Japan Travel Tips for Beginners: How to Survive Traveling Independently

Japan travel tips for beginners – I used to hear that you need to prepare a hefty amount of cash for you to travel to Japan. That’s because you have to pay for the tour service to help you get the best of your scheduled leaves. 

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But, what if I tell you that you can save a lot by traveling independently? By packing light and knowing more about the essentials, you can survive traveling independently in Japan. Get your notebook (or notepads) ready and list down everything you need to know. 

Are you afraid of traveling alone because you have kids? I have some great tips on how to travel with kids without you going insane. All it takes is a little bit of hard work, and many (I mean it when I say “many”) patience! 

Japan travel tips and tricks

If you are looking for the best travel tips for Japan, then, you’ve come to the right place! I jotted down notes while I was staying in the Land of the Rising Sun to give you the best Japan traveling tips for that solo travel to remember.

cherry blossoms, ueno
Are you excited to see cherry blossoms?

Phone and cardholder

A few weeks before our trip, I started thinking about what things to bring. When suddenly, I came across my good ‘ol card holder. I missed it because I used to bring it whenever we will be traveling. 

While I wasn’t sure yet about what to do about it, I instantly grabbed it and put it in the bag that I was planning to bring to Japan. For some reason, I had to bring it even though I already forgot why I used to bring it to our travels.

And when we reached Japan and bought our Pasmo cards, my light bulb suddenly lit up. It was where I used to keep my train card when traveling to different places in other countries. It was very useful especially if you have a toddler traveling with you

Having a cardholder is one of the Japan travel tips you have to remember. With it, I was able to easily swipe through the turnstile and not get lost among the many people passing in and out of the train station.

japan travel tips, phone holder, cardholder, lanyard, japan trip
My very handy phone and cardholder!

And since it was hanging along with my phone, I don’t have to rummage through my back bag. It also lessened my chances of losing my Pasmo card because it was kept safe and taken out only during reloading.

I also brought my old phone holder and attached my phone to it because it made my phone very easily accessible. You can instantly check your phone when you are lost or need to check for the next train line to ride.

I was also able to check for our schedule saved on my phone very easily. Best of all, I was able to capture the best photos during our trip because my phone was very handy.

While having a phone and cardholder might be one of the best Japan travel tips, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be so helpful in countries where there are many snatchers. So, I immediately removed the holder when we went back to our country.  

Coin purse

Get ready to keep a lot of Japanese yen coins in your purse!

If this is your first time handling Japanese yen, you’ll be surprised at how much coins you’d be having after you buy something from the convenience store. Japan has 6 different valued coins – 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500. 

So when traveling to Japan, having a coin purse will save your life because you’ll definitely fill it up with change. If you do not have one, don’t worry as you can purchase many cute coin purses anywhere you go.  

If you forgot to spend your yen coins and you’re leaving Japan already, you can still save yourself from bringing the coins home. You can find many vendo machines that sell snacks and drinks so you can take them with you while traveling back home.

kura, sushi, japan travel tips, japan hack
Our go-to sushi restaurant! We’ll surely be back again in the near future!

Book JR Pass (Unlimited train tickets)

With our previous Japan trips, we booked a JR Pass, which allowed us to easily travel across almost the whole of Tokyo. Using a single card, we had unlimited access to trains (except for some private-owned) to the different iconic cities in Japan.

It was very easy to do city-hopping with the unlimited JR pass. So if you are planning to visit various cities within a day, consider booking a 7, 14, or even 21-day JR Pass for convenience. This way, you don’t have to buy or reload tickets whenever you will ride trains.

Besides JR Pass, there are also Osaka Metro Passes that offer unlimited rides for 1 or 2 days. However, if you are planning to visit the other parts of Kansai, you can get Kansai Thru Pass instead.

I also learned about Kintetsu rail pass not long ago, so I wasn’t familiar with it that much. But what I learned about it is that you can use it to visit Osaka, Nara, Mie, Kyoto, and even Nagoya.

Eco bag

Bring your favorite ecobag to Japan so the cute stuff won’t have to stay on the shelf!

I always bring an eco bag with me whenever I go out for a walk in the mall here in our country. So it wasn’t such a big deal when I learned that I had to pay 5 yen (2.5 Philippine pesos, or 0.038 US dollars) for a plastic bag. 

Thankfully, I have a big enough eco bag to put all the things I can shop in a Tax-Free store! Best of all, we have a stroller for our toddler where I can hang the things I shopped for. 

