My blogging sister, Marsha@tchistory gal … she asked me the other day how I plan my itinerary for my travel when I travel alone??!! I have never really thought about – but she gave me the idea to this post. Maybe someone will find it helpful.
To travel as single female – can be brave, but I done it before …. and I have learned my mistakes.
In April next year am I travelling to Hong Kong and Japan on my own. The reason to that I will be doing it alone, nobody of my friends can afford to come along.
The planning of a holiday trip is half the fun … but there is loads of time by the computer put into it and strangely enough, me with no patience what so ever normally – when it comes to travel planning I have all the patience in the world.
I have been both to Japan and Hong Kong in the late 70’s. Hong Kong I know better than Japan, because I know where a lot of hotels and landmarks are … even if there has been such a massive development of Hong Kong, but I know my bases for a visit.
1. Excel file; with two sections; 1 for flights, hotels, domestic travel – 2 for tours, airport transport, special restaurant treats ect. (sorry it is in SEK, Swedish krona) click here: japan file
2. Route; I start looking for flights – to find out which route is the best and fastest – and where to maybe do a stopover for a couple of days. I only use one website for flight search and on Momondo can I move dates back and forward easy to find the best flights and most acceptable flight times. Just to move departure one day can make difference of 1000’s SEK.
3. Dates; what do to see and do. For me Japan during the Cherry Blossom Festival is the main event and that happens in the beginning to the end of April, depending where I want to go.
4. Destinations and nights; decide my destinations and divide my days between them.
Hong Kong, 5 nights
Tokyo, 5 nights
Kyoto, 5 nights
Hiroshima, 4 nights
Island of Miyajima – the Itsukushima Shrine, 1 night
Narita International Airport, 1 night
5. Airlines, connections and prices; – for maybe getting cheaper flights, if not booking all in one booking. If I had book all flights in one booking; Copenhagen – Hong Kong – Tokyo – Hiroshima – Tokyo – Copenhagen it would have cost me about 25.500SEK.
Now I have bought flights with Finnair; Copenhagen – Hong Kong – Tokyo – Copenhagen (with change in Helsinki both ways) – 5.800SEK.
I will book a flight with Hong Kong Express Airlines to Tokyo for 1500SEK – and Hiroshima to Tokyo with ANA All Nippon for 800SEK = 8.100SEK. A massive saving on 17.400SEK/£1.500/$2.525/€1.880 = that is a LOT.
Hong Kong Express Airlines fly to Haneda Airport in Tokyo, that is quite closer to the city than the Narita, also something to think about.
Also I decided to fly back to Tokyo from Hiroshima instead of taking the train, because then I only need 1 week travel pass for the train, and I will be free from transporting myself from Tokyo Station to the airport.
The last night in Japan I have booked a hotel night at Narita International Airport. Just to get the shuttle bus after breakfast to the terminal … no stress, no worries about morning rush hour traffic – nothing, only minute between hotel and terminal.
6. Domestic transports; check out the best way to travel inside the country. Japan is it very easy, Shinkansen – the bullet trains. And for the same line covers all my destinations. Rail pass for the Shinkansen trains can only be bought online and will be mailed to you. I will buy a weekly pass for 1900SEK.
I notice that JR rail pass doesn’t allow me to travel on the really fast Shinkansens, but there is still enough speedy trains to travel on – not all of those trains has “green cars” (1st Class) so 1st Class rail pass that I planed will be wasted. If I want to travel on the N700 (NOZOMI” and “MIZUHO) trains do I have to pay the full wack.
HyperDia is a website that tells you departure times, platform numbers, connections and prices for destinations in Japan.
7. Airport transport fares; sometimes is it cheaper to take a chauffeur driven transport from the airport to the hotel than taking a taxi, like in Tokyo – taxi is very expensive and there is a bookable taxi companies that is much cheaper. For me to take public transport on arrival is not even to think about.
Something I only do in Brussels, London and Tegel, Berlin. I also add all airport transport cost on my file. But for departure I use Airport Shuttles from my hotel.
There is websites that calculate taxi fares all over world; It will give you a rough idea about how much it will cost you and then you can compare with all other alternatives.
8. What to do and see; check out all tours and attractions I want to do/see and the cost. But also to get ideas what to see on my own.
9. Where to stay; finding out where is the best area to be staying at every destination, and then I look for hotels in the area and put hotel names on file.
– Hong Kong: so near the harbor as possible – perfectly on the Kowloon side,
but harbour view not necessary
– Tokyo: in the Chiyoda-ku area around the Imperal Palace and close to Tokyo Station.
– Kyoto; the famous Gion district, also called the Geisha District.
– Hirsomshima: by the Peace Memorial Park.
– Miyajima Island; view over the the Itsukushima Shrine
Also I have to think about that I’m not too fare away from the railways stations I’m going to travelling from and to.
10. Reading reviews; restaurant – locate post office, underground, cultural events, embassies and do translation cards on service and items that I maybe have to use and buy – ect. Especially for Japan. If I need buy a fragrance free body lotion, ボディローション、無香料. Google translator – a true blessing.
I have also contacted the Japanese Health Care information for a translation for Tena pads. They have most needed products already translated on their website – but not my incontinence pads, but for 1100 Yen they will translate everything and anything for me.
11. Hotel bookings; start with booking hotels where I pay later to the hotel. Because the earlier booking the better price, but the closer to the departure I check with websites that is full pay and most the time they have cheaper prices.
Also as when travelling alone don’t use hotels in back alley streets – book hotels with bright entrances and door men – along busy streets.
I book more than one hotel on each destination when there is free cancellation. Most hotels in Japan haven’t opened their booking for 2015 yet. So even if the booking site says hotels are fully booked on chosen dates, check the hotels website that they give the same information. Also always check the hotels website prices and compare; it happens that the hotel’s website is cheaper.
Also sometimes prices are cheaper if booking happens early, but it can also be cheaper if waiting up to 2 weeks before arrival.
12. Hotel reviews; I always read because then I know what to expect; if rooms are small, cleanness, how wifi works on the rooms, staff, bed comfort and hotels location — it’s the minuses and cons I’m most interested in.
13. So far am I just now!!!!
I will be flying out on 1st of April and be back home 24th. And the only worries I have is will my body and the problems I have with feet, lymphoma, knee, bladder and ass … hold up. If I don’t give it a try I will never find out.
My biggest hurdle will be the luggage – will only be able to manage one suitcase with 23 kilos max. I have never travel light, that is going to a hug challenge.
”The man who goes alone can start today,
but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.”
Henry David Thoreau
Images provide by and thanks to;
examiner.com/ telegraph.co.uk/ gb.hotels.com/ novoed.com/
iwaso.com/ lonelyplanet.com/ business.hr/ japan-guide.com/
thaipr.net/ hong-kong.hotels.ws/ irminastyle.com/ livpage.com/