The woes of a working mother: the struggle of balancing your workload and family is never an easy feat. In the aftermath of those demands, many mothers often forget their identities as they don’t allocate time for themselves as an individual. As a mother of two, my world of space mostly evolves around the cycle of work, kids, chores and sleep. Seeing how I desperately needed to recharge myself, the idea of a Tokyo solo trip struck my mind as I have never really been out on my own. I took the courage to click on that button to “request leave” and book an air ticket for myself, with no kids, no friends, and no husband. And I did it, just 2 weeks before flying!
Lacking time for planning, I was totally clueless about the places I should visit. The last thing I wanted was to feel stressed about planning my travel itinerary, so I practically didn’t! If you too, like me, with no intentions or time to plan where to go, fret not and be spontaneous! There will be little pockets of time for you to do some research while you are on your way. However, there are ways to make your Tokyo solo trip stress-less and carefree, here forth, I have a list of tips simplified into this blog:
#1: Download a handy mobile app: NAVITIME
I happened to chance upon this free app whilst searching for train arrival timings from Narita Airport. NAVITIME is great as it gives you a gauge of the duration of your train journey from point A to B, and also tells you the exact timings on your train arrival. It also advises on the closest train arrival on a specific date and time that you choose, so that you can plan your journey ahead. How cool is that! Apart from the route search function, I found other tabs to be pretty interesting to browse whilst waiting for my train. This is definitely one app to download. There is also another similar app called Hyperdia for android users.
#2: Purchase an overseas SIM card
When it comes to getting a GPS connection out of Singapore, the pocket wifi always comes to my mind. However, I was also contemplating if I should get an overseas SIM instead as my travel-savvy parents had advised me it will definitely lift-off that weight from my bag. Emily, a comrade of mine was also planning a Taiwan trip on the same travelling dates as me and had done some research on SIM cards in Changi Recommends. Fair enough, it seems that it’s the best option as the 7-day Japan SIM card had unlimited data and it was only $22! It helped me to decide quickly when I realise they had the option for us to pick up the SIM card at any point in time at their counters.
#3: Bring your best outfit forward!
Japan has always been famous for being a global trendsetter, and I couldn’t help but think about how to blend in well with these fashionistas. The key is to bring essential outfits that will keep you warm and versatile to transform your look from day to night, here are some must-bring apparels to Japan:
- 1 classic black leather jacket
- 1 beautiful maxi dress
- 2 to 3 sets of accessories
- 1 pair of in-season trend flat pumps
- 1 pair of trustworthy sneakers
#4: Make a Japanese friend
If you don’t have any it’s ok, just widen your circle and make new friends! I met up with some Japanese friends who used to work in Singapore and I was very blessed to have kept in touch with them all the while (thanks to Facebook). It’s definitely a plus as they know where to bring you to the places where the locals shop, and you can ask them to help you if you have trouble booking a day tour from a website that only transverses in Japanese.
#5: Bring a selfie stick
Tokyo solo trip definitely needs a selfie stick with all those picturesque sceneries. I hail it as one of the most useful inventions ever! Being a last-minute packer, it completely slipped off my mind to pack this wonderful gadget. I ended up taking many close-up selfies and using lots of timer settings. A tripod stand is also essential if travelling on your own as well. I had to level my camera on a book and put it on timer mode to get this beautiful shot above.
#6: Be spontaneous in the food sense!
There is definitely no shortage of mouth-watering food when in Japan. I was surprised to find that there were many more unexplored delicacies despite having a huge variety of Japanese food in my homeland Singapore. I’m not so adventurous when it comes to exploring food, but I went out of my comfort zone and I didn’t regret it a bit! Seafood is exceptionally fresh in Japan and I simply love how the beef slices simply melt in my mouth.
#7: Unwind your nights with cheap and great quality alcohol!
Alcohol is relatively cheap in Japan, for a can of Suntory Hi-chu sets you back at only 238 yen which is only $3.20! Apart from scouting for trendy cafes to visit, I spent days seated on a side bench of the beautiful Yoyogi Park, reading a nice book and enjoying sips of Hi-chu. It was also my first time trying Japanese sake, which is mild and easy to drink. Also known as Nihonshu, this traditional sake definitely compliments the Japanese delicacies and didn’t burn a hole in my pocket.
#8: Check yourself into a traditional onsen!
Do not even attempt to skip this tip on a Tokyo solo trip! Visiting an onsen on a solo trip is perfect because you won’t feel embarrassed about being nude with no familiar faces around. After all, you don’t get to see them after you get back to Singapore, right? One of the more interesting onsens in Japan that I went to is Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari located in Odaiba. Apart from having its traditional indoor and outdoor onsen, this huge onsen theme park also features an interesting main hall filled with food stalls, shops, arcade games, and an enormous tatami area for resting. With ample space for resting after my onsen soak, I even had the luxury to take a short nap in the quiet lounge area on the 2nd floor. One of my favourite spots is also the outdoor foot bath, which features a beautiful garden and a small unwinding water pathway for your feet to walk through. Ooedo Onsen is just less than 5 minutes walk from Telecom Center station along the Yurikamome line.
With these simple tips in mind, I found my solo trip to Japan to be fuss and stress-free. With no strict itinerary to follow, it’s amazing how one can really enjoy yourself and be in the spur of the moment. The end result? A very rested and recharged me. Can a girl travel solo and be carefree? You definitely can =)