Make good use of the water kettle

In one of the hotels we stayed at, the tap water from the faucet was safe for drinking. But if not, we had to purchase drinking water bottles for everyday consumption. Thankfully, Airbnb and hotels provide a water kettle so we need not spend a hundred yen for a liter of drinking water. 

To be sure, I half-fill the electric water kettle and boil it to clean it. I throw the first batch of boiled water, then fill it to the brim and boil it again. The second batch of water and so on is for our drinking. 

We only bought a liter of bottled water so we have a container after boiling. And even though a liter of bottled water doesn’t cost that much, staying for over two weeks has helped us save a little for some other things that I might find too cute to resist buying! 

But if you have a weak stomach, I suggest you just buy bottled water. Better safe than sorry! However, if you are used to drinking boiled tap water, lucky you!

Comfortable walking shoes

japan travel tips, walking shoes, comfortable shoes, comfortable walking shoes
Bring your most comfortable walking shoes to Japan!

Ask any traveler for the best Japan travel tips (or international traveling tips) they can share with you and they’d say wearing comfortable walking shoes is what you need. Whether it be one with a tour guide or for traveling independently, you’d do good with a good pair of walking shoes. 

Investing in a quality pair of shoes is what you need if you want to start walking from morning until midnight. I noticed that the Japanese always wear sneakers or boots outdoors, so you won’t be out of place if you want to wear your favorite boots to Japan.

japan travel tips, taiyaki, taiyaki burger, burger, snack, street food, japan trip
This taiyaki burger surely hit the spot!

Pocket wifi

pocket wifi, japan travel tips, japan trip
Don’t forget to rent a pocket wifi and return it before you head back home!

If you want to know how to travel alone for the first time to Japan, your best bet would be to rent a pocket wifi. You can go anywhere around the city by using Google Maps and you can always search for the right train line to ride when you have a wifi. 

You can also make good use of Google Translate to help you communicate with Japanese people who have a hard time with the English language if you have wifi.

And you can search for the best food to try in Japan if you have an internet connection. We were able to enjoy our food tripping even if we have to search on the spot.


Before you fly to Japan, you can check out Klook and book pocket wifi for your stay in Japan. Make sure to read the terms and understand them thoroughly before you make a purchase. Read where you can pick it up upon arrival and where to return it before you leave Japan.

Cool jellyfish found in Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium.

Check for how many days you can use the pocket wifi and make sure to book the right one. Also, check what to do in case the connection gets lost (we encountered a problem on the last day of our stay). 

Google maps

japan trip, google map, maps,
Hard to get lost when you have a very reliable Google map!

As I mentioned above, an effective travel solo tip is by being friends with Google Maps. Knowing how to use Google Maps is great because you can go anywhere by foot, bus, or train. This is the first trip wherein I was able to enjoy using Google Maps. 

We were able to locate the nearest grocery store to buy our basic needs. We also found different nearby shops and restos so we don’t have to travel far to enjoy good food — all thanks to Google Maps and pocket wifi. 

Wear mask

wear mask, pollen season
Better safe than sorry! Wear your mask if you must!

When we arrived in Japan, its law mandated wearing masks indoors or when talking to anyone. However, during the last few days of our trip, Japan changed its regulations making mask-wearing optional. 

However, since the pollen season was coming, the Japanese still continue to wear masks to avoid getting allergic rhinitis. We found that most of the Japanese still wore their masks even as the country has decided to loosen up. 

If you are planning to visit during the spring, you might as well bring your face masks. Otherwise, you can always buy more as many stores sell different kinds of face masks. You can even choose from the different colors they sell. 


research, itinerary,
Research is any solo traveler’s best friend!

Thanks to technology, we can now learn more about different cultures and countries by scrolling through our cell phones. We don’t even have to own computers or laptops to be able to connect to the internet. 

All it takes is a bit of your time and patience in finding out what you want to eat or do in the places you want to visit. So, if you want your independent travel to become a success, it’s best to research a few weeks or months before you go.

yakiniku, yakiniku buffet, grill, beef, meat,
Just look at the marbling of the beef!

Since we stayed for more than two weeks, I started my research months before we go. I know that I couldn’t research for the whole day as I have to care for our clingy toddler so I started early.

But all I can say is that this is one of the Japan travel tips I found very useful because it has helped me learn more about Japan. I got this idea from my friend who loved going to Japan.

The takeaway

These Japan travel tips and tricks are based on my personal experience and I want you to know that you can do your solo travel too! It helps when you know what to expect when traveling abroad, especially for beginners. 

I hope that you have learned a lot from my post and I hope that this has helped push you to travel independently without worries. Bon voyage!

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