave room on the last day and in the middle of the trip to allow you to catch your breath somehow and/or go to places you might have missed.
Itinerary tip #3 | plan less, anticipate more travel time
If you want to hit a bunch of spots in one day, then strategize your agenda so that everything you’re visiting that day is physically close together. Hitting up a couple spots in Shibuya? Consider scheduling your visits to Harajuku and/or Shinjuku that day too since they’re all next to each other on the train line. This will cut down on your travel time since usually it takes about 20 or 30 minutes to get to your next destination if you’re taking the train or subway.
On the other hand, remember that some places have so much to do that they need more than one day to fully enjoy it. I know not many like to plan to the degree that I do, but I think it would help you better time manage if you at least created a list of places you want to hit in each neighborhood/town/city.
Considering booking your accomodations in the location that has the majority of the things you want to explore. For example, Joe and I love anime, gaming, and otaku culture so Akihabara (Akiba) was the neighborhood we decided to get a hotel in so that we could always work in a quick shopping trip whenever we went back to the hotel. For those that like an old-time Japan atmosphere, I recommend staying in Asakusa so that you can walk the tiny (and safe) back streets and temples every day.
Lesson #3 | Include post-vacation recovery time with work
Sometimes after a vacation, it doesn’t actually feel like I got any rest and I come back more tired than I left (although I come back with crazy fun memories!). I highly recommend planning to come home on a Thursday or Friday so that you can take a few days and the weekend off to recover before returning to work.
With this in mind, I highly recommend cleaning your place completely so that you don’t need to worry about anything when you get home!
Summary | step out of your comfort zone, comfortabely!
Traveling is such an amazing opportunity and I hope that my post helps other introverts find ways to make traveling more comfortable! Have recommendations as well? Leave them in the comments below!
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