For anyone who has dreamt of visiting Japan like I have here is a guest post with some Top Tips for Visiting Japan with a Baby
Japan is an absolutely amazing country to visit but if you are travelling with a baby, there are some things you should know. Whilst Japan happens to be rated as a top country to visit with a baby, we still found a few challenges as we travelled around Japan for 3 weeks. Carry on reading to discover some of the best tips for travelling with a baby in Japan. These tips will hopefully enhance your experience and help you make some memories that last a lifetime.
- Try to Travel Hands-Free
There are very few elevators in Japan and combined with the many beautiful hilly areas that holds the historical attractions; it might be best to leave the strollers behind. Instead try to travel hands-free. Whilst we took a stroller with us to Japan, we barely ever got to use it. Instead we had Avalee in a baby carrier instead. It just made life so much easier as we climbed many stairs at attractions or headed down all the stairs to the subways.
We also prefer to travel with a backpack diaper bag, which is great to not only balance out the weight of our baby on the front, but also makes it easier for us to deal with money and tickets. Backpack diaper bags are actually the bomb (in a good way)! We even use them when we don’t have baby on the trip. They have all the pockets you could possibly need for organization, pockets for your drink bottles as well as a wipes pocket so you can quickly clean your hands before meals.
- Slow Down!
When travelling ANYWHERE with a baby, you must be realistic with your goals. You don’t have the freedom to go everywhere and see all the amazing places in Japan that you might visit if you were travelling on your own. Taking things slow and perhaps only choosing a few places you want to go to during the entire trip is a clever idea. It’s quality over quantity and sometimes more time spent in one location is actually better. Remember that there will be plenty of interruptions during your exploration to feed baby, to change baby or to try and get your baby to sleep.
- Visit baby-friendly attractions & restaurants
Do some research and find out which attractions and restaurants are baby-friendly. We found that smaller towns such as Takayama, Kurashiki & Miyajima Island were must easier to explore than larger cities. Simply and purely because the cities were crowded with people. You also typically have to catch a few different trains in order to get from Point A to Point B due to the enormous size of the cities themselves.
Whilst most restaurants and pubs do allow babies, use your common sense when deciding which restaurant is appropriate for him/her. We found that it was very rare to find a baby high chair for our little one. Smaller restaurants are also typically very crowded, noisy and covered in cigarette and cigar smoke. We often walked into a restaurant, only to turn back around as soon as the smoke hit us. Sometimes it meant that we spent a long time trying to find a suitable restaurant and eventually we just resorted to ordering Dominoes delivery for dinner, so that baby could fall asleep in her cot and we could eat in peace. (thank goodness for take away delivery!)
- Visit department stores
Department stores will be your new friend in Japan. These kinds of stores have baby changing rooms, breastfeeding rooms and even nurseries. For food and baby supplies we often found it best to head to the drug stores instead of the supermarkets. Drug stores are an excellent source of baby supplies and you can typically find them easily. They will sell your pre-packaged baby food, baby snacks and diapers. Note that we did struggle to find supplies in the smaller towns, so stock up in the cities before you head out to islands or remote destinations.
- Choose family-friendly Accommodation
You should be aware that most Japanese hotel rooms are really small, and they are also quite expensive for what is actually offered. Do your research and look online for reviews to help find a place that is right for your family. You should also ensure that the place you are going to be staying at has a cot for your baby to sleep in (you will be surprised how many hotels don’t have one available).
We found that we preferred staying in Airbnb’s during our Japan trip, as they typically are more spacious, usually have a washing machine; and a kitchen to cook your own food in. Because we stayed in apartments, we opted to bring our own baby cot for our holiday. There are some great travel-sized baby cots available that are lightweight and easy to port around.
- Don’t pack too much
Getting from point A to point B in Japan can be a bit of a mission when you have kids with you. Whilst the train system is super-efficient, taxis are incredibly expensive. That means that you will most likely have to drag your luggage from the hotel to the station. Then you will need to carry the luggage and your baby down all the platforms to get to the train (very few train stations have elevators). So, try to minimise and to pack as light as you can.
It was such a hassle for us, that we ended up using the luggage forwarding system in Japan and only took our main suitcase with us on the train itself. Your hotel can easily and quickly arrange for your luggage to be picked up and dropped off at your next hotel, so that you don’t have to lug it around (but be aware that it takes a few days).
Japan is definitely a country that is worth visiting and just because you have a small baby, doesn’t mean you still cannot enjoy all it has to offer. Being aware of a few things and getting everything prepared for your baby will ensure that you have an amazing stress-free time on your trip.
This guest post is brought to you by Andrzej & Jolene from Wanderlust Storytellers, a widely successful family travel blog. They love sharing their passion for travel with people all around the globe.