Sunday, April 4, 2010

June 08 Just Back Report

Well not quite just-back, but here%26#39;s my travel blog from our 9 days in June last year. Hope it helps those planning upcoming trips:

June 08 Just Back Report

I really enjoyed reading your outstanding report!

June 08 Just Back Report

Wow, what an excellent blog!! Great pictures and comments--very entertaining. Thank you so much!!

thank you for your kind comments!

This is fantastic. I will forward this to my relatives who are going in May.

I enjoyed your blog - you took great pics.

This is one of the best trip reports I have seen in a long time.

I am going to be in Tokyo in about a month and your blog has overwhelmed me.

Did you have everything planed out in detail before you went or did you take each day as it came? (besides things like planned museum visits and such where advanced purchase was needed)

I%26#39;ll be printing out the entire thing and putting it in my folder for stuff to look over during the 14 hour plane trip.

A very enjoyable %26amp; interesting read. So much detail, just reading it made me tired....!!!

My compliments

As a frequent visitor (business and leisure) to Japan, let me describe some things from my last trip. I stayed 10 nights and I had a 7-day pass and I worked about 1/2 day at the office and the rest of the time was totally free.

I did a couple of things very differently from every other past trip. First, I scripted every detail for each day on index cards. I did this using small ';Post-It'; stickies so that I could move things to different days as things proceeded and I needed to reschedule or add things to the day%26#39;s activities. Second, I had a detailed list of places I wanted to eat at and things that I needed to buy. So, I had a detailed script and a detailed list.

What prompted me to do something so anal? Well, every after leisure trip to Japan, there seemed to be this common theme. I had this rough list of things to do and I had a rough list of things to buy and a rough list of places to eat at. Every time I critiqued my trip after returning I had places that I didn%26#39;t get to, things that I forgot to buy and holes in my time where I was disorganized and was trying to figure out what to do on a particular day. Add to this my mind and thinking being off due to the time difference. I always had small to large regrets and I decided to try this detailed plan this time. It also forced me to do mental walk-throughs of each day%26#39;s activities. It was really great to use the index cards and PostIt notes so I could lay out everything and see the big picture, almost like laying out furniture in a room.

The PostIt note concept came in very handy because there was one day with heavy rain which changed some of the plans and it was a very simple matter to unstick that day%26#39;s activities and move them around to other days while taking other indoor activities from other days and redirecting it to the rainy day.

I chose the index card because it fit perfectly into my passport case.

I always get this depression that begins to set in near the end of a trip when things are winding down and I have to return home. Part of the depression stems from the feeling that I could have done more and I look at my list of things that I neglected to do. This time, on the day before departure I had two items left on my list which amounted to a restaurant I planned on eating at before boarding the Skyliner and something I needed to buy at Ameyoko. I had literally completed everything on my list, bought everything I needed to buy, shipped all of my luggage to the airport so it would be waiting for me when I got there and I had a great sense of satisfaction on my final evening in Japan.

I awoke on my getaway day with a real sense of calm, lacking the usual depression and urgency to squeeze something in on the last day in Japan. Everything on my list was checked off and I was ready to return home. I finished lunch and bought the last thing I needed and actually changed my ticket and took an earlier Skyliner back to the airport. I had an extra 30 minutes to spend in the Sakura Lounge at Narita and I boarded the plane relaxed and happy to be returning home, something that has never happened before.

What I learned from this is that detailed planning can be done while at the same time it can be flexible while you%26#39;re there.

%26lt;%26lt;%26lt;Did you have everything planed out in detail before you went or did you take each day as it came? (besides things like planned museum visits and such where advanced purchase was needed)%26gt;%26gt;%26gt;

Sorry for the long posting but the thing that prompted me to describe what I did is that what you mentioned below is exactly what I%26#39;ve done in the past (tried to do planning on the plane ride to the destination). For me, I find that not having access to my reference materials (Internet, books, maps, etc.) causes this process to be less than optimal.

%26lt;%26lt;%26lt;I%26#39;ll be printing out the entire thing and putting it in my folder for stuff to look over during the 14 hour plane trip.%26gt;%26gt;%26gt;

Tokyo was exhausting (in a good way!). There%26#39;s so much to see and do, so much to take in. LordJezo, you have one month in Tokyo - I am envious!

I have a system of planning that%26#39;s similar to Route246%26#39;s, although I use the computer mostly rather than post-its :) I do this for all my trips: I research extensively beforehand, using the Internet and a guidebook or two. By the time I fly, I have a day by day itinerary worked out for the whole trip, one which specifies which neighbourhood we will be spending the morning or afternoon or night in. Within that, I will usually have some must-sees marked out. And then I will have a list of additional places/neighbourhoods as a backup, in case we have extra time. I print this whole thing out and carry it with me. Armed with this, I don%26#39;t have to think about what to do next, and yet, when things don%26#39;t go as planned e.g. bad weather, I have ready alternatives at hand.

Oh and I usually have a list of food/restaurant recommendations as well. Depending on which neighbourhood we%26#39;re in, we can zoom in on the best. Having said that, I didn%26#39;t often refer to my list in Tokyo. There was so much good food and the standards of even the smallest ramen were so high I was mostly happy to just wander into the nearest eatery, as long as it had customers.

With just nine days, some kind of plan was necessary. Even so, we had to forego neighbourhoods like Asakasa and Odaiba. Looking forward to my next trip there :)

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